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Science of How Matcha Green Tea Naturally Lowers Anxiety

Nicholas Noble | February 08, 2021

More frequently than ever, qualified healthcare professionals are recommending natural offerings to those with anxiety. In place of conventional pharmaceuticals, possible solutions like green tea powder from the ‘natural world’ pose a gentler therapeutic effect; one commonly safer at that.

For those who have anxiety, whether genetic, acquired, or a mix – it’s a powerful thought that natural remedies like green tea matcha may offer research-backed relief, especially during a time when conditions like social anxiety are on the rise. 

Introducing: Green Tea Matcha for Natural Mental Health

In fact, matcha powder (a form of Japanese green tea) is a frontrunner in the natural anxiety-relief space due to broadscale health properties! Even extending kindly to those with conditions comorbid to anxiety (e.g. OCD, depression, ADHD).

Much of these benefits come down to the key compounds found in matcha tea like EGCG and L-theanine (more on these below). However, researchers believe the combined properties of all health compounds and nutrients in matcha green tea (there are dozens) may represent a more complete effect, working for mental health and overall wellbeing.

Side note: It’s been proven that tea is chemically relaxing, well-beyond the mindful experience of making it – that’s a different story [1].

Five Ways Matcha Green Tea Naturally Lowers Anxiety

If you’re teetering between one natural solution or another, keep reading why matcha green tea could be the help you’ve been looking for – even including how it may help you work through conditions like social anxiety or panic disorder as a supplement to other healthy habits.

Often these anxiety-related conditions share underlying mechanisms, and it might surprise you that for many of them, matcha has been researched to either target directly or indirectly, and in some cases – both!

Causes of Anxiety and How Matcha Tea may Help as a Natural Choice

There is not just one cause to anxiety, individuals experience it in different ways and for different reasons. As we show below, looking how to address the whole body (and underlying chemistry) may pose the best outcome for those interested in integrative health for their anxiety. 

This is where matcha, one of the safest natural products, appears to offer many layers of beneficial activity against root causes of anxiety.

To counter anxiety, matcha green tea may:  

  1. Reduce overall stress which is associated with anxiety
  2. Offset dietary roots of anxiety (and nutritional deficiencies) by acting as a nutrient-dense source of wide-ranging vitamins and minerals [2-3]
  3. Fight overactivity in the brain caused by many factors (genetics, diet, other energy drinks), such as through the modulating properties of L-theanine, and by boosting certain beneficial brain-activities
  4. Help activate ‘feel good chemicals,’ key neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin
  5. Work against brain-inflammation, a rising factor under research that may be involved with anxiety and other mental health issues (e.g. depression or brain fog) [4-6]

We’ve got a lot to cover, keep reading as we expand in depth (and in order) on the mechanisms and research behind each of these five (5) possibilities. 

Feel free to skip ahead if you’re most interested in one or another. 

1. Green Tea Stress-relief for Anxiety

It’s no surprise that stress affects the whole body, but on the bright side matcha tea is reported to help; whether your anxiety is the product of physical or emotional stress, researchers are confident in the potential stress-relief from matcha tea.

Matcha for all types of stress-induced anxiety

Direct from Japan, the best matcha for stress-relief has both 1) high levels of brain-helping aminos, and 2) strong antioxidants which have a physically-relaxing effect on the body.

This is good to know because anxiety can have both physical and/or mental causes – matcha is suggested to act on both. In terms of mental stress-induced anxiety, Japanese green tea powder provides a calming effect primarily due to the synergy of L-theanine and caffeine [7]. 

Fighting the Physical and Mental Stress behind Anxiety

That natural mix of stimulating compounds in high-quality matcha increases alertness in key areas of the brain, while providing a valuable control against overactivity.

Plus, unlike other calming supplements, this balance means you won’t become tired just for the sake of finding some peace – one of countless reasons making matcha favorable to many.

Also – part of that control comes from the activation of GABA in the brain; theanine is able to help release this neurotransmitter which actually calms both the body and mind [7].

Pro tip: This is one reason matcha may boost sleep health as well.

