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At Shine+ we believe it's important to be transparent and provide evidence for each our ingredients. As such, we don’t want to be another functional drink (energy, sports or health drink), which uses low quality ingredients and hides behind fancy footwork and branding campaigns. Accordingly, below we’ve outlined the key ingredients in Shine+, alongside clinical research findings on how they benefit you and your mind.

shine drink to think brighter

Background on cognitive function

Mental performance involves aspects of cognitive function (e.g. memory and attention) and mood (e.g. alertness, calmness). “Cognitive function” is a term used to describe a great variety of different neurocognitive or brain-mediated mental processes. These brain functions allow us to perceive, evaluate, store, manipulate, and use information from external sources (i.e. our environment) and internal sources (experience, memory, concepts, thoughts), and to respond to this information appropriately and flexibly.

 Cognitive functions can be clustered into several main domains, including:

Each of the cognitive domains can be further divided in a number of more specified functions. For example:

Executive function encompasses more complex processes such as reasoning, planning, evaluation and strategic thinking. Memory can be subdivided into “working memory”, where information is held, and secondary memory where information is stored and retrieved at a later date. Attention can be subdivided in selective, focused, sustained and divided attention.  

As well as dispositional or internal factors, mental energy and or cognitive function is influenced by situational factors including mood and arousal. Any effect of a nutritional intervention on these factors may have an effect upon cognitive function.

Ingredients contained in √

Caffeine

Caffeine is a widely consumed stimulant drug. It works by blocking the actions of adenosine [1] which normally has an inhibitory effect on a number of neurotransmitters (chemical transmitters in the brain). The net effect of caffeine is therefore to increase stimulation and arousal:

Figure 1. Actions of caffeine are attributable to its effects on adenosine receptors.

Studies into the effects of caffeine have found that the effects on mental performance can occur at lower levels to the ‘felt effects’.

The most consistent effects on cognition arise at doses of caffeine from 50 to 200 mg or more, although effects at 12.5 mg on reaction time have been reported.

Ginkgo Biloba

The Ginkgo biloba tree is one of the oldest surviving tree species on earth, leading to its description as a ‘living fossil’ [5]. The history of medicinal use of extracts and infusions made from Ginkgo leaves in Traditional Chinese Medicine go back millennia.

In France and Germany Ginkgo biloba extract is prescribed for the treatment of conditions including tinnitus, headache and dizziness as well as for depression, anxiety, confusion and problems with memory and concentration [6, 7]. In North America in the early 1990s Ginkgo became one of the most widely used supplements for memory enhancement in the [6].

Neuroprotective effects of Ginkgo:

In relation to the long-term neuroprotective effects of Ginkgo, a number of mechanisms have been proposed, including: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, preservation of mitochondria function / increased ATP production, inhibition of β amyloid formation, reduction in neuron apoptosis, and enhancement of cholinergic transmission [8, 9]. However, human trials into the long-term effects of ginkgo have been less convincing.

Effects of Ginkgo in a healthy population:

The acute behavioural effects of Ginkgo have been assessed in a number of double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials. The best controlled of these are summarised in Table 2. These show that the specific extracts of Ginkgo biloba used in the trials may acutely improve cognitive function at doses of 120 mg and above.

Study

Extract

Doses

Main findings

Hindmarch (1986)

EGb761

120 mg

240 mg

600 mg

 

600 mg: improved working memory (1 h)

Warot et al. (1991)

EGb761

600 mg

improved free recall (not working memory) (1 h)

Rigney et al. (1999)

LI1370

120 mg

150 mg

240 mg

300 mg

120 mg: improved working memory (day 1)

300 mg: improved working memory (day 1)

240 mg: improved working memory (day 2)

Moulton et al. (2001)

LI1370

120 mg

no interpretable effects

Kennedy et al. (2000)

GK501

120 mg

240 mg

360 mg

120 mg: improved quality of memory (1 h, 6 h)

240 mg: improved speed of attention (2.5 h, 4 h, 6 h)

360 mg: improved speed of attention (2.5 h, 4 h, 6 h)

Kennedy et al. (2002)

GK501

360 mg

improved quality of memory (6 h)

Nathan et al. (2002)

Ginkgoforce

120 mg

no effect (90 min)

Scholey and Kennedy (2002)

GK501

120 mg

240 mg

360 mg

120 mg: improved Serial Threes (4 h)

240 mg: improved Serial Threes (4 h, 6 h)

360 mg: improved Serial Threes (4 h)

Kennedy et al. (2007c)

GK501

120 mg

reduced Choice Reaction Time accuracy (2.5 h, 4 h, 6 h)

slowed spatial working memory reaction time (6 h)

Kennedy et al. (2007a)*

GK501

120 mg

improved quality of memory (1 h, 6 h)

L-theanine found in Green Tea extract

L-theanine (γ-glutamylethylamide) is one of the predominant amino acids found in green tea (Camellia sinensis) and is also present in other species of Camellia as well as in the edible bay boletes mushroom Xerocomus badius. Theanine is structurally similar to the amino acid neurotransmitter l-glutamate. It is water soluble, readily absorbed and crosses the blood- brain barrier, reaching peak concentrations in mammals between 30 and 120 min [2,3].

Scientific findings on L-theanine and caffeine 

In a study into the effects of caffeine and L-theanine alone and in combination, there were several effects on mood and cognitive performance (both positive and negative) associated with 250 mg L-theanine alone [4]. Compared with placebo, L-theanine was associated with faster choice reaction times at both 30 and 90 min but impaired aspects of working memory.

There were also a number of measures that appeared to be differentially sensitive to an L-theanine-caffeine combination. In the case of simple reaction time, accuracy of rapid visual information processing and ‘alertness’ ratings the positive effects of caffeine alone were numerically greater in the caffeine-L-theanine conditions, while the enhancing effects of caffeine on choice reaction time was reduced by the addition of theanine. 

