L-theanine is an ideal product for those who suffer stress, since it provides serenity without drowsiness.
What is theanine
It is an amino acid from green tea. It stimulates the brain alpha waves, which is why it has important relaxing properties. Actually, it makes up around a one or two per cent of the wave of the dry tea leaves.
It is said that l-theanine is as relaxing as doing meditation. Moreover, it increases the energy without causing alterations, provides calmness without producing drowsiness. In fact, it improves the focus and good mood.
There are many studies about the multiple benefits of green tea for our health. Above all, most of them are related to theanine, a neurologically active amino acid.
It is the main amino acid from green tea leaves and the one responsible for its typical umami flavor. This is known as the “fifth flavor” (apart from the four traditional ones: sweet, salty, acid and bitter).
Benefits of theanine
We are constantly exposed to stressing factors on our day to day. In addition, some follow a bad diet which results in nutrient deficiencies, a lack of sleep and other similar circumstances. In the end, all these factors combined trigger physical and mental health problems.
Therefore, many people start using medicines in order to find peacefulness and to deal with stress. However, these products have many side effects that can also be dangerous to our health.
Properties of theanine
The calming effect of green tea may seem contradictory, specially if we take into account that tea has caffeine, which is a stimulant. Nevertheless, this is due to the fact that the amino acid theanine counters said stimulating effect on the nervous system.
- First of all, the amino acids stimulate the brain alpha waves, producing a deep relaxation. In fact, it produces a mental state similar to that of meditation.
- Second, theanine is involved in the formation of gamma-aminobutyric acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA affects another two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. Consequently, it produces a deeply relaxing effect.
Effects of theanine
Stimulating the brain alpha waves
The brain produces electric impulses (brain waves) that can be measured in the head surface. The frequency of this electric impulses is related to the different mental states and activities.
The brain waves can be divided in four different categories. Each one of them is connected to a mental state:
- Delta waves occur in the deepest phases of sleep.
- Theta waves occur in the light phase of sleep and during somnolence.
- Alpha waves occur when we are awake and we have a relaxed and effortless attention.
- Beta waves occur during stressful situations, when we find it difficult to focus and pay attention
We know that brain alpha waves occur during a state of relaxation. Therefore, they are used as a relaxation marker.
A study assessed the topography of brain alpha waves that could be observed from the occipital and parietal regions of the brain 40 minutes after taking between 50 and 200mg of theanine.
A different study showed how the intensity of the alpha waves depended on the dose. In fact, a dose of 200mg caused a significant increase when compared to the control groups. Said increase could be assessed after 30 minutes.
Increasing the endorphins
L-theanine significantly affects the secretion or reduction of neurotransmitters. For instance, it controls endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, improving the memory and learning ability.
Lowering the blood pressure
The catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurons of the brain and peripheral nervous system are partly in charge of regulating the blood pressure.
The studies performed in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHP) showed the impressive antihypertensive effects of theanine.
- First, the clinical study observed how the blood pressure dropped depending on the dose. A higher dose of theanine was more effective when it come to lowering the blood pressure.
- L-glutamine was used as one of the control agents
- Even though l-glutamine has a similar chemical structure to that of theanine, it did not have any effect on hypertension
The preliminary studies have tested how l-theanine could increase the anti-tumor activity of some chemotherapeutic agents (doxorubicin and idarubicin). Moreover, it could relieve some of the side effects from these drugs.
It seems that it can increase the inhibitory concentration of these drugs on tumor cells. However, we still do not know the exact mechanism.
Coping with stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety weaken the hormone balance, affecting our well-being, physical and mental performance. In fact, they can even affect our health and life. Stress interferes with the immune system, it makes us more vulnerable to infections. Actually, it can even trigger a depression.
In 1998, the amount of drugs sold against anxiety reached a value of 700 million dollars. On the other hand, antidepressants reached a total of 5 billion dollars.
Those who suffer stress can relieve many of its harmful symptoms with theanine. It does not cause drowsiness, since this amino acid does not produce theta waves in the brain. In fact, it encourages a state of relaxation without any other additional effect.
Moreover, it can be used as a food supplement in other areas, since it reduces the side effects of caffeine caused by an excessive intake of coffee, refreshment and other substances with caffeine.
Theanine to lose weight
As always, we suggest consulting a physician or specialist before using this product.
Theanine is recommended for:
- Enhancing the focus and attention
- Encouraging a pleasant relaxation
- Reducing the anxiety
- Dealing with stress
- Helping to relax if we suffer insomnia
- Countering the effects of caffeine in the nervous system when we consume a lot of caffeine
Daily dose of theanine
- According to the studies, theanine is more effective with a dose between 50 and 200mg. The effect is remarkable after 30 minutes and it lasts for 8-10 hours.
- Those who suffer a lot of stress can increase the dose of theanine from 100 to 60mg, taking it throughout six hours.
- The FDA recommends a maximum intake of 1200mg of a day. However, the reasons for this limitation are not the clear, since theanine is completely safe.
The small intestine absorbs theanine in an active transport process combined with sodium.
It crosses the blood-brain barrier, as we can see due to its effect on our brain.
Theanine competes with the methionine amino acid group (leucine, isoleucine and valine) so that our digestive system and brain absorbs it. However, the amino acid concentrations remain unaltered by the simultaneous intake of theanine.
Contraindications of theanine
Above all, theanine is extraordinarily safe. In 1964, the Health Ministry from Japan approved its unlimited use in all food products, except for those meant for children.
Moreover, there are no known adverse reactions or interactions of theanine with other medicines. In fact, food does not alter the effect of theanine, so you can take it whenever you need.
Theanine has a smooth flavor, you can open the capsules and dissolve their content in water.
- Zhang C, Chen KK, Zhao XH, Wang C, Geng ZY. Effect of l-theanine on the growth performance, immune function, and jejunum morphology and antioxidant status of ducks. Animal. 2018 Oct 31:1-9. doi: 10.1017/S1751731118002884.
- Hidese S, Ota M, Wakabayashi C, Noda T, Ozawa H, Okubo T, Kunugi H. Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017 Apr;29(2):72-79. doi: 10.1017/neu.2016.33. Epub 2016 Jul 11.
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