Focus and relax?

May 14, 2013

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

The tidal wave of tea that's coming is a tsunami of health, relaxation, calm, comfort, warmth, and psychological escape.

Mothers and grandmothers have urged many generations to use the brew to overcome feeling blue. Beyond this, tea "“ particularly green tea "“ has been associated with improved cognitive functioning, lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improved digestion, diminished risk of several types of cancer (including prostate, ovarian, breast, colon and lung), protection against type 2 diabetes, reduced PMS symptoms, increased energy expenditure related to weight loss, and reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. In addition, the ORAC (antioxidant efficacy) rating of Matcha is 1300 units/g, compared to 105 units/g for pomegranates and 91 units/g for wild blueberries.

My favorite green tea, the Japanese tea Matcha, is at least 10 times stronger than regular green teas and has been shown to contain 137 times the amount of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a highly potent anti-cancer antioxidant, catechin, found in green teas.

There is also a calming amino acid found in unusually high amounts in Matcha, called L-theanine. This natural tranquilizer has been shown to significantly increase alpha waves, which may explain why Buddhist monks include Matcha as a part of their meditation practices. While there are about 75 grams of caffeine in every cup of Matcha, it is absorbed more slowly than caffeine found in coffee, due to the calming and counteractive effects of L-theanine and catechins slowing the release of caffeine.

I have one to two cups per day, keeping in mind this is the equivalent of 10 to 20 cups of regular green tea in terms of nutritional value and anti-oxidants. I experience a unique combination of calm, mental alertness, excellent memory, and freedom from the common jitters associated with caffeinated coffee, all the while experiencing no mental fatigue. My patients tell me they feel they perform better under stress, feel more creative, concentrate, focus and learn more effectively, have decreased feelings of anxiety, and are generally more relaxed.

Originally published May 14, 2013 10:00:44 AM.