2. Matcha Green Tea to Fight Anxiety through Diet

One of the least suspecting reasons that matcha may help you fight anxiety is due to its dense nutritional profile. This is because of the specialized care that goes into growing each tea leaf that becomes stone-ground into matcha.

At the very least, you can imagine this as an added-bonus of that great vibe you get from drinking it everyday. 

Natural Sources of Trace Minerals for Anxiety

Containing key calming minerals like magnesium, matcha tea also offers trace minerals like copper and zinc. Offered in just the right amount, a daily matcha habit may boost your overall nutritional status.

If you’re wondering why that’s important, well, it’s well-established that even a single deficiency can impact mental health [8-9].

Moreover, it’s rare that there’s just a single deficiency, especially considering the lack of nutrient-dense food products in the average person’s diet.

For these reasons, it’s certainly thought provoking that someone suffering from nutrient-deficiency and associated anxiety could have greater ease through a daily matcha habit.

Amino-acids in the Diet to Fight Anxiety

The other side of the diet-equation has to do with potentially getting too much of one nutrient than your body (and mind) would prefer. This is articulable in the case of diets particularly high in glutamate (e.g. meats, cheeses).

Since matcha from Japan is very high in L-theanine, this amino-acid is able to fight against high levels of glutamate and calm the overactivity often caused by it (e.g. feeling of being wired or anxious).

Simply put, L-theanine is very similar structurally to glutamate and competes inside the brain with it in a positive way. The big difference is that it calms rather than activates, which on the other hand, is glutamate’s primary job. 

This is a great segue to all the ways that matcha green tea may counteract unnecessary anxiety levels in the brain. We’ve already covered a little bit of this above, but here’s an in-depth look into it, including the chemistry:

3. How Matcha Tea Calms your Brain | Anxiety Benefits of Matcha

Considering the wide array of cognitive benefits reported from daily matcha tea, it’s pertinent to know how this savory daily beverage provides its psychoactive properties, including those anxiolytic in nature (anti-anxiety).

Improved learning, reaction time, memory, and overall focus are examples of these effects; anxiety-relief may stem from this same fundamental scope of brain-optimizing power [10-11].

Within minutes of sipping delicious emerald green matcha, the natural duo of L-theanine and caffeine pass the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) to work at the core of how our brains respond to stimuli/the world around us.

It’s suggested that these two natural matcha compounds (L-theanine and caffeine) work together to aid healthy sensorimotor response.

Example: Matcha may help prevent excessive signalling (e.g. worrying, racy heart, etc) associated with anxiety, all while naturally increasing GABA and NMDA-receptor activities – associated with reduced anxiety, 

Anti-anxiety Alpha-wave Supplement – Green Tea

This change in processing leads to more calming alpha-waves in the brain, and it’s thought that this very type of brainwave helps individuals to focus on the present moment more effectively, in essence impeding anxiety at the root.

But what, exactly, is the root? Researchers are focused on one theory which suggests that a shortage of ‘processing power’ and coordination could play into how individuals experience not only anxiety, but depression and attention issues too [12].

People with anxiety often report that it’s easy to be distracted, including a difficulty staying mindful and focused. This may lend to a cycle of anxiety and restlessness as the mind tries to find a resting place.

So – natural compounds found most concentrated in Japanese matcha powder appear to offer help in type of anxiety by aiding a presence of mind, arguably without aggravating those areas which are already-overactive.

4. Does Matcha Release Feel-good Chemicals against Anxiety?

It’s clear that matcha is able to help many people safely feel more grounded. In the process, matcha green tea may also help release feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine as part of a deep mood-balancing effect [13]. 

In fact, this is one of the most exciting areas of research now. The catechin antioxidants like EGCG found in matcha, as well as L-theanine and caffeine work as a trifecta to encourage serotonin and dopamine release [13-14].

Adaptogenic Feel-good Supplements for Anxiety

This trifecta of greatness allows matcha to boost these feel-good neurochemicals both directly and indirectly. In many cases there is a chain-reaction that happens where one effect leads to another (more on this below).

Ultimately it is for this reason that many people consider matcha green tea an adaptogen for mental health, as it encourages a healthier balance through its gentle and energizing nudge, with massive potential for those with anxiety!

