L-Theanine - Nature's antidote to stress and anxiousness

L-Theanine - Nature's antidote to stress and anxiousness

25 Mar 2018

L-Theanine - Nature's antidote to stress and anxiousness

Many of us enjoy drinking green tea and in recent years a multitude of health benefits have been attributed to it. One of the ingredients of green tea, receiving a lot of attention in the natural health community, is L-Theanine.

L-Theanine is a unique amino acid derived from the leaves of Camillia sinensis, native to eastern Asia.

First identified in 1949, by 1964 the Japanese were including L-Theanine in soft drinks, soups and even chocolates!

But more interesting was L-Theanine’s effect on sleep, attention, focus and relaxation.

L-Theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier. As a result, it directly impacts alpha brain waves and GABA.

Alpha brain waves are the bridge between our conscious (cognitively active) and subconscious mind. They promote a feeling of deep relaxation and calmness.

Too little alpha brain wave action can result in Anxiety, OCD and Stress.

L-Theanine, crossing the blood-brain barrier, also impacts the production of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric Acid).

GABA is the neurotransmitter (signalling messenger) responsible for motor control, vision, and many other cortical functions. It regulates anxiety.

GABA in turn influences dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that affect mood, sleep and energy.

Several small human trials using L-Theanine have provided interesting results.

  • The Journal of Physiological Anthropology includes a Japanese study of college students who took L-Theanine. They experienced less anxiety and had smaller increases in blood pressure when under psychological or physical stress than those who took a placebo.
  • Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behaviour includes a study of Japanese graduate students who took L-Theanine and experienced less anxiety (as measured by a questionnaire and by a salivary marker for stress) when they were assigned stressful work in a pharmacy, compared to a placebo.
  • A Canadian study in Alternative Medicine Review, demonstrated that L-Theanine improved some aspects of sleep quality in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Unlike many prescription anti-anxiety medications, L-Theanine does not cause drowsiness or impairment of motor reflexes or thought processes.

What it appears to do is promote a feeling of ‘Zen-like’ tranquillity. Further medical journals report no toxicity or contraindications with other natural products or any prescription medications.

L-Theanine is available in a range of dosages and formats.

In Canada, the standard L-Theanine dose is 250mg per capsule. A 250mg capsule reaches the bloodstream in approximately 30 minutes and can last up to 4 hours.

Chewable L-Theanine is also gaining in popularity. The fast-acting formula (works in less than 5 minutes!) benefiting those experiencing breakthrough anxiety who need quick results.

Look for formulas that contain no sugar or sugar substitutes and are naturally flavoured.

Finally, new to the market, is a slow-release L-Theanine formula. This is the formula for anyone dealing with more chronic stress and anxiety. The slow-release formulation allows for a long window of activity (up to 6 hours) where stress hormones are down-regulated and GABA, serotonin and dopamine are optimized.

All of these formulas are safe to include with prescription medications.

Look for these L-Theanine formulas at your local health food store. /James Lake MD

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