Life Extension Magazine®

Field of green tea

Green Tea’s Effects on Brain Signaling

Catechins in green tea boost the creation of new brain cells and enhance brain signaling.

Scientifically reviewed by: Amanda Martin, DC. Written by: James Ryder.

Green tea contains compounds that have been shown in animal and cell studies to defend brain function.1,2

A meta-analysis of 36 observational studies found that green tea consumption was associated with lower rates of cognitive issues and dementia compared to those who rarely drink it.3

Another meta-analysis with nearly 50,000 subjects found the rate of cognitive disorders to be 35% lower in regular green tea drinkers.4

Randomized controlled trials have shown that consuming green tea powder enhanced cognitive function in young5 and elderly humans.6

Green Tea Nutrients

Diet can play a major role in susceptibility to age-related cognitive decline and risk for dementia.7,8

From preclinical to clinical studies, scientists have identified beneficial effects of green tea and its nutrients for the nervous system.1,2,9

Green tea, is rapidly dried after picking, which enables it to have high concentrations of polyphenols known as catechins.10,11

In studies that look at various types of tea consumption, the greatest benefits to brain health have been seen with green tea.4,12

Brain and Body Health

The catechins in green tea function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.13,14 They help reduce major drivers of age-related chronic disease.

That may explain, in part, why the nutrients in green tea have been shown to increase lifespan in several animal species, including roundworms,15,16 fruit flies,17 and mice.18

One preclinical study demonstrated that green tea has additional properties that appear particularly beneficial for the brain, including boosting the creation of new brain cells and improving the brain's ability to adapt into old age.19

Two of the most unique ways green tea boosts brain health is through its interactions with the gut and its enhancement of brain signaling.

What You Need to Know

Green Tea’s Brain Benefits

  • Cognitive impairment and dementia are extremely common with age.
  • Green tea consumption has been shown in clinical trials to boost cognitive function.
  • Large population studies from around the world have consistently demonstrated that those who consume the most green tea have better cognitive performance and lower rates of cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.

Improving Gut and Brain Health

The relationship between gut health and brain health is a close one. Signals sent back and forth between the gut and the brain have a profound impact on aging and risk for disease.1

Intake of green tea helps to ensure a healthy gut by:1

  • Improving the diversity of bacteria in the gut. Tea polyphenols have been shown to boost the number of beneficial microorganisms while inhibiting the growth of some potentially harmful strains of bacteria.
  • Protecting the lining of the intestines. This helps avoid "leaky gut," which may contribute to the neuroinflammation that drives diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Boosting Brain Signaling

Neurotrophic factors are signaling compounds produced in the body that are required to support the optimal health and function of nerve cells.20

Neurotrophic factor stimulation helps the brain ward off degenerative disease and fine-tune brain cell function.20

The activity of these neurotrophic factors tends to dwindle with age21 and contribute to neurodegeneration.20-22

The catechins in green tea have been shown to enhance neurotrophic factor activity.1 They do this by:

  • Increasing the production of neurotrophic factors, and
  • Enhancing the function of the receptors on brain cells that receive signals from them.

How Many Cups Do I Need to Drink?

Many of the epidemiological studies that have established the brain benefits of green tea find the best results in those consuming 2-5 cups daily.4,6,9,37

An alternative are concentrates of green tea extracts, that are standardized for catechins and other compounds.38

Human Studies

Numerous large population studies of green tea's brain benefits have been performed, following hundreds of thousands of people.

They consistently find that those who consume the most green tea have significantly better cognitive performance and lower rates of neurodegenerative disorders than those who consume the least.4,12,23-36

These include lower rates of mild cognitive impairment and dementia.


Green tea is a source of beneficial compounds known as catechins.

In studies, green tea and catechins have been shown to protect the brain into older age.

Large observational studies of green tea consumption consistently demonstrate that those who consume the most have the lowest rates of cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's, and other forms of dementia.

Placebo-controlled trials show that consuming green tea powder boosts cognitive function in old and young human subjects.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


