Many people agree – through a kind of mystical consensus – that tea is good for them.  They may have heard that tea is beneficial to their health, or perhaps they have experienced its advantages on their own.  Information on the benefits of tea may be passed through folklore, word-of-mouth, scientific articles, or blogs.  Recently, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne released a study that indicates that green and black tea may combat Alzheimer’s disease.

Published in Phytotherapy Research, the results of this study indicate that green and black tea inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which breaks down a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.  A reduction in acetylcholine levels is known to contribute to Alzheimer’s.  In addition, green and black teas also inhibit the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), which may be present in protein deposits in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  Specifically, green tea may impede the activity of beta-secretase, which contributes to the formation of these protein deposits.  Whereas the effects of green tea may last for a week, black tea’s ability to obstruct the activity of enzymes only lasts for a single day.  Rather than relying solely on drugs with negative side effects, drinking tea may help inhibit the activity of these enzymes in a more natural and organic way.

While I am not a medical doctor and do not encourage people to avoid drugs like donepezil (which is used to limit the activity of AChE), drinking tea cannot hurt.  In fact, Newcastle University scientists are looking for funding to carry out tests and clinical trials on green tea.  Their goal is to create a medicinal tea to help combat Alzheimer’s – a lofty goal indeed.  Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, tea is nearly always more helpful than harmful.

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