1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Adrienne Dellwo

Tea for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By April 21, 2010

Follow me on:

Food of the Week: Tea

Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world, but it's way down on the list in the U.S., coming in behind coffee and soda. In the past few years, however, studies suggesting health benefits of tea have certainly raised their profile and popularity here.

So is it all hype, or is there something to it? According to research, it looks like tea has several things to offer. Much of the research is in its early stages and some results are contradictory, but a picture is emerging.

Tea contains 2 things that appear to offer health benefits: polyphenols and theanine. Polyphenols have gotten the lion's share of the attention. Research shows they may:

  • Offer protection from coronary heart disease,
  • Protect against stroke,
  • Improve blood vessel dilation
  • Protect against numerous types of cancer.

Those are all important things, but I believe that, for those of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, theanine has a lot more to offer.

Theanine is an antioxidant found naturally only in tea and a rare mushroom, but a synthetic form is available as a dietary supplement. It's been fairly well researched and is believed to:

  • Increase alertness and improve memory,
  • Boost energy,
  • Relieve anxiety,
  • Aid relaxation without drowsiness,
  • Protect brain cells,
  • Increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine (which can be low in both conditions,)
  • Lower glutamate activity (which can be high in fibromyalgia,)
  • Boost T cell production (which can be low in chronic fatigue syndrome,)
  • Help regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Those are all things we need. However, to get the full health benefits from drinking tea, you have to know a few things about it.

  1. Theanine and polyphenols are only in green, black, oolong and white teas, which all come from the Camellia sinensis tree. Herbal "teas" don't have true tea leaves in them.
  2. The strength of the tea is important -- the studies that did look at steep time suggested at least 3-5 minutes to reach the necessary strength to provide a health benefit.
  3. Depending on the disease, you need to drink 2 and 6 cups per day to get enough polyphenols.
  4. Green and oolong teas contain more polyphenols than black tea.
  5. Decaf teas do keep their theanine content through the decaffeination process, but we don't yet know if they retain polyphenols.
  6. Bottled teas can contain a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

I've always been a big tea drinker, and I also take theanine supplements to ensure I consistently get a therapeutic dose. I drink extra tea when I'm stressed or about to go into a potentially stressful situation, and also when my brain fog is bad. I believe I owe a large part of my functionality to it.

Do you find that tea helps you feel better? What symptoms does it help you with? What kind of teas do you like best? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo © Dougal Waters/Getty Images

April 23, 2010 at 12:20 am
(1) Carla Stone says:

Thank you for this excellent and constructive article. I take back my previous suggestion that you take up knitting sweaters. I must say that I find that tea is practically essential to functioning with CFS/FM/MCS. I drink a lot of it every day and when I miss it I can really tell a difference. I love the teas I find at my local Indian stores; brands that are popular in both Indian and English varieties which tend to be quite strong and burstng with flavor, not to mention very economical. I like PG Tips (popular in England), and some of the loose Indian offerings, especially the ones with ginger, which is thought to be good for the immune system as well. Also, I like to sprinkle in a little Tea Masala (spices made just for tea) which tastes great, and I think somehow adds to the health benefit I feel (but I don’t know why). Also, sweetening with a little locally harvested honey is said to boost immunity, but I don’t know if it’s proven. I do it anyway because it makes sense in theory. The only drawbacks that I notice are that tea tends to stain my teeth, but a quick brushing after a cup, even without toothpaste takes care of that and the other drawback is that caffiene can tend to dehydrate a person, so I make sure to also drink plenty of water, too. On a more anthropological note, there’s something about drinking tea that makes me feel ‘connected’ with the human race, since ancient humans have been brewing leaves, bark, berries and flowers in hot water ever since they could, which has been a very, very LONG time. Happy steeping to all.

April 23, 2010 at 6:57 pm
(2) Linda says:

I am a tea lover. Unfortunately I suffer with hypothyroidism as well as fibro and tea is VERY high in fluoride which slows the thyroid considerably.
I still have my tea but I must limit it considerably (according to treatment for my hypothyroidism I should have NO tea because of it’s high fluoride content). I sometimes wonder if the benefits could ever outweigh the danger for fibro pts. like myself.

