While most research on L-theanine has focused on the brain, this amino acid actually supports a wide range of bodily systems.
Though tea has been consumed for thousands of years, L-theanine was only discovered as a constituent of tea by scientists in Kyoto in 1949. L-theanine is a rare amino acid found in Camellia sinensis tea leaves and trace amounts in certain types of mushrooms.
l-theanine (γ-glutamylethylamide), an amino acid in green tea, has been shown to affect brain functions by relieving stress disorders, improving mood, and maintaining normal sleep. However, the cognitive functions for which theanine is effective are unclear.
L-Theanine is very structurally similar to glutamine (it’s chemical name is 5-N-Ethyl-Glutamine), which is responsible for the production of GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) and Glutamate.
It might not be the most recognizable name on the planet, but some people may know L-Theanine for helping the body sleep, relax, and reduce stress. However, it’s a bit more nuanced than that, and learning more about this little chemical might just help you in big ways.
Tea (Camellia sinensis L.) is a very popular health drink and has attracted increasing attention in recent years due to its various bioactive substances. Among them, L-theanine, a unique free amino acid, is one of the most important substances in tea and endows tea with a special flavor.
Have you ever noticed that a great cup of green, white, black, or Oolong tea just sets you at ease? That while you may feel that energized lift from tea’s natural caffeine that you're more aware, calm, present, and Zen-like than say if you downed double shots of espresso or a hulking mug of black coffee? There’s a reason!
What’s really interesting about L-Theanine is that it interacts with caffeine. We all know that there’s less caffeine in a cup of tea compared to a cup of coffee (comparing the dry material of leaf vs bean is a different story, however) but L-Theanine matters too.
Within around thirty minutes of consuming it, L-theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it appears to smooth out brain waves without flattening them as visualized on an EEG. This effect improves cognition in interesting ways.
L-theanine appears to be one major reason for the calming, yet uplifting, effects of tea. It has been shown in early studies that 50mg L-theanine naturally stimulates alpha-waves in the brain. This are the same activity in the brain that is enhanced through meditation!
Be careful of taking L-Theanine as a supplement if you are taking medications. It may interfere or interact and with high blood pressure medication, lowering your blood pressure too much, since L-Theanine has relaxing properties.
The trending supplement could be key to soothing anxiety and, in turn, helping you drift off.
L-theanine is the compound credited with giving tea (Camellia sinensis) its flavor and smell. It’s found in both green and black tea but is highest in shade-grown matcha green tea. L-theanine has been widely studied because of its ability to enhance human health.