Green tea, or Chinese green tea, is a popular plant used for herbal teas and in some herbal remedies and nutritional supplements. Although green tea has become a bit of fad in recent years, it has been consumed by humans for some 4,000 years. Green tea is not often thought of as a substance that can be linked to dependence or addiction, but it is a possibility for many of the same reasons that other plant-based beverages are potentially addictive. Caffeine within green tea, as is present in both tea and coffee, is the main chemical associated with addiction. However, dependence may also be associated with a psychological component and compulsive behavior.
Caffeine in Green Tea
Green tea can have about the same amount of caffeine as regular tea but it is usually a bit lower cup for cup. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it is used as an ‘upper’ to improve concentration and increase energy and stamina. Due to these effects it is possible to experience some withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing caffeine intake.
However, the possibility of withdrawal symptoms is unlikely with green tea consumption and minimal if present. Due to its effects and withdrawal symptoms, green tea can therefore be a substance of dependence as is the case with coffee and regular tea. The intake however, has to be drastic in order for an addiction to actually occur.
Weight Loss and Trends
Green tea has often been touted for its weight loss effects. A combination of caffeine which moderately raises the metabolism, a diuretic effect causing water loss and as a substitute to skip meals are some of the reasons why green tea may have some benefit in weight loss. In people obsessed with losing weight, green tea addiction may be a part of their compulsive behavior along with excessive exercising and strict dieting bordering on eating disorders like anorexia nervosa.
Another possible reason for this compulsive overuse of green tea is that it is a fad and often associated with being trendy. For some people, the apparent addiction to green tea may rather be due to consumer trends largely driven by media and the perception that consuming green tea is ‘hip’ and trendy. It is not a true addiction associated with substance dependence in these cases but rather a result of a psychological component.
Addiction is a form of compulsion where there is a strong urge to use a substance or partake in behavior despite a lack of a physiological dependence. Apart from weight loss or the belief that using a substance is necessary to maintain an image, there is also the aspect of the supposed health benefits of using green tea. This may compel a person to use green tea compulsively in order to derive the maximum health benefit from green tea and possibly prevent certain illnesses. Irrespective of the nature of the compulsion, green tea can be misused as with any substance.
Symptoms of Green Tea Addiction
Excessive use of green tea can cause a host of symptoms associated with stimulant overuse as well as overuse of any substance, even harmless food items. Green tea users may report changes in sleeping patterns, bowel habits, diet and eating habits as well a nutritional deficiencies by opting for green over regular foods. Many of these changes are not due solely to green tea or the substances within it but from the overuse of any substance.