There are a ton of superfoods to choose from when looking for ways to reduce chronic pain. Ginger, turmeric, white willow, and valerian top the lists of natural pain relievers, but you may be surprised to find matcha can help ease away aches too.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a special type of green tea that is grown under shade, harvested early, carefully handpicked, and stone ground. Unlike most teas, the leaves are tender enough to consume as a powder dissolved in liquid. It requires no steeping and is far less bitter than other green or black teas.
Growing the tea plants under shade does more than keep the leaves tended. It preserves the high levels of L-Theanine, catechins, and chlorophyll while preventing the conversion of these nutrients into bitter and less healthy tannins.
Why Preserve L-Theanine?
L-Theanine is an amino acid that promotes a feeling of calm, focused well-being. It one of the reasons matcha is so prized in Japan, especially by Buddhist monks. This ingredient counteracts the caffeine, allowing for a calm, long-term boost to energy, without the jittery feeling or crash that come with other caffeine sources. Many people notice a sense of focus and purpose after drinking this tea.
The small amount of sunlight that comes through the shade converts some of the L-Theanine into catechins, powerful antioxidants. Catechins are another reason matcha is so prized. These provide most of the health benefits of matcha, with more antioxidant action than any other superfood, even goji, blueberry, acai, and green tea.
How Does this Reduce Pain?
Antioxidants tend to be potent anti-inflammatories. This is why whole food diets rich in fresh fruits and vegetables are often suggested for those with chronic pain. It is also why turmeric and ginger are so helpful. Among the many catechins in matcha, one stands out. Matcha contains a high concentration of the catechin EGCG, which dramatically fights free radicals, inflammation, and cellular damage.
Combine this with other antioxidants and the detoxifying effects of chlorophyll, and you have the makings of a pain fighting superfood. It has even shown promise in countering the pain, swelling, and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis in an interesting recent study.
How Could Matcha Help You?
Daily Relief – One or two cups of matcha a day may be all you need to begin easing chronic pain from arthritis, stress, injuries, disease, and other pain sources.
Post Massage – We all know we should drink water after a massage, but matcha may be a better fit. Antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and detoxifying chlorophyll could help you recover faster.
Post Adjustment – Chiropractors recommend drinking plenty of water after an adjustment too. It helps remove waste products in muscle and tissues. Matcha would make a great post adjustment tonic to help remove toxins while also reducing pain and inflammation. Chiropractors should be offering tea as clients leave their office.
Acute Relief – Matcha can help with more than chronic pain. Combine it with other natural pain relievers for a sprain, strain, muscle tear, headache, and more, both inside and out. Mix it with arnica to rub on sprains, aching muscles, and bruises. Add it to Epsom salt in a bath to ease muscle fatigue and pain. Drink it with turmeric and ginger to counter pain as effectively as many NSAIDs (like ibuprofen).
- Weight Loss – Sometimes chronic pain can be helped by weight loss. Matcha speeds metabolism, encourages fat burning, curbs cravings, and provides energy that can make exercise more effective.
What Matcha Should You Try?
Grades matter. Ceremonial and culinary grade matchas are very different in benefits and flavor, having to do with when they are harvested. The earlier the harvest, the more L-Theanine and catechins you will find. The later harvests begin to develop tannins, reducing the L-Theanine and catechins as they do so.
Ceremonial (first harvest) has a sweet, mellow flavor with an abundance of L-Theanine and catechins, but ceremonial matcha can be expensive. Some culinary grades come from a fourth or fifth harvest during summer, when the sun is high and strong. These still provide some antioxidant benefits, but no longer taste as sweet. They work well in baking and smoothies, but not as a tea in water or even as a latte in milk or nut milks.
We recommend our Ceremonial Blend, a mix of first (ceremonial) and second (high culinary) harvests. This offers the benefits of ceremonial with the price of a quality culinary. It still works as a tea, in matcha lattes, in baking, and in cooking. It’s the most versatile matcha you will find anywhere. Looking for more ease? Try our Sweet Matcha or Matcha Energy in packets you can take anywhere. They’re both naturally zero-calorie sweetened second harvest (high quality culinary) and they mix well with anything, including cold water.