Every woman will experience menopause, the natural stage of a woman’s life when her hormone levels decline, and periods cease, and yet it has long been a subject surrounded by stigma and misinformation. Sometimes the transition goes smoothly but most women will experience at least some symptoms with the duration and severity of them varying from woman to woman.
Symptoms usually start a few months or years before your periods stop, known as the perimenopause, and can persist for some time afterwards. On average, most menopause symptoms last around 4 years from your last period. However, around 1 in every 10 women experience them for up to 12 years.
A list of common menopause symptoms are listed on the NHS website and include:
• Hot Flushes – short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest, which can make your skin red and sweaty
• Weight gain and slowed metabolism
• Difficulty Sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day
• Problems with memory and concentration
• Mood changes, such as low mood or anxiety
• Palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable
• Joint stiffness, aches and pains
The symptoms of menopause can impact on both physical and mental aspects of our lives including relationships, work and leisure activities, highlighting the importance of raising awareness of effective management options available to support us throughout this transition.
Can Matcha Green Tea help?
Whilst there don’t appear to have been any specific studies on matcha and the menopause, we do know both anecdotally and from scientific studies on matcha that it may help with some of the symptoms of menopause.
The antioxidants found in matcha help to relieve inflammation and stress which are both triggers for menopause symptoms, but did you know that matcha also contains key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium all of which help to support hormonal balance?
And there’s more, studies have shown that quality matcha has the potential to improve cognitive performance, improve mood and reduce anxiety, as well as boost metabolism and increase fat oxidation.
Memory & Concentration
It’s common for women going through menopause to complain of brain fog, essentially forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly. Brain fog affects around two-thirds of menopausal and perimenopausal women.
In an edited extract in The Guardian from How to Keep Your Brain Young by Kerryn Phelps, Phelps says:
"Dips in oestrogen levels cause the well-recognised symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, mood changes, irritability, mental confusion and decreased energy. These things can all further contribute to hormone-related brain fog."
You may forget where you placed your mobile, forget an appointment or have trouble remembering an acquaintance’s name. And as Phelps explains…”Some women worry they have early signs of dementia.”
There are lifestyle changes you can make to try to mitigate some of these symptoms such as eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising regularly and practising mindfulness or yoga and matcha can also help to support cognitive performance during menopause. The combination of L-Theanine and caffeine in matcha can have an extraordinary effect and in fact, scientific studies have found that the combination of caffeine and the amino acid L-Theanine improves cognitive performance and increases focus and alertness.
We conducted a survey with participants from our Matcha Challenge earlier this year and had similar results. Participants were asked to drink OMGTea matcha every day for 21 days and then complete a survey on their experience; 63% noticed an increase in focus during the challenge with feedback including:
“I have matcha in the morning before I start work, which is currently at home and all online. I am in education, and it really gives me a sustained focus, across a fast paced and often stressful day.”
“A definite increase in mental acuity. Lack of focus has been a known issue, drinking matcha has made a marked difference.”
“I feel a cleaner sense of focus if that makes any sense.”
It seems the Buddhist monks who started drinking matcha over 800 years ago, to enhance focus and concentration during meditation, were onto something!
When it comes to memory and concentration, there are certainly lifestyle changes you can make to support yourself during this time but if your cognitive issues are starting to negatively impact your daily life, you should go see your doctor for extra support and to rule out anything else.
Mood and Anxiety
Some women experience mood swings, low mood and anxiety around the time of the menopause, which is further exacerbated by lower energy levels.
Again, getting plenty of rest, taking regular exercise and doing relaxing activities such as yoga or meditation are key, as well as eating well and managing alcohol intake.
Caffeine too, can result in the opposite of the desired effect and leave you feeling even more anxious if you have too much. Whilst matcha has caffeine, it is less than other caffeinated drinks such as coffee. Each one-gram serving has approximately 34mg of caffeine, compared to 70-180mg for a cup of coffee. It is easily tolerated by most people for whom coffee makes them jittery; this is because all the other components that make up matcha slow down the release of caffeine into the body. It usually takes three to six hours for the caffeine to be absorbed into the bloodstream; however, the mental alertness and energy are apparent almost immediately upon drinking it. This is said to be due to the amino acid L-Theanine contained in the matcha leaves. L-Theanine boosts alpha waves (the brain waves present in deep relaxation) and promotes alert relaxation. L-Theanine has had significant clinical results for not only naturally calming the brain but focusing it too.
L-Theanine also increases the production of the two chemicals dopamine and serotonin which in turn serve to enhance mood, promote better concentration, and improve memory.
It’s not surprising therefore, to learn that a 2019 study carried out by researchers at Kumamoto University in Japan, has shown that matcha green tea can reduce anxiety. As reported in Science Daily, “The group of researchers…found that anxiety was reduced after consuming matcha powder or matcha extract… A behavioural pharmacological analysis further revealed that matcha and matcha extracts reduce anxiety by activating dopamine D1 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors.”
These are encouraging findings, which will hopefully pave the way for future studies on the relationship between matcha and reduced anxiety and in the meantime, we have more anecdotal feedback that tells a similar story.
Participants in the OMGTea Matcha Challenge in January 2021 claimed that drinking matcha regularly had a positive impact on mood, with 80% of respondents stating that it improved their mood or general well-being. Comments included,
“I generally feel calmer and less stressed. More tolerant.”
“I do suffer with anxiety and feeling low. But I have been having matcha consistently, and it does elevate my mood. Because it doesn't increase my anxiety, it is also an excellent option for me.”
The period around menopause can be an emotional rollercoaster and whilst we are highlighting some of the options that may help, you should always seek professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed or things become too much.
During menopause, many women experience weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. Contributors to weight gain at menopause include declining oestrogen levels, age-related loss of muscle tissue as well as lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise.
Recent research from Acadia University in Canada and in partnership with the University of Chichester in the UK will be welcome news for menopausal women looking for a bit of extra support to manage their weight during this time. The research revealed how quality matcha can significantly increase fat burning during moderate exercise. The findings showed that female participants had higher fat burning during brisk walking with quality matcha green tea.
Researchers examined the effects of three weeks daily intake of OMGTea matcha on substrate oxidation during moderate exercise in females. Participants consumed 3 x 1 gram servings of OMGTea matcha per day for three weeks.
In this study, the group data showed that exercise-induced fat oxidation was significantly increased by 35%!
It was also very interesting to note that there were no adverse physiological effects, such as increased heart rate, meaning that matcha is a very healthy option for helping to manage your weight and boost metabolism during menopause.
Combination of Coping Strategies
Every woman’s experience with menopause is unique and how they can best cope with it will be as well. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as having one single remedy for the different symptoms associated with menopause but rather it seems that a combination of coping strategies is likely to be most effective for most women.
We have only touched on some of the symptoms of menopause in this blog with a focus on matcha and how it may be able to help, and it does seem to help with the most common symptoms. There are however, many other options for supporting us on this journey.
Menopause can be an incredibly challenging time for women but it’s important to not only define it by its symptoms but to use this time as an opportunity to listen to our bodies and make changes and tweaks to support ourselves and enhance our lives during menopause and beyond.
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help should you need it and most of all, remember you are not alone.