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Let's drink to health.

Byline: By Daniel Thomson

The humble daily "cuppa" could hold the key to delaying the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, pioneering North scientists claim.

Researchers at Newcastle University's Medicinal Plant Research Centre are now hoping for funding to produce a medicinal tea to help treat sufferers.

Lead researcher Dr Ed Okello said yesterday: "Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's, tea could potentially be used to slow down its development.

"It would be wonderful if our work could help improve the quality of life for millions of sufferers and their carers."

The team investigated the properties of both green and black tea and found that drinking regular cups inhibits the activity of the enzymes known to cause Alzheimer's.

Dr Okello explained: "We first started the research two years ago as part of a study into treating Alzheimer's using plant-based alternative therapies and chose tea because it is in the top 50 herbs in traditional Chinese medicine."

Green tea was found to be the most effective, however ( its medicinal effects lasting for a week while those of black tea, the traditional English breakfast tea, last just a day.

Dr Okello added: "Black and green tea come from the same plant, but taste and look different because black tea is fermented."

The study revealed that tea inhibits the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which is found on the brain of patients with Alzheimer's. The disease affects 10 million a people a year worldwide.

Alzheimer's Society research director Prof Clive Ballard said: "This interesting research builds on previous evidence that suggests that green tea may be beneficial."

Newcastle University researchers are now seeking funding to carry out further tests on green tea and hope to develop a medicinal tea specifically aimed at Alzheimer's sufferers.

Dr Okello said: "Our findings are particularly exciting as tea is already a very popular drink. It is inexpensive and there do not seem to be any adverse side effects when it is consumed.

"Our next step is to take the findings out of the lab and test the research on Alzheimer suffers and volunteers.

"But we expect it to be several years before we can produce anything marketable."
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 26, 2004
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