Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Student
Do you drink tea?
Some of us love waking up to the smell of a roast coffee, while others prefer the calming sensation of a nice warm cup of tea. Both would agree that they are a nice pick-me-up to kick-start the day. Among many kinds of tea, one of the most common type is green tea. As it turns out, green tea contains beneficial compounds that can help with our mood and brain function – epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), theanine and caffeine.
What’s epigallocatechin (EGCG) and what does it do for our mood?
EGCG is a catechin – a bioactive compound known for its antioxidant action. Catechins are commonly found in many dietary products, plants, fruits, green tea, red wine, chocolate to name a few. While they are known to have a broad range of benefits including antioxidant effect and positive cardiovascular health benefits, studies have shown that EGCG produced calming effect on the mood
What’s theanine and how does it affect our brain function?
Theanine is another compound naturally found in green tea. This again is another health promoting compound that has shown to promote calmness and relaxation. In addition to improved mood, it appears to have a synergistic effect when combined with caffeine. When consumed together, people may experience improvements in attention, memory and reduced mental fatigue. While caffeine can improved performance by improvng alertness and promoting inccrease ability to stay focused for longer period of time, these effects that could not be attributed to caffeine alone.
The Bottom Line
Green tea contains two components – EGCG and theanine – which can both play a role in reducing our anxiety levels and improving our attention, memory and mental tiredness. While further studies are needed to determine the minimum amount and duration of green tea consumption to benefit from these effects, it appears to be that regular consumption of green tea is beneficial for cognitive function.
So the next time you need a pick-me-up for those early morning meetings or those mid-afternoon slumps – consider this cup of tea.
- E. M., Beglinger, C., Drewe, J., Zanchi, D., Lang, U. E., & Borgwardt, S. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine, 34, 26-37. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2017.07.008
- Dietz, C., & Dekker, M. (2017). Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 23(19), 2876-2905. doi:10.2174/1381612823666170105151800
- Chellino, M., Park, H. H., Ho, J., Scherr, R. E., Keen, C. L., & Zidenberg-Cherr, S. (2016, August). Nutrition and Health Info Sheet: Catechins and Epicatechins [PDF].