Dietary Brain Wave Alteration

Dietary Brain Wave Alteration
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Tea—black tea, green tea, white tea—is made from the tea plant. That’s different from herbal tea, which is defined as pouring hot water over any plant in the world other than this particular plant.

There are 287,655 different types of plants on the planet that we know of. Why is this one plant the most popular beverage in the world? It’s not the caffeine; the coffee plant has more caffeine, but more people drink tea than coffee. It’s probably not the taste; most people would probably prefer peppermint, or some of the fruity berry teas as better tasting. It’s a pretty enough plant, but why do we drink literally billions of cups a day of this one?

Well, we might have just figured it out. It turns out there’s something in this plant that’s basically found only two places in nature—here, and in a weird bluish mushroom called the bay bolete, which has these little holes instead of gills. Scientists figured this one might taste better with crumpets, and so they called the unique substance theanine. What does this stuff do that it has billions of people hooked on it? We weren’t quite sure, until last year.

When you hook up people to an EEG to measure their brain wave activity, you find that human beings essentially have four mental states—two while sleeping, and two while awake. Delta waves, where your whole brain is basically electrically pulsing very slowly at about a wave a second, are seen only in deep sleep. Then there’s theta wave sleep—when you’re dreaming—at about five cycles per second.

The two waking states are alpha and beta. Alpha is relaxed, aware, attentive; like when we close our eyes and meditate. And beta is more the stimulated, hustle-and-bustle state, where most of us live our lives.

Alpha is where we want to be; fully alert and focused, but calm. How do we get there? Well, if you relax in a nice peaceful place, after about 90 minutes you can start to see some significant alpha activity, which is this yellow and red. Now, practicing meditators, like Buddhist monks, can achieve this state earlier, and maintain it even with their eyes open.

So, you can meditate every day for a few years, or just drink some tea. This is the amount of theanine that enters your brain after you drink about two cups of tea. Look closely, compare, and see if you can detect a difference. That is why people drink tea from the tea plant.

But are there side effects to so dramatically altering our brain on a daily basis? Well, if you’ve seen my previous years’ lectures, you know that the side effects of daily tea consumption include things like less breast cancer risk, and living a significantly longer life.

Here are the new side-effects we just learned about in the last 12 months. Drinking tea from the tea plant halves our risk of getting ovarian cancer. Halves our risk of getting endometrial cancer. Can lower our cholesterol, our blood sugars, and our weight. Protect our liver. And protect our brain. Drink green tea every day.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image of Barry Kerzin thanks to Middlemarch Films

Tea—black tea, green tea, white tea—is made from the tea plant. That’s different from herbal tea, which is defined as pouring hot water over any plant in the world other than this particular plant.

There are 287,655 different types of plants on the planet that we know of. Why is this one plant the most popular beverage in the world? It’s not the caffeine; the coffee plant has more caffeine, but more people drink tea than coffee. It’s probably not the taste; most people would probably prefer peppermint, or some of the fruity berry teas as better tasting. It’s a pretty enough plant, but why do we drink literally billions of cups a day of this one?

Well, we might have just figured it out. It turns out there’s something in this plant that’s basically found only two places in nature—here, and in a weird bluish mushroom called the bay bolete, which has these little holes instead of gills. Scientists figured this one might taste better with crumpets, and so they called the unique substance theanine. What does this stuff do that it has billions of people hooked on it? We weren’t quite sure, until last year.

When you hook up people to an EEG to measure their brain wave activity, you find that human beings essentially have four mental states—two while sleeping, and two while awake. Delta waves, where your whole brain is basically electrically pulsing very slowly at about a wave a second, are seen only in deep sleep. Then there’s theta wave sleep—when you’re dreaming—at about five cycles per second.

The two waking states are alpha and beta. Alpha is relaxed, aware, attentive; like when we close our eyes and meditate. And beta is more the stimulated, hustle-and-bustle state, where most of us live our lives.