From Adrienne: Very good point! In case you didn’t know, black tea has much less fluoride than green. I’m fortunate that I live in an area that doesn’t fluoridate the water, so my 1-3 servings of tea a day are my only source of fluoride. Here’s an interesting Q&A on this from About.com’s Thyroid site: Green Tea & Fluoride. ~Adrienne

April 23, 2010 at 8:44 pm
(3) HEIRS_Health says:

I think you forgot to mention that tea also contains a compound EGCG that has been shown in a number of studies to positively influence gene expression protective against a number of diseases.


April 24, 2010 at 12:26 am
(4) Carol Carratt says:

Try out Good Earth Mangosteen Superfruit Tea. It has white tea, mango and Mangosteen. It’s very tasty and naturally sweet! Mangosteen is known to help with pain. Go to Good Earth web site and you can print a $1.00 coupon. It’s got many other ingredients that are also antioxidents. Boy you would think I worked for the company, but I don’t! It’s just my favorite iced tea. We use 5 bags in the Mr. Coffee ice tea maker fo 3 qt.

April 24, 2010 at 11:24 am
(5) Phyllis Gilkey says:

I love tea. It is the only caffeine I get during the day because I don’t drink coffee. I don’t always drink it everyday but now I will make the effort to after reading this article. I don’t put any sugar in it either so it really gives me an energy boost without any calories.

April 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm
(6) Tonya says:

I have been a huge fan of tea and I agree that it helps me make it through the day. I’m glad to know some of the reasons why I find it so helpful and soothing. Thanks for the great info!

April 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm
(7) Margo says:

I drink iced tea a lot, usually green tea, but sometimes white. I brew pots of it with my iced tea maker (very cheap as far as kitchen appliances go – and definitely earns it keep for me) and I often add an herb or two to the mix. Some of the things I’ve added include Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox, fennel, ginger, etc. I want to try nettles too when I have a chance to get it. I recently started an herb garden, so I might try some of those herbs too, like marjoram.

If I drink hot tea I prepare it the Russian way (I lived in Russia for several years). That is, I prepare a very strong base tea – a very strong concentrated tea. I put enough tea leaves/bags for about 8 cups in a small 1-2 cup pot. I let it steep for a while before using it, and leftover tea stays in the fridge for several days with no noticeable taste difference. To make a cup to drink I pour a little of the concentrate into my mug and add hot water to fill it up. I leave the tea leaves/bags on the little pot (even when I put it in the fridge) so it definitely gets full benefit of the tea benefits into the concentrate.

April 27, 2010 at 1:35 am
(8) Jenny says:

YES! Tea is AMAZING! I love green and black tea but also find the herbal teas like Tension Tamer and SleepyTime Vanilla great to help relax at night (so important to getting off to a good sleep).

Green tea is something I always crave when the cold symptoms flare up, and I will drink it all day long when I have a sore throat or runny nose and it makes me feel so much better.

Black tea is my staple morning beverage. I’ve heard that adding milk takes away the vascular benefits of tea and coffee, but I still drink it both ways.

Ordering regular iced tea (and not adding sugar) has helped me cut my soda habit when I go out to eat.

I’ve heard that tea also helps to curb cravings, so if you’re not able to exercise because of CFS/FM but need to lose weight, it seems like a great idea to have a cup of tea 4 times a day instead of having a hefty snack.

April 28, 2010 at 9:28 am
(9) Sylvia says:

I’ve never heard the fluoride issue before – could that be the reason that sometimes – but only sometimes – when I drink black tea my working memory appears to temporarily go out the window?? I do have hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Otherwise, tea is generally a boon – however, it can be diuretic as well.

October 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm
(10) Marianne says:

I’m British so I’ve been drinking at least 5 cups a day ever since I can remember (PG tips or similar). My fibromyalgia has come on in the past 6 years – although only finally got a diagnosis this year. I can’t say whether it really helps since even before the symptoms of fibro fog came on I couldn’t function until I’d had my first cuppa of the day.

What I do find beneficial is to stop drinking tea after 6pm and to switch to Dr Stuarts Valerian Plus tea in order to get sufficient sleep. I think in the case of we Brits its a case of having to limit our tea consumption rather than boost it! Some days I can drink 8 – 10 cups. Not good!

