Are you seeking natural ways to keep anxiety at bay? L-theanine is an amino acid with remarkable relaxing properties that can take the edge off anxiety without making you feel drowsy.
Unlike prescription sedatives, L-theanine eases worry by stimulating alpha brain waves and modulating neurotransmitters. This promotes an overall sense of relaxation, mindfulness, and well-being.
Here at Hone, we’re all about natural remedies. Sipping matcha is a good, all-natural alternative to pharmaceuticals, supplying an abundance of L-theanine to reduce stress.
Try adding our blend of premium matcha powder and cordyceps mushrooms to your everyday routine for a tasty, anxiety-busting solution. Order our matcha mushroom tea and see why our customers rave about this zen superdrink.
What Is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid that occurs naturally in teas derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, including matcha, green tea, and black tea. While it can be found in certain foods, like soy, bay bolete mushrooms, and kiwi, matcha contains the highest concentration of L-theanine.
Matcha is made from the leaves of shade-grown Camellia sinensis. This shade causes the tea leaves to produce higher levels of chlorophyll, amino acids like L-theanine, and other potent compounds. The shading technique is unique to matcha production and amplifies its nutritional content.
This abundance of L-theanine is what gives matcha its reputation as an anxiety-reliever and focus enhancer. Once consumed, L-theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it exerts positive effects on mood and cognition.
Keep reading to find out exactly how L-theanine influences our neural functioning to calm our stress responses.
Can L-Theanine Help With Anxiety?
L-theanine has calming and protective effects on our brain. This stems from its interactions with key neurotransmitters and brain waves. A regular intake of L-theanine can improve your brain's functions in several ways:
- Promoting relaxation and stress reduction.
- Improving mood.
- Improving mental state, focus, and cognition.
- Protecting the brain from oxidative stress and age-related cognitive decline.
- Promoting sleep quality.
The effects of L-Theanine on the mouse brain. Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.874254/
A 2021 study found that L-theanine “improves behavior under stress conditions, suppresses deterioration of learning ability under social stress, and improves cognitive impairments.”
If we want to understand the soothing effect of theanine on our brain, we have to dig deeper into its interaction with neurotransmitters and brain waves.
How Does L-Theanine Interact With Neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that allow communication between neurons in the brain. At the neural level, L-theanine interacts with and modulates the following neurotransmitters:
- Serotonin: regulates mood, anxiety levels, sleep, and cognitive functions.
- Dopamine: crucial for motivation, pleasure, and reward-driven learning.
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): inhibits overactivity and excitability in the brain.
- Glutamate: can cause overstimulation, anxiety, OCD, and seizures when its levels are high.
A team of Japanese researchers discovered long ago that L-theanine administration causes “significant increases in serotonin and/or dopamine concentrations in the brain, especially in striatum, hypothalamus and hippocampus.” It seems that L-theanine increases levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA while inhibiting excitatory glutamate, all of which promote relaxation.
L-theanine exhibits pharmacological effects on brain wellness via modulating neurotransmitters, including reducing glutamate release, increasing inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA level, and enhancing glycine and dopamine release. (Wang, et. al.)
In fact, Wang, et. al. introduce L-theanine as a “naturally occurring structural analogue of glutamate.” L-theanine has a very similar chemical structure to glutamate, which means it can bind to and activate the same receptors in the brain that glutamate does. This allows L-theanine to mimic glutamate and take its place at its receptors, producing a calming effect.
While it replaces excitatory glutamate in the brain, L-theanine seems to complement GABA’s natural calming function. GABA inhibits neural excitation, helps reduce anxiety, improves sleep, and elevates mood. According to Wang, et. al., “the intake of L-theanine increased the release of GABA by increasing the expression of [important neural genes] to improve brain atrophy and stress vulnerability.”
L-theanine not only increases its levels but also slows its breakdown, causing GABA to persist longer in the brain before being metabolized. Research also shows that “enhanced GABA levels help increase level of brain’s dopamine and reduce serotonin levels that ultimately result in general feelings of calm and well being.” This complementary, synergistic interaction between GABA and L-theanine results in relaxation without sedation.
The Impact of L-Theanine on Brain Waves
Brain waves are patterns of electrical activity generated by neurons. Each of these brain waves is associated with different mental states.
