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How Matcha Green Tea Works on Hormones, Endocrine Function, Does Matcha Affect Hormones?

Nicholas Noble | May 28, 2020

Has your heart ever skipped a beat because someone didn’t use their turn signal? As an example, the absence of that ‘heads-up’ can quickly put safety at risk, and it 'turns' out that our bodies rely on similar mechanisms everyday.

Inside each person is an essential orchestra of cellular signalling. Yet, rather than a single conductor like the example of driving, inside the body is a group of conductors, or glands (e.g. pituitary, adrenals, pancreas, etc), which produce hormones responsible for regular health maintenance (i.e. signalling).

Similar to neuro-transmitters, where imbalance may make us feel sluggish or sad, our hormones (endocrine system) aren’t much different. These too can have direct effects on mood, health and even longevity – though often they’re  not as familiar to most of us.

Does Matcha Affect Hormones? Hormones and Matcha

Endocrine glands release hormones into our circulatory system to signal between one another. These effects are interconnected, and can directly influence the behaviour of cells throughout the body. 

Examples include the regulation of respiration, energy output and growth, as well as reproduction and sexual health. Too much or too little of even one hormone may cause imbalances to pile-up which may lead to disease. 

Here we review some important hormones to know about, what steps you might take to support your body’s equilibrium, and where matcha might fit into a complete approach to health.

Cortisol and Green Tea Antioxidants

Cortisol is released by the adrenals, and typically becomes elevated in times of worry or fear. During these times when the body is under pressure or anticipating a stressful event, the sympathetic nervous system increases release of this “fight-or-flight” hormone.

Our body in-part relies on cortisol to focus cellular activities on survival, even though rarely these days is livelihood at risk. It’s one signal that tells the body to slow digestion, increase heart rate, and elevate blood pressure, blood sugar.

On the backend, our bodies’ strong reaction to cortisol is one which is a shift away from balance. In essence, cells are temporarily shutting off many other essential, healthy functions.

And when chronically elevated? Cortisol is associated with oxidative stress, shortened telomeres (a key player in longevity), and lowered immune function. 

This status is also associated with diseases of the cardiovascular system, inflammatory disorders, and more.

What effect does Matcha Tea have on Cortisol?

Besides possibly counteracting the oxidative stress and the shortening of telomeres [1], there’s a good body of research suggesting natural compounds in green tea to balance cortisol. Specifically, the polyphenols in fresh green tea may directly regulate the production of cortisol [2-3].

  • The mechanism is reported to include inhibited activity of the enzyme which makes the active form of cortisol [3].
  • Here, green tea is noteworthy compared to other teas by working more effectively due to higher antioxidant content [3].

Matcha Green Tea for Insulin Sensitivity 

Insulin is produced by the pancreas alongside a few other key hormones. Under healthy conditions, it is released as necessary to help transport blood sugar into cells throughout the body to use as energy.

Sometimes cells become resistant to this hormone, and the pancreas has to work to produce more to help energy get where it needs to go.

Elevated insulin in the case of resistance may result in diabetes, as well as chronic inflammation – each being factors in heart health.

On the other hand, healthy diet and lifestyle choices, including exercise, are essential examples to consider which may help to stave insulin resistance.

It’s also suggested that practices which safely support balance in the areas usually affected by insulin resistance, may ultimately encourage balance. One example is intermittent fasting, which can help cells become more stable and responsive to insulin. 

Can Matcha help Insulin and Diabetes Risks?

In fact, it’s reported that fasting glucose is an important (negative) biometric for insulin resistance, as is low HDL. These are examples where green tea may help.

  • In order to support appropriate levels of these metrics, matcha green tea is suggested by a number of meta-analyses [4].
  • These studies identify green tea as a measure likely to reduce risks of type-2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and improve markers of fasting glucose, healthier lipid levels [4-6].

In the case of insulin and hormonal balance, it seems like a reasonable conclusion that the highest quality among the different grades of matcha may act either directly or indirectly on the body; that it may support healthier outcomes for these relevant biometrics.

Thyroid Hormones and Green Tea

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, responsible for producing two particularly important hormones, known as T3 and T4. These play an essential role in metabolism, digestion and GI function, restful sleep, mood, and more.

When these are underproduced the condition is known as hypothyroidism, whereas in excess, known as hyperthyroidism.

  • Symptoms of hypothyroidism include a sense of fatigue or irritability, dry or rough skin, and a difficult time regulating temperature, especially a sensitivity to cold. There may also be muscle pain, depression, or more.
  • In the case of hyperthyroidism, you may feel hot, or sweat excessively. There may also be muscle tremors, diarrhea, or rapid heart beat. Often there is anxiety, general sensitivity.

The status of your thyroid is largely determined by levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which is actually secreted by the pituitary gland, though there are other reasons why levels may be too high, too low.

Modern treatments are capable of treating both sides, although sometimes with complications; sometimes treatments overcompensate in the other direction, possibly causing its own imbalance.

Will Matcha Green Tea Help your Thyroid?

Since hormonal balance is a tough nut to crack, there’s good cause to look for ways to supplement through diet and exercise, and even wise choices in adaptogens, of which matcha is worth noting.

The more complementary an approach, the more likely that balance is to be maintained. This is where matcha may be able to help: 

  • One research study concludes that supplementation of green tea is able to increase circulating TSH levels, which typically raises T3, T4 levels [7].
  • Paradoxically, polyphenols and flavonoids of matcha also are reported to slow the production of T3 and T4 [7], which may speak to the adaptogenic capability of green tea, while being particularly of interest to those curious of strategies for hyperthyroidism.
  • It’s also identified that the higher content of non-oxidized polyphenols in green tea may act on the thyroid more effectively than black teas [7].

