The Anti-Hypertensive Green & Black Tea


A new study from the University of California, Irvine, US, shows that compounds in both green and black tea relax blood vessels by activating ion channel proteins in the blood vessel wall. The discovery helps explain the anti-hypertensive properties of tea and could lead to the design of new blood pressure-lowering medications.

Published in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, the discovery was made by the laboratory of Dr Geoffrey Abbott, PhD, a professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the UCI School of Medicine. Kaitlyn Redford, a graduate student in the Abbott Lab, was first author of the study titled, “KCNQ5 potassium channel activation underlies vasodilation by tea.”

Results from the research revealed that two catechin-type flavonoid compounds [epicatechin gallate and epigallocatechin-3-gallate] found in tea, activate a specific type of ion channel protein named KCNQ5, which allows potassium ions to diffuse out of cells to reduce cellular excitability. As KCNQ5 is found in the smooth muscle that lines blood vessels, its activation by tea catechins was also predicted to relax blood vessels — a prediction confirmed by collaborators at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

“We found by using computer modelling and mutagenesis studies that specific catechins bind to the foot of the voltage sensor, which is the part of KCNQ5 that allows the channel to open in response to cellular excitation. This binding allows the channel to open much more easily and earlier in the cellular excitation process,” explained Dr Abbott.

Well, as one third of the world’s adult population have hypertension, and this condition is considered to be the number one modifiable risk factor for global cardiovascular disease and premature mortality, new approaches to treating hypertension have enormous potential to improve global public health. Prior studies demonstrated that consumption of green or black tea can reduce blood pressure by a small but consistent amount, and catechins were previously found to contribute to this property. Identification of KCNQ5 as a novel target for the hypertensive properties of tea catechins may facilitate medicinal chemistry optimisation for improved potency, or efficacy. — Source: Kaitlyn E Redford, Salomé Rognant, Thomas A Jepps, Geoffrey W Abbott, “KCNQ5 Potassium Channel Activation Underlies Vasodilation by Tea,” ©Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, 2021 DOI: 10.33594/000000337

Meditation & Spiritual Wellness ‘Ups’ Cognitive Function In Aging

It is projected that up to 152 million people worldwide will be living with Alzheimer’s disease [AD] by 2050. To date there are no drugs that have a substantial positive impact on either the prevention, or reversal of cognitive decline. A growing body of evidence finds that targeting lifestyle and vascular risk factors have a beneficial effect on overall cognitive performance. A new review in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, published by IOS Press, examines research that finds spiritual fitness, a new concept in medicine that centres on psychological and spiritual well-being, and Kirtan Kriya, a simple 12-minute meditative practice, may reduce multiple risk factors for AD.

“The key point of this review is that making a commitment to a brain longevity lifestyle, including spiritual fitness, is a critically important way for aging Alzheimer’s disease free,” explain authors Dr Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, Tucson, AZ, USA, and Dr Andrew B Newberg, MD, Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, Department of Radiology, Marcus Institute of Integrative Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. “We hope this article will inspire scientists, clinicians, and patients to embrace this new concept of spiritual fitness and make it a part of every multi-domain programme for the prevention of cognitive disability.”

Research reveals that religious and spiritual involvement can preserve cognitive function as we age. The authors observe that, today, spirituality is often experienced outside the context of an organised religion and may be part of every religion, or separate to it. Spiritual fitness is a new dimension in AD prevention, interweaving basic, psychological and spiritual well-being. The authors discuss the research on how these factors affect brain function and cognition. For example, psychological wellbeing may reduce inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and disability. Significantly, individuals who have a high score on a ‘purpose in life’ [PIL] measure, a component of psychological well-being, were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of AD than individuals with low PIL. In another study, participants who reported higher levels of PIL exhibited better cognitive function, and further, PIL protected those with already existing pathological conditions, thus slowing their decline. — Source: Dharma Singh Khalsa, Andrew B Newberg, “Spiritual Fitness: A New Dimension in Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention,” ©Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2021; 80 [2]: 505 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-201433

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