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Phytomedicine. 2017 Oct 15;34:26-37. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.07.008. Epub 2017 Jul 27.

Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review.

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University of Basel, Department of Psychiatry, Wilhelm Klein Str. 27, 4012 Basel, Switzerland.
University Hospital Basel, Department of Gastroenterology, 4031 Basel, Switzerland.
University of Basel, Department of Psychiatry, Wilhelm Klein Str. 27, 4012 Basel, Switzerland; King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Psychosis Studies, London, United Kingdom. Electronic address:



Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is a beverage consumed for thousands of years. Numerous claims about the benefits of its consumption were stated and investigated. As green tea is experiencing a surge in popularity in Western culture and as millions of people all over the world drink it every day, it is relevant to understand its effects on the human brain.


To assess the current state of knowledge in the literature regarding the effects of green tea or green tea extracts, l-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate both components of green tea-on general neuropsychology, on the sub-category cognition and on brain functions in humans.


We systematically searched on PubMed database and selected studies by predefined eligibility criteria. We then assessed their quality and extracted data. We structured our effort according to the PRISMA statement.


We reviewed and assessed 21 studies, 4 of which were randomised controlled trials, 12 cross-over studies (both assessed with an adapted version of the DELPHI-list), 4 were cross-sectional studies and one was a cohort study (both assessed with an adapted version of the Newcastle-Ottawa assessment scale). The average study quality as appraised by means of the DELPHI-list was good (8.06/9); the studies evaluated with the Newcastle-Ottawa-scale were also good (6.7/9).


The reviewed studies presented evidence that green tea influences psychopathological symptoms (e.g. reduction of anxiety), cognition (e.g. benefits in memory and attention) and brain function (e.g. activation of working memory seen in functional MRI). The effects of green tea cannot be attributed to a single constituent of the beverage. This is exemplified in the finding that beneficial green tea effects on cognition are observed under the combined influence of both caffeine and l-theanine, whereas separate administration of either substance was found to have a lesser impact.


Brain functions; Cognitive functioning; Green tea

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