Compounds found in green tea may enhance brain connectivity and even help treat symptoms of dementia and Down syndrome, recent studies have found.
The ancient beverage has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a means to relieve people from various ailments.
A 2014 study found that green tea extracts increased connectivity in regions of the brain associated with working memory in healthy volunteers. This was, however, detected in just 12 people.
Green tea contains polyphenols, such as EGCG, which are thought to have neurological benefits in the brain, with potential to aid people with dementia if further studies can provide evidence for this.
Scientists at the CRG-Center for Genomic Regulation in Spain trialed the compound EGCG, found in green tea extract, in patients with Down syndrome to see if it could reduce the overexpression of genes that cause the disease symptoms. Pictured, a trial participant has his brain scanned to monitor activity.
Those given EGCG performed better in tests for visual memory, the ability to control responses and the ability to plan or make calculations. Brain scans revealed improvements in connectivity between nerve cells and improvements were also seen in areas of the brain relating to language.
The team next plan to test the compound in children where there could be greater effect as the brain is more adaptable at younger ages. But the findings have opened up options for using EGCG, or green tea extracts, to trial therapies for other neurological conditions such as dementia.