Alpha is where we want to be; fully alert and focused, but calm. How do we get there? Well, if you relax in a nice peaceful place, after about 90 minutes you can start to see some significant alpha activity, which is this yellow and red. Now, practicing meditators, like Buddhist monks, can achieve this state earlier, and maintain it even with their eyes open.

So, you can meditate every day for a few years, or just drink some tea. This is the amount of theanine that enters your brain after you drink about two cups of tea. Look closely, compare, and see if you can detect a difference. That is why people drink tea from the tea plant.

But are there side effects to so dramatically altering our brain on a daily basis? Well, if you’ve seen my previous years’ lectures, you know that the side effects of daily tea consumption include things like less breast cancer risk, and living a significantly longer life.

Here are the new side-effects we just learned about in the last 12 months. Drinking tea from the tea plant halves our risk of getting ovarian cancer. Halves our risk of getting endometrial cancer. Can lower our cholesterol, our blood sugars, and our weight. Protect our liver. And protect our brain. Drink green tea every day.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image of Barry Kerzin thanks to Middlemarch Films

Doctor's Note

Check out these videos for more on the health benefits of tea:
Herbal Tea Update: Rooibos & Nettle
Antimutagenic Activity of Green Versus White Tea
Herbal Tea Update: Hibiscus
Better Than Green Tea?

And check out my other videos on tea

Also, for more context see my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer and DietRooibos & Nettle TeaStool Size and Breast Cancer RiskIncreasing Muscle Strength with FenugreekHibiscus Tea: The Best Beverage?Is Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?; and Soy milk: shake it up! 

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

33 responses to “Dietary Brain Wave Alteration

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    1. one comment and one question:
      1. Dr. Blaylock says NEVER squeeze lemon in tea as it brings out the aluminum.
      2. question: about 10 years ago there was much comment about white tea having even more antioxidants than green tea. But in recent years I have not seen anything else about this.. Just wondering if you feel white tea is better than green??
      thank you.




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  1. Hi Doc
    Two questions: with fibromyalgia, I am constantly waking up in the night – is there a way to know whether I have reached the delta sleep?
    Also, I have always read that meditation is a deeper sleep than what sleep is – so, are you saying that drinking tea will actually restore the brain patterns that loss sleep caused and that there is no benefit to meditation?




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    1. Both black tea and green tea come from the same plant, as well as oolong and white tea. I don’t how these particular effects vary between the different types of tea.




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  2. Wouldn’t the caffeine counteract the relaxing effects of the theanine? I’m very sensitive to caffeine; it makes me anxious. How could I get the benefits of green tea without the effects of caffeine? Is that at all possible?




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  3. How quickly does the effect dissipate after drinking a cup of tea? Basically, how often to I need to drink it to keep up the effect all day! I need this!
    Thanks!




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  4. I started drinking green tea based on the reports here and I plan to continue doing so. However, in my enthusiasm, spurred by the more recent video on cold brewing green tea, I recently started drinking half a pitcher a day. But I’m quite sure I had a strong reaction against this which caused my eyes to be very heavy upon waking in the morning as well as a general feeling of sinus congestions, and a bit like feeling “hung over.” My research suggested that it was likely the histamine in tea or possibly the caffeine which would have a dehydrating effect. I stopped with the tea and the sensation went away within a couple of day. So, is there anything to this? Should we limit tea to 2-3 cups per day? This video suggests that 2 cups is enough for this considerable impact so… is more always better?




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    1. I should also add that I always notice some dryness in my throat after drinking green tea. Also, maybe I’m more susceptible to histamine… as red wine often gives me a headache within 15 minutes of drinking it.




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  5. Dr. Greger, what about the high concentrations of aluminum in green and black teas? According to the NCI, “aluminum can accumulate in the body and cause osteomalacia
    and neurodegenerative disorders, especially in individuals with renal failure” — not to mention, Alzheimer’s disease. While NCI also states that it’s not clear how much of the aluminum in tea is bioavailable, wouldn’t it be better to stick with herbal teas (like Hibiscus) just to be safe?




