Can caffeine reverse memory decline?



coffee-machineMornings aren’t the same without a cup of coffee in hand. Whether it may be a broadsheet you have in front of you or your computer monitor, hold that coffee cup nice and tight because a new research shows that coffee has more than just antioxidants under its belt of health benefits.

The research involved genetically modified aged mice that exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease being proportionally given an equivalent of five cups of coffee a day worth of caffeine. The results were astounding. The cognitive issues of the said mice were reversed, according to a report coming from the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Researcher Center (ADRC) researchers lead by Dr. Gary Arendash.

Recently published studies show that caffeine is a very good inhibitor of the protein linked to the disease, based on test results from both blood and the brains of the mice that showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These studies are considered as a continuation of previous research conducted by the Florida ADRC team showing that introduction of caffeine during early adulthood inhibits the onset of cognitive problems in old age in mice genetically modified to develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

55 mice were bred to exhibit dementia as they age, mimicking the symptoms of the said disease. Behavioral tests were then done to confirm the test mice aged18 to 19 months were showing signs of cognitive issues at an equivalent age of 70 human years. Half of the animals were given caffeine through their drinking water (test group) while the control group was given plain water. The test group mice took an equivalent of five cups of regular coffee every day. This is the same amount of caffeine you get from a large frap drink from your local coffee shop, or 20 soda cans or 14 cups of tea.

After two months of research, not only have did the caffeinated mice scored better on their tests measuring cognitive skills, researchers also have verified that the memory skills of the said mice were of the same level as to normal mice of younger age exhibiting no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The control mice showed very little or no difference at all with their memory skills.

Results also show a very significant decline (around 50% reduction) in the percentage of beta-amyloid, the protein responsible for the plaques on the brain, which when in abundance, is a classical sign of Alzheimer’s. Caffeine not only inhibits beta-amyloid but also suppresses inflammatory changes in the brain that lead to the high production of the said protein.

Promising as it may seem, questions always arise to clarify certain possible issues that may have been overlooked or questions that may lead to further knowledge or new discovery. Since it has been established that caffeine boost the memory of mice with Alzheimer’s, is it then safe to say that those that are exposed to caffeine from a very young age will do better in terms of memory? The researchers wanted to know if there would be any difference. To set things straight, another set of mice were given caffeine this time with the group being normal and is from young adulthood through old age. After a long research period, they collated the results for the control group and the caffeinated mice with both groups performing as well as the other.

“This suggests that caffeine will not increase memory performance above normal levels. Rather, it appears to benefit those destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease,” according to Dr. Arendash.

Though further, more rigorous research is needed, the use of caffeine has the great potential as a viable treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine is easily available and cheap. Give or take a couple of years from now, these new findings may be the start a new line of therapy and prophylaxis for Alzheimer’s. Caveat: do not forget that caffeine is not completely harmless. Excessive caffeine intake does come with health risks!

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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