Over time, stress can cause a variety of health problems, including sleep problems, headaches and ulcers. These days everyone is looking for simple ways to reduce stress. One easy ingredient to add to a daily schedule to decrease stress is green tea.
History of Green Tea
The earliest reference to green tea began in China over 5,000 years ago. By the 800’s, green tea became part of Japanese culture, with new variations created for tea enthusiasts (which eventually made their way to Europe and the United States). Green tea is now considered to one of the most popular drinks in the world. Today, green tea is known for its calming abilities.
The amino acid L-theanine is an ingredient in green tea that gives green tea its flavor, and is also said to be responsible for fostering relaxation. L-theanine has been shown in some Japanese studies to counteract the over-stimulation caused by the caffeine in the tea. Most teas contain theanine, but green tea has been found to have higher levels, which is why it recognized as the tea to drink to reduce stress levels.
L-theanine, also known as gamma-ethylamine-L-glutei acid, has the capability to bridge the blood-brain barrier, entering the nervous system and altering the neurotransmitters that impact mood. Dopamine and serotonin are examples of mood neurotransmitters that are altered by L-theanine. The levels of dopamine and serotonin are raised by L-theanine, enhancing the mood and promoting relaxation. Both dopamine and serotonin are often found in mood-enhancement drugs. Another benefit of L-theanine is that it may lower blood pressure, which can also aid in relaxation.
A 2009 study done in Japan, on the effects of green tea on stress, studied the lifestyles of 42,093 individuals over the age of 40, and assessed their psychological distress based on their lifestyle factors. The research showed that study participants who had an average consumption of five or more cups of green tea per day, had lower psychological distress than participants who drank one or less cups of tea per day.
Green tea has been found to have many additional health benefits. While these benefits may not have a direct effect on stress reduction, they may indirectly affect stress because a healthy body can fight stress off more effectively than an unhealthy one. Green tea has been linked to preventing some cancers, enhancing cardiovascular health and protecting against stroke. Recent studies have also shown green tea to have an impact on weight loss by boosting the metabolism.
Green Tea Options
A hot cup of tea is often associated with being soothed. The term “a soothing cup of tea” is frequently used when sitting down to drink a cup. Green tea is brewed hot, and can be served that way, or iced down as an iced green tea. Either option will have the same relaxation benefits.
Green tea can be found in just about any grocery in the from of tea bags or in bottles as an iced tea. Tea leaves can be found in specialty tea shops and brewed as another option.