Turmeric

Most research points to curcumin being the active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin, a polyphenol from the rhizome of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) has been attributed with a range of beneficial properties which have led to the investigation of its therapeutic potential in numerous conditions. Many of these properties suggest that curcumin may prevent or ameliorate pathological processes underlying age-related cognitive decline and dementia. For example, curcumin may inhibit amyloid pathology [10, 13], protect against oxidative stress [13-19], and reduce inflammation [20-22].

Curcumin has been reported to protect against neurodegeneration and promote neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity [15, 23-25], and to beneficially influence various neurotransmitter systems [25-30].

Curcumin: Human studies

Epidemiological studies suggest that dietary curcumin may be associated with better cognitive function [31] and a lower prevalence of dementia [32, 33]. Animal studies support the notion that curcumin could assist cognitive function as they have demonstrated its ability to prevent or reverse deficits in memory and cognition associated with aging [14, 17, 23], stress [24], epilepsy [34] oxidative stress [17], anxiety [35], traumatic brain injury [15], and dementia [26, 36].

However, most commercially available curcumin has extremely low bioavailability and is unlikely to impart cognitive benefits. Only one human trial has found benefits of curcumin to cognitive function in healthy adults. This used a lipidated extract of curcumin which increases bioavailability substantially.

Siberian Ginseng

Extracts of Eleutherococcus senticosus are referred to as Siberian ginseng, although it does not belong to the same Panax family as other ginsengs, including the widely researched Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). Nevertheless, like other ginsengs, It is considered to be an adaptogen – i.e. a substance that raises non-specific resistance to environmental stressors.

Scientific literature

One study has evaluated the effects of 300 mg daily Siberian ginseng for 10 weeks [37] in a small cohort of older individuals. The study reported improvements in a number of indices of quality of life including higher social functioning and mental component. Interestingly these effects were evident at a 4-week interim assessment but not at the 8-week endpoint.

Vitamins B6 & B12

Clinical trials investigating the effects of broad spectrum multivitamin nutrient (MVN) preparations, including those with the full complement of  B-vitamins in healthy adults have generally observed a positive impact on mood, with a recent meta-analysis indicating significant benefits to subjective stress, sub-clinical psychiatric symptoms and a range of mood dimensions [38]. Recent examples include significant positive effects for aspects of everyday mood following 28 days supplementation with a B vitamin-rich MVN preparation.

Green Tea extract

EGCG: background

Tea, prepared from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, has been a popular beverage throughout human history. Epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of tea (including green, black and oolong varieties) to a number of beneficial outcomes for brain health, including lower levels of depression and psychological distress [60,61] and a decreased incidence of cognitive decline [63-65]. Only recently, however, have randomised controlled trials (RCTs) been conducted in order to investigate the acute effects of isolated tea constituents in regards to cognition and mood. The major constituents of green tea include the amino acid γ-N-ethylglutamine (L-theanine), caffeine (3% and 2-5% respectively to both green and black tea [86], and the tea catechins, a class of polyphenols.

The four major tea catechins are (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (-)- epicatechin gallate (ECG) and (-)-epicatechin (EC). Of these EGCG is the most prominent, accounting for 50-80% of total catechins [67]. While much is already known about the nootropic effects of caffeine, there is a relative scarcity of knowledge in regards to the acute effects of L-theanine and EGCG on cognition and mood. Data has recently begun to emerge demonstrating acute neurocognitive benefits associated with EGCG [39,40] where there have been two controlled trials into neurocognitive and mood effects.

EGCG: relevant mood and cognitive effects

A number of preclinical, chronic, and acute studies have demonstrated an improvement in alertness, attention, mood, memory and spatial memory after ingestion of tea or tea compounds [39, 40-47]. Additionally, epidemiological data suggests that more than two cups a day of green tea, or a combination of green tea extract and L-theanine, improve memory and attentional deficits in those with mild cognitive impairments [45,46]. Recently, [42] demonstrated that the administration of EGCG increased cell density in the hippocampus and aided neurogenesis through the proliferation of progenitor cells. Additionally, iron chelation processes were encouraged by EGCG [48, 49] thereby preventing iron accumulation, neurofibril tangles, and amyloid plaque build-up in the brain - characteristics of neurotoxicity and neurodegenerative disease [50].

EGCG: cognitive effects

The acute cognitive effects of green tea are less investigated and understood. Preclinical studies have shown EGCG exerts strong effects on cardiovascular pathophysiology[51] and produces behavioural and anatomical improvements with brain development decrements [52]. Human studies of acute administration have shown decreases in blood pressure [53] and increases in calmness while producing attentive and alert states [39]; this is particularly interesting as moderate levels of stress are related to the most proficient performance outcomes[54-56].

Two human RCTs have directly examined the acute effects of EGCG on neurocognitive function. One [53] examined the effects of 135 mg and 270 mg of EGCG (Teavigo, DSM Nutritional Products) on cerebral blood flow, cognitive performance and mood measured from 45 – 90 min post-ingestion. The lower dose was associated with reduced frontal cerebral blood flow. There were, however no changes on mood or cognitive performance. Using 300 mg of the same product Scholey and colleagues [39] found improvements in self-rated ‘alertness’ and reduced self-rated ‘stress’, accompanied with greater activation in the frontal and medial frontal gyrus and increases in beta waves measured from 2 h post-administration (see figure). The difference between the two studies is likely due to differences in the timing of the mood measurements. Previous studies have indicated that functional changes in blood flow peak at around 2 h post EGCG ingestion [53]. Additionally, it may be that the 300 mg dose represents a threshold dose necessary for subjective changes.

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