Help against anxiety, stress and depression comes from matcha, the tasty Japanese green tea that has already stood out for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, matcha tea is able to act on the central nervous system with an anxiolytic and antidepressant action. This emerges from a very recent scientific research that appeared in Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Japanese team (Kurauchi et al, Nutrients, 2023).
Anxiety, depression and dopamine
Anxiety and depression are ever-growing conditions among the world's population. Although there are variations, it is generally believed that these disorders are due to a reduction in the receptors for dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter. Science is constantly looking for remedies to treat anxiety and depression and that can be well tolerated and without side effects. The study we are talking about today belongs to this research group.
Matcha, properties and benefits
Matcha is a Japanese tea that appears as a fine powder derived from the grinding of green tea leaves. Green tea leaves are rich in polyphenols, caffeine and l-theanine, which have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood and cognitive function. The characteristic of matcha is that the powder is not filtered, as in the case of whole leaves of other types of green tea, but is drunk together with water, thus providing all the antioxidant and health-promoting substances. Previous studies have demonstrated that matcha powder was able to counteract anxiety, involving the dopamine receptors in its action. Japanese scientists therefore wondered if, thanks to this action on dopamine receptors, matcha could also help in case of depression.
Matcha tea counteracts depression, the study
The study took place in a laboratory on a population of mice. The mice were socially isolated in order to recreate a human-like condition of depression. Some of the mice were given matcha powder in an amount comparable to what humans can get when they drink a cup of matcha tea, about 2-3 grams of tea powder. Well, the intake of matcha tea has been shown to improve the mobility of mice, an indicator of an antidepressant and anxiolytic action. Scientists have been able to observe that matcha tea has activated brain areas, such as the prefrontal cortex, whose action in case of depression is instead inhibited. Matcha then stimulated the release of dopamine and GABA, which is a neurotransmitter with a calming action and capable of controlling anxiety, stress and fears.
Conclusions and warnings
Drinking matcha tea also finds its place within an active lifestyle and a healthy and varied diet, without excesses, to fill up on antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances but also to counteract anxiety, stress and depression. Matcha is prepared by dissolving the powder in water, half a teaspoon per cup, and then stirring with a whisk. The water temperature is generally around 60-70°C, with the exception of some fine varieties of matcha in which it is possible to dissolve the powder even in cold water. Never exceed the doses and avoid matcha in the evening hours due to its caffeine content. If you are taking any medications, ask your doctor for advice to rule out any interactions.