- Alpha brain waves indicate wakeful relaxation and dominate in meditative states. The calm, relaxed, yet alert mental state associated with alpha waves counters anxiety and sharpens focus.
- Beta waves reflect focused concentration and activity.
- Theta waves occur in the early stages of sleep.
- Delta brain waves signify deep sleep.
While it affects all types of brain waves, L-theanine selectively amplifies alpha waves in brain regions linked to wakefulness and attention.
According to a 2008 randomized controlled trial study, “L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness.” This way, L-theanine boosts mental clarity, focus, creativity, serenity, and learning capacity.
It's no wonder creatives and those struggling with ADHD swear by L-theanine—with alpha waves dominating, your most resourceful mental states emerge. You can tap into inventive insights and approach problems from innovative angles.
The 2008 study also reveals that “alpha activity is known to play an important role in critical aspects of attention,” which may be the reason behind L-theanine’s beneficial impact on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
More studies suggest the powerful effects of L-theanine administration on alpha brain waves.
Generation of α-waves is considered to be an index of relaxation. In human volunteers, α-waves were generated on the occipital and parietal regions of the brain surface within 40 min after the oral administration of theanine (50–200 mg), signifying relaxation without causing drowsiness. (Juneja, et. al.)
For an even greater effect of L-theanine on your brain waves and relaxation, we suggest you mix a healthy amount of theanine-rich matcha with organic Cordyceps militaris. The result? A supercharged serenity and focus.
The stress-relieving properties of cordyceps mushrooms are remarkable. That’s why our matcha and cordyceps tea blend is the most delicious way to stimulate your brain waves and find inner peace.
The Role of L-Theanine in Matcha
L-theanine is an amino acid in matcha that provides a wealth of cognitive, emotional, and physical benefits that make this vibrant green tea such a valuable herb. Whether acting on its own or synergistically with other matcha components, L-theanine produces a calm yet focused alertness.
Do L-Theanine and Caffeine Together Have Calming Effects?
Matcha contains pretty significant amounts of caffeine. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine is one of the key factors that contribute to matcha’s energetic yet calming effects. L-theanine has soothing properties on the brain, promoting relaxation and a sense. Matcha’s combo of L-theanine and caffeine improves energy levels, but not in the jittery way high amounts of caffeine typically do.
Instead, caffeine and L-theanine in matcha boost energy without the caffeine-induced crash, resulting in smoother, more sustained, and longer-lasting energy levels. This means no more caffeine-related anxiety and jitters, which is terrific news for those already struggling with stress and anxiety.
In a 2021 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, L-theanine turned out to be quite beneficial for the brain: it improved attention and working memory. The synergy between L-theanine and caffeine was even more beneficial for improving mood and attentional tasks.
It is interesting that caffeine, which acts as a stimulant for neural activity, and l-theanine, which acts as a depressant, are both contained in green tea. Several studies have reported synergistic effects of caffeine and l-theanine on cognition and mood, as well as on tasks related to attentional function.
Kochman, et. al. found that “the combination of l-theanine and caffeine may enhance concentration, vigilance and efficiency to a higher extent than the use of either compound alone, additionally alleviating stress.”
L-Theanine and Other Components in Matcha Relieve Anxiety
L-theanine interacts with caffeine to increase energy in a safe and effective way, but there are other matcha components that L-theanine seems to partner with to create an enhanced stress-relieving effect.
Everyone, meet another amino acid, arginine.
Arginine is involved in the production of a molecule called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is important for relaxing blood vessels, which can improve blood flow and reduce stress on the heart. By improving blood flow and relaxing the body, matcha’s arginine may indirectly contribute to reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calmness.
L-theanine and arginine counteract the excitatory effects of caffeine and a potent antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and modulate levels of GABA and glutamate in stressful situations. This combination creates a good balance between calmness and excitement, which is important for our brain's health.
Suitable synaptic excitation is important but excessive excitation causes synaptic deficits and triggers neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, theanine and Arg may be required at a certain ratio to suppress excessive excitation in the coexistence of caffeine and EGCG under stress loading. (Unno, et. al.)
Consuming matcha daily provides a regular intake of L-theanine that can help reduce anxiety, stimulate creativity, and prevent cognitive decline. Better yet, consuming the highest quality matcha is paramount to experiencing its full benefits.