Integrative Natural anti-Anxiety Benefits + Feel Good Chemicals

On a related note, one of the most compelling possibilities of using matcha for mental health (e.g. anxiety) is due to the multiple angles of influence. So far we’ve covered up-through the direct neurochemical benefits from matcha,

but,

physical health also plays a huge role (keep reading).

In 2019, researchers reviewing human mental health benefits from matcha green tea said it best that, a successful integrative approach to mental health is one which “...underscores the interconnectivity among neurobiological systems,” such as by looking at systems like “inflammation [and] the gut–brain axis” [15].

To help fight anxiety, the research points directly towards how green tea may work on neurochemical systems (i.e. feelgood chemicals) as an extension of more ‘physical’ ones like the gut microbiome and total-body inflammatory processes [15].

5. Anti-inflammatory Green Tea to help Anxiety and Brain-fog

So – does that mean it’s possible that matcha may improve anxiety by helping against inflammation? Yes – such physical health benefits from matcha were concluded to lead to a significant and measurable benefit to mental health in those tested [15].

Really, it’s astounding to think that chronic inflammation is regularly overlooked as a factor in anxiety, especially when, by one figure, it’s present in 30%+ of those with related mental health concerns [4-6].

Reports state that compounds in matcha tea work against inflammation throughout the whole body, including EGCG which is able to work inside and outside the brain [6, 16].

All of its natural compounds taken together, matcha is known to target at least seven (7) clinically significant biomarkers on inflammation, including those which are known to be correlated to anxiety disorders [5-6].

  • Gut-brain Axis for Anxiety: On a related note, matcha also has established potential to regulate anxiety-related mental health/brain-inflammation through probiotic effects in the gut!

Common Questions about Anxiety and Green Tea

Let’s cover 10 quick answers to the most common questions about Anxiety and Green Tea! Here we go:

Should You use Green Tea Extracts for Anxiety?

Research supports that Green Tea Extracts are generally not recommended because of concerns of purity and potency. Instead, you can get concentrated green tea benefits from matcha, which is a naturally concentrated green tea.

Is Matcha better than Green Tea for Anxiety?

L-theanine works on your brain chemistry to create balance; matcha contains much higher levels of L-theanine than green tea, which may benefit those with social anxiety, panic disorder, and general anxiety disorder.

Does L-theanine from Green Tea make Anxiety Worse?

The vast majority of research speaks to the potential of L-theanine as an anti-anxiety, and not an agent causing anxiety. While everyone reacts differently to things, L-theanine is incredibly safe as part of green tea and neuroscience shows how it calms the brain during anxiety.

Why does Coffee cause Anxiety?

Coffee is a known cause of anxiety in mainly people. It contains only caffeine without any calming amino-acids. For many people it may block the function of GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) from working in your brain, and therefore can cause anxiety. See matcha for a health alternative.

Does Matcha’s Caffeine Aggravate Anxiety?

The caffeine in matcha green tea is markedly lower than that of coffee or other modern energy drinks. At about 30mg per serving, even people who are sensitive to caffeine report that they can tolerate matcha. What’s more, is the L-theanine found only in matcha tea regulates how the body and brain responds to caffeine. 

What’s the Best Matcha Powder for Anxiety?

The best matcha for those looking to use green tea for their anxiety is a Ceremonial Grade type. The Ceremonial Grade Matcha contains higher levels of anxiolytic L-theanine, which improves alpha-waves in many people, and leads to release of feel-good, calming chemicals in the brain.

How to Choose Matcha vs. Coffee for Anxiety

Matcha tea has one huge advantage over any other caffeine drink, and that’s L-theanine. This natural amino-acid in green tea boosts calm feelings and dampers anxiety in those tested.

Moreover, the moderate level of caffeine also means your brain won’t be overexcited (leading to damage) like from coffee. If you have anxiety then consider green tea matcha for a harmony of energizing calmness – no jitters or crash. 

What is the best Anti-anxiety Adaptogen?

There are dozens of herbs or teas recommended anxiety, but few out perform matcha green tea; whether in calming effect or in time-tested history, matcha is one of the safest adaptogenic anxiety teas out there.

