Feeling sad lately and concerned you may be suffering from depression? You are not alone -- with depression being the most common psychiatric condition worldwide.
Luckily, studies show drinking matcha may help! According to a new clinical study published this year, there is new evidence to support matcha having antidepressant properties.
Is matcha good for depression? A new very notable study points to yes.
In the new study published this past February, Japanese researchers examining the antidepressant properties of matcha tea found that mice given matcha tea after periods of isolation were less stressed than those not given matcha tea. It seems that matcha powder may provide an antidepressant-type effect by activating the dopamine system of the brain.
Other studies have also shown that matcha may also be especially effective at helping combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a type of depression that is caused by limited daylight and rough weather days during winter months. (1)
Does matcha effect cortisol levels?
Matcha tea may also act as an anti-cortisol for the body. How does matcha lower coritsol levels?
Studies have shown drinking matcha can help stabilize blood sugar level, which, in turn, reduces the stress placed on the adrenal glands.
It's the high L-theanine content found in matcha that is often studied and acknowledged as the active ingredient responsible for lowering cortisol levels and triggering alpha waves in the brain. These alpha waves induce a sense of calm and serene alertness.
5 Ways to alleviate depression with matcha tea
Enjoy a matcha latte while you take a vitamin D supplement
Low levels of vitamin D— triggered by low intake of vitamin D and lack of sunlight exposure — is a hallmark symptom of SAD. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it needs to be taken with a fat in order to be properly digested and used by the body. A matcha latte made with cow, almond, or soy milk is the perfect drink to sip on when you take your vitamin D supplement in the wintertime.
Make matcha a ritual before your workouts
Matcha makes for a great pre-workout! Studies have shown matcha helps give your metabolism a kick, increasing your calorie burn during workouts and also helping get you in the mood to make it to the gym. Plus, people who suffer from SAD often have trouble sleeping at night or getting up in the mornings. Matcha can help you get int to the healthy habit of establishing a daily routine and alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression.
Schedule a matcha date (instead of coffee) with a friend
In the winter months, it's more important than ever to commit to socializing for your mental health. Preparing a delicious matcha drink is a great way to spend quality time with a loved one and also combat seasonal effective disorder. Plus, the caffeine in matcha is processed very differently by the body than the caffeine found in coffee, making it a great choice to have as an energy pick-me-up in the evenings. (2)
We'd say that snapping a photo over two brightly colored cups of green matcha is a great way to share healthy habits with other friends via social media too!
Wind down with matcha instead of wine
Matcha is a strong anti-inflammatory packed with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that also delivers a calming sensation. Unlike a glass of wine or coffee, matcha delivers a relaxed alertness that also has a mood-boosting effect, which can give you the winding down feeling a glass of wine does.
Add matcha powder to your recipes
Skip the artificial coloring agents and use matcha to add a natural and happy pop of color to your cookies, cakes, frosting, and more. Just adding green matcha powder to any of your favorite baking recipes is an easy way to give your confections a healthy kick as well as a beautiful bright green hue that helps evoke a feeling of joy. Matcha's green tea flavor pairs well with chocolate, vanilla, ginger, lemon, and more.
Matcha also tastes delicious and adds a burst of wellness to any warm cup of hot chocolate in the winter.
Interested in learning more about matcha for your mood? Keep reading for more details on how Matcha green tea and its special blend of natural elements makes it such a powerful tool against combating depression and more.
Green Tea for Mental Health | Matcha and Depression?
Eastern medicine has long recognized the benefits of matcha (and other tea) for physical and mental health. Yet, only recently is the U.S. beginning to catch up. Researchers are focused on matcha’s antioxidants, amino-acids, and important polyphenols for their role in the brain.
Each is under study independently and as a group (see Entourage Effect) for the daily benefits we need. Also, unlike poor quality green-tea powder, researchers are turning to traditionally grown matcha to accurately measure benefits. That’s because authentic matcha actually has a different chemical composition than common green-tea.
Traditional cultivation concentrates all forms of healthy compounds. One great example is ‘pre-harvest shading’ which slows tannin production in place of the amino-acid L-theanine, a known neuroregulator.
Overall, the precision cultivation improves key nutrient bioavailability. This gives researchers a better chance to understand cognitive health benefits.
Does matcha increase serotonin and dopamine?
Yes! Studies have shown that matcha can help increase the amount of dopamine and serotonin in one's brain, which can turn your frown upside down, improving your improve your mood and removing negative thoughts.
And, it turns out, the mood-boosting properties of matcha have also been linked to boosting cognitive and learning abilities, so you could almost say that matcha make even help make you smarter.
Those concerned with cognitive and mental health are in good company with matcha. The latest science points to compounds in matcha which can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Antioxidants like EGCG, and the unique amino-acid L-theanine are examples which may permeate into the brain.
That means your daily fuel may directly act on your neurochemistry. Suggested to support healthy levels of serotonin and dopamine, high quality matcha also means more of the good stuff makes it in!
Other studies have established promising benefits for typical symptoms of depression. But the growing focus towards treatment resistant depression (TRD) is arguably a more critical shift in mental health services.
Alternative Therapies for Depression | Matcha vs. Coffee for Depression
In the past couple years alone, leading psychologists have turned to fight those tougher cases. The Integrative Mental Health Conference (IMHC) affirmed that no safe or potentially beneficial treatment option should be left off the table.
During the conference, matcha was one of many exciting (novel) resources with potential to help treat resistant-depression. The conference also covered the surge of psychedelic-based treatment options.
Alongside the latest science, this direction ultimately serves as an important indicator that U.S. healthcare grows more desperate. Standard therapies (e.g. SSRIs) are becoming less effective at reaching treatment and patient goals, while doctors become more motivated to identify solutions.
In terms of how matcha is thought to help those with tough to treat depression, the explanations are varied. For one, because there is no single cause behind TRD. But imbalanced activity levels in regions of the brain, all the way to nutrition deficiencies may be involved. (3)
Nutrients good for Depression | Brain waves and Depression
Matcha is suggested both to promote balanced activity levels in the brain, and offer a daily nutritional boost with key vitamins and trace minerals. In these ways, it may complement the effectiveness of other treatment strategies for resistant-depression.
Also, it may work indirectly as an alternative to sugary (and over-caffeinated) energy drinks, often with their own side-effects. Whereas the appropriate levels of caffeine and L-theanine in matcha help people feel good, you may also avoid consequences to mental health associated with the former.
Green tea powder and treatment resistant depression
Beyond your choice of caffeine (or interest in psychedelic therapies), lifestyle choices will always matter. Don’t forget about yoga, acupuncture, or the benefits of breathing exercises. Or simply getting out into nature.
The more we encourage each other to get out there and be active, the more we honor our sense of fulfillment and positivity. Worst case scenario, matcha is a great energizer to get motivated and participate in healthy habits.
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