L-Theanine is an amino acid found almost exclusively in Camellia sinensis teas. It is known for promoting a state of relaxation without sedating the individual. It also reduces perceived stress as well as enhances attention span.
L-Theanine is similar to glutamate in its chemical structure. Glutamate is another amino acid, one that helps transmit nerve impulses throughout the brain, which means it offers a myriad of benefits when taken as a natural supplement to improve brain health.
What is interesting is that with L-Theanine’s ability to promote attention and relaxation without causing sedation, it can weaken other stimulants, which has proven to be its most important role as a supplement. By taking 200mg each of L-Theanine and Caffeine, you get a synergistic result that promotes both cognition and attention span.
Improves the Effects of Caffeine
When healthy people who had used 50mg of caffeine by itself were compared to people who had added 100mg of L-Theanine to their 50mg caffeine intake, a beneficial effect was seen in attention and accuracy on cognitive tests.
Taking caffeine on its own can improve the perception of fatigue, the processing of rapid visual information as well as reaction time. By adding 250mg of L-Theanine to caffeine, these results were preserved while further enhancing reaction time and degree of alertness.
This natural supplement reduces the biomarkers of stress circulating in bodily systems whether there is an actual stressor or not. It also has been shown to diminish the negative effects of stress like impaired memory. And if you take it before a stress test consisting of math problems, it has been shown to diminish perceived stress after completing the task.
In studies measuring attention and reaction time or relaxation, people suffering from anxiety have been shown to be more relaxed while supplementing.
According to Stroop test assessments, people diagnosed as mildly cognitive impaired who took 60mg daily for 16 weeks greatly improved their selective attention scores.
One study showed that when people with MMSE scores indicating a mild cognitive impairment were given 60mg of L-Theanine three times a day for 16 weeks, their scores for immediate recall and delayed recognition improved.
ADHD is often linked with symptoms of hyperactivity, such as difficulty sleeping or restless leg syndrome. If someone diagnosed with ADHD takes a 200mg dose of L-Theanine twice a day for 6 weeks, their quality of sleep is said to improve due to its ability to reduce sleep activity by 10% while also enhancing sleep efficiency.
How Theanine Works
L-Theanine crosses the blood brain barrier well, increasing concentrations of this compound in the brain, which seemingly is mediated through the leucine-preferring transport system.
Supplementation in 50mg to 250mg doses, which is standard, has repeatedly been seen to increase alpha brain waves in healthy individuals while having a closed-eye rest and during visuospatial cognition tasks. This is 30 to 45 minutes after ingesting.
In addition to relaxation, an increase in alpha brain waves are linked with mechanisms for selective attention and arousal or mental alertness. These changes in wave functions are thought to be sound evidence that L-Theanine does indeed promote relaxation and enhanced attention.
How to Take Theanine
The real power of this natural supplement lies in taking it alongside caffeine. The recommended dosage is 100-200mg of L-Theanine for every 100mg of caffeine (an average cup of coffee). Most users add the powder directly to their coffee. You should not take it more than twice daily.
Also, do not take if you are pregnant/breastfeeding.
Theanine Side Effects
When taken at the recommended dosages, it is safe and side effect free. And although still uncommon, high dosages can cause possible side effects which include headache, irritability, diarrhea, and heartburn.
Best Places to Buy Theanine
L-theanine is an effective nootropic especially when paired with caffeine. It will take off “the edge” of stimulants and provide a calm and cool focus while still allowing the energy effects to be felt. It is also beneficial to those who suffer mild to moderate anxiety.
All in all, L-Theanine paired with caffeine is one of the safest and most effectual cognitive enhancing supplements. It is a staple in most nootropic users’ stacks and is a perfect place to start for beginners.
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- Effects of l-theanine on attention and reaction time response
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