Could matcha tea have anti-depressant properties?
In the US, major depressive disorders are thought to affect 21 million persons. According to Japanese researchers, matcha tea powder may be able to reduce symptoms of sadness while also enhancing mood and cognitive function.
According to reports, the powder improves mental wellness by stimulating dopaminergic cerebral pathways. Further research involving human people is required, experts believe. Their study was conducted on mice.
A recent study in the journal Nutrients found that matcha tea powder can aid people in managing stress and depression. According to research, the traditional Japanese tea can improve depressive symptoms in mice who have previously suffered stress from social isolation, activate dopaminergic brain networks, and improve mood and mental function.
The health advantages of matcha have been emphasised. But, additional mechanistic research is needed, which is why the study was conducted on mice, according to experts from Japan’s Kumamoto University. They claimed that more study could contribute in the creation of better antidepressants.
Depression and dopamine
A mood disorder called depression can make it difficult for a person to function in daily life. A continuous sense of emptiness is one of the many symptoms that someone with depression may experience.
Depression still doesn’t have a known specific cause. Yet, some risk factors, including as going through painful experiences or having depressed family members, might raise a person’s likelihood of getting depression.
Many of the basic elements of depression are still not fully understood, and researchers are continually trying to comprehend them. How neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine affect depression is one topic of investigation.
Dopamine, a chemical messenger that affects motivation and mood, is thought by some experts to play a role in depression.
How to treat depression?
The researchers made note of the fact that depression continues to afflict an increasing number of people and is the most common mental health disorder in the world.
Its onset varies, but it is thought to be caused by a decline in dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter and hormone that helps people feel better.
Low dopamine levels can be treated with antidepressants, although many have negative effects. Antidepressant resistance can also develop in patients, necessitating increased dosages or drug adjustments.
Matcha tea and its impact on depression
Matcha, a type of tea that has been around for a while, is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, which has a lot of happy-making substances in its leaves.
Regular matcha drinking, according to researchers, has been shown to reduce anxiety-like behaviour in rats during prior experiments by triggering dopamine function via dopamine D1 receptor signalling.
Researchers lead by Dr. Yuki Kurauchi of Kumamoto University examined the impact of matcha tea powder on depression in socially isolated mice. The team stressed social isolation on both stress-tolerant BALB/c and stress-sensitive C57BL/6J mice.
They claimed that giving the stress-prone rats an oral dose of a matcha tea suspension appeared to lower their levels of depression. This was determined by how well the mice performed in tail suspension experiments, which are frequently used to gauge mouse sadness.
In contrast to stress-tolerant mice, matcha tea only decreased the immobility time in stress-susceptible mice who were more stressed out by social isolation and showed more depressive-like behaviour. stated Kurauchi in a statement.
The prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens were activated in the stress-susceptible mice following matcha consumption, according to a brain examination of the mice. These areas are vital for regulating dopamine levels in the brain as they represent a significant component of the dopaminergic circuit.
Their activation would normally enhance dopamine levels, improving mood, as shown by an increase in the number of cells expressing c-Fos, a critical marker of brain activity.
Experts on matcha tea study
Although there are differences between mice and humans, experts told Healthline they were optimistic about the findings.
Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, a medical toxicologist and the director of the National Capital Poison Center, stated that there isn’t much data on how matcha might effect depression in people. Also, the best dose and time frame for using matcha to prevent or treat depression haven’t been determined.
It’s not yet clear whether matcha can affect people’s moods. According to Johnson-Arbor, Healthline. Matcha has not been clearly demonstrated to be useful in preventing the onset of depression in humans, despite the fact that most healthy people may be able to incorporate it into their daily routine as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
She continued, “Before adopting matcha or any other natural therapy to treat depression symptoms, people should always see their doctor.”
Matcha has high levels of L-theanine, an amino acid that relaxes the brain and nervous system, according to Victoria Chan, a licenced naturopathic doctor who specialises in integrative mental health and has medical training in pharmaceuticals. This lessens the jittery effects of the tea’s natural caffeine.
The root causes of depression are still being discovered by scientists, according to Chan. Contrary to common belief, ‘chemical imbalances’ or imbalanced neurotransmitters are not the exclusive cause of depression. Digestion, hormones, immune reactions, thyroid, detoxification, allergic responses, nutrition, liver, heredity, and stress responses are just a few of the many elements that might contribute to depression.
According to Chan, matcha reduces depression in ways other than via influencing neurotransmitters.
According to Chan, if antidepressant medicine is not successfully treating your depression, the underlying cause may not be entirely controlled by neurotransmitters, which antidepressant medications primarily target. If so, you might benefit from treating your depression with substances that support various biological pathways, such as matcha, and from employing methods that do so.
Some cautions on the study
According to Dr. Zeeshan Afzal, a dermatologist and medical advisor for the artificial intelligence healthcare platform Welzo, matcha’s L-theanine and caffeine can work together to enhance brain function.
Afzal cautioned against becoming overly euphoric, though. He stated that the study conducted on mice “may offer some insights into the potential antidepressant.” “It’s vital to keep in mind that the results might not apply to humans. Because of the physiological variations between mice and humans, there are frequently notable discrepancies in how medications and therapies affect the two species.
Further affective human studies, according to Afzal, are required.
“Matcha could potentially become a natural alternative or complementary treatment for depression,” he added. “If subsequent studies confirm the antidepressant effects of matcha.” To diagnose and treat depression, people with the condition should always seek the advice of a trained healthcare expert, it is crucial to note that there is still much research to be done in this area.
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