April 27, 2010

Can Green Tea Make you Happy?

I heard somewhere that green tea can help with depression or it just can make you happier when you drink it. What does green tea do you your body?

A recent study from Japan finds that elderly people who sip on several cups of green tea daily may be less likely to have the blues, or symptoms of depression.

Dr. Kaijun Niu, at Tohoku University Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering in Sendai, and colleagues found both men and women aged 70 and beyond who drank four or more, versus one or less, cups of green tea a day were 44 percent less likely to have symptoms of depression. That's a big shift.

Several preceding studies have also linked green tea consumption to reduced levels of psychological distress. This led Niu and colleagues to look at links between drinking green tea and symptoms of depression in 1,058 relatively healthy elderly men and women.

About 34 percent of the men and 39 percent of the women had symptoms of depression, according to a report in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. These symptoms were acute in approximately 20 percent of the men and in about 24 percent of the women.

Overall, 488 participants stated they drank four or more cups of green tea daily during the study. Another 284 said they consumed two to three cups a day. And, the other 286 reported having one or fewer cups a day.

According to the investigators, the noticeable defensive effects of greater "green" consumption on symptoms of depression did not weaken after they factored in social and economic status, gender, diet, history of health problems, use of antidepressant medications, smoking, and physical activity.

A green tea element, the amino acid theanine, which is believed to have a tranquilizing effect on the brain, which may explain the "potentially beneficial effect" revealed in the current study, Niu stated recently.

However, additional studies are needed to confirm whether greater green tea intake in fact has antidepressant effects. Therefore, Niu shied away from recommending greater green tea intake to lessen depression among the elderly.

Keep in mind that the medical community seldom recommends herbal or natural health alternatives. Since these are not FDA regulated and are more challenging to prove than traditional drug trials, absolute statements about their worthiness are often side stepped.

But, I'd say what do you have to loose? You'll only know once you try it out.

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