If you’re racked by stress and anxiety, L-theanine can help relax you into a state of focused calm.
This powerful amino acid is found naturally in green tea and is also a highly sought out supplement. Research supports a growing list of benefits with few side effects, making L-theanine a natural remedy for anxiety well within reach.
What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine, also known as theanine, is an amino acid found naturally in green tea.
It works similarly to certain neurotransmitters, like GABA and glutamate, to relax the brain without causing a sedative response. (1)
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When consumed in green tea, L-theanine is thought to work synergistically with caffeine to provide focus and energy without the jittery, over-stimulated effects. (2)
Aside from reducing stress, L-theanine can also boost mental focus, improve your sleep, and strengthen your immune system.
5 Science-Backed Benefits of L-Theanine
Research proves that L-theanine can help improve your overall health. Here are the top five ways you can benefit from supplementation.
1. Mental Alertness
You’ll feel increased awareness with L-theanine thanks to the way that it exerts influence over the brain’s alpha band. (3) It helps you feel alert, yet relaxed.
When paired with caffeine, like the kind found in green or black tea, the effects of L-theanine can be felt as quickly as within 30 minutes. This means you can achieve rapid alertness for demanding tasks, without the anxious effects of strong caffeine on its own. (4, 5)
2. Anxiety and Stress Relief
If you suffer from anxiety or chronic stress, L-theanine has the potential for serious relief. Research finds that L-theanine can prevent low levels of anxiety and promote overall relaxation.
A 2007 study shows that L-theanine works by reducing the body’s stress response – like increased heart rate – due to its ability to downgrade the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which is also known as the “fight or flight” response. (6)
Be aware, however, that L-theanine should not be used to treat panic attacks. Research does not show it to be effective for rapidly producing calm in an already anxious state. (7)
3. Better Sleep Quality
While L-theanine doesn’t induce sleep or cause drowsiness, it can actually help you to fall asleep faster. Anxiety, stress, and restlessness are often at the root of insomnia. L-theanine calms the area of the brain that constantly runs under this stress pattern, allowing the mind to calm and the body to naturally fall into a state of rest.
L-theanine is especially helpful for those with hyperactivity issues, like ADHD. (8)
4. Supports Immunity
Stress can damage the immune system in the long-term, resulting in more frequent episodes of illness and infection. (9)
This is because stress downregulates certain immune cells while activating others. L-theanine counteracts this process by giving a boost to the immune system cells that fight infection and tumors. (10, 11) As a result, L-theanine decreases your chance of getting the common cold or the flu. (12, 13)
5. Promotes Healthy Blood Pressure Levels
Stress can also lead to higher blood pressure levels, which can become an ongoing health challenge in chronic cases.
L-theanine supports healthy blood vessel function because it boosts natural nitric oxide production in the body, lowering blood pressure during stressful situations. (16)
While cholesterol in and of itself isn’t a risk factor for heart disease, oxidized LDL cholesterol can be dangerous. Fortunately, L-theanine can protect against oxidation of LDL and hardening of the arteries. (17, 18)
How to Get More L-Theanine in Your Diet
The best way to incorporate L-theanine into your diet is to drink green tea – it has the highest levels. Black tea contains L-theanine as well.
Just one cup of tea will provide some theanine, antioxidants, and a slight boost of energy from caffeine. If one cup isn’t enough for you, brew up another pot!
How to Supplement with L-Theanine
You can find more concentrated L-theanine in supplement form. Always choose a reputable brand with a high-quality formulation that contains no fillers, like this one.
Typical doses range from 100 to 200 milligrams, taken once or twice per day. Always follow the dosage instructions on your product or your doctor’s instructions.
You should feel the effect of L-theanine within 30 to 60 minutes. You can take L-theanine with or without meals, in the morning or at night.
Who Shouldn’t Take L-Theanine?
Supplements aren’t right for everyone, and it’s always best to check with your doctor. Some people might experience mild nausea, upset stomach, or irritability with L-theanine.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid L-theanine, and it’s generally not recommended for children.
If you take medication for any other health condition, always check with your doctor to make sure that L-theanine won’t cause interactions.
L-theanine supplements should not be taken long-term, but are most effective when used for a few weeks or up to four months.
The Bottom Line
Whether you choose to take a supplement or sip on more green tea, you can find impressive benefits in L-theanine. For many, it helps fights anxiety and promotes relaxation for a calm, focused state of mind. Remember that you should never replace medication with supplements unless your doctor approves.