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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Green tea helps ease depression in elders

Sendai, Japan, December 21 -- According to Japanese researchers, green tea, the miracle beverage packed with many health benefits may be the natural way to help ease depression and lift up the spirits of the elderly.

Late life depression characterized by persistent down moods can elevate the risk of multiple illnesses, worsen the outcome of existing medical illnesses, and also increase mortality in the senior citizens.
Researchers at Tohoku University Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering in Sendai conducted a study to assess the potential benefits of green tea consumption in alleviating psychological stress.

Details of the study
Dr. Kaijun Niu, lead author of the study and his colleagues examined 1,058 elderly Japanese individuals aged 70 years and above exhibiting mild and severe depressive symptoms.

Nearly 34 percent of the males and 39 percent of the women in the group demonstrated some symptoms of melancholy, while 20 percent of the men and 24 percent of the women showed signs of severe depression.
The patients were questioned about their daily intake of green tea. Out of all, 488 of the group confessed to drinking four or more cups of green tea a day, 284 said they consumed two to three cups daily while the rest reported having one or less cup daily.

Observations by the researchers
The investigators noted that the gloomy feelings were 44 per cent lower in participants who drank more than four cups of green tea per day as opposed to those who drank one or less.
The researchers found the same effect of the beverage on depressive symptoms even after taking into account factors such as socioeconomic status, age, sex, disease history, BMI, alcohol consumption, smoking, diet, and physical activity.
However, the scientists found that other tea varieties like oolong and black tea did not display similar anti-depression benefits.

L-theanine promotes relaxation
According to researchers green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes feelings of relaxation that has a soothing, calming effect on people who drink it.
Theanine stimulates the production of alpha-brain waves associated with relaxation. It also alters levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine that can affect mood swings.
The researchers believe that green tea appears to be a relative safe option for treating anxiety and depression over prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications which come with adverse effects.
Despite the promising outcomes of the study, the scientists feel there is need for further research to draw a more tangible connection between green tea consumption and mental health.

The study was published in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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