L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid used to treat anxiety, promote relaxation and improve focus and concentration. For many, it can help their mental and physical health in a profound way. Here is what you need to know about L-theanine before trying it.
What is L-theanine?
L-theanine (gamma-ethylamino-L-glutamic acid) naturally fights stress and anxiety. This non-protein forming amino acid has been proven to help patients with anxiety by increasing their levels of dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters) and GABA. Unlike caffeine, l-theanine improves concentration without the side effects.
L-theanine was first isolated in Japan from green tea and has been used by Buddhist monks since the 6th century to keep them calm and alert throughout meditation. Research shows that the caffeine in green tea is offset by the compound theanine, unlike the caffeine found in coffee. L-theanine relieves both mental and physical stress without causing any chemical dependence.
Calming Effects of L-theanine
About 30-40 minutes after ingestion, l-theanine begins to work inside the body and the brain. It calms nerves without drowsiness and improves concentration. By altering the body’s dopamine, serotonin and GABA levels, l-theanine naturally acts as a stress reliever.
By increasing the neurotransmitter GABA, l-theanine reduces excess stress hormones (adrenaline) and calms down both the brain and body. Low levels of GABA are linked to depression, insomnia and anxiety.
8 Ways L-Theanine Can Improve Your Health
If your levels indicate that L-theanine may be good for you, there can be vast improvements in your health. Aside from suppressing feelings of stress and anxiety, l-theanine has a multitude of positive effects on the body including:
- Helps alleviate depression by blocking the production of glutamate and reducing glucocorticoids in the brain.
- Aids with concentration by increasing brainwave activity.
- Assists in reducing distraction and focus.
- Improves quality of sleep and the duration of deep sleep. Studies have indicated that those who took l-theanine 30 minutes before bedtime woke up feeling refreshed and rested.
- Helps reverse damage from excess excretion of cortisol.
- Assists in weight-loss
- Relieves PMS symptoms
- Protects against alcohol damage in the liver by accelerating the metabolism of acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical the liver converts alcohol into, and blocks its harmful effects as well as increasing the level of glutathione, normally depleted by alcohol consumption.
Do You Need L-theanine?
L-theanine is a versatile and natural supplement that helps your body and brain achieve greater balance. It can also help with your family’s anxiety and concentration. While L-theanine has no known side-effects and is safe for consumption, please ask your health care provider or practitioner before taking. Testing neurotransmitter levels will provide insight to whether this supplement is right for you.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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