Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Watch out comes Lipton!

Who thought such a simple item you may already have in your cupboard could be so beneficial? I'm talking about tea!

I think if you're interested enough in health and the brain to even be reading this blog, you know that green tea has many health benefits. It's a great antioxidant, and it improves the brain's blood flow, making it easier for waste products to be flushed away from where they can do damage.

Scientists took green tea one step further in the following experiment. Mice were divided into three groups, each group receiving one of the following treatments: green tea, an antidepressant (in this case, desipramine/Norpramin), or an anti-anxiety medication (in this study, diazepam/Valium). Both low and high doses of green tea reduced depression-like behaviors within 30 minutes of administration.

Depression can slow thought processes and therefore problem solving, so these mice were put in a maze and timed for their performance. Higher doses of green tea reduced the time it took to complete the task.

One potential downside to the higher doses of green tea was that the higher doses also had somewhat of a sedative effect and reduced muscle strength and activity. The mice also were less responsive to exposures to a painful stimulus, in this case, heat.

The moral of the story appears to be that moderate doses of green tea might not be a bad thing. I'd recommend the decaffeinated version--and there are lots of great ones out there.

A green tea tip for all of you: Did you know you can cook with green tea? One of my company's sponsors, Organic Bistro, has a frozen dinner with green tea vegetables ( So if you don't like to drink tea, you can sneak in some of its benefits by combining it with foods you DO enjoy.

Since it's Earth Day week, I'll slip in a little plug for thinking "outside the brain" and looking for organic brands of green tea. Here's a nice website with some options...

Sattayasai J, Tiamkao S, Puapairoj P. Biphasic effects of Morus alba leaves green tea extract on mice in chronic forced swimming model. Phytother Res. 2008 Apr;22(4):487-92.

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