Green tea: Why anxiety sufferers should be drinking it

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Green tea. It’s probably not high on the list on people’s favourite brand of aromatic beverage – and it isn’t difficult to see why. After my first cup of the stuff I regretted not just settling for some good old some fashioned Earls Grey or a reliable, sugar sweetened cup of PG Tips. Both are far more delectable, and actually give me  reason to force myself out of bed and endure what ever life has in store for me on that particular day.

Yet for the past year or so I have been consuming it on a daily basis. Usually 2-3 cups a day. Though I’ve even gone as far as 5 on days where my craving for its relaxing stimulants are particularly high.

Why on earth would I drink something that tastes so utterly distasteful?

If you’ve ever tried green tea you’ll be familiar with that bitter, dry sensation that makes the roof of your mouth feel like sandpaper, and your subsequent search for something sweet to wash it away with . So rest assured, it’s attractiveness does not lie in its taste. Well personally, it does nothing to satisfy the intricacies of my palate.

Instead, its benefit lies in the relaxing sensation I receive after I finish each cup. Nothing too palpable mind – the anxieties are still there, yet more subtle somehow. Sure enough, history has taught us that, due to being nearly almost non-fermented and therefore the most natural type of tea available, it provides a range of psychological benefits.

Did you know that the properties of this drink , which has its roots in ancient China, are beneficial not only for physical ailments, but psychological ones as well? In fact, both the Chinese and the Japanese have used it as ‘a medication to relieve stress and as a mediator for meditation for hundreds of years’, so you can certainly argue that it has been a relevant part of human history for a very long time- and for good reason.

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Without further ado these are a few reasons as to why you should make green tea part of your staple diet:

  1. First of all, research has shown that consuming green tea results in ‘high levels of EGCG  […] in your blood and brain’. EGCG is a poly-phenol  that has the potential to positively affect human health and disease. A study suggests that it has a positive impact on neurons found in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with forming memories. This is because the research team found ‘that the EGCG in green tea promotes neurogenesis — neuron creation — in the hippocampus of adult mice, thus improving cognitive function’ – since severe anxiety is capable of causing memory loss over time, this indicator can only be a good thing!
  2. L theanine is an amino acid  also found in green tea that crosses the blood barrier and. Specifically it not only produces feelings of relaxation, but it has been shown to be responsible for increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, dopamine. This means that, in a stressful situations, l theanine produces anti stress effects, thus allowing you to handle said situation in a more calm manner.
  3. The effect of drinking green tea may also include positives such as ‘maintain alertness, focused attention, and accuracy and may modulate the more acute effects of higher doses of caffeine’. Seeing as having concentration issues is also a common symptom of anxiety, any help with focusing on the outside world and the negative thoughts sounds promising!

So do I or don’t I?

I am by no means advocating that this substance is an elixir to everybody who suffers with some form of anxiety disorder. It should not be used as a replacement for any medication you may be being prescribed and you may wish to consult with a doctor before taking it alongside whatever course of drugs you’re on (green tea can interfere with the intended effects of several types of medication) I am also not suggesting that it will work for everybody. Do your own research and go from there.

As a side note, while this blog is primarily focused on mental illness , I would feel irresponsible if I did not briefly mention that much of green tea’s supposed extraordinary effects on the body have been blown out of proportion. Something that this recent article highlights in a way better than I could.

Yet the facts speak for themselves.Studies have proven that it is possible for it to decrease stress and promote relaxation, and here I have listed only some of the extraordinary claims made around it. If it does have the potential to help alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety, surely that thought alone is enough to give it a try?

That’s if you can get over the bitter taste of course. Be warned. It might take some practise. Or unlike me, you could do the sensible thing and check out ways to improve its less than impressive taste by looking at sites such as this one. Hindsight truly is a wonderful thing

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So are you an avid green tea drinker like myself? Or perhaps the taste is off putting enough for you to try to find other means to control the amount of stress happening in your life? If you have an opinion on anything covered in this entry please feel free to contribute your views in the comment section below!

