National Hot Tea Day: brain benefits of tea

January 12th is National Hot Tea Day (with January as the National Hot Tea Month) as declared by the Tea Council of the USA in 2016. Let’s toast our tea cups and celebrate by exploring some types of tea – chamomile, peppermint, black and green – and their cognitive benefits.

Tea and memory

A regular cup of tea is found to be beneficial to your cognitive health.

In a study of 1,003 Japanese participants aged 70 and above, it was concluded that the more green tea 🍵 they consumed, the lesser the cognitive impairment was. In another study of 2,501 Chinese adults aged 55 and above, regular consumption of black (fermented) and oolong (semi-fermented) tea ☕️ “was associated with lower risks of cognitive impairment and decline independent of other risk factors.” (1)

Both black and green tea inhibited an enzyme activity in relation to a brain 🧠 neurotransmitter imbalance that causes Alzheimer’s disease. According to Dr. Ed Okello, lead investigator: “Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, tea could potentially be another weapon in the armoury which is used to treat this disease and slow down its development.” (2)

Dr. Okello, a green tea 🍵 drinker, also said, “The ageing politician, Tony Benn, is a prime example of somebody who drinks tea and has a fantastic memory. He is said to drink 18 pints a day and has a very sharp mind for a man of his age.” (2)

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, tea could potentially be another weapon in the armoury which is used to treat this disease and slow down its development.

Dr. Ed Okello

Brain tea for two: peppermint vs. chamomile

In an experiment conducted by the Psychology Department of Northumbria University, peppermint and chamomile tea had been proven to have contrasting effects… While peppermint tea makes you alert; thereby, improving memory, chamomile tea impairs cognition as it calms you down. (3)

Doris Day – Tea for Two (1950) uploaded by Kudret Laurentius, on YouTube

Picture me upon your knee –
With tea for two and two for tea;
Just me for you
And you for me alone.

Doris Day song, Tea For Two

Peppermint tea

Peppermint contains theanine, an amino acid (a building block of protein), found in green tea. Its combination with caffeine is found to promote better memory and learning; thus, became popular as a nootropic supplement typically found in the form of a pill, drink or gum. (4)

While theanine is good for treating anxiety and high blood pressure, it is also used to make cancer treatment more effective. Similar to glutamate, theanine also transmits nerve impulses in the brain and helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. (5)

Chamomile tea

Like peppermint, chamomile can alleviate anxiety and possibly prevent cancer cells from developing. But in addition, it also ease menstrual cramps and reduce inflammation, as well as “help” prevent blood sugar increase, slow down osteoporosis and relieve cold symptoms (although more research is needed on those last three claims). (6)

Because chamomile calms you down and lowers mental alertness, it will naturally and temporarily impair your memory.

Please note:
Peppermint and chamomile should be taken as supplements; and should not, in any way, replace medicine, especially when prescribed. Please consult your doctor.

References:
(1) Okello, Ed. A memorable cup of tea. (2016, September 14). Retrieved from https://www.ncl.ac.uk/media/wwwnclacuk/instituteofneuroscience/files/A%20memorable%20cup%20of%20tea%20and%20other%20natural%20products%20%20-%20ARUK%202016-Ed%20Okello.pdf.
(2) University Of Newcastle Upon Tyne. (2004, November 1). Tea Could Improve Memory, Study Shows. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041030144110.htm.
(3) Herbs that can boost your mood and memory. (2016, April 29). Retrieved from https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/news-events/news/2016/04/herbs-that-can-boost-your-mood-and-memory/.
(4) Theanine. (2018, December 30). Retrieved January 4, 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theanine.
(5) Theanine. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2019 from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1053/theanine.
(6) Villines, Zawn. (2017, November 15). What are the benefits of chamomile tea? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320031.php.

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