Is Tea an Effective Way to Reduce Stress Levels?

tea as a stress reducerThere is no shortage of stressors in the world today. Professionally, everyone is pushed to do more in the same amount of time and personal conditions aren’t much different.

The unfortunate thing about stress is that it compounds with stress begetting even more stress. The cycle can be difficult to break, especially if you don’t have a plan for stress management.

There are many ways to manage stress. While it’s often recommended that you get enough exercise or take more breaks, supplements are often overlooked as a way to moderate stress levels. Stress can be reduced with basic, easily-available supplements too.

In fact, research shows that supplementing with something you probably already have in your kitchen can help lower stress levels. What is this magical stress buster? Tea.

Effects of Stress

A little bit of stress isn’t a bad thing. The fight-or-flight hormonal response is something built into humans’ chemistry that plays an important role in keeping us safe from danger. The problem is, there’s not as much real danger today as there was millions of years ago, so the need for the fight-or-flight response isn’t as necessary as it once was.

Our bodies, however, don’t take this into account.

The result is ongoing financial, career, or family issues that are far from fatal creating chronic levels of stress hormones that can be very damaging both psychologically and physically.

Effects of Tea on Stress

So where does tea come into play? According to a double-blind randomized study done at University College of London, tea can help lower the stress hormones and improve your sense of relaxation. In this study, 75 otherwise healthy participants were cut off from tea and coffee for four weeks, then given either tea or a placebo.

Researchers measured both subjective stress levels and clinical stress levels. They looked at blood pressure, heart rate, platelet activation levels, and levels of cortisol, one of the most damaging stress hormones.

The subjects were given tea for six weeks and then all the previous markers were measured again as the participants completed certain tasks. The group receiving the tea treatment had lower levels of both clinical stress indicators and subjective feelings of stress.

From the clinical side, two measurements are especially important: lower platelet activation and lower cortisol. Platelet activation is the root of cardiovascular complications from stress since platelet activation causes blood to clot. Lower activation could mean that tea reduces the risk of cardiovascular issues related to stress.

Cortisol is an essential hormone in the body, but as mentioned above, chronically elevated levels can be disastrous. Elevated cortisol can cause high blood pressure, weight gain, impaired mental performance, and lower immune system effectiveness.

Supplementing with Tea

Tea can be very easy to supplement since you can simply drink it throughout the day, but can also come in extract capsules. In the study cited above, the researchers used black tea, but when combined with other research, it’s recommended that you buy green tea instead.

Used for thousands of years for its therapeutic properties as well as just a drink, green tea is widely given “superfood” status amongst beverages. Green tea is higher in antioxidant catechins and polyphenols and contains l-theanine, a compound that has been proven to mitigate stress levels on its own.  Some of the positive effects of green tea are:

  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Fat loss
  • Better glucose management
  • Mood improvement
  • Improvement in cardiovascular conditions
  • Reducing oxidative stress damage to cells

Given the beneficial effects of green tea, the number of ways to buy green tea, and ease of supplementing, it’s hard to find an excuse not to add a few brief periods of tea time into your day.