 

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14 thoughts on “Green tea: Why anxiety sufferers should be drinking it

  1. Interesting post, I think I will give green tea a go especially if you can add lemon or honey to taste. Is there any particular type or brand of green tea you use? Possibly will be different because I am in Australia…

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  2. I drink green tea also, but not nearly as often as I should! When I’m particularly run down or miserable with a cold I crave it, I think because it really has a lot of medicinal qualities. On a normal day it’s really hard to pick the green tea over the English breakfast, Russian caravan (delicious!) or a cup of coffee (all the stimulants that my anxiety does not need). I am thinking of trying green matcha tea this week. Great post 🙂

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    1. I can completely sympathise with that. To make it part of my morning routine was initially difficult, but now I don’t even think about it. I’d advise starting off by drinking a cup 2/3 days of a week for the first few weeks. Then gradually build on that.

      I also really need to check out green matcha. I’m used to the taste of green tea but it would be nice to actually enjoy its flavour too! Thank you for commenting 🙂

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  3. Hmm. One thing I can say is that if you get green tea in a teabag and it’s produced by a Western company (like I hypothesize Twinings may be), try only letting the bag soak for less than a minute — 45 seconds, at most. If memory serves me, they say to let it soak for 3-4 minutes, but this will give you strongly overbrewed tea. This is where the acrid feel and the bitterness come from.

    Also: do not pour still-boiling water over green tea. The water should have stopped boiling before it meets any tea leaves.

    If you can get loose dried tea leaves from a supplier who deals with Asian clientele, the tea should be much milder. Right now I’m getting mine from a produce market nearby which offers things like fresh musubi (filled rice balls — a Japanese thing).

    If you can find a bottled iced green tea like Tea’s Tea, or…I forget the name of the other brand…Oi Ocha? by Ito En…which has no sugar or sweeteners in it, that is what green tea should taste like. Companies which primarily make black tea generally don’t know how to do green.

    Try checking out a book from a library on types of tea. The Tea’s Tea brand got me started on Iron Goddess tea (Tieguanyin), which is very good. (Although, Iron Goddess is oolong, I think; not green.) The type I get from the produce market can be steeped in near-boiling water in a pitcher until the water cools, and it’s still drinkable. It can also be refreshed with more near-boiling water. Same goes for Jasmine green tea, though I think my favorite now is Tieguanyin, not Jasmine green, though the latter used to be my favorite. 🙂

    There are also other varieties like sencha (a mid-grade, everyday green tea) and kukicha (roasted camellia twig tea)…which have different flavors. This is not to get into other varieties like Dragonwell. I would advise to steer clear of the Gunpowder Green variety, though, unless you’re okay with a bunch of leaf fragments and powder in your cup.

    If you can find the brand Yamamotoyama, they make a good standard green tea which is sometimes found in regular supermarkets. Just be careful not to overbrew it. It shouldn’t be bitter or too dark.

    You might also be able to stop in by a Chinese or Japanese food restaurant (possibly also Korean, as most Japanese food restaurants I know of are run by Korean owners)…and I’ve never done this, but it’s possible to ask what kind of tea they use. This tea is designed to be brewed over a long period of time as the pot sits on a table, and to be refreshed with more hot water. It can get bitter, but that’s generally at the end of the pot where there are tons of tea leaves in the bottom and only a little hot water. The tea generally then also gets really dark in color, though if it’s diluted it can be drinkable.

    Good luck!

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    1. You certainly have an extensive knowledge regarding this subject! Thank you for informing me of all this.

      I had heard of the less than a minute rule before in regards to brewing Western produced tea, and that’s something I do try to abide by. Yet not all of the other details you mention. I might try and invest in actually getting loose dried tea leaves from a supplier who deals with Asian clientele, as you suggest.

      While I am used to the taste of the stuff I am by no means adverse to making taste nicer. Thanks once again for taking the time to comment! 🙂

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  4. Great post! I do drink green tea – not as much as I should as the bitterness is tough – but I’ve also read about lead in green tea leaves, especially from China, but I don’t know if there’s enough research to see if it is significant. I hope the health benefits outweigh any negatives. I heard loose leaves are better than the bagged variety, but I’ll keep drinking what I’ve got. I bought a nice variety pack from Trader Joe’s, and I’ve enjoyed that. Putting honey in helps too! Cheers!

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  5. Thanks for the great information! My mom is bipolar, and I am going to start brew this tomorrow for the both of us! Keep up the work with your blog. I love it!

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