  1. Hong M, Yu J, Wang X, et al. Tea Polyphenols as Prospective Natural Attenuators of Brain Aging. Nutrients.2022Jul 22;14(15).
  2. Unno K, Nakamura Y. Green Tea Suppresses Brain Aging. Molecules. 2021Aug 12;26(16).
  3. Shi M, Cao L, Liu H, et al. Association Between Tea Drinking and Cognitive Disorders in Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Front Aging Neurosci.2022;14:845053.
  4. Liu X, Du X, Han G, et al. Association between tea consumption and risk of cognitive disorders: A dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. Oncotarget.2017Jun 27;8(26):43306-21.
  5. Baba Y, Kaneko T, Takihara T. Matcha consumption maintains attentional function following a mild acute psychological stress without affecting a feeling of fatigue: A randomized placebo-controlled study in young adults. Nutr Res.2021Apr;88:44-52.
  6. Sakurai K, Shen C, Ezaki Y, et al. Effects of Matcha Green Tea Powder on Cognitive Functions of Community-Dwelling Elderly Individuals. Nutrients.2020Nov 26;12(12).
  7. Agarwal P, Leurgans SE, Agrawal S, et al. Association of Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and Mediterranean Diets With Alzheimer Disease Pathology. Neurology.2023May 30;100(22):e2259-e68.
  8. Wagner M, Agarwal P, Leurgans SE, et al. The association of MIND diet with cognitive resilience to neuropathologies. Alzheimers Dement. 2023Feb 28.
  9. Mancini E, Beglinger C, Drewe J, et al. Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine. 2017Oct 15;34:26-37.
  10. Roslan AS, Ismail A, Ando Y, et al. Effect of drying methods and parameters on the antioxidant properties of tea (Camellia sinensis) leaves. Food Production, Processing and Nutrition.202004/01;2(1):8.
  11. Baptista J, Lima E, Paiva L, et al. Value of off-season fresh Camellia sinensis leaves. Antiradical activity, total phenolics content and catechin profiles. LWT - Food Science and Technology.20142014/12/01/;59(2, Part 1):1152-8.
  12. Noguchi-Shinohara M, Yuki S, Dohmoto C, et al. Consumption of green tea, but not black tea or coffee, is associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline. PLoS One.2014;9(5):e96013.
  13. Musial C, Kuban-Jankowska A, Gorska-Ponikowska M. Beneficial Properties of Green Tea Catechins. Int J Mol Sci.2020Mar 4;21(5).
  14. Reygaert WC. An Update on the Health Benefits of Green Tea. 2017.
  15. Abbas S, Wink M. Epigallocatechin gallate from green tea (Camellia sinensis) increases lifespan and stress resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans. Planta Med.2009Feb;75(3):216-21.
  16. Xiong LG, Chen YJ, Tong JW, et al. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate promotes healthy lifespan through mitohormesis during early-to-mid adulthood in Caenorhabditis elegans. Redox Biol.2018Apr;14:305-15.
  17. Lopez T, Schriner SE, Okoro M, et al. Green tea polyphenols extend the lifespan of male drosophila melanogaster while impairing reproductive fitness. J Med Food.2014Dec;17(12):1314-21.
  18. Unno K, Pervin M, Taguchi K, et al. Green Tea Catechins Trigger Immediate-Early Genes in the Hippocampus and Prevent Cognitive Decline and Lifespan Shortening. Molecules.2020Mar 25;25(7).
  19. Ortiz-Lopez L, Marquez-Valadez B, Gomez-Sanchez A, et al. Green tea compound epigallo-catechin-3-gallate (EGCG) increases neuronal survival in adult hippocampal neurogenesis in vivo and in vitro. Neuroscience. 2016May 13;322:208-20.
  20. Sampaio TB, Savall AS, Gutierrez MEZ, et al. Neurotrophic factors in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases: implications for pathogenesis and therapy. Neural Regen Res.2017Apr;12(4):549-57.
  21. Budni J, Bellettini-Santos T, Mina F, et al. The involvement of BDNF, NGF and GDNF in aging and Alzheimer's disease. Aging Dis.2015Sep;6(5):331-41.
  22. Xue B, Waseem SMA, Zhu Z, et al. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Connecting Link Between Nutrition, Lifestyle, and Alzheimer's Disease. Front Neurosci.2022;16:925991.
  23. Barranco Quintana JL, Allam MF, Del Castillo AS, et al. Parkinson's disease and tea: a quantitative review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009Feb;28(1):1-6.
  24. Feng L, Gwee X, Kua EH, et al. Cognitive function and tea consumption in community dwelling older Chinese in Singapore. J Nutr Health Aging. 2010Jun;14(6):433-8.
  25. Hosseini Tabatabaei N, Babakhani B, Hosseini Tabatabaei A, et al. Non-genetic factors associated with the risk of Parkinson's disease in Iranian patients. Funct Neurol.2013Apr-May;28(2):107-13.
  26. Kakutani S, Watanabe H, Murayama N. Green Tea Intake and Risks for Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Cognitive Impairment: A Systematic Review. Nutrients.2019May 24;11(5).
  27. Kuriyama S, Hozawa A, Ohmori K, et al. Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project 1. Am J Clin Nutr.2006Feb;83(2):355-61.
  28. Ma QP, Huang C, Cui QY, et al. Meta-Analysis of the Association between Tea Intake and the Risk of Cognitive Disorders. PLoS One.2016;11(11):e0165861.
  29. Mandel SA, Amit T, Weinreb O, et al. Understanding the broad-spectrum neuroprotective action profile of green tea polyphenols in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. J Alzheimers Dis.2011;25(2):187-208.
  30. Okubo H, Inagaki H, Gondo Y, et al. Association between dietary patterns and cognitive function among 70-year-old Japanese elderly: a cross-sectional analysis of the SONIC study. Nutr J.2017Sep 11;16(1):56.
  31. Ran LS, Liu WH, Fang YY, et al. Alcohol, coffee and tea intake and the risk of cognitive deficits: a dose-response meta-analysis. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2021Feb 11;30:e13.
  32. Shirai Y, Kuriki K, Otsuka R, et al. Green tea and coffee intake and risk of cognitive decline in older adults: the National Institute for Longevity Sciences, Longitudinal Study of Aging. Public Health Nutr. 2020Apr;23(6):1049-57.
  33. Tanaka K, Miyake Y, Fukushima W, et al. Intake of Japanese and Chinese teas reduces risk of Parkinson's disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2011Jul;17(6):446-50.
  34. Yang L, Jin X, Yan J, et al. Prevalence of dementia, cognitive status and associated risk factors among elderly of Zhejiang province, China in 2014. Age Ageing.2016Sep;45(5):708-12.
  35. Zhang J, Wang A, Zhang X, et al. Association between tea consumption and cognitive impairment in middle-aged and older adults. BMC Geriatr. 2020Nov 4;20(1):447.
  36. Qi H, Li S. Dose-response meta-analysis on coffee, tea and caffeine consumption with risk of Parkinson's disease. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2014Apr;14(2):430-9.
  37. Pervin M, Unno K, Ohishi T, et al. Beneficial Effects of Green Tea Catechins on Neurodegenerative Diseases. Molecules.2018May 29;23(6).
  38. Hu J, Webster D, Cao J, et al. The safety of green tea and green tea extract consumption in adults – Results of a systematic review. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 20182018/06/01/;95:412-33.