What Is L-Theanine? How Does it Work?
L-Theanine is derived from tea leaves. It is an amino acid, which was discovered in 1949. In 1950, it was first derived from gyokuro leaves, as they have a high theanine content. The chemical structure of L-Theanine is very similar to tryptophan (which is an essential amino acid).
Once consumed, it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Within the brain tissue, it targets neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters regulate stress, pleasure, attention, and arousal. GABA for instance, helps create a sense of calmness, reducing feelings of anxiety.
GABA essentially stops neurons from over-firing. This is what creates a feeling of relaxation. Taking a L-Theanine supplement also helps produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps control sleep patterns and mood. Dopamine is also affected, making us feel good.
The Benefits of L-Theanine
There are a wide variety of benefits regarding L-Theanine supplementation. It improves mood, positively affects focus and mental performance, and eases symptoms of anxiety and depression. L-Theanine combines all the best qualities of nootropics, as it’s a great addition to an daily wellness regimen.
The most powerful effects of L-Theanine are produced by limiting specific neurotransmitters, which cause stress and hinder mental clarity. As mentioned, GABA is produced, calming the body and mind. This is achieved by blocking parts of the brain that receive messages regarding stress.
L-Theanine also blocks L-glutamic acid, not allowing it to bind to glutamate receptors. This reduces our ‘fight or flight’ reaction. This is an innate ability, allowing us to choose the best option in a stressful situation. It is deeply rooted in our ancestors, as they were exposed to danger on a regular basis.
Since glutamic acid is known as an excitatory chemical, it has been linked to seizures. When this neurotransmitter is less stimulated, feelings of calmness increase Basically, it has the ability to calm the mind, avoiding over-excitement and stimulation.
Our mental health is linked to our physical health. Heart and brain health go hand-in-hand. The benefits experienced within the mind, are also experienced throughout the rest of your body. Mental focus and muscle function are linked. This is seen within basketball players, as they’re able to coordinate muscles and movement with mental focus.
L-Theanine also lowers one’s heart rate, reducing blood pressure. This improves overall circulation, which is beneficial to many internal systems. When this circulation increases, it has been shown to positively affect lung capacity and arthritis pain.
Our brain’s produce natural alpha waves. These waves are electrical frequencies, which tend to accompany periods of creativity and mental focus. L-Theanine increases the generation of alpha waves, leaving users feeling inspired and productive.
Similar effects have been seen within Modafinil use. This drug is generally known under the name Provigil. It is considered to be safe, however most people prefer L-Theanine. This is because it is a natural supplement, being more gentle in comparison.
What are the Side-Effects?
L-Theanine does not have any significant side-effects. It does not cause headaches, withdrawal effects, confusion, or any other associated effect. There hasn’t been a case recorded regarding L-Theanine overdose. This is no surprise, as this compound has been ingested for thousands of years.
Some individuals are sensitive to green tea in terms of their stomach. If this is the case, it’s best for you to supplement; ingesting capsules orally. Finding the right dose for you can take some time. Like any supplement, it’s best to start with a low dose.
You can gradually increase your dose over time. Most people find that 50 mg daily is the minimum dose required. A common dosage is 200 mg per day, but some take up to 400 mg. Tolerance has not been recorded as an issue. In fact, nootropics are known to produce less tolerance in comparison to pharmaceuticals.
L-Theanine and Caffeine in a Stack
The combination of L-Theanine and caffeine is a popular stack. L-Theanine and caffeine are commonly consumed within green tea. Unlike coffee, green tea does not create hyperactivity, followed by a crash. This is why these two balance one another so well.
When this combination is used, the benefits of each supplement are amplified. The drawbacks of caffeine (jitters for example) are eliminated when consumed with L-Theanine. This is due to its relaxing, calming effects.
Taking this stack for cognition is beneficial. It is said to increase mental focus, alertness, reaction time, memory recall, attention, and visual acuity. This stack is most beneficial when taken as follows: 2 parts L-Theanine and 1 part caffeine.
However, some even use as much as 4 parts L-Theanine to 1 part caffeine. A popular dose is 400 mg of L-Theanine and 100 mg of caffeine. A standard cup of coffee has approximately 100 mg of caffeine. If you’re an experienced coffee drinker, you may have a slight tolerance.
If this is the case, you can increase your caffeine dose. However, do not exceed 300 mg daily. At high doses, you can affect your heart rate. Like any supplement, speak with your doctor if you have any questions of concerns.