When we feel stress we are experiencing the effect of the chemicals in our bodies involved in the stress response. Cortisol is one of the key chemical hormones involved in our body’s response to stress. It also plays an important role in the normal function of many systems in our body’s. The levels normally fluctuate through the day. When stress occurs our body releases a large amount to aid in the fight/flight response.
Cortisol is an important part of a stress response. It helps our hearts beet faster, our blood vessels constricting (higher blood pressure), helps reduce inflammation, sugars (energy) to be released by the liver, and many more positive roles. All this is useful when you need to react to a fight or flight situation.
However, prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can have a negative impact on the body. We do not always need our blood pressure raised. It can interfere with our immune system and the function of insulin. It can also interfere with our ability to recall memories. Oh, did I mention, it is also credited with weight gain.
We need cortisol. We may not want to decrease its levels when we need it during a stressful task. It has an important role in keeping us safe and functioning at our best under difficult circumstances.
Research indicates that our health can benefit by lower (normal) cortisol levels when we are not facing danger. So, what can we do to help keep healthy, normal, cortisol levels throughout the day and help them return to normal after a stressful situation?
Scientists at University College London (2005) studied drinkers of black tea. They found that the cortisol levels of those who drank black tea decreased more quickly after a stressful activity then non-tea drinkers. There levels during the activity was not change. However, the black tea drinkers had a 47% decrease in cortisol 50 minutes after the activity—as opposed to a 27% decrease in non-tea drinkers.
A cup of black tea just may help us calm down after a stressful day or situation. I have friends who would agree.
Question: Have you tried tea to help you relax after a stressful situation? If so, what are your observations?
- Black tea soothes away stress http://www.ucl.ac.uk/media/library/tea
- PTSD Professional Perspective: 6 Tips for Managing Your Stress Hormones http://healmyptsd.com/2009/08/professional-perspective-7-tips-for-managing-your-stress-hormones.html
- Stress, Hormones and Weight Gain http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53304
- Cortisol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol