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L-Theanine Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

L-Theanine Health Benefits and Side Effects

Your choices make you smart. How? Let me ask you a question and see what you choose. What’s your morning shot? If your answer is tea, then congratulations. You are smart.

Our brain needs a boost to get started and carry on with the hustle and bustle of the day. Sipping tea as the first thing in the morning has been a tradition in most of our homes for years. Drinking tea is good for you. This isn't exactly a secret, but a fact which most of us know.

Still, most people don't realize that this first drink in the morning has its special benefits. We all know neither it has vitamins like the orange juice that you kick start your morning with, nor it has fibers like other fruit smoothies. Then what’s the catch? The answer lies in the “T” of the tea i.e. L-Theanine!

What You Need to Know About L-Theanine

Now, where did L-theanine come from? Let’s spill the tea.

What is L-theanine?

L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid that helps improve memory besides many other health benefits. We all know amino acids as the building blocks of proteins, so how can an amino acid be non-protein? Well, these amino acids are not found in the main protein chain. That is why they are known as non-protein amino acids.

What is L-theanine

While it may sound like something from a lab, l-theanine comes from all-natural sources. The human body cannot produce this compound. Green tea, black tea, and some types of mushrooms naturally contain L-theanine. It was identified in tea by Japanese scientists in 1949. Interestingly, this amino acid gives green and black tea a rich umami flavor. Scientists studying the taste of umami have made some interesting discoveries.

Umami has been associated with a reduced risk of obesity. It can stimulate the metabolism and can prolong the feeling of fullness after eating. There is also evidence to suggest that L-theanine, when consumed in tea, can alter taste perception, particularly reducing the taste of bitterness in foods such as chocolate and grapefruit.

According to recent studies, theanine promotes relaxation and improves cognitive function, including learning and memory. The real question is how it benefits our health?

How L-theanine Works?

L-Theanine offers a calming effect due to its connection with alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves help the brain with mindful thinking and meditation. It relaxes the brain and enhances our ability to creative thinking without making us sleepy.

While it increases chemicals that promote a sense of calmness, L-theanine also reduces the levels of chemicals in the brain associated with stress and anxiety. The compound can promote relaxation, focus, and even a good mood by increasing levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in synaptic clefts. This inhibitory neurotransmitter helps our body in fight or flight response and therefore stabilizes our mental state.

High levels of GABA in the nervous system reduce the chances of overstimulation, even in high-stress situations. This is why experts recommend theanine for anxiety.

It may also be a way in which L-theanine protects brain cells from age-related stress and damage. Theanine increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters and regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, and improved sleep, as well as appetite, energy, and other cognitive abilities.

L-Theanine Health Benefits

It Helps With Stress and Anxiety

L-theanine works like a typical anxiolytic. It reduces anxiety. You might experience drowsiness with other drugs, such as valerian and hops. However, L-theanine works differently. This compound, on the other hand, promotes relaxation and stress reduction without sedation. L-theanine can help promote a state of calm and improve alertness.

L-theanine plays a vital role in relieving the mental and physical symptoms of stress, including lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Research suggests that L-theanine may help reduce anxiety in people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Similar to L theanine, Ashwagandha benefits also include helping with stress and anxiety. It is a small green herb native to the arid regions of India, North Africa, and the Middle East.

It Helps in Maintaining Weight 

L-theanine health benefits

Following a calorie diet regime? Try replacing a snack with green tea or black tea. The L-theanine in green tea has a salty taste, also known as an umami flavor. Research A credible source suggests that umami flavors can reduce appetite, which often helps with weight loss. Green tea is amongst the most popular natural weight loss supplements on the market these days. Many manufacturers are selling green tea extract as a weight-loss supplement, and now you know why. Some teas can also help satisfy your sweet taste buds at the same time.

It Prepares Our Immune System to Fight

L-theanine can support the body in fighting diseases. Several studies suggest that the use of L-theanine can strengthen a person's immune system and saving us from the common cold and flu. Its potential anti-inflammatory effects could also help the body in fighting disease.

It Improves Blood Flow and Circulation

Research has linked hypertension to a higher risk of several health problems, including heart attack and stroke. L-theanine can help reduce stress helping you to relax and lower your heart rate. This, in turn, can help lower blood pressure.

