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Sip to Relieve Stress

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Author: 
Katrina Heisler
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photo: Courtesy of Carlos Porto

Let me start by saying I am a huge tea drinker; I’m talking five or six cups a day. For all the coffee addicts out there whose java is more “their cup of tea”, I can sympathize with you, the day just isn’t the same without it! I love the taste, the smell, the feeling of tea as it warms up my whole body and I just feel relaxed. This sparked in my mind and made me wonder, does tea have any stress relieving affects? Turns out a study was conducted by the University College of London to test the claim and was published in the medical journal Psychopharmacology in October 2009. The study followed 75 men “who were considered regular tea drinkers” and split them into experimental and control groups. In the six week study the men were placed under stressful tests and situations, such as dealing with the threat of losing their jobs, while scientists “monitored changes in their cortisol, blood pressure, blood platelets, and self-rated levels of stress”. The experimental group was given black tea while the control group was given a placebo drink that appeared, tasted and smelt like tea but did not have active black tea ingredients.

What were the results? All participants expressed an increase in heart rate blood pressure, and perceived stress levels but their were differences in their cortisol levels. “Nearly an hour after performing the task, men belonging to the group drinking authentic black tea had levels of cortisol that were 20% lower than their counterparts in the placebo group”. Cortisol is a stress related hormone that is released by the body during stressful situations. It usually drops back to normal once the body has returned to a calm state, but constant increased levels of cortisol can cause harm to the body potentially. Studies have shown high cortisol levels lead to a suppressed immune system which may be why you are more susceptible to catching a cold when under dire stress. The regular tea drinkers reported lower stress levels during the recovery period and had lower levels of platelet activation which decreases their risks for blood clotting and heart attacks.

While this study alone is not enough to conclude that drinking tea can relieve stress, I don’t think it would hurt to add a cup to your day if you’re feeling stressed. Aside from possibly lowering your stress levels tea does have a number of other added benefits. Depending on the type of tea, the drink can help you fall asleep, increase metabolism, and provide you with healthy antioxidants. Keep sipping tea drinkers!

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