Heavily researched molecules unique to matcha like EGCG and L-theanine have been shown to attack the root of anxiety on many levels in those tested.

Can you have a Matcha Withdrawal?

We’ll keep this one short and sweet: matcha has less caffeine than most any other source of daily energy, you may feel less energized if you go without matcha, but not a withdrawal by any means.

Does Green tea help Panic Attacks? How about Matcha?

Since matcha is the ultimate form of green tea, it’s recommended for those with more severe anxiety. Although it’s not a treatment for panic attacks, your doctor may recommend matcha as part of an integrated health strategy.

Bonus Q&A: Does Matcha make You Calm?

YES! Feel for yourself the benefits and calming energy of matcha here

Cheers!

–Team Matcha.com

 

SHOP ALL MATCHA    SHOP LOOSE-LEAF 

*Japanese Farm-direct*

References
[1] Steptoe, Andrew, Steptoe, Andrew, Gibson, E Leigh, Gibson, E Leigh, Vounonvirta, Raisa, Vounonvirta, Raisa, Williams, Emily D, Williams, Emily D, Hamer, Mark, Hamer, Mark, Rycroft, Jane A, Rycroft, Jane A, Erusalimsky, Jorge D, Erusalimsky, Jorge D, Wardle, Jane, and Wardle, Jane. "The Effects of Tea on Psychophysiological Stress Responsivity and Post-stress Recovery: A Randomised Double-blind Trial." Psychopharmacology 190.1 (2007): 81-89. Web.
[2] https://matcha.com/blogs/news/full-list-of-vitamins-and-minerals-for-immunity-in-matcha-green-tea
[3] Melanson, K. J. (2007). Nutrition review: relationships of nutrition with depression and anxiety. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 1(3), 171-174.
[4] Salim, S., Chugh, G., & Asghar, M. (2012). Inflammation in anxiety. Advances in protein chemistry and structural biology, 88, 1-25.
[5] Felger, J. C. (2018). Imaging the role of inflammation in mood and anxiety-related disorders. Current neuropharmacology, 16(5), 533-558.
[6] https://matcha.com/blogs/news/green-tea-anti-inflammatory-info-inflammation-biomarkers-green-tea
[7] Unno, K., Furushima, D., Hamamoto, S., Iguchi, K., Yamada, H., Morita, A., ... & Nakamura, Y. (2018). Stress-reducing function of matcha green tea in animal experiments and clinical trials. Nutrients, 10(10), 1468.
[8] Rucklidge, J. J., & Kaplan, B. J. (2013). Broad-spectrum micronutrient formulas for the treatment of psychiatric symptoms: a systematic review. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 13(1), 49-73.
[9] https://matcha.com/blogs/news/nutrition-above-the-neck-nutrigenomics-diet-and-brain-health
[10] Mancini, E., Beglinger, C., Drewe, J., Zanchi, D., Lang, U. E., & Borgwardt, S. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine, 34, 26-37.
[11] M. Ota, C. Wakabayashi, J. Matsuo, Y. Kinoshita, H. Hori, K. Hattori, D. Sasayama, T. Teraishi, S. Obu, H. Ozawa, H. Kunugi Effect of l-theanine on sensorimotor gating in healthy human subjects
[12] https://matcha.com/blogs/news/boost-reaction-time-matcha-green-tea-for-reflex-focus-and-attention
[13] Mancini, E., Beglinger, C., Drewe, J., Zanchi, D., Lang, U. E., & Borgwardt, S. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine, 34, 26-37.
[14] Kurauchi, Y., Devkota, H. P., Hori, K., Nishihara, Y., Hisatsune, A., Seki, T., & Katsuki, H. (2019). Anxiolytic activities of Matcha tea powder, extracts, and fractions in mice: Contribution of dopamine D1 receptor-and serotonin 5-HT1A receptor-mediated mechanisms. Journal of Functional Foods, 59, 301-308.
[15] Rothenberg, D. O. N., & Zhang, L. (2019). Mechanisms underlying the anti-depressive effects of regular tea consumption. Nutrients, 11(6), 1361.
[16] https://matcha.com/blogs/news/matcha-catechins-egcg-cellular-necessities

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