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Effects of Matcha on Depression | EGCG and L-theanine for Treatment Resistant Depression

Nicholas Noble | February 06, 2020

Matcha is a daily drink which supports the body in different ways. But did you know it’s growing popular for treatment resistant depression? One reason is because it helps our (physical and mental) health in ways beyond the normal scope of western treatments.

Besides a daily boost to physical health and nutrition, it’s believed that matcha’s properties (antioxidants, unique amino-acids) can directly improve our cognitive health too. Many report a heightened sense of well-being with daily drinking.

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.

Matcha for Depression | TRD Matcha

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. Last year’s first-annual 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. [1]

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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Checkout our other journal articles? Or get help finding your perfect matcha fit!

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