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  6. hi dr. greger, and thank you for the wealth of information you provide here!

    on the question of green tea, i am wondering how white tea stacks up?

    white tea seems not to have been as widely studied and the only information i can find is that it’s antioxidant content is higher than green tea or other teas. is it possible that the fermentation process yields benefits in green tea that are not present in white tea, since it is not fermented?

    i’ve been drinking organic pai mu tan for years now but now i’m wondering if that is the right choice. any thoughts would be welcome!




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  7. I’m in the USA. Anyone ever noticed that in British films, whenever a situation becomes emotionally difficult for someone, they are always offered tea? (In addition to the requisite tea drinking at every possible juncture of the day.) I also noticed this when I visited England. I always thought it was because the English were uncomfortable expressing or talking about emotions – and uncomfortable being around someone who might be about to lose their composure (even if for a good reason). Is it possible that this emotional-tea-offering is NOT because they can’t stand emotive situations, rather, should it be seen like offering someone an aspirin for a headache?

    If you are from The Commonweath, I invite your comment.




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    1. ReluctantVegan: I’m from the USA too, so I can’t meet your request.

      But I wanted to say that I thought it was an interesting post and that it reminded me a bit of the Big Bang Theory — a TV show. One of the main characters in the Big Bang Theory has trouble with social skills. But he is able to remember rules. One of the rules his mom taught him was to offer friends hot beverages for various emotional situations. In the show, there is a different, specific hot beverage for specific emotions. Ahh. If only life were really that easily fix-able.




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    2. I feel like I can relate to what you said. I always felt a calming, yet mildly stimulating effect from drinking black tea aka “a brew” in the north west of England or “a cuppa” in London. It is a nice comfort in uncomfortable times, wether it be the dull, cold and messy weather that we have most of the year, or after having to endure some mundane job all day long.




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  8. I drink 2 cups of Puerh tea daily to keep my cholesterol down. It was recommended to me by a tea store. I’m concerned about the lead content since it’s from China. Would other teas also lower my cholesterol? I am not on medication and I eat a whole food, plant based diet. I’ve added hibiscus tea in the afternoons. Not sure which tea lowered my triglycerides significantly but one of them has. Should I eliminate Puerh tea and what would be my replacement tea for cholesterol help?




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    1. Hello. I drank tea for mental health problems which it did not solve, though causing the alpha brain wave was supposed to be the highest calling of psychiatry. I found out about orthomolecular medicine, which said all people with dark shiners underneath their eyes have a milk allergy, all people on city water with spots under the nails have a zinc deficiency, and I have pellagra, a Niacin deficiency. You probably, like many kinds of life, have a shortage of Nitrogen because your food is being cooked. I took two grams of Niacin a day and am much better. You should consider researching vitamins, megadosing, and othromolecular medicine for high triglycerides. You are a fine person, not a traitor, and are someone I believe in. People with Niacin deficiency have superior genes. They are shock resistant, are artists, scientists, poets, philosophers. They are brilliant people some of whom have Nobel Prizes. They almost never get cancer. There is hope. I have been saved from my schizophrenia by vitamins to an extent. I hope you find the joy in hearing your high triglycerides is a biochemical problem, not a genetic one. Good work.




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  9. This video is life changing!!! Until now i never was fully ready to replace coffee with tea,for the main reason, that coffee is stronger stimulator than tea and helped me to focus,the most bothersome downside for me,was that my anxiety was elevated when i drink it,I thought that substituting coffee with tea wouldn’t help ,since tea also contain caffeine,until i saw this video,this is so great! we can enjoy both worlds,stimulate our brain(though less strong effect than coffee) and at the same time feel calm without stress or anxiety.

    Thank you Michael Greger for this video,It assisted me to make a best choice!




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  10. Are their any studies on how much Theanine in tea soy and other protein bind to and block absorption? If you drink 1 cup of tea with milk compared to without milk, how much Theanine would be absorbed with each?




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