Ancient brew perks up tired mice; human studies needed to confirm promising results
by Craig Weatherby
Green tea and its extracts enjoy a very positive record with regard to preventive health.
Albeit inconclusive, preliminary research supports tea’s ancient medicinal reputation as a relaxing preventive health ally.
Numerous studies indicate that green tea probably enhances brain health and immune function, improves cardiovascular and oral health, and reduces weight gain.
Now, recent research from Japan suggests that the antioxidant green tea compound EGCG can help offset the physical and mental fatigue associated with modern stressful lives.
Like the beneficial pigments in berries and cocoa, EGCG is a polyphenol compound of the catechin type.
In addition to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, polyphenols like EGCG exert healthful influences on the cellular genetic “switches” called nuclear transcription factors.
Chronic fatigue accelerates aging
Mice that drank the tea compound for five days showed reduced levels of the free related to human and rodent fatigue.
Americans work longer hours than most, and—especially if the worker lacks a sense of control and regular emotional rewards—this pattern can lead to enduring fatigue.
And fatigue is known to induce increased free radicals and resulting oxidative damage in the body.
According to lead author Masaaki Tanaka, Ph.D., “…the effects of accumulated fatigue are sometimes irreversible, and the compensation mechanisms that are useful in reducing acute fatigue are no longer effective… it is important to develop effective strategies...”
Green tea and tea supplements may fit the strategic bill, if the results of his animal study can be repeated in humans.
Green tea cut fatigue signs in mice sent swimming for science
Tanaka and his team induced fatigue in rats using forced swimming... a common method in such studies.
The animals fed the tea-derived antioxidant compound called EGCG (50 or 100 mg/kg) could swim longer than fatigued control animals.
And, compared with their tea-deprived fellow swimmers, the mice fed green tea extract had lower levels of fatigue-induced free radicals.
In particular, the tea-drinking swimmers showed lower levels of a free radical called TBARS, which is a common byproduct of physical fatigue… one that causes oxidative damage to the liver.
The Japanese scientists speculate, very plausibly, that this effect may be mediated by EGCG’s antioxidant impacts in the liver.
Green tea provides more than four times more antioxidant catechins than black tea—which is simply green tea that’s been oxidized by fermentation.
However, black tea is contains different beneficial antioxidants, and actually shows stronger antioxidant effects in cells. Black tea is also associated with a number of distinct health benefits in epidemiological and clinical studies.
So whether it’s white, green, or black tea, overly busy bees can’t go wrong with any form of this ancient tonic wonder.
- Tanaka M, Baba Y, Kataoka Y, Kinbara N, Sagesaka YM, Kakuda T, Watanabe Y. Effects of (-) -epigallocatechin gallate in liver of an animal model of combined (physical and mental) fatigue. Nutrition. 2008 Jun;24(6):599-603.
- Wolfram S, Raederstorff D, Wang Y, Teixeira SR, Elste V, Weber P. TEAVIGO (epigallocatechin gallate) supplementation prevents obesity in rodents by reducing adipose tissue mass. Ann Nutr Metab. 2005 Jan-Feb;49(1):54-63. Epub 2005 Feb 25.