|Image 1: Coffee vs. tea, if it comes to the persistent dopaminergic "get going" effect it appears that a hitherto hardly known tea variety, Camellia Kucha has the edge on the #1 average westerner's #1 morning drink.|
Theacrine the non-sensitizing, no-tolerance locomotor activator from Camellia kucha
Feduccia et al. have been able to show that the intra-peritoneal administratoin of the human equivalent of 8mg/kg theacrine (1,2,7,9-tetramethyluric acid) a naturally occurring purine alkaloid with structural similarities to caffeine and established anti-inflammatory and analgesic (=pain reducing), as well as anti-depressant effects (Wang. 2010; Xie. 2009), boosts the physical activity of rodents by more than 130% (note: since i.p. injection have a higher bioavailability you better make the HED 10+mg/kg, if you want to see similar results; this is all the more true, in view of the fact that the lower 4mg/kg equivalent did not produce significant increases in motor activity in the study at hand).
|Figure 1: Increase in locomotor activity after intra-peritoneal administration of the 24 or 48mg/kg Theacrine (human equivaled, HED: 4mg/kg or 8mg/kg; data adapted from Feduccia. 2012)|
Nice, but what exactly is the advantage over caffeine?
In order to be able to give you a better idea of the actual effect size, as well as to underline the importance of the fact that even after 7 days of repeated administration, the locomotor activity counts did not change compared to day 1, I plotted data from a similar study on the effects of a low-dose of oral caffeine (HED ~280mg) on the locomotor activity of rats (Ball. 2009).
|Figure 2: Ambulatory distance at day 1 and day 4 with and without daily administration of 3.5mg/kg caffeine (Ball. 2009).|
Update (05-20-2012): In response to questions on Facebook and the comment area, here on the SuppVersity, a brief summary of my formerly not mentioned, since unsuccessful attempts to identify whether or not you can buy this tea in the US or Europe. It appears as if, "Kucha" was a certain variety of the assamica variety of camellia sinensis. The latter is very commonly used in black teas, but the "Kucha" variety is probably the one with the highest theacrine content. According to Ye et al. it does contain 1.3-3.6% of the alkaloid in dried leaves - the exact content varied with season and the part of the leaves that was analyzed (Ye. 2003). If we assume a maximal extraction rate of ~80% in hot water, this would mean that a cup of tea brewed with a 2g bag could contain ~20,8-57,6mg of theacrine, which is obviously way too little to be effective. Which would make theacrine a potential candidate for a nutritional supplement - yet probably nothing you can ingest in significant amounts from your diet alone.
- Ball KT, Poplawsky A. Low-dose oral caffeine induces a specific form of
behavioral sensitization in rats. Pharmacol Rep. 2011 Nov;63(6):1560-3. PubMed
- Feduccia AA, et al, Locomotor activation by theacrine, a purine alkaloid structurally similar to caffeine: Involvement of adenosine and dopamine receptors, Pharmacol Biochem Behav (2012), doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2012.04.014
- F. Wang Y, Yang X, Zheng X, Li J, Ye C, Song X. Theacrine, a purine alkaloid with anti-inﬂammatory and analgesic activities. Fitoterapia 2010;81:627–31.
- Xie G, Wu M, Huang Y, Cao Y, Lai-dong L, He-liangl Z, et al. Experimental study of
theacrine on antidepressant effects. Chin Pharmacol Bull 2009.
- Ye Chuangxing, Hiroshi A, Zheng Xinqiang, Wang Xiujuan, Gao Kun, Zhang Hongda. New discovery of pattern of purine alkaloids in wild tea trees. Zhongshan da xue xue Bao. Zi ran ke xue ban = Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Sunyatseni. 2003, 42(1):62-65