The purine alkaloid theacrine, found in the leaves of the kucha tea leaf variant, is an up-and-coming ingredient for energy and performance supplements, though research around it is still scarce.
A pilot study published in 2014 and funded by Compound Solutions, who markets theacrine as TeaCrine, found that the alkaloid positively impacted subjective “energy” levels and some indices of mental performance in a visual analog scale (VAS).
To further understand the alkaloid, researchers at the University of Memphis compared cognitive performance and mood after ingesting TheaTrim—a finished product by Purus Labs containing the branded TeaCrine as well as caffeine—with just a caffeine supplement or a placebo.
The study was funded by the University of Memphis and contract dietary supplement manufacturing company Formulife.
Selecting the study participants
The researchers made sure the sample of participants were homogenous, a group consisting of 10 men and 10 women between the ages of 18 and 31 years “knowing that this group is most likely to consume dietary supplements designed to enhance energy, in addition to the fact that cognitive ability often decreases with age,” the researchers wrote.
Subjects were assessed for health history and physical activity during the initial laboratory visit. Then, the participants were given their lab visit schedule. The participants visited the lab three different days, separated by a week in between each visit. During each visit, the participants ingested either TheaTrim, 150 mg of caffeine, or a placebo, so that by the end of the study, each participant has ingested one of each.
Before, and for up to 4 hours following ingestion, subjects completed a subjective assessment of energy and mood. In addition, their heart rate and blood pressure were measured, and the participants were given a trail making test and digit symbol substitution test to measure cognitive performance.
Not quite caffeine
According to the researchers, cognitive performance, based on the two tests, did not significantly improve after ingestion of all three options. However, a questionnaire survey of subjective feelings related to energy and mood found that TheaTrim fared favorably compared to caffeine alone and placebo.
For example, there was a lower trend for participants to feel jittery, groggy or lethargic after ingesting the theacrine-containing product compared to just caffeine.
As for blood pressure and heart rate, no significant change was noted for any participant after ingesting any of the three conditions.
“The current study was, to our knowledge, only the third human trial to evaluate the ingredient known as theacrine,” the researchers wrote. “Future work is needed to extend these initial findings, perhaps using theacrine alone as well as within multi-ingredient dietary supplements.”
Another study that has been released is one that proves TeaCrine, the theacrine marketed by Compound Solutions, to be safe and non-habituating, as well as having some cholesterol-lowering properties.
Published online, doi:10.3390/nu7115484
"Cognitive Performance and Mood Following Ingestion of a Theacrine-Containing Dietary Supplement, Caffeine, or Placebo by Young Men and Women"
Authors: D.J. Kuhman, K.J. Joyner, R.J. Bloomer