Exciting new research: Matcha as an antidepressant
Matcha is already known for its psychological benefits such as mood boosting and calmness. Older studies have found that it boasts multiple minerals and amino-acids, such as L-theanine which helps combat anxiety, and other chemicals such as EGCG which encourage dopamine and serotonin.
Exciting new research published last month by Kumamoto University in Japan, has revealed Matcha’s potential as an antidepressant. In the report, scientists analysed experiment results to conclude that Matcha powder increased neural activity in the PFC and NAc regions of the brain: these regions control emotion, mood, cognition, motivation, and stress. The study also found that Matcha powder activated dopamine systems in the brain and acted in a similar way to antidepressant medicines by increasing neural activity in the mentioned brain regions.
The experiments concluded that Matcha powder had antidepressant use only in stress-vulnerable subjects, due to a number of factors, and further investigation is needed. However, the results do contribute to a growing understanding of the value of Matcha powder for health and wellbeing.
Matcha is already used for it’s calming properties, research suggests potential as a natural alternative to antidepressant medicine
Matcha as a natural alternative to antidepressants: avoiding side-effects
Global rates of depression have been on an upward trend for nearly a decade, placing depression as the world’s most common illness. The World Health Organisation reported that the pandemic resulted in a 25% increase in anxiety and depression globally, with rising stress and isolation. Looking after our mental health has never been more important.
Whilst antidepressant medications are commonly prescribed, high risk of side-effects, as well as cases of depression that are treatment-resistant, have prompted professionals to search for safer, natural alternatives, making this recent Matcha discovery an exciting find.
Other previously known mental benefits of Matcha
Healthy Caffeine and Calming Amino Acids
Other previously researched and established benefits of Matcha for mental health is a natural source of caffeine that increases dopamine release. The caffeine released from matcha powder does not give the explosive and crashing hit that coffee does, and doesn’t leave you jittery. It delivers a gradual boost of alertness, calms and soothes.
The amino acid L-Theanine, found in Matcha, also encourages dopamine and GABA: a chemical that blocks signals to produce a calming effect. L-Theanine also lowers levels of the stress hormone – cortisol, by creating alpha-waves in the brain that produce a calm feeling. Coffee instead causes adrenaline glucose, insulin, and cortisol to spike which results in jitters and nervousness.
Both the caffeine and L-Theanine in Matcha have been shown to decrease stress and anxiety within 30 minutes of ingestion.
A cup of Matcha Green Tea can greatly boost your altertness and mood and, in a daily routine, may reduce risks of depression.
Mental benefits of Matcha’s vitamin and minerals
Matcha’s nutrient and mineral-rich properties also indirectly impact mental health, as research shows that certain deficiencies can greatly impact the psychological condition
Matcha is rich in:
- Vitamin B-1 – known for its calming effect and sometimes called “the anti-stress vitamin”
- Vitamin B-6 – helps keep the neurotransmitters functioning which control mood and sleep, as well as serotonin production
- Zinc – protects the brain cells from toxins and amplifies the efficiency of antidepressants
- Iron – iron deficiency can lead to fatigue, depression and anxiety, keeping your iron levels healthy can prevent these conditions
If you’re interested, you can find the full report here: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15030581
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