It Helps in Fighting Cancer

Some animal research suggests that L-theanine may increase the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin. It is possible that it increases the effectiveness of doxorubicin by increasing the uptake of the drug in the cancer cells.

However, more research is required o this topic to understand the specific interactions between cancer-fighting cells and these chemicals.

L-Theanine Effects On The Brain

After sleeping all night, your body may be slightly dehydrated because you haven't consumed fluids for hours. If you wake up and your brain feels sluggish and foggy, having a cup of tea can help you in several ways.

While the morning cup of coffee is a ritual for many, tea has a lot more to do with health. Many teas contain antimicrobial and anticancer properties, all thanks to catechins, theanine, and other antioxidants it contains. Whether you prefer white, green, or black tea, they all contain flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants found in plants.

L-Theanine Effects On The Brain

Different Types of Teas and Their Benefits

If your favorite tea is green, it means you usually start your day with a good dose of catechins and theanine. Black tea comes with tons of theaflavins which have some of the same effects as antioxidants. L-theanine can help boost other cognitive abilities. Research shows that L-theanine can increase attention span and improve reaction time in people prone to anxiety. This can help people with a short attention span by improving their focus, as proven by a study that shows how taking L-theanine reduced the number of errors in the attention test.

Research on L-Theanine

The researchers found that people who took L-theanine made fewer errors in the attention task than the other group. In a similar study, drinking caffeine or a combination of L-theanine and caffeine also improve the attention span in certain people.

Improve Cognitive Abilities

Sometimes L-Theanine is used with caffeine to improve cognitive abilities. Experts claim that using L-theanine and caffeine together can improve attention span, improve the ability to process visual information, and increase your attention to details when switching from activity to activity. In 2016, research was conducted on the benefits of L-theanine. It was concluded that the compound might benefit a person's mental and physical health. Researchers noted that it appears to have neuroprotective effects that improve brain function.

Helps Reduce Stress Levels

When the body undergoes stressful conditions, it increases the production of certain hormones, including cortisol and corticosterone. These hormonal changes inhibit some brain activities, including memory formation and spatial learning. Anxiety and depression can even lead to memory loss.

L-theanine helps reduce levels of the stress hormone corticosterone circulating in the blood and prevents interference with memory and learning.

Helps Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

The L-theanine found in tea can help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It has also shown promising results for slowing down the aging process.

L-theanine Side Effects

Headache or Sleepiness

Theanine can cause mild side effects such as headache or sleepiness.

Increases the Risk of Low Blood Pressure

Theanine can lower blood pressure, as mentioned above. Theoretically, theanine can increase the risk of low blood pressure, orthostatic hypotension, and postural hypotension in people already suffering from this issue. If you have low blood pressure, talk to your doctor before starting theanine treatment. 

Dosage Recommendations for L-Theanine

According to Cancer Center Memorial Sloan Kettering, a compound named EGCG polyphenol is found in green tea and can actually reduce the effectiveness of some chemotherapy drugs, so it's worth talking to your doctor before investing if you are already suffering from cancer.

You can consume around400 mg of theanine each day. It can be used safely for eight weeks at this amount. Theanine supplements and other green tea ingredients have also been safely used once a day for up to 5 months.

Extensive research on long-term tea consumption (containing L-theanine) found out that it has mild side effects as listed, but these findings may not apply to supplements. Taking theanine with high blood pressure medicines can lower blood pressure. Some common medicines already used for hypertension around the world include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), and furosemide (Lasix).

There is insufficient reliable information to determine if theanine is safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side, and don't use it if you are pregnant before consulting it with your doctor.

Theanine is safe for children when taken by mouth for a short time. Consuming theanine more than 200mg twice daily for up to 6 weeks in boys aged 8 to 12 years is considered safe.


Thinking of Trying It Out?

L-theanine is naturally present in green, black, and white teas. Among all, green tea seems like a better option as it contains less caffeine and more L-theanine – usually around 25-60 mg.

L-Theanine Supplements

You can also use thionine supplements. The average recommended dose of L-theanine is 200 mg twice a day in the form of tablets or powder. Experts recommend using Sprint, which combines L-theanine with caffeine for optimal brain support without the energy spikes that can come from using caffeine alone.