It’s considerable that matcha green tea may act on the hormonal balance of the thyroid. The possibilities are intriguing, and regarded with a high threshold of safety, even consumed daily or throughout the day. Still, one should always always consult with their physician. 

Reproductive Hormones and Matcha Green Tea

Most of the reproductive hormones are related to pituitary function, which signals a large group of hormones based on development, gender, and metabolism. 

Many of the hormones, such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which are involved in puberty still carry important function through adulthood. 

Matcha and Sex Hormones

These are hormones which influence levels of testosterone, estrogen, androgens and other reproductive-related endocrine function.

It’s also known that complexes of these hormones must be balanced for optimal health, and may also need adjustment based on disease, particularly that of hormonal-cancers (e.g. prostate, ovarian cancer).

Interestingly, many studies have affirmed active effects of green tea in regulating levels of these important hormones.

  • The antioxidant polyphenols in matcha are reported to elevate FSH, and are suggested to both elevate or lower testosterone accordingly [7-8].
  • Furthermore, certain evidence implies green tea antioxidants as having protective effects on sperm production, and balanced levels of FSH and LH in animals [10].  

Green Tea in the Fight against Hormonal Cancers?

In human and human-cell cancer studies, there is mounting research against hormonal cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer, as well as prostate cancer [11-12].

  • For breast and ovarian cancer, research indicates that green tea polyphenols may partially inhibit aromatase, an enzyme involved in estrogen and estradiol production [8,11], which may disrupt tumor growth dependent on these compounds.
  • In regards to prostate cancer, the compound EGCG is reported by at least one study to partly interrupt androgen receptor binding, which is one relevant hormonal mechanism in tumor growth [12].

For what it’s worth, the antioxidants unique to matcha green tea have been rigorously studied in many settings, including as a potential anti-cancer or with important possibilities for endocrine balance.

The Bottom Line of Green Tea and Hormones

Overall the results are encouraging for efficacy and safety, and it appears in the case of hormones that the natural compounds in green tea may work  adaptogenically, contouring an individual’s health status.

When considering the importance of regular endocrine function and its central role in health, it’s clear that wise choices (one of which may be green tea) may ultimately pair with healthy diet, exercise, and stress management tactics to achieve wellness. 

Nevertheless, it’s important that we stay apprised of ongoing studies and always consult with your physician first. But if there’s one takeaway, it’s that green tea is widely-reported to be active in the body in one way or another, and at least historically it has an impeccable track record for health.

So, whether it's hormones or weight-loss, we say to take it from the Samurai: if it was able to optimize their Zen-like focus and strength – then it probably can do the same for you. 

  

-Team Matcha Kari

 

SHOP MATCHA

 
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References
[1] Dai, Q., Shu, X. O., Li, H., Yang, G., Shrubsole, M. J., Cai, H., ... & Zheng, W. (2010). Is green tea drinking associated with a later onset of breast cancer?. Annals of epidemiology, 20(1), 74-81.
[2] Khouja, H., & AlNahari, H. (2015). Effects of Fresh, Unprocessed Green Tea Camelia Sinensis Extract on Liver Function, Lipid Profile (Cholesterol and Triglycerides), Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Cortisol in Normal Healthy Subjects. Journal of Life Sciences Research, 2(1), 18-24.
[3] Hintzpeter, Jan, Stapelfeld, Claudia, Loerz, Christine, Martin, Hans-Joerg, & Maser, Edmund. (2014). Green Tea and One of Its Constituents, Epigallocatechine-3-gallate, Are Potent Inhibitors of Human 11[beta]-hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1. PLoS ONE, 9(1), E84468.
[4] Liu, K., Zhou, R., Wang, B., Chen, K., Shi, L., Zhu, J., & Mi, M. (2013). Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: A meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(2), 340-348.
[5] Lin, Y., Shi, D., Su, B., Wei, J., Găman, M. A., Sedanur Macit, M., ... & Guimaraes, N. S. (2020). The effect of green tea supplementation on obesity: A systematic review and dose–response meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytotherapy Research.
[6] Liu, C. Y., Huang, C. J., Huang, L. H., Chen, I. J., Chiu, J. P., & Hsu, C. H. (2014). Effects of green tea extract on insulin resistance and glucagon-like peptide 1 in patients with type 2 diabetes and lipid abnormalities: a randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled trial. PLoS One, 9(3).
[7] Chandra, A. K., De, N., & Choudhury, S. R. (2011). Effect of different doses of un-fractionated green and black tea extracts on thyroid physiology. Human & experimental toxicology, 30(8), 884-896.
[8] Satoh, K., Sakamoto, Y., Ogata, A., Nagai, F., Mikuriya, H., Numazawa, M., ... & Aoki, N. (2002). Inhibition of aromatase activity by green tea extract catechins and their endocrinological effects of oral administration in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40(7), 925-933.
[9] Chandra, A. K., Choudhury, S. R., De, N., & Sarkar, M. (2011). Effect of green tea (Camellia sinensis L.) extract on morphological and functional changes in adult male gonads of albino rats.
[10] Zaminpeyma, M., & Kouchesfehani, D. (2014). Protective effect of green tea extract on sperm parameters and FSH and LH levels in mice treated with anti-cancer drug paclitaxel. Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 12(6), 81.
[11] Wu, A. H., & Yu, M. C. (2006). Tea, hormone‐related cancers and endogenous hormone levels. Molecular nutrition & food research, 50(2), 160-169.
[12] Siddiqui, I. A., Asim, M., Hafeez, B. B., Adhami, V. M., Tarapore, R. S., & Mukhtar, H. (2011). Green tea polyphenol EGCG blunts androgen receptor function in prostate cancer. The FASEB Journal, 25(4), 1198-1207.

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