Thursday, October 12, 2006

Beat stress, drink tea

Reprinted from Yahoo! Health News and Reuters

Beat stress, drink tea

October 4, 2006 10:59:44 AM PST

Regular cups of tea can help speed recovery from stress, researchers from University College London (UCL) said on Wednesday.

Men who drank black tea four times a day for six weeks were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than a control group who drank a fake tea substitute, the researchers said in a study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

The tea drinkers also reported a greater feeling of relaxation after performing tasks designed to raise stress levels.

Andrew Steptoe, of UCL's department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and one of the report's authors, said the findings could have important health implications.

"Slow recovery following acute stress has been associated with a greater risk of chronic illness such as coronary heart disease.

"Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal."

In the study, 75 tea-drinking men were split into two groups, all giving up their normal tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks.

Half were given a fruit-flavored caffeinated tea mixture made up of the usual constituents of a cup of black tea.

The others were given a caffeinated substitute, identical in taste but without the active tea ingredients.

Neither the participants or the researchers knew who was drinking real or false tea.

At the end of six weeks the participants were given a series of tests designed to raise their stress levels, including being given five minutes to prepare and deliver a presentation.

The researchers found that stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate rose similar amounts in both groups.

But 50 minutes after the tasks cortisol levels had fallen an average of 47 percent among the tea drinkers, compared to 27 percent in the fake tea group.

Steptoe said it was not known which ingredients in tea were responsible for the effects found in the study.


Geraldine said...

This is very interesting M. COnsidering that tea contains caffeine, you wouldn't think it would have a good effect on stress levels. Then again, there are always conflicting reports on just about all foods these days.

Soy, for example, some are saying its the healthiest of foods, other experts are saying, avoid it like the plague...what to do, what to do!!!

Michelle said...

Hi G,

I agree. One of the things that can frustrate me is the conflicting information from all these studies, and how they often outright contradict one another. When considering the information from any of these studies, it's very important to take into consideration the number of participants, and who was paying to have the study done and what they wanted the results to show.

I heard also that a couple of cups of coffee daily were good for you...some compound in coffee helps ward-off colon cancer.

It's hard to know what to believe any more. I think the thing to remember is that no matter how many or few people participate in these studies, they aren't you and they can go only so far in anticipating how you will react to different foods/drugs/whatever.

Also, these studies do not take mind or emotion into account at all, and if you are not of the same mindset or emotional makeup as the participants, your results will probably not be the same, either.

caroline brown said...

Yes, the same medical "industry" told us to stop eating butter 20 years ago and start eating margarine, and now they are figuring out how bad trans fat is, duh.

I think that probably too much of anything is not a good thing. Having said that, I'm absolutely addicted to tea, especially black tea, and especially in the winter!

Anonymous said...

I adore teas of all persuasions, and I'm so glad it's cold again - hot tea in the summer just doesn't work for me.

I suspect that while there are some qualities of tea which can be understood scientifically (now and with further research) that's there just something to be said for the process of extracting plant qualities with water, and taking the time to slow down and sip a warm cup.

Recently I was doing some research on cinnamon. Apparently, along with cinnamon's other healing qualities is its ability to help moderate blood glucose level. Just stirring your tea with a cinnamon stick can provide you with its health benefits. ;)

You can read more here, if you're interested:

Cinnamon spice produces healthier blood
17:52 24 November 2003 news service
Debora MacKenzie

Michelle said...

Caroline, I agree...balance in all things, and the more natural, the better. Product manufacturers are not going to take the time (and it is probably unreasonable to expect them to) to do 20-years studies to know how the product will affect consumers 20 years down the road, so we have to be very careful and responsible in our use of these products.

JLB, you have brought up one of my favorite points, too....the benefits of just slowing down to relax and enjoy something. Nutrition on the run isn't nutrition, it's indigestion. Thanks for the information on cinnamon, too....that is absolutely fantastic!

G said...

That is one 'vice' that won't be dumped anytime soon (coffee), I love java way toooooo much to give it up.

Yes, it is important to note who's behind any study and also to 'suit' the results, according to our individual preferences and needs. We aren't one size fits all, thats for sure.

Thanks again M.

Huggs, G