Theanine calms the mind without making you sleepy, within an hour of taking the right dosage. That’s a big statement. And yet, our experience and research says it’s true!
Here’s what we know about taking an L-theanine supplement…
In my pursuit of options to calm my mind, one of my heroes over the past decade is Theanine.
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What is Theanine?
Theanine is an amino acid, found naturally in tea leaves and some mushrooms. And let’s get a little sciency here for a minute, and then we’ll bring it back to everyday language. Theanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid. That means, it’s not used in our bodies to synthesize proteins. And it’s not one of the 20 amino acids that dictate our DNA structure. Non-proteinogenic amino acids typically work on our neurotransmitters and regulation of metabolic functions. And this is what allows theanine to regulate neurotransmitters in our brains. AKA – allows it to regulate how our bodies respond to things like anxiety, stress, and overwhelm.
How does it work?
Scientific research is in the early stages for how theanine works in our bodies. However, Pubmed.gov, the posting site for medical research, shows 828 medical studies on theanine as of the date of this post. That means researchers are hard at work to help us understand how we can best use theanine for our health.
Even though it’s early days for theanine research, researchers have early conclusions based on their findings. Researchers believe theanine probably operates in three ways to lower anxiety without causing drowsiness.
Theanine can increase our brain’s production of GABA. GABA, Gamma-aminobutyric acid, plays a crucial role in the regulation of brain activity. It is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Which means it helps to reduce the activity of excitatory neurons. And that’s how GABA promotes feelings of relaxation and calmness.
But GABA doesn’t induce sleep or fatigue. This is important as many pharmaceuticals plus nutritional options can calm us but often they include lethargy and sleepiness. And most of us experience anxiety and stress during the day. No one wants to be a walking zombie.
Thus, theanine’s ability to increase GABA, which decreases stress-inducing neural activity without making us sleepy, makes it the perfect supplement to use during daytime activities.
Glutamate is an interesting neurotransmitter! We need it for memory, learning, and cognitive processing. However, research associates too much glutamate with several neurological disorders. And that’s because too much glutamate can actually kill brain cells and neurons. Yikes!
Excessive glutamate is scientifically linked to the following:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Huntington’s Disease
Theanine protects the brain by preventing the release of excessive glutamate, as well as reducing the activity of glutamate receptors. As a result, theanine prevents over-excitation of neurons.
Theanine works in the brain to reduce stress because it blocks cortical neuron excitation. Cortisol is the adrenal hormone that prepares us for the day of challenges and goals. However excessive levels of cortisol, over long periods of the day, create havoc on our nervous system. Cortisol should start dropping after 1pm to prepare us for the upcoming evening and sleep. However in today’s frantic world, cortisol typically stays elevated far longer than it should.
Theanine also may increase alpha brain waves, associated with a state of “wakeful relaxation.” This is why test scores increase when students use a dose of 200mg. Some studies show adding caffeine to theanine improves outcomes for focused activities.
Theanine assists in sleep not because it makes you sleepy which it does not. It acts to lessen overthinking which is the most common reason for insomnia.
→ To learn other tips for chronic insomnia, you can download my FREE Trouble Sleeping E-Book.
This information was hard earned by my decades of insomnia and helps reset the “lost rhythm” of your sleep.
Research indicates Theanine may help prevent and treat the following:
- Cognitive loss
- Insomnia due to racing thoughts
- High blood pressure from stress
- Poor attention span
- Substance abuse in higher doses
Best Natural Sources of Theanine
Theanine is not commonly found in foods and that is the reason quality supplements make sense for most people experiencing anxiety. The greatest source of theanine in foods however is green tea, matcha tea, and white teas. Green tea is the top source for theanine, and that may explain why evidence shows green tea reduces inflammation and increases heart health.
How much L-Theanine is in green tea?
A typical cup of green tea contains about 13 – 50 mg of theanine. A longer steeping time produces a higher level of l-theanine in your tea. It’s very difficult to get the full benefits of theanine from tea.
How Much Should You Take?
Recommendations for therapeutic use of theanine ranges from 200 to 400 mg daily. The higher range helps you manage particular health concerns. The lower range, even just 100 mg per day, can be used for overall health maintenance.
Side effects of theanine are rare. However, because of its action to help you relax, it may lower blood pressure. It also lessens the effects of stimulants due to countering their attempt to push the body into false energy.
Some individuals have relatively normal blood pressure but when stress hits, the pressure spikes. Using theanine can work as a weak beta blocker. This works by regulating nitric oxide which relaxes arteries.
I suggest checking with a doctor knowledgeable with nutraceuticals if you are taking medications to control blood pressure. The reason is that theanine can lower blood pressure more than desired in some individuals.
→ If you’re in the Chattanooga area, and you want medical guidance on using theanine, schedule an appointment with our holistic practitioner Dr. Bryan Johnson.
Picking the Right Supplement
Trusting and knowing the quality of your nutraceutical is so important. One quick word of warning. Amazon continues offering counterfeit and non-tested products. Find brands with history and transparency for quality.
If you need help picking out a clean and effective theanine supplement, our wellness consultants can help!
The Green Pharmacy concept is growing fast due to the concerns and side effects of pharmaceuticals and I encourage you to “take control of your health” with knowledge and confidence with more natural options.
Try Our Wellness Consultations to Find an Effective Theanine Supplement
Other FAQs about Theanine
Are there known drug interactions with a theanine supplement and other medications?
The only known possible drug interaction is theanine’s ability to lower blood pressure. If you take medication to lower your blood pressure, ask your doctor about using theanine.
Should I take theanine in the morning or night?
Because theanine doesn’t cause drowsiness, you can take it in the morning or at night to reduce anxiety. Taking it in the morning can help reduce anxiety during the day. And taking it at night can help you sleep better. It has a half life of 2 – 4 hours, which means, dosing a few times throughout the day can be helpful.
Is Theanine Addictive?
There’s no evidence that taking a theanine supplement will cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it.
Will Theanine Interact Poorly With Alcohol?
There’s no evidence to suggest a theanine supplement interacts poorly with alcohol. As a matter of fact, some studies suggest theanine might have beneficial effects on consumption of alcohol and hangover symptoms.