Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Drinking Tea And Herbal Tea To Relax Or Reduce Anxiety: Beyond Drugs

This post is about tea and herbal tea, and the process of drinking tea or herbal teas, as it pertains to anxiety and relaxation. A little over two years ago, in my post Tea & Health: Beyond Chemistry?, I raised the question:

Could the health benefits of tea be partly due to how making and drinking tea slows you down?

That post seemed to generate a generally positive response to my question. Since then, I have researched this topic and found some conclusive evidence for this effect. You can find a lot of this work on the newly published page on RateTea about herbs and herbal teas to treat anxiety. This page describes some herbs which are known to have varying degrees of relaxing and anti-anxiety effects, but it also explores the ways in which the process of drinking herbal teas or tea can be relaxing and anxiety-reducing. In this page, which references some scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals, backing up some of these claims, I explain how:

  • The act of drinking hot fluids like tea relaxes the body.

  • Merely holding a warm beverage provides an immediate change in state of mind and thoughts.

  • The aroma of a cup of tea can produce an immediate relaxing effect; this has been verified scientifically in the case of some herbs, like lemon balm, as well as with jasmine tea; I do not know if this effect has been verified with any pure teas, but I suspect there are pure teas that have this sort of effect.

  • Focusing on the experience of drinking a cup of tea or herbal tea can promote mindfulness, which has been shown as an effective and sustainable way to reduce anxiety.

I would not say that there is airtight science tying together all these points yet; a lot of my conclusions in that article amount to drawing conclusions by combining well-known scientific facts with slightly less scientific, but common-sense reasoning. I would like to see scientists test more of these points directly, but until now, I want to at least present the pieces of the puzzle that have been more firmly established.

What do you think?

What do you think of the conclusions that we draw in the RateTea article about the process of drinking tea or herbal teas being relaxing? Do you think the reasoning in the article is solid, or is any of it a bit more of a stretch?

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