It just happens that our mushroom matcha tea is made from premium ceremonial grade matcha that contains even higher amounts of L-theanine. Every respectable tea enthusiast knows what that means: highest quality matcha powder with the greatest levels of nutrients and potency.
For the ultimate experience, try our matcha tea with cordyceps. This blend offers abundant L-theanine along with adaptogenic mushrooms to help your body cope with stress. Savor the tranquil, focused energy that quality matcha delivers.
In between sipping our organic beverage, check out our detailed list of cordyceps mushroom benefits. We counted 17 amazing, health-promoting benefits, from boosting energy levels and improving athletic performance to fighting all types of cancer.
How Much L-Theanine Should I Take for Anxiety?
Thanks to the specialized shading technique used in its production,matcha green tea contains up to five times more L-theanine than regular green tea. Standard green tea has around 4 mg per cup, while matcha boasts an impressive 20–25 mg per serving. According to research, the minimum effective dose used in clinical studies is 200 mg.
A dose of oral administration of 200mg of L-theanine dissolved in 100ml of water resulted in the generation of a-electric waves in the occipital and parietal regions of the brains of the subjects. The emission intensity of α-brain waves (integrated as a function of investigation times and area) was significantly greater in the group of [the highest anxiety] than that of [the lowest anxiety]. (Kobayashi, et. al.)
Doses under 200 mg of L-theanine may still provide some mild calming effects. You should not exceed the dose of 200–400 mg per day, especially if you’re new to this compound, as it can cause digestive discomfort and headaches at high doses.
To achieve a sufficient amount for anxiety relief, medical reviewers recommend drinking 2–3 cups of high quality matcha tea per day. Adding matcha to your daily routine provides a consistent intake of L-theanine alongside other phytonutrients that help mitigate stress and anxiety.
Remember that L-theanine and matcha hit differently for different people, so the L-theanine dosage of 200 mg in one day may be calming for some while being too strong for others. (Matcha is generally very safe, but moderation is key.)
If you’ve never had matcha before, starting on the lower end may be a good idea. One delicious cup of matcha in the morning will provide all the necessary nutrients and calming effects that will last you throughout the day.
L-Theanine Side Effects
L-theanine is generally well-tolerated by most people and considered a safe supplement. There have been some adverse effects reported, especially when used for the first time or in excessive amounts.
The most common side effects are:
- Mild gastrointestinal issues like nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhea
These side effects are usually temporary and subside as the body adjusts. Some people take their L-theanine supplement with food to help minimize GI issues.
L-theanine may amplify the effects of anti-anxiety, blood pressure, and heart medications, so before you start combining L-theanine with pharmaceuticals, consult with your healthcare practitioner.
The Best L-Theanine Supplement
If you’re looking for a supplement with high-quality L-theanine, we've got you covered. Our matcha and cordyceps blend, which comes in two sizes—a 10-serving mushroom matcha box, and a mushroom matcha jar that contains 30 servings—is a functional food with matcha and cordyceps. It contains L-theanine, cordycepin, adenosine, beta-glucans, and many other powerful compounds.
L-Theanine for Anxiety FAQ
Does L-theanine really help with anxiety?
Research suggests that L-theanine reduces symptoms of anxiety and stress. L-theanine can promote relaxation and reduce stress-related symptoms by influencing neurotransmitters like GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. L-theanine has also been reported to improve subjective feelings of calmness and reduce anxiety symptoms in some individuals.
However, as with any natural supplement, individual responses to L-theanine are different for every person. L-theanine should not be considered the sole treatment for anxiety disorders. If you’re interested in taking L-theanine, consult a healthcare professional before using it to treat anxiety or any type of anxiety disorder.
What time should I take L-theanine for anxiety?
The optimal time to take L-theanine for anxiety is totally up to you, your preferences, and your needs. Many people find it beneficial to take L-theanine during times of increased stress or anxiety or in the morning to help start the day with a sense of calmness. Others take it in the evening to help unwind and relax before bedtime.
Always start with a lower dose and assess how your body responds before determining the best timing and dosage for your specific situation.
How many mg of L-theanine for severe anxiety?
Some studies have used doses ranging from 200 mg to 400 mg of L-theanine per day to assess the effects of L-theanine administration on stress-related symptoms. If you're considering using L-theanine for severe anxiety, such as panic attacks, start with a lower dose (e.g., 100 mg) and gradually increase your intake of L-theanine under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Is it safe to take L-theanine every night?
