Jenny Wu

Coffee drinkers live longer and have a reduced risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So, caffeine is good for you, right?

Maybe not. 

Evidence shows that caffeine actually causes adverse effects such as elevated blood pressure and hypertension. So how can coffee be providing benefits? Jeffry B. Stock, a professor in the Molecular Biology department and the co-founder of the biopharmaceutical company Signum Biosciences, has a new take on the beneficial effects of coffee. His research indicates that, EHT, a relatively minor component of coffee, rather than caffeine, may be responsible for the health benefits of coffee consumption.

Professor Stock searched for compounds in coffee that interact with protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), an enzyme that acts as a master regulator of neuronal function. PP2A plays a central role in responses to chronic stresses that lead to neurodegeneration and senile dementia. So, it was logical to look and see if there was anything in coffee that interacted with PP2A so as to maintain it in a healthy state. This led to the discovery of EHT’s neuroprotective effects.

In a variety of mouse and rat neurodegenerative disease models, dietary supplementation with EHT had beneficial effects. In studies with dopaminergic neurons, EHT protects against toxins that can cause Parkinsonian disorders, EHT also provides dramatic behavioral benefits in a mouse model for Lewy Body Disease and Parkinsonian Dementia. Moreover, in a transgenic rat model for dementia of the Alzheimer’s type, EHT produced dramatic increases in memory functions. Fortunately, there is no indication of any harmful side effects of EHT, for instance, mice and rats fed high levels of EHT for more than a year exhibit no negative side effects.

People who have regularly taken pre-launch samples of the supplement report a variety of health benefits. Besides having reduced risk of neurodegeneration, coffee drinkers seem to be protected from Type 2 diabetes, and Dr. Stock thinks that EHT could be of benefit in this respect as well. Moreover, because of its neuroprotective potential, athletes who are prone to experience repeated brain trauma might also benefit from EHT dietary supplementation.

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