Can matcha help with mental health?
10th October is World Mental Health Day; it has never been so encouraged to speak out and ask for help when needed. Prince William, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge launched the Heads Together initiative throughout the UK earlier this year, and it has become a big talking point.
Indeed, mental health should be spoken about more. Whether you suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic (among other problems), it can feel like a daily fight with your own mind - and that's tiring work in itself. It can be draining, frustrating and all-consuming. And, once you've plucked up the courage to speak with your doctor, they're often very quick to prescribe medication rather than exploring more holistic options with you first.
Along with exercise, meditation, yoga and non-medicinal treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, it turns out that matcha contains a significant amount of psychological benefits too. It's not just us saying this, but scientific research has supported these findings too. A study published by the Journal of Pharmacological Research found that after a seven-day treatment protocol using green tea to treat depressive symptoms, researchers were able to document anti-depressant effects.
"After a seven-day treatment protocol using green tea to treat depressive symptoms, researchers were able to document anti-depressant effects."
This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, green tea polyphenols are thought to reduce something known as 'serum corticosterone' and our ACTH levels. Although these complicated terms may not mean a lot to the average Joe, they're actually the hormones associated with stress. This means consuming matcha can help to bring down your levels of panic and anxiety.
Additionally, matcha tea contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that can help you to feel relaxed. This is what helps matcha to give you a burst of energy with its caffeine but without the jittery, nervous feelings. Many people who suffer from mental health symptoms often react badly to caffeine and are told to cut down or cut it out. Matcha offers a great compromise - you are able to get the much-needed energy boost to get through your tiring day, but are also able to stay feeling steady and calm.
Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, matcha tea provides your body with a boost of goodness. This can be vital for helping you feel better physically. If you're struggling and feeling sluggish, it won't help if your immune system is also feeling run down. Your health needs to be cared for all-round.
Research has found that green tea is able to protect your brain against Alzheimers and Parkinson's disease, which are two of the most common neurodegenerative disorders. Matcha can also help to enhance memory, particularly in people who are suffering from mild cognitive impairments or mild dementia. It has additionally been found to improve enhanced cognitive performance.
"It is thought matcha green tea helps boost the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain - a deficiency in these can be connected with mental health conditions."
Finally, matcha green tea is thought to help boost the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, as well as increase the production of alpha waves. Serotonin and dopamine are two neurotransmitters that are closely linked with mental health; a deficiency in them can be connected with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. Many doctors will prescribe medication that increases serotonin levels in order to help elevate your mood and reduce stress. Through helping to improve these naturally, matcha offers another way to boost the chemicals in your brain without intervention.
Of course, it is always best to consult with a mental health professional, especially if your symptoms feel as though they aren't going away or if you are concerned about the risk you present to yourself or others. You may find that matcha tea can help you alongside other therapies and treatments too. There is no one-size-fits-all way of resolving mental health concerns - but just know, you're not alone.
Whatever you're going through, you can call the Samaritans for free any time, from any phone, on 116 123. They're available round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also speak with Mind, a mental health charity that can help you make the right choices about treatment and offer support.
To stock up on matcha, you can buy your 40g bag here.
Header image: Mental Health Foundation