The Hidden Power of L-Theanine: Transforming Health Naturally
Why, you may ask? L-theanine’s ability to promote relaxation, improve cognitive function, and enhance sleep quality makes it a superstar in the realm of natural health supplements. In this article, we delve into the wonders of L-theanine, exploring its benefits, potential uses, and the science behind its workings. Let's embark on this journey and unravel the magic of this extraordinary compound together!
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What Is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid primarily found in tea leaves, green tea extract, matcha, and fungi. It's particularly abundant in tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is used to produce white, green, and black teas. L-theanine is one of the most widely-researched tea components. This compound is known for its potential to promote relaxation and reduce stress without causing drowsiness. It's often used in dietary supplements and is becoming increasingly popular in products designed to support mental focus and relaxation.
What Does Taking L-Theanine Do?
L-theanine, known for its calming attributes, achieves these effects primarily by antagonizing glutamate receptors in the brain. Excess glutamate is linked to heightened brain excitation, which can result in stress, anxiety, and, in extreme cases, conditions like schizophrenia. By blocking glutamate receptors called NMDA receptors, L-theanine could potentially ease the symptoms associated with these mental health disorders.
L-theanine seemsto promote the release of alpha waves in the brain as well, which can reinforce its stress-alleviating properties. Alpha brain waves, a type of electrical wave pattern, become more dominant during periods of relaxed thought and meditation.
These alpha wave oscillations have been associated by neuroscientists with enhanced mental coordination, creativity, alertness, and the integration of mind and body, as well as learning.
Can I Take L-Theanine Every Night?
L-theanine is generally considered safe for daily use, including every night before sleep, as long as you stick with the recommended dosage. Always ensure the product you choose is of high quality, preferably with available lab reports confirming its purity and potency.
What Are the Benefits of L-Theanine?
People with various health conditions, healthy adults, and children of all ages can benefit from L-theanine. Some of the health benefits of L-theanine are:
provides neuroprotective effects
helps blood pressure regulation
benefits the immune system
protects against heart disease
reduces stress and anxiety
protects against cancer
improves cognitive performance
promotes sleep quality
Cognitive Benefits of L-Theanine
L-theanine appears to help with cognitive performance, and the combined effects of theanine and caffeine on cognitive functions seem to be particularly beneficial for your cognitive health. The enhancing and protective effects of combinations of L-theanine and caffeine on brain activity were studied in a 2010 study. This study concluded that, though there were no significant increases in reaction times of participants after taking an L-theanine supplement, when taken together, caffeine and theanine did improve subjective alertness in tested subjects.
Mental Health Benefits of L-Theanine
L-theanine appearsto cross the blood-brain barrier quite easily, which could be behind its beneficial effects on psychological stresses. This compound aids in reducing anxiety, alleviating depression, and may even aid in schizophrenia and ADHD relief.
Should You Take L-Theanine for Anxiety?
The effects of L-theanine on stress and anxiety symptoms were researched in a randomized, controlled trialin 2016. This trial concluded that L-theanine reduced stress responses in adult humans after regular use. A 2019 triallooked at the effect of this compound on anxiety in humans and came to a similar result. In this randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial, 46 people with generalized anxiety disorder were either given L-theanine or a placebo. People given the compound reported sleeping and feeling better, suggesting that L-theanine administration may aid in anxiety relief.
Is L-Theanine Good for Depression?
In 2016, researchers explored the potential therapeutic role of L-theanine in managing major depressive disorder (MDD). In this study, the participants' depressive symptoms were evaluated using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-21) at the beginning of the study, and then again after 4 and 8 weeks of treatment with L-theanine. Those who received L-theanine showed a significant improvement in their HAMD-21 scores when compared to the control group. This suggests that L-theanine could effectively alleviate symptoms of depression.
What Are the Benefits of L-Theanine for Schizophrenia?
Research suggests that L-theanine can alleviate symptoms of schizophrenia by inhibiting the action of glutamate transporters. Too much glutamic acid in the brain has been associated with schizophrenia, so this linkbetween glutamate reduction and L-theanine intake could be promising. A 2010 studyexamined the effects of this compound on patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. In this study, sixty people diagnosed with these disorders were administered a daily dose of 400 mg of L-theanine for a period of eight weeks. Upon comparing their progress with participants who received a placebo, it was evident that those taking L-theanine exhibited significant improvements, particularly in positive, anxiety, and activation symptoms. Another study, published in 2015, came to a similar conclusion. This study looked at the effects of L-theanine on patients with chronic schizophrenia and concluded that L-theanine supplementation led to an improvement in sleep quality and the reduction of schizophrenia symptoms.
