Tea and Fatigue

by William I. Lengeman III

If you were to make the observation that tea can be helpful in reducing fatigue, you might be accused of restating the obvious – and rightly so. For so many people who drink tea the ability to impart a little bit of pep is one of the beverage’s most appealing features. Most of us attribute this to the caffeine found in tea, but there are several studies that suggest that it’s not just caffeine that gives you a boost when you drink tea.

A study conducted by Japanese researchers seems to have confirmed what for most people was already set in stone, that tea can help us relieve physical and mental fatigue. The results of the study, which appeared in the journal Nutrition in 2008, found that a green tea extract helped to counter the accumulated affects of fatigue.

The tests were carried out on rats and researchers discovered that those subjects that were fed a green tea compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) could exercise longer than animals in a control group. Researchers also noted that members of the control group experienced increased levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS). These were not as pronounced in the group that was given EGCG.

A previous study had suggested that green tea extract might help to alleviate chronic fatigue-induced oxidative stress in mice. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DePaul University estimate that more than one million people in the United States suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), so this is not an inconsiderable finding.

The study was conducted by researchers at India’s Panjab University. They treated mice with a combination of green tea extract and catechin, a compound also found in tea. The research team concluded “that GTE and catechin could be used as potential agents in the management of CFS and warrant the inclusion of GTE and catechin in the treatment regimen of CFS patients.”

The idea that tea and coffee might be an aid in reducing fatigue is obviously not a new one. As evidence, look to this 1989 article – Fatigue: Often Tea & Coffee Can Alleviate Symptoms – which first appeared in the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal.

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