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People these days are under an increasing amount of stress, and are therefore looking for natural ways to deal with it. L-theanine is often recommended to help people relax and enjoy greater sleep. If you’re one of the 14.8 million Americans who suffer from anxiety or depression, you may be asking “What is l-theanine?” If so, here is some information you need to know.
L-theanine is an amino acid that is prominent in black and green tea. First discovered in green tea in 1949, it was approved in Japan in 1964 for use in food products such as chocolates and soft drinks. L-Theanine is highly regarded for its stress relieving abilities, and may also help alter the mood by providing a calming effect without causing drowsiness. Often taken in supplement form, it is sometimes an additive in natural products designed to enhance the mood. However, most people simply drink a cup of hot tea to enjoy its benefits.
Several studies asking “What is l-theanine?” have been performed on students, and have shown some remarkable results. For example, a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology showed that college students who took l-theanine experienced less stress than those given a placebo drug. A similar study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior reported graduate students who took l-theanine performed better whenever they were assigned stressful work relating to their field of study.
Research also suggests that l-theanine may improve sleep. A Canadian study was performed on boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and showed the sleep quality of these patients improved after taking l-theanine. This amino acid is not a sedative, so the fact that it promotes healthy sleep is likely due to its calming properties. Even so, green tea does contain caffeine, so drinking a cup just before bedtime is not recommended. For better sleep, consume between 100 and 200 mg per day in supplement form.
Patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders have showed significant improvement in the levels of dopamine and GABA, neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for regulating mood. Scientists also believe that l-theanine changes levels of amino acids that affect serotonin, a chemical responsible for making people feel good. L-theanine may even block glucocorticoids, which are stress hormones that affect mood and memory and also have the ability to disrupt serotonin and dopamine functions.
L-theanine has been given Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While it is generally safe, you may nonetheless experience side effects such as nausea, headaches, or dizziness. The effects of l-theanine on pregnant and nursing mothers has not been evaluated, so these women should avoid taking it. Speak with your doctor about taking l-theanine if you are taking any other medication for blood pressure, anxiety, or depression.
What is l-theanine? It is a safe, natural substance that provides immediate benefits with little or no side effects. The next time you are feeling anxious, enjoy a steaming cup of green or black tea and allow your cares to simply fade away.