I’ll break for some tea

During my short drive to the medical school I have a few seconds to scoot over three lanes of expressway traffic to make my exit. My remedy for the morning commute is a hot cup of tea.

If something is calming does it matter whether there is a physiological reason as opposed to just perception? I don’t think so but I was interested in research presented at the Fourth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health that confirmed my perception of teas potential to soothe.

It all boils down to theanine, an amino acid found almost exclusively in the camellia tea plant. Theanine scores a double when it comes to relaxation. It assists in the production of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, which are known to create calm. It also increases alpha brain waves as it crosses the blood brain barrier. Alpha waves induce a calm and alert state of mind. Blood concentration of theanine and alpha waves increase just 20 minutes after sipping. Two to three cups of tea have sufficient theanine to begin this process. This is not quickie calm. It lasts about three to four hours. And let us not forget sensory stimulation. The scent of brewing tea gives preview to the calm that is coming.

Tea, like all other plants, has other health promoting properties. Green, black and oolong tea have about eight times more flavonoid antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants protect our cells from the damage of free radicals. Less damage means reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Next time you encounter an annoying driving situation think about a soothing cup of tea waiting for you at your destination. It might help.

By miamiherald.com, Oct 2007
(Article URL: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/health/story/256947.