L-as a Nutritional Supplement
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that may produce calming effects in the brain. For centuries, green tea has been used in the Orient for its relaxing properties and it is the L-Theanine that gives green tea its ability to be calming, in spite of the high amount of caffeine that is present.
So what benefits, besides a general calming influence, does L-Theanine have and does any research support these reported benefits?
Scientific studies show L-Theanine impacts both the nervous and cardiovascular systems to produce a calming effect on one?s mental state, which is why it is often referred to as the "feel good supplement." It has been shown to promote deep muscle relaxation and improve good quality sleep. Scientists have investigated L-Theanine?s effect on brain amino acids and neurotransmitters. In clinical trials, L-Theanine was shown to increase alpha brain waves, which is considered an index of relaxation.
Gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and can be considered the brain?s natural sedative. Animal studies have shown that theanine increases GABA and can also increase dopamine levels (a brain chemical with mood-enhancing properties).
In addition, several structure and function claims have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which include:
- Reduces stress
- Promotes relaxation without drowsiness
- Eases nervousness due to common every day overwork and fatigue
- Reduces nervous irritability
- Improves learning and concentration
- Heightens mental acuity
- Supports the immune system
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Reduces the negative side effects of caffeine
There was a study done several years ago that showed L-Theanine helped people fall asleep easier and get into REM faster and stay there longer, resulting in a better quality of sleep. The researcher also commented that this was the case even with less total number of sleep hours.
The primary difference between L-Theanine and other anti-stress herbs is that it does not make the user drowsy. So it provides relaxation without tiredness. This may prove useful for those seeking a calming effect, while concurrently being able to continue to be alert and to concentrate. And unlike the majority of amino acids, it may be taken at any time, with or without food.
Perhaps one of the most extensively researched and documented nutritional ingredients, L-Theanine has demonstrated that it is safe and effective in many applications. In Japan it is widely used in many beverages and foods. In 1964, Japan?s Health and Welfare Department approved L-Theanine for unlimited use in all foods, with the exception of infant foods. Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd., Japan has been awarded several manufacturing and use patents for Suntheanine, their trademarked name for L-Theanine. The patents cover several applications which include reducing anxiety, suppressing behavioral problems of pets, reducing PMS symptoms, promoting relaxation, etc.
However, nursing mothers and women who are pregnant should avoid L-Theanine supplements. Also, if one is using cancer chemotherapeutic agents, L-Theanine supplements should be taken only under medical supervision.
Michael Rupkalvis oversees the ThinkStraight | Improve Memory | Think Straight website. The web site provides advice on memory enhancement, stress reduction and increasing concentration by employing a product known as the ThinkStraight supplement, which is an all-natural supplement intended to optimize how the brain functions.
By: Colin Albert