Did you know that the diagnosis of ADHD in adults doubled between 2007 and 2016? It is now estimated that over 10.5 million Americans live with ADHD and an estimated 5.3 million children.
While traditional treatments like medication and therapy have been effective for ADHD, researchers and individuals with ADHD are exploring more natural approaches to help complement traditional ADHD management strategies — such as helping address particular ADHD symptoms with matcha green tea.
What is ADHD?
ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects people of all ages, although it is most often diagnosed in childhood. It is estimated, however, that 90% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms in adulthood.
ADHD is characterised by difficulties sustaining attention, controlling impulses, and regulating hyperactivity, affects millions of children and adults worldwide.
If you are more used to the term ADD (like millennials like me are!), it's important to note that ADD and ADHD are considered interchangeable. ADD is an outdated term for what we now call ADHD.
There are three different ways ADHD presents itself.
Since symptoms can change over time, so can the presentation:
- Predominately Inattentive Presentation: It takes effort to organize or finish a task promptly, pay attention to details, or follow instructions or a conversation. This presentation of ADHD finds themselves easily distracted and often need to remember details of daily routines.
- Predominately Hyperactive-Impulse Presentation: Includes someone who fidgets or talks a lot. They find it challenging to sit still, speak at inappropriate times, wait their turn, or listen to directions.
- Combined Presentation: Equal combination of the two types above.
Common symptoms of ADHD:
- Often daydream
- Forgetful or often lose things
- Talk too much
- Squirm or fidget
- Difficulty taking turns
- Unable to concentrate on tasks
- Disorganization or problems prioritizing
- Trouble multitasking
- Low frustration tolerance
Even though ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopment disorders, there's a lot we still don't understand about it. Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the cause of ADHD and determine any risk factors. Current research suggests that ADHD is highly genetic and that non-inheritable factors may also contribute to its development.
ADHD also commonly occurs with other learning and development problems, such as autism and difficulties with speech and language, motor coordination, and reading. Researchers believe there is no single cause of ADHD but rather a range of factors that may lead to the disorder.
How ADHD is often managed
For most people, treatment for ADHD may include a combination of behavior therapy, education, and medication, typically stimulants. For younger children (pre-school age), guidance for parents is recommended before any treatment with medication.
Most experts agree that combining these strategies leads to the most effective management of symptoms. In addition to therapy and medication, particular lifestyle and dietary changes may also be extremely helpful and are often recommended.
The link between ADHD and diet choices
More recently, attention has been paid to the connection between ADHD and diet. While the link between one single nutrient and ADHD is inconsistent, it does appear, according to research, that there is a correlation between diet and ADHD symptoms. One large meta-analysis showed that children who had unhealthier eating patterns had a higher risk of ADHD diagnosis and worse symptoms compared to children who had healthier eating patterns.
While limited, some research also suggests a possible relationship between ADHD and unchecked inflammation. Matcha can be part of an anti-inflammatory diet plan.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a green tea integral to Japanese culture for centuries. It's shade-grown for several weeks before harvest, which boosts its chlorophyll and nutrition content and gives it that bright, joy-inducing green color. After harvest, leaves are carefully ground in a very fine powder, which can then be whisked with hot or cold water to make a frothy, bright green beverage.
Because of how it is grown and harvested, the nutrients found in green tea leaves are fully preserved (unlike in other types of tea)- this includes powerful antioxidants like catechins and the amino acid L-theanine.
How matcha green tea may hold the potential to help combat symptoms of ADHD
Due to matcha's high quantity of antioxidants and its L-theanine content, it has garnered attention for potential cognitive health benefits. Antioxidants may help protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce overall inflammation. The amino acid L-theanine promotes relaxation and mental clarity and gives a relaxed yet alert feeling. Since matcha has a high L-theanine content (up to 5 times higher than green tea), it may help improve focus and concentration — vital for someone with ADHD!
The antioxidants in matcha, particularly EGCG, have demonstrated neuroprotective properties in multiple studies. Antioxidants are also believed to help combat oxidative stress, which has been linked to age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Research has also suggested that L-theanine may increase the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with mood regulation and concentration.
Multiple studies have also explored the potential cognitive benefits of matcha consumption. For instance, research suggests regular matcha tea consumption may improve attention, memory, and processing speed.
These benefits are attributed to the synergistic effect of caffeine and L-theanine, which has been studied to help boost alertness without the jittery side effects commonly associated with high-caffeine beverages (such as coffee). These cognitive enhancements may be beneficial for someone diagnosed with ADHD.
As we've pointed out, matcha's catechins (antioxidants) may decrease oxidative stress and help balance free radicals with antioxidants in the body. This may also help reduce inflammation in the body and potentially the brain.
The limitations of matcha green tea as a natural treatment for ADHD
While there does appear to be a tentative connection between diet and ADHD, and matcha has been shown to have a positive effect on cognitive health, it is crucial to approach this subject with some consideration:
- Individual responses to matcha can vary; what works for one person may be less effective for another.
- While the caffeine content in matcha is lower than in coffee, it can still lead to some side effects, and it's recommended that children under 12 years old don't consume any caffeine at all.
- There is limited research on using matcha as a treatment for ADHD, and matcha powder should only be seen as a complementary strategy for cognitive health and not a standalone solution.
A balanced diet with anti-inflammatory foods, regular exercise, and proper sleep are essential to mental well-being. As with any dietary or lifestyle change, making informed decisions and ensuring that lifestyle choices and daily habits align with individual needs and goals is crucial.
The bottom line | Ask your healthcare provider about drinking matcha green tea for ADHD
Matcha is a powerhouse of nutrients and may show promise for those wanting to boost their cognitive well-being. The antioxidants, particularly EGCG and the amino acid L-theanine, show promise in multiple research studies in protecting the brain from oxidative stress, promoting relaxation, and potentially improving focus and memory.
These benefits may be extremely helpful for someone with ADHD, even if the effects are somewhat minor. From improved guide and cognitive function to reduced impulsivity and anxiety, matcha powder holds exciting promise.
While research on matcha's cognitive benefits continues to evolve, the anecdotal evidence and initial studies are encouraging. However, it's important to emphasize that matcha is not a replacement for more traditional treatments for ADHD but rather a complementary approach that individuals can explore under the guidance of their healthcare team. (Such as meditation)
The natural, delicious, and non-invasive nature of matcha consumption makes it an appealing option for those seeking holistic approaches to managing their symptoms.
You may also be interested in:
- The dos and dont's of matcha
- See the effects of EGCG and Fasting
- Choosing a matcha quality based on EGCG content
- How much matcha each day for health benefits
Disclaimer: These statements in this blog post have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It's essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
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