Green tea has enjoyed a such a surge in popularity that more than a few people are skeptical. Every healthy living blog is touting the benefits of green tea for everything from cardiovascular health, diabetes, and weight loss. Yes, that sure will raise an eyebrow or two, but when you do some research, you may find yourself changing your mind.
One of the more worrying signs of Superficial Siderosis is cognitive impairment. 20% of SS patients will experience early onset dementia. That’s not an enormous number considering that’s about one in five (of 270 diagnosed cases) but when you might be one of the ill-fated headed in that direction the number gets BIG real fast.
Small signs that something was off showing up gradually at first but began increasing last winter. Gary can remember the phone number and address of every house he’s ever lived in but forgets the daily meds he’s been taking for years; it’s a big red flag. Short-term memory problems: losing his train of thought, cooking and then wholly forgetting something was on the stove; it all was becoming progressively worse.
Our neurologist diagnosed Mild Cognitive Impairment after scoring an in-office evaluation and test. We were sent to a Clinical Neurophysiologist for eight hours of intensive testing for a baseline to measure against in the future. Was Gary going to be one of the 20%? Luck was on our side this time.
A new MRI and CT scan now showed “Prominent volume loss in the superior aspect of the cerebellum,” due to atrophy from the iron. Cognitive test results show no dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other scary big words. They suggested employing audible reminders, notes, and using brain puzzles or video games to keep the brain exercised.
There have been numerous studies about the beneficial effects of green tea both as a natural iron chelator that will cross the blood-brain barrier and the positive impact of green tea catechins on cognitive function. We already know it helps block iron absorption from food so for someone with Superficial Siderosis it appears green tea may be the one natural treatment that is both inexpensive and health conscious.
We buy bulk organic Gunpowder Green tea by the pound bag, and we both drink it daily. As an iced green tea or a warm cup in the evenings. We realize drinking green tea is not a cure-all, but the benefits are substantial in our favor.
I’ve posted some excerpts from a few of the studies I’ve come across. The entire reports are available to download from the research page.
The Tsurugaya Project conducted a study in Japan on over 1000 elderly residents living in the Tsurugaya district.
Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project1–3
In conclusion, the present results suggest that higher consumption of green tea is associated with lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in humans. The results might partly explain the relatively lower prevalence of dementia, especially AD, in Japan than in Europe and North America (1). Given the high prevalence, worldwide rapid increase, and clinical significance of dementia (1, 2), any association between the intake of green tea, a drink with little toxicity and no calorific value, and cognitive function could have considerable clinical and public health relevance. The results of this cross-sectional study generate a new hypothesis and warrant further investigation.
Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing
The present study shows that green tea extract enhances functional connectivity from the parietal to the frontal cortex during WM processing in healthy controls. Interestingly, this effect on effective connectivity was related to the green tea induced improvement in cognitive performance. Our findings provide first insights into the neural effect of green tea onWM processing at the neural network level, suggesting a mechanism on the short-term plasticity of interregional brain connections. Our findings further suggest that the assessment of effective connectivity among frontal and parietal brain regions during working memory processing may provide a promising tool to assess the efficacy of green tea or other compounds for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia.
Targeting Multiple Neurodegenerative Diseases Etiologies with Multimodal-Acting Green Tea Catechins 1,2
Despite the lack of well-controlled clinical trials with tea polyphenols in neurodegenerative diseases, human epidemiological and new animal data suggest that the pharmacological benefits of tea drinking may help protect the brain as we age. Indeed, tea consumption is inversely correlated with the incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (AD),3 and Parkinson’s disease (PD), which may explain why there are significantly lower rates of age-related neurological disorders among Asians than in Europeans or Americans stabilization potency.
Green tea catechins as brain-permeable, nontoxic iron chelators to ‘‘iron out iron’’ from the brain
Although the precise mechanism of neuroprotection= neurorescue exerted by green tea catechins is not fully established, accumulating evidence indicates the participation of multiple pathways, including the pro-survival PKC and extracellular mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling (Mandel et al., 2005); promotion of neurite outgrowth (Reznichenko et al., 2005); down-regulation of pro-apoptotic genes (Levites et al., 2002; Weinreb et al., 2003) and promotion of secreted soluble, non-toxic, nonamyloidogenic form of APP, reputed to have neurotrophic and neuroprotective properties against excitotoxic and oxidative insults (Levites et al., 2003). Recently, a new dimension was added to these actions, associated with the iron chelating property of green tea catechins and the impact on neurodegenerative processes, as inhibitors of OS-mediated protein aggregation, APP synthesis and Ab plaque formation. Considering the pathological role iron plays in a number of neurological conditions, the use of EGCG as a natural, non-toxic, lipophilic brain permeable neuroprotective drug, could offer potential therapeutic benefits for ‘‘iron out iron’’ from those brain areas where it preferentially accumulates (Youdim and Buccafusco, 2005).