Taking L-theanine at night can be safe for many healthy adults, as it is not typically associated with sedation or drowsiness. L-theanine's calming effects might actually be beneficial for promoting relaxation, increasing sleep latency, and improving sleep quality.
Who should not take theanine?
While L-theanine is generally considered safe for most individuals, certain groups of people should exercise caution or consult a healthcare professional before taking L-theanine.
- Pregnant or nursing women: limited research is available on the safety of L-theanine during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- People with low blood pressure: L-theanine may cause a slight decrease in blood pressure. Individuals with low blood pressure should monitor their levels and consult a doctor before using L-theanine.
- People taking medications: if you're taking medications or have underlying health conditions, it's important to consult a healthcare provider before using L-theanine, especially if you're being treated for anxiety, depression, or any other mental disorder.
Is 400mg of L-theanine a lot?
A dosage of 400mg of L-theanine is considered a relatively moderate amount and is within the range used in research studies. L-theanine is generally well-tolerated even at higher doses, and no significant adverse effects have been reported at this dosage.
Does L-theanine affect blood pressure?
L-theanine has been reported to have a mild impact on blood pressure. Some studies suggest that L-theanine may help reduce blood pressure by promoting relaxation and improving blood vessel function. According to research, “L-theanine not only reduces anxiety but also attenuates the blood-pressure increase in high-stress-response adults.”
If you have concerns about how L-theanine might affect your blood pressure, it's a good idea to monitor your levels and discuss them with a healthcare professional before using it.
Is L-theanine safe for depression?
L-theanine's potential effects on depression are not as well-studied as its effects on anxiety. While some research suggests that L-theanine may have a positive impact on mood and can be used to treat depression, it should not be considered the primary treatment. L-theanine could potentially be used as a complementary approach alongside other treatments.
Can I drink alcohol while taking L-theanine?
L-theanine is generally considered safe when taken on its own, and it's unlikely to interact negatively with alcohol in most cases. Alcohol itself can have significant effects on mood and cognition, and its interaction with L-theanine hasn't been extensively studied.
If you choose to drink alcohol while taking L-theanine, do so in moderation and be mindful of how alcohol affects your body and mind.
Does theanine have cognitive effects?
L-theanine can improve cognitive performance when combined with caffeine. A 2010 study looked into the effects of L-theanine and caffeine together on brain activity and found that “the combination of moderate levels of L-theanine and caffeine significantly improved accuracy during task switching and self-reported alertness and reduced self-reported tiredness.”
It was found that, though there was no increase in reaction time in participants after taking the supplement, caffeine and theanine significantly improved subjective alertness, anxiety symptoms, and cognitive functions in participants.
Does theanine repair the brain?
While L-theanine offers benefits like promoting relaxation and improving cognitive functions in healthy adults, its potential to "repair" the brain is not well-established. L-theanine's soothing and neuroprotective effects contribute to its positive impact on our central nervous systems.
L-theanine's benefits and side effects are different for everyone, and while it may support brain health indirectly through stress reduction and improved cognitive performance, it's not a direct brain repair remedy.
Is L-theanine a nootropic?
L-theanine is often considered a nootropic due to its potential to enhance cognitive functions and promote a state of relaxation without causing sedation. Nootropics are organic molecules that enhance cognitive function, especially attention, focus, and working memory. The majority of nootropics are also neuroprotective: they can protect the brain from neuronal cell death caused by oxidative stress.
L-theanine found in matcha checks all the boxes and is thus considered one of the most potent nootropics out there. Research suggests that L-theanine, an amino acid you can get from tea consumption, can have acute effects on cognitive performance, attention, and focus.
It has also been investigated for its ability to reduce stress-related symptoms and cognitive impairment in humans. While not a traditional stimulant, L-theanine's interaction with neurotransmitters, including its potential modulation of glutamate receptors, contributes to its nootropic-like effects.
Is L-theanine good for ADHD?
L-theanine intake has been observed to decrease hyperactivity and impulsivity in adolescent boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies have found that L-theanine administration improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness in adults experiencing stress.
L-theanine, an amino acid in tea leaves, has shown potential acute effects on stress-related symptoms and cognitive performance in humans through its influence on glutamate receptors. L-theanine may be beneficial for relieving anxiety and enhancing focus in those with ADHD through regular tea consumption.
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