Can Drinking Tea Help with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?On August 31, 2017 by Admin
Have you ever heard that drinking tea can help to improve the symptoms of conditions like fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)? This actually might be true.
Tea has long been popular in many European and Asian countries, more than coffee or soda. However, in the United States this drink is way down on the list. Today, more and more studies suggest that tea provides multiple health benefits, which is raising its profile and popularity in the country.
But does tea really offer the benefits the scientists are talking about?
Research shows that tea does contain ingredients that provide health benefits, as for overall well-being, as for those suffering from FMS or ME/CFS. It is not clear yet how exactly tea affects your system, and some of the results of existing research are quite controversial; however, general picture is emerging.
Although tea has not been studied specifically as a potential fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome treatment, such ingredients contained in the drink as polyphenols and theanine are thought to be helping with the symptoms.
How Can Polyphenols Improve Your Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Polyphenols are micronutrients with antioxidant properties that are contained in certain plant-based foods or drinks, including tea. Due to the recent findings about their potential health benefits, polyphenols have received a lot of attention from health-conscious population and probably became one of the reasons for tea’s publicity.
Thus, according to research, polyphenols can provide protection from conditions like coronary heart disease, stroke, and numerous types of cancer, improve blood vessel dilation, as well as help to regulate blood sugar.
As it was mentioned, polyphenols have antioxidant properties. We all know that antioxidants are something that’s supposed to be good for our health, but are you actually sure what these antioxidants are?
To make it simple, a human body has a number of certain molecules inside, that are called free radicals. Although these molecules are natural, research has shown that the surplus of free radicals may make you feel sick. Antioxidant are able to fix this.
If you define the word “antioxidant”, based just on its name (anti + oxidant), it is something that inhibits the oxidation – breakdown of chemicals caused by exposure to oxygen.
The role of oxidation in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other related diseases has been studied recently. The studies show that nitric oxide that builds up in the body leads to oxidative stress and may further start a chain reaction triggering and sustaining these conditions.
A 2017 study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found polyphenols contained in tea and other plant-based foods like cocoa, berries and walnuts has properties reducing oxidative stress. According to another study in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research (2016), food rich in polyphenols can help to alleviate pain and improve life quality in women with fibromyalgia.
Does Theanine Help to Treat FMS and ME/CFS?
Theanine, which is also known as L-theanine, is another antioxidant contained in tea. Unlike polyphenols that are found in various plant foods, theanine can only be found in tea and a certain type of rare mushroom. However, this micronutrient is available in a synthetic form as a dietary supplement.
The properties of theanine have been well studied, and the studies suggest that theanine may provide various health benefits, including:
- Improving memory and increasing alertness
- Boosting energy
- Reducing anxiety and helping to relax
- Regulating the sleep-wake cycle
- Protecting brain cells
- Increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the body (which are often low in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Decreasing the activity of glutamate (which tend to be high in FMS)
- Boosting T cells production in the immune system (which is typically low in chronic fatigue syndrome).
Tips to Get the Full Health Benefits from Tea
It might seem more complicated than you thought, but there are some things you should know about to be getting the full benefits from drinking tea.
#1: Not all the teas contain theanine and polyphenols.
These two ingredients can only be found in teas coming from the Camellia sinensis tree: green, black, oolong and white teas. This means that herbal teas, rooibos and matcha do not contain these antioxidants, and, even though they have their own properties that benefit your health, they do not provide the same benefits as the “real” tea.
#2: Decaffeinated teas and caffeine free teas are two different things.
“Decaffeinated” tea is received through a chemical process that strips the caffeine out of the tea leaves coming from the Camellia sinensis tree. “Caffeine free” labels, however, are rather typical for herbal and other teas.
#3: The tea needs to be strong enough.
Based on several studies, it takes about three to five minutes for the tea to become strong enough to provide the health benefits.
#4: The amount of tea required per day depends on the condition you have.
Studies have shown that depending on your disease, you may need to drink between two and six cups of tea a day, so that your body gets enough polyphenols.
#5: Green and oolong teas have higher concentration of polyphenols.
Compared to black tea, green and oolong teas contain more polyphenols.
#6: The nutritional content of decaffeinated tea is still not clear.
Research has proven that decaffeinated teas retain theanine after the decaffeination process. However, it is not known yet if they also keep their polyphenols content.
#7: Teas in bottles are usually not the best choice.
Bottled teas normally contain high amounts of sugar or other artificial sweeteners, as well as many chemicals that actually cause harm to your health. Therefore, you are better off choosing natural teas, unless you find a perfect ingredient list.
#8: Tea Tree Oil does not contain theanine or polyphenols.
Melaleuca, more commonly referred to as Tea Tree Oil does not have anything to do with the Camellia sinensis tree. It may provide certain health benefits, but not those of theanine or tea polyphenols.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Tea Drinking?
In general, tea, especially natural, unsweetened tea is considered to be quite a healthy beverage. However, there might be some downside of drinking it regularly.
Probably, the greatest risk associated with tea drinking relates to the caffeine contained in it. In fact, certain types tea may contain the same amount of caffeine as coffee, and they also can retain some trace amounts of caffeine even after decaffeination procedure. This makes it a problem to drink tea for those who do not tolerate caffeine well.
Besides, stimulants are believed to be bad for those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Therefore, pay attention to any negative reactions caused by tea and discuss the situation with your doctor. The fact that tea is natural does not mean it cannot do harm.
In addition to caffeine, tea’s nutritional content includes high amounts of substances called oxylates. These substances may partly cause the formation of a certain type of kidney stone. Thus, if you know you are prone to oxylate kidney stones, you should talk to you doctor before you start drinking tea daily.