Is L-Theanine Good for ADHD?
L-theanine appears to be quite beneficial for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a 2020 study. In this study, children with ADHD were tasked with performing a visual sustained attention task prior and after taking L-theanine. After taking the supplement, their results improved significantly. This suggests that L-theanine may aid in relieving symptoms associated with attention deficits in people with ADHD.
Taking L-Theanine for Sleep Support
The Sleep Foundationcites L-theanine as one of the best supplements for you to take for alleviating sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia. The effects of this compound on improving sleep quality were researched in a 2019 study. The research delved into the impacts of combining GABA and L-theanine on both sleep latency, which is the time it takes to fall asleep, and the overall quality of sleep. The findings revealed that the blend of these two compounds notably shortened sleep latency, lengthened sleep duration, and improved sleep quality, particularly the quality of NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
Anticancer Benefits of L-Theanine
L-theanine is among the best anticancer compounds in integrative medicine, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A 2009 clinical trial delved into the potential anticancer properties of L-theanine, focusing particularly on human lung cancer and leukemia cells. The findings suggested that L-theanine substantially inhibited the growth of these cancer cells. More interestingly, this compound appeared to boost the effectiveness of multiple anticancer drugs, leading to decreased cancer cell viability and migration.
Pain Relieving Properties of L-Theanine
Recent animal research indicates that L-theanine may help alleviate chronic nerve pain. An animal studyobserved the impact of a combination of cysteine and L-theanine on neuropathy induced by oxaliplatin in rodents. After the administration of 80 mg of L-theanine and 200 mg of cystine daily over a two-week period, the rodents exhibited fewer indications of neuropathic pain. However, more research is needed to determine whether L-theanine or cystine played a larger role in mitigating pain, necessitating further investigation to better understand L-theanine's potential analgesic properties.
Taking L-Theanine with Cannabinoids
L-theanine has gained recognition for its calming effects. On the other hand, cannabinoids such as THC(tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD(cannabidiol) are renowned for their various therapeutic benefits. Microdosing THCand CBD with L-theanine may offer a host of advantages. Let's explore these benefits:
Both L-theanine and cannabinoids are known for their calming and anxiety-reducing effects. Combining them can enhance these qualities, helping to promote a greater sense of tranquility and relaxation. For additional information on taking low doses of cannabinoids for anxiety, read our article on the anti-anxiety benefits of microdosing edibles.
Improved Cognitive Function
Microdosing THC or CBD with L-theanine can potentially boost cognitive function. L-theanine promotes alpha waves in the brain, associated with creativity and focused attention, while THC and CBD have shown potential to improve cognition and memory. Plus, research suggests that microdosing THC may even reverse brain aging.
L-theanine is a known sleep enhancer, and when combined with a low dose of CBD or THC, which also have sleep-promoting properties, it could potentially improve sleep quality and duration. Taking L-theanine in addition to our CBD gummies for sleepensures you’ll get a good night’s rest and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Both L-theanine and cannabinoids like THC and CBD have mood-enhancing properties. Their combined use might elevate mood more effectively, making it a potentially useful combination for managing symptoms of depression and related disorders. Read our article on microdosing THC for depressionto learn more about this cannabis benefit.
THC and CBD have been studied for their pain-relieving properties. L-theanine might enhance their effect by promoting relaxation and relieving chronic pain. Our article on microdosing THC for paintakes a deep dive into the benefits of this cannabinoid for pain relief.
What Are the Side Effects of L-Theanine?
While there are no lasting side effects associated with L-theanine, some initial short-term discomfort may occur within the first few days of starting it. This can include mild headaches, feelings of nausea, and minor digestive issues, though these effects generally diminish after a few days of using L-theanine.
Can You Take Too Much L-Theanine?
No research suggests severe adverse effects from excessive L-theanine consumption. Nevertheless, especially for those just beginning to use this compound, it's advisable not to exceed a daily dosage of between 200 and 400 mg. Taking L-theanine at high doses can result in potential short-term discomfort, such as digestive issues and headaches.
Does L-Theanine Interact with Medication?
