I never imagined myself having a favorite amino acid, but hey, it happens. L-Theanine, an amino acid found in you guessed it, the tea plant or Camellia Sinensis, has grown to become my latest obsession.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found pretty much exclusively in the Camellia Sinensis tea plant, and is known to promote relaxation without causing sedation. The properties of L-theanine can also help relieve depression and stress in reducing the perception of stress and slightly improving attention. Also, while L-theanine does not appear to induce sleep, it may assist.
This lovely little compound also makes tea to be perfectly balanced with a combination of L-Theanine and caffeine, the effects can be synergistic in promoting cognition and attention.
L-Theanine positively regulates nitric oxide therefore, is thought to be related to cardiovascular health. There is also some research that shows that L-theanine neutralizes the speedy, jagged, not so good effects of caffeine without reducing its mind-energizing, fat-burning abilities. L-theanine’s effect on the brain can also be visualized on an EEG, brain waves are actually smoothed out, but not flattened out. The body is relaxed, the mind is calmed, but no drowsiness occurs.
The results of several studies have led to L-theanine being patented as a mood enhancer although, how it works is not completely understood, the effects are definitely seen and notable.
L-theanine can also help prevent memory loss. Although memory impairment is usually associated with old age or Alzheimer’s disease, there are other causes, such as stress and depression. These psychological states cause physical changes in body chemistry and the brain is notably affected. Stress and depression activate the hormones known as glucocorticoids, these hormones cause imbalances in brain chemistry that interfere with mood and memory. What’s even worse is glucocorticoids can cause the brain to shrink. Therefore, Counteracting glucocorticoids should be extremely important. Theanine suppresses these hormones, and is one of the few dietary supplements that can cross the blood-brain barrier, to help us maintain a healthy, and balanced brain.
L-theanine appears to alter levels of neurotransmitters and produce a calming effect that helps counter the stimulating action of the caffeine in tea, while at the same time working with the caffeine to pro mote concentration on mental tasks, this creates what some call “alert calmness.”
Several studies have been done on the effects of L-theanine. Studies done in Japan showed the positive effect on college students who took L-theanine, rather than a placebo, they seemed to experience less anxiety and had smaller increases in blood pressure when under psychological or physical stress.
Studies done in Canada have shown improvement of sleep quality in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and an Israeli study showed L-theanine help relieve anxiety symptoms in patients (ages 19 to 55) with schizophrenia.
How can we reap these lovely benefits of L-theanine you ask? Well, you can either pick up some capsules of it or sip delicious tea regularly, the pleasurable effects produced by the synergy of L-theanine, caffeine, and other compounds naturally in tea have simply stood the test of time.
In conclusion, tea causes changes in body chemistry that rejuvenate, relax, enhance the ability to think, and change mood. The biochemical changes provoked by tea are scientifically supported, and are not due to caffeine. I hope I have justified my obsession with this little compound. In summary, drink the tea, reap the benefits.