Green tea gets a whole lot of press time. Whether it’s an article stating that the drink is a scam, or an article saying that it can instantly cure cancer, we see green tea everywhere. And while the conclusive body of evidence concerning the refreshing beverage is growing, we do know that it has some definite benefits. One of those benefits is that it can help your mind. Just exactly how does green tea help your brain? By giving you a dose of some pretty healthy compounds. Let’s take a look at what makes green tea unique, some of the nootropic active ingredients, and how to get the most of those benefits.
Why Green Tea?
With so many nootropic supplements available, why is green tea such a popular choice? Well, it’s been known for thousands of years to have powerful mind benefits. It is able to do this because unlike other substances, it has 700 all-natural and bioactive compounds contained in it. Derived from the leaves of the camellia sinensis bush, green tea is unique from other white or black teas. Since it is not fermented like those other teas, it retains the vast majority of its nutrients. You could potentially get very small amounts of some of these compounds from other food sources like fruits, nuts, and greens. But some of these nutrients, and especially the most desirable ones, can naturally be found exclusively in green tea.
Active Ingredient: Caffeine
Caffeine is a common nootropic supplement. Caffeine in its natural state has been used and studied for centuries because of it’s strong effect on the body. In fact, caffeine is so powerful that it has effects on the brain that are similar in nature to the highs obtained from heroin or cocaine. Green tea provides a wonderful and all-natural source of caffeine. Caffeine’s primary effect on the body is the boosting of energy levels. In the brain specifically, it increases the numbers of some important neurotransmitters, like dopamine, and regulates functions in the central nervous system. It has been shown to have a number of positive effects:
- Increased alertness
- Reduced sleepiness or grogginess
- Longer attention span
- Higher levels of mental energy
- Greater motivation
- Deeper concentration
- More positive mood
In addition to these well-known benefits, new research is emerging that shows that caffeine may also have some neuroprotective benefits. It’s now thought that regular consumption of caffeine can protect the brain cells and prevent certain neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
Active Ingredient: L-theanine
L-theanine is a type of protein called an amino acid. These are important building blocks for the body and especially the brain. This amino acid is found exclusively in teas. Sometimes referred to as just theanine, L-theanine is able to alter your brainwaves to the alpha activity state, meaning that you are attentive, ready to learn, and under no stress or anxiety.
Several neurotransmitters, which transmit signals across the brain’s synapses, increase when L-theanine is consumed. When increased, the following chemicals help with better memory, attention, motivation, and mood: GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), dopamine, and serotonin. The GABA and serotonin will also help to reduce any anxiety or tension for clearer thinking. This same relaxing power will also promote better sleep, which is essential for optimal brain function.
This compound is an important part of what makes green tea so unique. It’s primary function is to help the body to utilize the caffeine without experiencing any negative side effects. Its able to do this because it is anxiolytic. This means that it reduces the chemicals in the brain that create anxious feelings. L-theanine works synergistically with the caffeine in green tea. You’ll get all of the cognitive benefits without any negative side effects like anxiety, jitters, and irritability. And the sleep promoting powers of L-theanine will help to reduce any sleeplessness that caffeine may cause.
Active Ingredient: EGCG
This is maybe the most potent compound in green tea. EGCG, which stands for epigallocatechin gallate, is one of the catechins found in green tea. A catechin is a type of flavonoid, which is yet again a type of polyphenol. This compound is the most bioactive of all the green tea nutrients. It’s primarily loved by it’s users for it’s ability to burn fat, boost the metabolism, lower blood pressure, and battle carcinogenic cells by stopping tumour growth.
Polyphenols are strong antioxidants. They work by protecting the body against free radicals. Extra oxygen in the body can erode cells and cause damage and aging. The polyphenols, or mostly EGCG, found in green tea allow the body to protect itself from this damage, and in some cases, can even repair oxidative damage. This is especially important in the brain, where 20% of the body’s total oxygen is used. Since EGCG can easily pass through the blood brain barrier, it’s a very effective nootropic. It has the power to help fight anxiety, depression, memory loss, and even serious brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
But perhaps the most powerful nootropic effect of EGCG is its influence on certain biochemicals in the brain. First, it helps to raise levels of acetylcholine. This chemical is a neurotransmitter and works to establish memory and learning in the brain. Second, BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is increased by EGCG. This biochemical is responsible for neural cell growth and repair. It also deals with the brain’s ability to protect itself from neurological disease and aging. Finally, EGCG will raise GABA levels to create a feeling of serenity. GABA is one of the strongest inhibitory chemicals in the brain, and is the brain’s natural protection against overstimulation. Higher levels of GABA can help relieve anxiety and stress by altering brain wave patterns.
How to Get the Most Out of Green Tea Compounds
So how do you best capture the goodness of green tea? Well, you have a few choices. You can look over each choice and decide whether to drink green tea or take a green tea supplement.
- Drink green tea. Each brand of green tea is unique in its concentration of nutrients as well as how much caffeine it contains. How you make the tea matters as well. Be sure to brew the tea correctly to maximize nutrient uptake. For an added brain boost, add a squeeze of lemon to your tea, as the Vitamin C will help absorb the catechins.
- Take green tea supplements. Green tea extract is available in many health food stores and local grocers. Do your research before choosing a supplement, as they aren’t all created equal. Different brands contain different concentrations of polyphenols. A good supplement should have at least 80% polyphenols and over 50% catechins/EGCG.
- Take supplements of the individual compounds. You can find individual supplements of EGCG, L-Theanine, and other nutrients found in green tea. Caffeine and L-theanine are a well known nootropic “stack,” or synergistic supplements. It is argued that this is the most ineffective way to get the benefits of these compounds. All of the compounds work synergistically, and both green tea drinks and supplements make the most of that relationship. Also, it can be difficult to get the correct dosage to have positive brain benefits.
That is why it is great to take a brain supplement like Limidax. Limidax contains beneficial green tea extract to provide users with a boost in mental energy and focus! For those wanting to learn even more, check out the exhaustive research and clinical studies on green tea extract!