While many of us tend to reach for the word depression any time we feel “blue” or “down,” the truth is that real depression is a serious medical issue. The National Institutes of Health describes the problem in the following terms: “Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience major depressive disorder.”
It might be grasping a bit to suggest that drinking a few cups of green tea are enough to resolve such a significant problem, but a group of researchers have found that green tea may be of some help in alleviating the symptoms of depression. The study was carried out by Chinese researchers at Shandong University in Shandong, China, and their results were recently published in the Nutrition Journal.
Researchers referred to previous studies that found that green tea “reduced the prevalence of depressive symptoms, as well as produced antidepressant-like effects in rodents.” However, it appears that no rodents were used in this latest study. Instead the study was conducted on 74 healthy human being types over a period of five weeks. Some lucky participants in the study were given a powdered form of Chinese green tea and the unlucky ones had to make do with a placebo.
After all of this researchers came to the conclusion that “chronic green tea increased the reward learning and prevented the depressive symptoms. These results also raised the possibility that supplementary administration of green tea might reverse the development of depression.” Researchers focused more on the polyphenols in tea, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), as the compounds that provided these benefits and did not mention theanine (except in a reference to another study). However, given that the theanine in tea has been found to produce feelings of relaxation and calm in tea drinkers, it’s not totally unreasonable to assume that it can have some benefits in fighting depression.
For the Reader’s Digest version of all of this, take a look at the abstract. If you’re made of stronger stuff you can look at more detailed results from the study, here.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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