Why is it that aqueous extracts of the Tea Plant is the most consumed beverage in the world? It’s not the taste – it’s because it’s psychoactive.
The compound responsible is theanine – found only in the Tea Plant and a certain fungus (Bay Boleet). Theanine modulates the psychostimulant effect of caffeine, further increasing focus but also with a calming that has been shown to increase alpha waves in the brain – similar to meditative states (Nobre at al.).
Therefore there may be cognitive and anxiolytic properties of theanine in the presence of caffeine and possible as an isolated extract.
A. C. Nobre, A. Rao, and G. N. Owen. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 17(suppl – 1):167-168, 2008.
The ApoE4 variant, apparently predominant in pre-modern hominids, is a known genetic risk factor for impaired lipid regulation leading to elevated cholesterol, triglycerides and poor modulation of inflammation and oxidative stress predisposing an individual to a range of abnormal conditions from vascular disease to Alzheimer’s disease. Now linked also to depression. More here; even more here.
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“We live in a transformational moment for understanding the etiology of mental disorders,” stated a team of researchers led by MIA Blogger Bonnie Kaplan of the University of Calgary publishing in Clinical Psychological Science.
The current revolution, they wrote, is being driven by “the rapidly accumulating knowledge of how inflammation, microbiome imbalance (gut dysbiosis), oxidative stress, and impaired mitochondrial output affect brain function.” The researchers reviewed the scientific literature on each of these topics in relation to the causation of experiences of depression, bipolar, psychosis and overall brain health.
“The mechanisms reviewed in this article constitute a new model for understanding the etiology of the symptoms of mental disorders,” they concluded. “A bright new future of understanding, preventing, and treating mental disorders awaits us, and these advances surprisingly will return us to what our ancestors knew and accepted a century ago.”
Kaplan, Bonnie J., Julia J. Rucklidge, Amy Romijn, and Kevin McLeod. “The Emerging Field of Nutritional Mental Health Inflammation, the Microbiome, Oxidative Stress, and Mitochondrial Function.” Clinical Psychological Science, February 2, 2015, 2167702614555413. doi:10.1177/2167702614555413. (Abstract and full text)