L-theanine the finest relaxation supplement?
Most people who look into stress-relieving supplements will come across L-Theanine at some point, but what exactly is it? How effective is it, in reality? Find out whether this nootropic is a suitable fit for you and learn about its benefits in this detailed article.
What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid present in green tea that has been shown to help with anxiety and focus. An amino acid is a type of chemical molecule that has an amino group and a carboxyl group on one end. They are the building blocks of proteins, but they and their derivatives also play important roles in cellular operations such as nerve transmission and the manufacture of porphyrins, purines, pyrimidines, and urea.
L-theanine acts by soothing the mind and body, enhancing sleep quality, decreasing stress, and alleviating pain. Because of its caffeine-like actions, it can also increase energy levels without generating jitters or other adverse effects associated with coffee usage.
How L-Theanine Works in the Brain?
L-theanine works by increasing the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control movement, emotional responses, and pleasure. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep cycles.
When l-theanine enters your body it changes the way different chemicals react with each other in your brain:
The specific reaction results in increased alpha waves during relaxation and can decrease activity in some parts of your brain involved with anxiety or stress (1)
In addition to these effects on neurotransmitters, l-theanine also inhibits glutamate receptors (2) which reduces excitatory brain activity by blocking them (3).
Benefits of taking L-Theanine
- Relaxation. L-theanine may help you relax and reduce stress by increasing GABA activity in the brain. It has also been shown to increase levels of dopamine, which can make you feel happier and more relaxed.
- Sleep quality. In addition to its relaxing and mood-boosting effects, l-theanine has also been found to improve sleep quality by promoting deeper sleep with fewer interruptions from waking up during the night (called "sleep maintenance"). This may be because it helps regulate melatonin production—a hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm (your internal clock) so you know when it's time for bedtime or wakefulness.
- Stress management and cognitive function in general. Studies have found that taking 200 mg of l-theanine daily over 8 weeks reduces anxiety levels after acute social stress; this effect was even greater when combined with caffeine.* There's some evidence that taking 50 mg per day over 6 weeks can improve cognitive function after acute physical stressors such as exercise.*
L-Theanine Recommended Dosage
The recommended dosage for L-theanine is between 100mg and 200mg
When to take L-theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid, so you should be able to take it at any time. However, there are some times that might be better than others:
- Anytime you want a relaxing boost! If there's ever an occasion when you want a relaxing boost or you need to work but you feel stress, stack L-Theanine with your coffee and you will feel a great boost without the jitters and without stress
- Afternoon slump. This is another good option for those who are prone to feeling stressed out in the afternoon. Taking L-theanine at this time can help prevent burnout as well as promote relaxation and restfulness later on in the day.
- Before bed. You can choose to take L-theanine before bed if you have trouble falling or staying asleep, or if you have trouble waking up in the morning and need some help getting going.
Side effects of L-theanine
If you choose to take L-theanine, you should be aware of the potential side effects that may occur. The most common ones are
Nausea and vomiting. Some people experience these symptoms when taking L-theanine supplements. If this happens to you, don't panic—it's not a major problem as long as you reduce your dosage gradually until your body gets used to it again. You may also want to reduce how much caffeine you're drinking at the same time (caffeine can make nausea worse).
Restlessness or insomnia in some people who take large doses of the supplement (more than 400 mg per day). If this happens, just lower your intake until things settle down again!
If you are looking for a natural supplement that can help you relax and reduce anxiety, then L-theanine may be worth a try. The recommended dosage is 200 mg per day, which should be taken two times on an empty stomach with water or tea. If you want to take L-theanine with coffee, it’s best not to exceed 500mg of caffeine from all sources per day.
Comprehensive guides of nootropics:
Supports a balanced mood and stress responses*