(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Gray skies getting you down? A nice cup, or even a whole potful, of tea can clear a cloudy day, turning those skies a brilliant azure blue! Just another of the amazing effects that tea can impart.

Winter is the time (in the Northern Hemisphere) when folks tend to get most down. The hours of sunlight are shorter, and the weather tends to be more overcast, with those heavy, gray, snow- or rain-laden clouds being a common occurrence. The Northwest and Northeast U.S. are the grayest, and then there’s Alaska. There is even a condition associated with this meteorological situation: Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summer blues, or seasonal depression). At first, this was considered a mood disorder where people have normal mental health most of the year but experience depressive symptoms in Winter or Summer. Now, it’s seen as a specifier for recurrent major depressive disorder, ranging from 1.4% of adults affected in Florida to 9.7% in New Hampshire. Symptoms include sleeping too much, low energy, and feeling depressed, and can be mild to severe. Tea, with its mood boosting properties, is the natural solution (in my humble opinion).

How Tea Helps

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The overall boosting effect of tea on your mood are well documented. You may have observed a more energetic and fresh feeling after having a nice cuppa. Tea helps reduce the level of Cortisol, a stress hormone, inside your body. It also helps you think positively, rejuvenates you, and helps you forget your stress and feeling depression. The tea will make you feel more alert and diverts your attention from whatever is getting you down.

Scientifically speaking, tea contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, boost mood, and improve focus and concentration. Theanine’s tranquilizing effect supposedly comes from relaxing alpha brain waves it produces and from how it alters the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters.

Which Teas and Ingredients Help

Green teas are attributed with mood boosting properties. Researchers at Tohoku University Graduate School think that this improvement in mood is the result of the amino acid theanine, which isn’t in other caffeinated beverages they studied.

Lavender is also good for your mood. Rose oil is another one. So, teas with these ingredients added are even better for your mood enhancement. Other items that would be good to include in your cuppa are:

  • Saffron (a rather expensive spice that is also a potent mood elevator as effective as imipramine, a common antidepressant drug) — try this recipe.
  • Sage (common around the kitchen and great for improving your mood, cognitive performance, memory, and, according to studies from Northumbria University, improves alertness, calmness, contentedness, and mental fatigue) — try this recipe.
  • Ginger (a pungent herb that improves alertness and mood) — try some of these.

A cup of one of these, and the sun will be shining again, at least in your heart and mind. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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