Depression is a disorder that has been diagnosed and identified at least as far back as Hippocrates of ancient Greece. It has many proposed theories and models of its cause and development in individuals. The current most popular model is the interactive model, which include the bio-psychosocial model, which posits that biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role in causing depression, and the diathesis – stress model, which posits that genetic vulnerabilities to the disease are activated by stressful life events.
Depression affects people all over the world, an estimated 298 million as of 2010, but lifetime prevalence vary widely among nations, from 3 percent in Japan to 17 percent in the United States. Depression is a major cause of morbidity worldwide and 3.4 percent of the people who have the disease in the United States commit suicide. Management of the disease usually involve medication and some form of psychiatric counseling. According to the China Ministry of Public Health’s statistics, 287,000 people die of suicide in China every year, which make up 3.6 percent of the total deaths in the nation. Of the most significant causes of death in China from the years 1995 to the year 1999, suicide already ranks number 5, just beneath Cerebrovascular disease, Bronchitis, Chronic emphysema, and Liver cancer. According to other reports, among the suicide population, 80 percent suffered from depression, among them, 21- 50-year-old youths and middle aged people made up the majority. Depression has become the fifth largest life threatening disease, which needs to cause our concern. However, many alternative therapies exist, and the one we will explore in this essay, is the little scrutinized subject of treating depression with tea.
Tea beverages that are effective depression preventatives
Note: For herbal teas, many of the base tea leaves used to mix other ingredients are green and oolong teas. If the ingredients below are too complicated pleas see our Tea for Relaxation article that discusses the effects of theanine in teas such as green and oolong.
1. Ginseng root Rose Tea
Ingredients: American Ginseng, Astragalus, red medlar, each 2 qian (3.125 grams), 15 rose flowers
Preparation: Wash the medicinal ingredients thoroughly, add 500 milliliters of boiling water to draw, let stand for approximately 20 minutes and it will become restorative herbal tea beverage.
Effect: Clears the mind and relieves depressive thoughts, increases alertness and energy, boosts the immune system.
Ingredients: Wheat, Chrysanthemum, lily each 15 grams
Preparation: Release into water, cook into approximately one pot.
Effect: Calms the mind, reduces and alleviates tension related headaches.
Ingredients: Dried rose flowers 10 grams, sufficient amount of honey
Preparation: Add water to rose flowers and cook, season with honey before serving.
Effect: Disperse and rectify the depressed liver energy, eases pain, soothes emotional stress
Ingredient: Poria with hostwood, jujube kernels each 10 grams, cinnabar end 1 gram
Preparation: grind the poria and jujube kernels into coarse powder, add the cinnabar ends and wrap in gauze, place package into vacuum flask, fill with sufficient boiling water, seal and let stand for 20 minutes, drink tea substitute frequently.
Effect: Relieve mental stress, calms mood, alleviates pressure. Used to treat heart energy deficiency induced sleeplessness, fright, forgetfulness.
Ingredient: Wheat 30 grams, red jujube 10 seeds, liquorice 6 grams.
Preparation: Cook the water containing the three materials to remove the dregs and extract the juice, drink tea substitute.
Effect: Relieves nervous exhaustion, reduces pressure
Ingredients: Arillus Longan 25 grams, rock sugar 10 grams
Preparation: Wash the Arillus Longan thoroughly, release with rock sugar into tea cup, boil water, cover for a short while and then serve.
Effect: Calms the nerves and benefits the brain, cures excessive thinking and worrying, low energy, insomnia and excessive dreaming, nervous anxiety and forgetfulness
Ingredients: Dandelion, Crystal sugar
Preparation: Method of brewing is simple, release dandelion into pot, add in sufficient clear water and decoct for 15 minutes. After decoction add in sufficient crystal sugar and tea will be ready.
Effect: Contains the unique Taraxol, Taraxacin, Choline, Vitamins, Carotene and other healthy nutritious active components, at the same time it contains a wide variety of trace elements, is rich in calcium and iron, and is particularly rich in the biologically active element Selenium, thereby possessing very crucial Dietetic value. Dandelions possess the properties of being able to facilitate digestive processes, blood detoxification, strengthens the liver, induce diuresis, clear away food poisoning, correct constipation symptoms, acne, cold aversion, ameliorate heat stroke, dissolve malignant swelling, etc.
Scientists theorize that the effects of tea on clinical depression can be traced to a chemical which is found in tea leaves. It was discovered by scientists that tea leaves contain the free amino acid L – Theanine, which is similar to Glutamine and Glutamic acid, which are both biologically active amino acids within the human brain. The average dried tea leaf contains about 1 – 2 percent L – Theanine weight – wise. The quantity of L – Theanine gradually reduces in new leaves as it ferments.
During research by scientists into the effects of L – Theanine on monoamine metabolism in the brain, it was discovered that L – Theanine has a marked effect on dopamine release within the brain, it also has a marked effect on intra – cerebral dopamine bioactivity. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is heavily involved in the regulation of human emotions and moods. Several other scientists confirmed in another study that L – Theanine also impacts the bioactivity level of the neurotransmitter Seretonin, which plays a direct role in learning and memory. It is worth noting that both of these functions (i.e. learning and memory) are mild to severely impaired in patients suffering from depression.
In short, tea for depression constitute an exciting new area of study for an old field that is still expanding and possess ongoing relevance to patients and academics alike. Only time will tell what new developments come out of this line of research, and only time will tell if there are any other benefits to drinking tea that we do not yet know about, but in the mean time, brew and then down yourself a cup of your favorite green herbal tea, you’ll be doing yourself nothing but a favor, and you’ll feel better that you did.