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.
Without further ado these are a few reasons as to why you should make green tea part of your staple diet:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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
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!
Emotional support helplines:
Samaritans :116 123
Rethink Mental Illness advice line 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 09:30-16:00; local rate)
Sane Line:0845 767 8000
Mind also has a useful guide of support and services, which can be found by clicking the link right here