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A molecule in green tea may be a natural memory enhancer.

A molecule in green tea may be a natural memory enhancer.

As a part of its ongoing "Ask an Expert" Series aimed to address the medical concerns of aging Baby Boomers, in November, The New York Times invited readers to send in their questions for Duke University psychiatry professor and Alzheimer's expert Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy. Based on the overwhelming volume of responses the newspaper received, it was evident that memory loss is a major concern among this generation – and understandably so.

Current statistics from the Alzheimer's Association indicate that five million Americans – or one in eight senior citizens – are currently living with the disorder, and this number is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.

In order to address what may become an international health crisis, medical researchers have been exploring various means of treating this degenerative disorder and potentially preventing – or at least delaying – its onset. Much of this research has been centered on compounds that may be able to stop the formation of amyloid plaque in the brain, as this buildup is characteristic of the disease.

Most recently, scientists from the University of Michigan (UM) have discovered that a specific molecule found in green tea – which is already known to have various benefits for physical and brain health – may be able to stop the formation and even eradicate the buildup of amyloid proteins that contain metals like zinc and copper.

"A lot of people are very excited about this molecule," UM Life Sciences Institute assistant professor and researcher Mi Hee Lim said in a press release, adding that the potential use of this molecule would likely be in conjunction with other treatment methods.

"We believe you have to have a lot of approaches working together, because the brain is very complex, " she said.

While further research is required to corroborate this finding, it still bears promising news for individuals who are worried about memory loss as they age. In addition, past studies have also shown that another natural compound known for its ample health benefits – curcumin – may act as a brain enhancer that combats amyloid plaque.

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