Natural nootropics: Green tea

 
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biophilic living: natural green tea

Green tea is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world and has been a staple in East Asian cultures for millennia, forming a key part in a biophilic lifestyle in tune with nature.

This leaf’s benefits on cognitive function, improved mood and, to a lesser extent, disease prevention are also becoming increasingly well known in the West, placing it firmly in the camp of contemporary natural nootropics as well as that of traditional medicine. And herein lies the magic…

In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s a genuine powerhouse of a nootropic that should be part of any mental performance supplementation program. 

So, can a cup of green tea a day keep the doctor away? Or should you opt for a high potency supplement instead? Read on to learn more.

first things first, what exactly is green tea?

Green, black and oolong tea all come from a plant called Camellia sinensis; the differences between them only kick in after processing.

To make green tea, producers steam the fresh leaves right after harvesting. Steaming stops fermentation that would break down many of the plant’s health-promoting constituents and also preserves the leaves’ green colour.  

To make oolong and black tea on the other hand, growers allow the green tea to ferment, producing a different colour and flavour profile, as well as altered biological activity.[1]

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how does green tea impact our health?

Most of the health benefits of green tea come from polyphenolic catechins, the most abundant being epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG); these are antioxidant compounds that help protect our cells from damage. 

Scientists are researching the effects of green tea catechins on a number of conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.[2]

Other natural nootropics in green tea are caffeine and the amino acid theanine, a uniquely helpful pairing that works in synergy to enhance clarity and focus. [3]

In lay terms words, if you consume more than 2-3 cups of caffeine during the day, a dose of theanine would be a sensible way to counterbalance any associated jitters. We’ll return to the joys of theanine shortly though!

natural green tea for neuroprotection

Researchers believe ROS and oxidative stress play a significant role in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, contributing to neuronal damage in other words. Antioxidant catechins may help to protect against these diseases, a theory supported by preliminary animal studies of EGCG.[4]

Research studies also show that a polyphenol rich diet can have a positive impact on preventing memory impairment associated with age-related disease such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our daily regime includes blueberries and a green tea supplement for their combined polyphenol power, for this very reason. [4]

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green tea’s theanine for treating mild forms of stress

A hot cup of green tea can act as mental prompt to slow down for a few minutes to collect one’s thoughts but there’s more to it than that; theanine in green tea has proven anti-stress effects in humans and animals.[5]

Researchers gave 200mg of theanine to participants in one study resulting in reported feelings of relaxation and calm; additionally, the theanine helps counteract feelings of tension from tea’s caffeine content.[6]  

green tea’s benefits on blood pressure, cholesterol and the heart

Experts have uncovered a link between the lower rate of heart disease in Japanese populations and their green tea consumption.[7] In particular, green tea may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes.[1] While these are all positive signs however, we still think tea’s big bazooka lies in its nootropic powers for improved cognitive function and memory.

first tentative forays into green tea and cancer research

Research is still in its early stages when it comes to green tea and cancer prevention, however, epidemiological studies and animal models have yielded some interesting results.  

As well as potentially protecting from skin, breast, prostate and lung cancer [8][9], EGCG and green tea extracts may be anti-mutagenic [10] and prevent the growth of the blood vessels that nourish tumours.[11]

That said, much of the evidence is conflicting, and high-quality studies in humans are a long way off.  Hopefully, future trials will help to reveal any true benefits in this area.

how much of this nootropic should you consume?

A good green tea extra supplement will offer you 200mg+ of EGCG from 450mg of green tea extract, equivalent to 9000mg of dried leaf. that is a lot of tea drinking!

Unless you have the habit of consuming green tea throughout the day, as is common amongst many Oriental cultures for example, we’d recommend the supplement route for maximum health benefits, at the very least on days when you do not consume enough of tea.

If you can form the habit of sipping away at a bottle during a work day at the office say, and that becomes a habit, then the supplement would be a practical alternative on weekends. Either way, with this range of benefits on offer, it’s a worthy addition to any nootropic regime.

References

[1] https://cmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1749-8546-5-13

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16445946

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28899506

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15306237 & https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27662290

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27765356

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28056735 

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15226633

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10837321

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11807163

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2500594

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10201368