If you’re anything like me, you love a cup of tea - green, English breakfast, herbal, chamomile… they have all been needed at some point during my life.
For me, having a cup of tea will calm me down; I feel content and relaxed, especially when it gets to that point in the night where I can just stop everything and have a tea just before bed. But is it just the comforting thought of a warm tea? Or is it something else? Could something in the tea actually be making me happier?
For me, having a cup of tea will calm me down; I feel content and relaxed, especially when it gets to that point in the night where I can just stop everything and have a tea just before bed.
A recent study looked at this. The participants in the study had major depressive disorder and they were given a supplement of L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea and has previously been suggested to have effects on the brain. What they found was that after 8 weeks, the supplement was shown to have beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbance and cognitive impairments in people with major depressive disorder.
So the question still remains - will having more cups of tea affect your happiness? Well the study used a 250mg supplement - which is a concentrated form of L-theanine. If you wanted to consume the same amount in tea, you would need to drink around 10 cups of black tea a day and let it brew for around 3 minutes that way you will get the most L-Theanine out of the tea - plus you can add a bit of milk if you need to, this won’t affect the L-Theanine levels in the tea! That sounds like a lot of tea, but I think for a lot of tea lovers, they would be close to having this on an average day!
What they found was that after 8 weeks, the supplement was shown to have beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbance and cognitive impairments in people with major depressive disorder.
Now just a small disclaimer - this was an open-labelled trial (which means that the participants knew what they have were having, so unfortunately we can’t rule out the placebo effect) and it was done in only a small number of people (20 to be exact). This means that they will have to do some more research to determine if it was actually the tea that helped, and if it would work in more people.
While this might not be the most definitive study and I wouldn’t use tea as a sole treatment for depression, the results do show some promise! Personally, I think this provides a perfect excuse for us to have a few more cups throughout the day!
Now I think I might go boil the kettle… for my health.
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Ashleigh Hamilton APD
Ashleigh Hamilton is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian who is passionate about the relationship between nutrition and mental health. Ashleigh focuses on a whole of body approach to health, encompassing both physical and mental aspects, and believes that moderation and balance are vital to creating meaningful change.
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