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Black tea is the best stress-buster

india Updated: Oct 06, 2006 14:53 IST
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Feeling stressed? Well then just head towards the kitchen and make yourself a nice hot cup of black tea, for a new research has found that it has an effect on stress hormone levels in the body.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University College of London (UCL), who found that people who drank tea were able to de-stress more quickly than those who drank a fake tea substitute, and that drinking a black tea concoction four times a day for six weeks can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood after a stressful event.

As a part of the study, researchers spilt 75 young male regular tea drinkers into two groups and monitored the, for six weeks, with one group given a fruit-flavoured caffeinated tea mixture made up of the constituents of an average cup of black tea, and the control group a caffeinated placebo identical in taste, but devoid of the active tea ingredients.

Both groups were then subjected to challenging tasks that triggered substantial increases in blood pressure, heart rate and subjective stress ratings.

The researchers, who measured the cortisol, blood pressure, blood platelet and self-rated levels of stress as a part of the study, found that found that blood platelet activation – linked to blood clotting and the risk of heart attacks – was lower in the tea drinkers, and that this group reported a greater degree of relaxation in the recovery period after the task.  

Professor Andrew Steptoe, UCL Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, said that the study had provided scientific evidence for an age old theory that drinking tea is associated with stress relief.

“Drinking tea has traditionally been associated with stress relief, and many people believe that drinking tea helps them relax after facing the stresses of everyday life. However, scientific evidence for the relaxing properties of tea is quite limited. This is one of the first studies to assess tea in a double-blind placebo controlled design – that is, neither we nor the participants knew whether they were drinking real or fake tea. This means that any differences were due to the biological ingredients of tea, and not to the relaxing situations in which people might drink tea, whether they were familiar with the taste and liked it, and so on,” he said. 

He added that though drinking black tea did not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress, the study showed that it did speed up the recovery from the daily stresses in life. 

“Our study suggests that drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life. 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. This has important health implications, because slow recovery following acute stress has been associated with a greater risk of chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease,” he added. The study is published in the journal Psychopharmacology.   

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