October 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm
(11) sara says:

im also british so again i drink alot of tea (black tea but with milk) i don’t function in the morning till ive had two or three cups, it also helps perk me up throughout the day,m i find it also helps me relax and feel comforted and warm!

January 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm
(12) Pat says:

I have recently started taking tea with Splenda to work to have with my bag lunch instead of a diet drinks and I feel better after just a few days. I already had a glass with my evening meal, but adding it at lunch also has made a difference in how I feel.

April 2, 2011 at 4:25 am
(13) Leasa says:

I have been drinking a green tea shot from Dragon Pearl Tea Co., located in Grover Beach, CA., for the past year, and this has proven to be a lifesaver for me. I have chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and am hypothyroid. This green tea shot is three cups of concentrated USDA certified organic Mao Feng green tea brewed with pure water and then mixed with the superfruit juices of Concord grape, blueberry, pomegranate, and acai berry, all in a 2 oz. shot. There are no preservatives, chemicals, or added sugars. The shot is flash pasteurized for freshness. It is delicious and is portable, which is really great when I’m somewhere and need the tea but can’t brew it for whatever reason. I hope this information helps anyone who is dealing with health issues such as mine. You may find out more information by going to their website, dragonpearltea.com, or supernaturalenergy.com. Dragon Pearl Tea Co. is also on Facebook, or you may reach them at 888-828-7898. Your body will thank you for it. Mine does.

January 4, 2013 at 2:13 am
(14) johnny says:

After suffer from CFS since the age of 22 (8yrs now) I have definitely seen the benefits of drinking tea. At first it was tough, but once I figured out the right brand, amount and time of day to drink it, I saw an improvement in my energy and brain fog.

April 17, 2013 at 9:56 am
(15) lori says:

White tea has lowered my pain and fatigue. I can tell the difference on the days I do not drink it. One to two cups throughout the day seems to do the trick.

May 10, 2013 at 6:21 pm
(16) Sandy says:

I never drink any drink that has caffeine in I have had fibro for at least 25 years I am coeliac allergies and migraine well did have until 4months ago and changed my diet everything has improved but until then even if I frank decaf fixated tea it still made my heart have palpitations so I gave all caffeine up about 10 years ago and drink hot water which I now love

June 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm
(17) Andrew says:

No diet is required for fibromyalgia since the liver alters food salicylates. The only exception to this is that we ask patients not to drink tea. The camellia plant is very high in salicylates and steeping makes it stronger. (There is no problem with coffee and with plants other than those in the tea or mint family.)

R. Paul St. Amand, M.D.
Assistant Clinical Professor Medicine


September 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm
(18) Peggy says:

LOL Adrienne, now I’m confused — don’t remember to drink tea regularly but confidently poured myself a tall glass of home brewed/chilled green tea after I began reading posts — just finished as I was reading this one by Dr. Amand!
Hope you’ll post a reply for us. Read quite a bit from link he provided and got even More confused. What is the whole thing about salicylates??? I use 2% cleansing products at least twice a day for clearer skin. According to what I read, the salicylic acid in these topical applications is immediately absorbed into the blood stream and that’s BAD news. Salicylic acid is what works best for me, allergic reaction to other types of acne preparations, other than sulfur. Am I making my fibro symptoms worse?? Mucho Mahalos!

[btw, 64 yrs young, dx thyroid cancer '97, (no thyroid gland=hyPOthyroid, TSH suppression w/thyroid hormone replacement med=hyPERthyroid, ha!), dx fibro '98, vegetarian since '97, now mostly vegan and oil free <--which is keeping my weight under control even w/exercise limitations].

April 25, 2014 at 11:43 am
(19) Garena Shells Generator says:

As time passes you are going to pick up a lot and you will be
able to play just about every single dota hero. Perhaps
in a couple weeks I’ll do a “Weekend with Blackshot” and see if I can’t change my luck with some time getting used to it.
While a basic understanding of Internet protocols helps when repairing
an Internet connection problem, this knowledge is often

my blog post <a href=”http://Www.Youtube.com/watch?v=k2rstYIYJgU”>Garena Shells Generator</a>

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.