Interaction with certain medications is a potential concern when taking L-theanine. The ability of this compound to lower blood pressure could result in interactions with other drugs that have a similar effect. Similarly, L-theanine's calming effect on anxiety could interact with sedative medications. Therefore, if you plan to incorporate L-theanine into your diet and are on anti-anxiety or antihypertensive drugs, seek advice from a healthcare provider before you start taking this compound.
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L-theanine may increase levelsof brain serotonin, as well as GABA and dopaminelevels. The beneficial effects of this compound on neurotransmitters are likely the cause of L-theanine’s anti-anxiety and stress-relieving properties.
Is L-theanine for energy or sleep?
L-theanine serves dual purposes in terms of energy and sleep. While it doesn't directly provide energy, its calming effects can reduce stress and promote focus, indirectly leading to improved energy levels. On the other hand, it is also recognized as one of the most effective natural sleep aids, enhancing sleep quality and supporting sleep hygiene by fostering a relaxed mental state conducive to restful sleep.
While L-theanine is generally safe for most people, certain individuals should exercise caution. This includes pregnant or nursing women, children, and those with low blood pressure, as L-theanine may potentially lower blood pressure further. Consult a healthcare professional before starting any new dietary supplement regimen, especially if you're currently on any medication, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Can L-theanine cause brain fog?
There is no substantial evidence to suggest that L-theanine causes brain fog. In fact, it is more commonly associated with cognitive enhancement, such as improved focus and reduced stress. However, everyone's body responds differently, and it is possible that some people may experience brain fog as a side effect. If you suspect that L-theanine is causing brain fog, it's best to stop using it and consult a health care provider.
Why take L-theanine with coffee?
You should take L-theanine with coffee or another source of caffeine because the effects of caffeine and L-theanine are complementary. For instance, a 2013 study suggestedthat a combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognition and mood.
Can L-theanine cause weight gain?
There is no research linking L-theanine to weight gain. However, many studies point towards its potential benefits for stress reduction and improved sleep, which can indirectly support weight management and weight loss.
Is L-theanine safe for kids?
Yes, when taken in recommended doses, L-theanine is safe for kids. WebMD suggestsa dosage of up to 400 mg per day for children, while a 2020 studyused 2.5 mg per kg of body weight of L theanine supplementation on children with no side effects. This compound may be beneficial in treating issues commonly found in children, such as hyperactivity disorders.
Is there L-theanine in white tea?
Yes, L-theanine is indeed present in white tea. White tea, like other tea varieties, is a functional food with varying amounts of the beneficial amino acid, L-theanine. The benefits of white tea and its effect on the brain are a result of its L-theanine and caffeine content. The L-theanine content in white tea can contribute significantly to the tea's effects on health and wellbeing. This unique amino acid in tea is renowned for promoting relaxation and enhancing cognitive functions, all of which can be accessed through a calming cup of white tea.
Is L-theanine beneficial for multiple sclerosis?
There are no specific scientific studies available that directly investigate the benefits of L-theanine for multiple sclerosis (MS). However, L-theanine’s benefits on overall health and wellbeing may extend to ailments such as MS, and more research is needed to uncover the potential benefits of L-theanine on multiple sclerosis.
Is L-theanine good for breast cancer?
Though there are no studies on the effects of L-theanine on breast cancer specifically, research suggeststhat L-theanine improves cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction) and slows cancer growth.
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White, D. (2016). Anti-Stress, Behavioural and Magnetoencephalography Effects of an l-Theanine-Based Nutrient Drink: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Nutrients, 8(1), 53. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8010053
Sarris, J. (2019). L-theanine in the adjunctive treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: An 8-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 110, 31–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2018.12.014
Kahathuduwa, C. N. (2020). Effects of l-theanine–caffeine combination on sustained attention and inhibitory control among children with ADHD: a proof-of-concept neuroimaging RCT. Scientific Reports, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-70037-7
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Ritsner, M. S. (2010). L-Theanine Relieves Positive, Activation, and Anxiety Symptoms in Patients With Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 72(01), 34–42. https://doi.org/10.4088/jcp.09m05324gre
Giesbrecht, T., De Bruin, E.A., Rycroft, J.A. (2010). The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutritional Neuroscience, 13(6), 283–290. https://doi.org/10.1179/147683010x12611460764840
Liu, Q. (2009). Effects of theanine on growth of human lung cancer and leukemia cells as well as migration and invasion of human lung cancer cells. Cytotechnology, 59(3), 211–217. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10616-009-9223-y
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