In a study done in mice, a team of researchers at Kumamoto University, Japan, demonstrated that Matcha tea powder exerts strong and synergistic anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, and that the activation of the dopamine D1 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors contributes to such effects.
Matcha is the finely ground powder of leaves of specially grown tea plant (Camellia sinensis).
For the production of Matcha, the tea plants are grown under 90% shade and the leaves are then ground to make powder by the use of stone mills.
Matcha tea, made by mixing whole powder directly in hot water, is widely used as traditional drink in Japan.
In recent years, the term Matcha became popular worldwide, because of its use as a dietary supplement or flavoring ingredient in snacks.
“In the study, we investigated the anxiolytic effects of Matcha tea powder, extracts, and fractions using the elevated plus maze (EPM) test in healthy male mice,” said Dr. Yuki Kurauchi, a researcher in the Department of Chemico-Pharmacological Sciences at Kumamoto University, and colleagues.
“Furthermore, we focused on both the dopaminergic and serotonergic systems in the brain and investigated the contribution of the dopamine D1 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors to the anxiolytic effects of Matcha tea powder itself and of Matcha fractions.”
Using the EPM test, Dr. Kurauchi and co-authors found that oral administration of Matcha or its extract reduced anxiety in mice.
“When the anxiolytic activity of different Matcha extracts were evaluated, a stronger effect was found with the extract derived using 80% ethanol in comparison to the extract derived from only hot water,” they said.
“In other words, a poorly water-soluble Matcha component has stronger anxiolytic effects than a component that is easily soluble in water.”
The pharmacological analysis further revealed that Matcha and its extracts reduce anxiety by activating dopamine D1 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors.
“Although further epidemiological research is necessary, the results of our study show that Matcha may be quite beneficial to the human body,” Dr. Kurauchi said.
“We hope that our research into Matcha can lead to health benefits worldwide.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
Yuki Kurauchi et al. 2019. Anxiolytic activities of Matcha tea powder, extracts, and fractions in mice: Contribution of dopamine D1 receptor- and serotonin 5-HT1A receptor-mediated mechanisms. Journal of Functional Foods 59: 301-308; doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2019.05.046