Anxiety can be a debilitating condition affecting many people around the world. While several medications and therapies are available for anxiety, some individuals prefer natural remedies. One natural remedy that has gained popularity in recent years is L-theanine, a compound found in green tea, shown to have calming effects on the mind and body.
L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid commonly found in tea.
L-theanine increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA neurotransmitters in the brain.
L-theanine reduces anxiety and stress and promotes learning, memory, concentration, and attention.
Depending on the purpose, L-theanine is typically taken in 40–400 mg doses.
However, many people are unsure how much L-theanine should be taken to reduce anxiety.
This article will delve deeper into the use of L-theanine for anxiety, its recommended dosages, the best way to take it, its benefits and potential side effects.
What is L-theanine?
L-theanine is a naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid found primarily in tea leaves, particularly in the green tea plant Camellia sinensis. It is also found in small amounts in black tea, oolong tea, and certain types of mushrooms. It is known for its ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
L-theanine is believed to work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and GABA, which can help to reduce anxiety and improve mood. L-theanine is also commonly used as a dietary supplement to support cognitive function, promote relaxation, and enhance sleep quality. It has been found to have a good safety profile and is generally well-tolerated when taken at appropriate doses.
How does L-theanine work?
L-theanine contributes to several changes in the brain that promote relaxation, including:
- Increases GABA and other neurotransmitter levels. Serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels are all neurotransmitters increased by L-theanine. Neurotransmitters are a class of substances that function in the brain to control feelings, focus, appetite, cognitive abilities, and temperament. These brain chemicals may help with sleep and help you feel calm and relaxed.
- Decreases “excitatory” brain chemical levels. L-theanine lowers the chemicals in the brain that cause tension and anxiety, while raising the number of chemicals that make you feel calm. This is also how L-theanine guards against age and stress-related harm to brain cells.
- Increases alpha brain wave activity. A condition of “wakeful relaxation” is related to alpha brain impulses. When you meditate, are artistic, or allow your mind to daydream, you are in that frame of mind. L-theanine causes alpha impulse production, improving calmness, concentration, and inventiveness. The fact that L-theanine promotes relaxation without sedation is one of its attractive qualities. Because of this, L-theanine may be a good option for those who want to improve their “wakeful relaxation” without thinking about feeling drowsy and worn out during the day.
Is L-theanine the same as green tea extract?
No, L-theanine is not the same as green tea extract.
Green tea extract is a concentrated form of the compounds found in green tea leaves, including polyphenols and catechins. However, green tea extract may or may not contain L-theanine, depending on the extraction process used, the quality of the raw material, and other factors.
Since several factors influence the levels of L-theanine in green tea extract production, it's important to always read the supplement's label if L-theanine is indeed included or purchase L-theanine products directly if this is what you want.
What is L-theanine good for?
L-theanine has been shown to provide several health benefits that improve an individual's overall well-being, including:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Enhancing sleep
- Reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders
- Managing blood pressure
- Boosting the immune system
- Improving learning, memory, concentration, and attention
- Helping with keeping a healthy weight
- Managing cancer medications
What is the dosage of L-theanine to relieve anxiety symptoms?
The optimal dosage of L-theanine for relieving anxiety symptoms may vary depending on several factors, including individual tolerance, the severity of symptoms, and the intended use. However, clinical studies on humans have used doses of 200 to 400 mg per day with positive results.
A single dose of 200-400 mg of L-theanine may promote relaxation and reduce stress for acute anxiety symptoms. However, for chronic anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), daily doses of L-theanine may be more effective at reducing symptoms over time.
The best way to take L-theanine
L-theanine is consumed orally as a supplement. After ingesting 100–200 milligrams of L-theanine, most individuals feel calmer within 30–40 minutes, and this impact can last for up to eight hours.
The best time to take L-theanine will depend on your purpose:
- Reduce anxiety. It is recommended you take two split doses of L-theanine in the morning and night if you are taking it to help with anxiety. For instance, you could take 100 mg at breakfast and another 100 mg at supper.
- Enhance energy. If you want to focus better or feel more energized, try taking some L-theanine first thing in the morning, preferably about a half-hour before eating breakfast.
- Improve cognitive performance. It's best to take L-theanine in combination with caffeine, as the two compounds work synergistically to enhance mental performance.
- Sleep better. If you want to improve sleep quality, take 50-200 mg L-theanine 30–60 minutes before bedtime. For enhancing sleep-inducing effects, L-theanine may also be combined with melatonin.
Are there any side effects of L-theanine?
Studies have shown that taking L-theanine supplements has little to no direct side effects, making it safe to consume. But some people feel sleepy or sick, which usually goes away before bedtime or when they take it with food.
There are also no known drug interactions, but you should talk to your doctor before starting or adding any supplement to your diet. It is also essential to remember the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements. Manufacturers of such products carry the burden of ensuring their products are safe.
Is 400 mg L-theanine too much?
Although there is no set dosage for L-theanine, doses up to 400 mg daily are usually safe and well-tolerated. At 500 milligrams or higher, some individuals may experience side effects like feeling worn out or sleepy. It is recommended to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it over time to assess your tolerance and sensitivity to the supplement.
Is it safe to take L-theanine every day?
Daily L-theanine supplementation is considered safe when taken in recommended dosages. However, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or are taking other medications.
When is the best time to take L-theanine for anxiety?
To manage anxiety with L-theanine, it is recommended to take two divided doses, such as 100 mg at breakfast and 100 mg at dinner. However, for anticipated anxiety-provoking events, taking L-theanine 30-60 minutes before can be helpful. This can include public speaking, exams, or other stress-inducing events. Smaller daily doses of L-theanine can also be taken to manage overall stress and anxiety levels.
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