Feeling stressed? Get the kettle on!

Putting the kettle on is a common first step in dealing with a stressful occasion for many people, but a new study in the Journal of Medicinal Food[ has investigated whether the contents of a cup of green tea could have specific calming properties after an stressful experience.

Dealing with stress can be a daily battle for some people but extreme stress can cause a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD was known previously as ‘shell shock’ as it was common amongst soldiers fighting on the front line and is a type of anxiety disorder which someone may develop after an experience such as being involved in, or witnessing, traumatic events.

A new laboratory study (in vivo) has been carried out to try to understand whether components of green tea can help with PTSD. In particular, an antioxidant polyphenol found in green tea, a catechin, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), has been shown to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The study found that a single prolonged stress event caused an impairment in cognitive function. However, when EGCG was given daily for 14 days after stress, the impairment improved. In other words, EGCG protected against the damage caused by the stressful experience. Based on their findings, the authors proposed that ECGC could play a useful therapeutic role for people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

The proposed mechanism for the beneficial effects of the green tea antioxidant EGCG seems to involve pathways limiting the biochemical changes which cause neuroinflammation in the brain. Also EGCG may reverse the dysfunctional aspects of learning and memory-related behaviour triggered by a traumatic stress episode.

Commenting on the study, dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton at the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP) notes: “This study adds to the growing evidence for the calming effects that a cup of tea can bring. The presence of natural

polyphenols, such as the antioxidant EGCG present in green tea plus those seen in black tea, have been linked with a number of beneficial effects, including heart health, gut health and even weight management[2]. This new study shows that EGCG also has the potential to ameliorate some of the harmful consequences after experiencing a highly stressful situation.

“As PTSD is a serious condition with far-reaching effects on wellbeing, a small action such as sitting down and relaxing with a calming cup of green tea could be a simple, yet effective, natural way to help on the journey of healing.”

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