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Get your Calm On with the Amazing Amino: L-Theanine

l-theanine stress free

Plant Based Calm with L-Theanine

L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid, which occurs in a small amount of plants in the natural world: predominantly in green tea and in certain mushrooms. L-theanine was first identified in Japan, as a compound in green tea just after the Second World War. By the early 1960’s, L-theanine was considered an essential supplement in Japan and was used as an ingredient in many foods and drinks.

Safety and Efficacy

In Asia, it has also been used to reduce blood pressure, help to fight the flu and even enhance the effectiveness of cancer drugs. [1] It was eventually recognized by the United States as being safe to use in supplements [2]. Today, it is approved for sale in most countries. As a benefit, there are now several decades of international reporting on the use of L-theanine in terms of both its safety and efficiency.

Immediate Absorption

This amino is an immediate benefit as L-theanine acts quickly when ingested as it is first absorbed by the small intestine. Amazingly, it takes less than one hour to take its full effect as it is “able to cross the blood brain barrier and affect the inside of the brain directly.” [3] Incredible!

Mental Stress & L-Theanine

This amazing amino acid is used for reducing stress and anxiety, improve mental performance and the increase the ability to focus. This powerful amino acid not only increases our bodies’ most important brain neurotransmitter, GABA, but also improves its effectiveness. The GABA neurotransmitter is responsible for lowering stress levels and creating a much calmer mental state within us. [4] It is interesting to note here, that taking GABA orally does NOT induce the same calming effect that occurs when taking L-theanine as a supplement. [5] So get your Calm On and IN!

Likewise, the stimulating neuron Glutamate (which is metabolized into Glutamine) is regulated by L-theanine. Research suggests that L-theanine may help to regulate glutamate, which does the exact opposite of GABA and serves as one of the main “excitatory” neurotransmitters in the brain. L-theanine helps to reduce glutamate levels on the receptors themselves by lowering the likelihood that glutamatergic neurons will release their stored glutamate. The end result? An increased sense of calm. [6]

Early research shows that taking L-theanine before a test can reduce the rate of errors. [7] Also, research shows that taking this amino acid increases alertness and improves a person’s ability to switch attention between different tasks without creating the “jitters” that caffeine does. [8] Other studies indicated that by just taking 200 mg of L-theanine twice daily for 6 weeks increases restful sleep and decreases nightly activity during sleep in boys ages 8-12 diagnosed with ADHD. [9]

More recently. a study done in 2016, demonstrates the anti-stress effects of L-theanine. Thirty-four healthy adults aged 18–40 participated in this double-blind, placebo-controlled study. “The stress response to a multitasking cognitive stress inducing stimulus, was significantly reduced one hour after administration of the L-theanine drink when compared to the placebo.” [10] This is ground-breaking as it supports the theory that L-theanine lowers cortisol and enhances mental balance.

Physical Well-Being

While increasing the effectiveness of Gaba and reducing stress levels, L-theanine also acts to increase the alpha brain waves in our body. Alpha brain waves are deep state vibrations that allow us to feel incredible calm and a sense of well being that advanced meditation and/or deep REM sleep elicits. [11] This major calming effect not only helps with our mental state but also our physical well being.

The stress reduction helps strengthen our heart health by reducing high blood pressure as a result from reducing stress. L-theanine works even in the toughest times as “[e]ven when psychologically stressful stimuli are present, L-theanine allows us to maintain our peaceful and focused state of mind.” [12]

Antioxidant & Immunity Effects

As discussed above, green tea is very high in this amino acid. Green tea and its high L-theanine may also help to reduce the risk of the flu by increasing immunity. Research published in 2011 showed that taking a combination of green tea extract daily for 5 months may lower the risk of developing the flu. [13]

Additional benefits of L-theanine are that it is a known antioxidant. Antioxidants help to strengthen our immune system and allows our bodies to gently rid itself of toxins. For example, that headache from the “ladies night out” where drinking much red wine became the night activity, can be significantly reduced by taking a dose of L-theanine. Hello L-theanine: cheers and thank you!

Gut Flora Benefits

Supplementing with L-theanine has also proven to help improve gut health and the health of the intestinal tract in healthy rats. In a study conducted on healthy and stressed rates, L-theanine helped to reduce the activity and release of glutamate. Glutamate is a natural activator and can cause inflammation if over active. L-theanine helped to reduce inflammation in the intestine and improved the quality of gut flora by increasing the intestinal villi height and crypt depth. [14]

‘Umani’ Taste & Weightloss

Although green tea is the most common dietary source for L-theanine, this compound is also found surprisingly in some types of mushrooms. L-theanine concentration in mushrooms may also explain their amazing taste. L-theanine has am “umami” effect as it directly binds to and activates our umani (savory) taste receptors. [15]

The umami taste is often described as a meaty, broth-like, or savory taste, and is independent of the four traditional basic tastes — sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It has been established for more than 10 years now that umami is one of the five recognized basic tastes. Umani flavor comes from the naturally occurring glutamate in the plant that increases as it ripens. Glutamate naturally occurs in our bodies and in many plants as they mature. The taste of this amino acid is both savoury and meaty, as it hits the back of the throat when consumed. [16] Scientists studying umami flavor have amazingly linked it to decreasing the chances of obesity. It has been suggested that it stimulates the metabolism and may boost sensations of fullness and lengthen the time before hunger returns after eating. [17]

Summary

This amino acid is a natural means of feeling calmer and more balanced. In addition, eating mushrooms and drinking green tea can tastefully provide the amino acid and also help reduce hunger and inflammation. When reviewing the research for L-theanine one cannot say enough about this little powerhouse of an amino acid! It is a crucial element in anyone’s health regimen and offers such an incredible variety of health benefits that it is truly humbling.

Endnotes:

[1] https://www.rxlist.com/theanine/supplements.htm

[2] https://88herbs.com/l-theanine

[3] https://88herbs.com/l-theanine

[4] https://88herbs.com/l-theanine

[5] https://88herbs.com/l-theanine

[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464619305948

[7] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464619305948

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22326943?dopt=Abstract

[9] https://www.rxlist.com/theanine/supplements.html

[10] Nutrients. 2016 Jan; 8(1): 53. Published online 2016 Jan 19. doi: 10.3390/nu8010053

[11] https://88herbs.com/l-theanine

[12] https://88herbs.com/l-theanine

[13] BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011; 11: 15.Published online 2011 Feb 21. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-15

[14] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464619305948.

[15] https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/l-Theanine-elicits-umami-taste-via-the-T1R1%C2%A0%2B%C2%A0T1R3-Narukawa-Toda/abc4db98e623d8072a7ebf579628de71a2c1e029

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami

[17] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/100/2/532.abstract?etoc