Fact-checked by Dr. Anthony Gustin, DC, MS.
Written by Lorenz Mac
L-theanine has recently gained the interest of thousands of people worldwide who are looking for a natural compound to help them stay relaxed and focused during times of stress.
It is one of the few nootropic compounds backed both by science and thousands of anecdotal praise worldwide.
Better yet, l-theanine can be combined with coffee to help prevent any unwanted side effects, like jitters and anxiety.
But the benefits don’t stop there.
Scientists are now also looking at the applications of L-theanine for helping rebalance mood disorders and even protect brain cells.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
L-Theanine: The Relaxing Compound Found in Tea
If you’re a tea drinker, I have good news.
L-theanine, scientifically known as N-ethyl-L-glutamine, is a powerful amino acid that can be found in both green and black tea.
It was first discovered by Japanese scientists in the 1940’s and has been studied thoroughly ever since.
Human studies have demonstrated profound calming, anti-anxiety, and brain-boosting effects of L-theanine supplementation.
Research shows that L-theanine can promote relaxation without causing any drowsiness, which makes it the perfect supplement for people who need to stay focused and stress-free during cognitively demanding attention tasks[*].
3 Ways L-Theanine Enhances Your Brain Function
L-theanine has three main effects on your brain that make it a powerful ally for getting things done:
#1: Increases GABA Neurotransmitters in the Brain
GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a brain chemical responsible for relieving anxiety symptoms, reducing depressive symptoms, decreasing inflammation and improving sleep.
Research has shown that L-theanine increases brain GABA, serotonin and dopamine levels, which are all responsible for regulating emotions, mood and sleep[*].
Higher levels of these calming brain chemicals allow you to relax, sleep better, and deal with stress more easily.
#2: Lowers Excitatory Brain Chemicals
Having excess amounts of excitatory brain chemicals like glutamate and acetylcholine can increase anxiety and stress.
L-theanine has been shown to reduce excitatory brain chemicals and even protect brain cells against stress and age-related damage.
#3: Increases Alpha Brain Waves
Alpha brain waves help you get into a state of awakened relaxation. This is the mode in which ideas flow faster and creativity skyrockets.
Alpha waves occur during REM sleep — the stage when you’re dreaming vividly.
Several studies performed on both high-anxiety and low-anxiety test participants concluded that L-theanine supplementation increased alpha brain waves within 30 minutes of administration, which helped foster a relaxed state in both groups[*].
The studies also reported the intensity of alpha waves was dose-dependent. This means the more L-theanine that was administered, the more relaxed the test subjects began to feel[*].
The Top 5 Health Benefits of L-Theanine
L-theanine is known for helping your brain calm down, keeping your mind focused, and reducing stress, but it does more than that.
Here are the top brain-boosting benefits of supplementing with L-theanine:
#1: L-theanine Fights Stress and Anxiety
L-theanine reduces anxiety because it closely resembles the neurotransmitter glutamate.
Glutamate, or glutamic acid, is considered the brain’s most important excitatory neurotransmitter, while L-theanine is inhibitory, but since they closely resemble each other, L-theanine can provide a calming effect that relieves anxiety[*].
In fact, L-theanine can block off any stimuli from the glutamate receptors that may otherwise trigger stress responses.
Additionally, L-theanine stimulates the production of the also inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is responsible for providing relaxing, anti-anxiety effects, as you just learned above[*].
Unlike prescription anxiety drugs like Xanax, which work by mimicking GABA’s effects, L-theanine provides anxiety-reducing effects without the excess drowsiness and impaired motor function[*].
While the anti-anxiety effect may not be as strong as that from prescription drugs, studies show L-theanine can improve attention and alertness while keeping the brain relaxed[*].
Research also shows that supplementing with L-theanine can help prevent the sudden rise in blood pressure and heart rate that people experience during times of stress[*].
This makes l-theanine beneficial for controlling physiological stress responses.
#2: L-Theanine Boosts Cognitive Function and Protects Brain Cells
There is a strong link between stress, anxiety and your brain’s cognition. Stress has a particularly negative effect on your ability to make decisions.
Recent studies find that L-theanine can support cognitive function and improve concentration thanks to it stress-relieving effects.
Additional research has shown that L-theanine, in the form of Suntheanine, may directly increase attention span and reaction time in people who already experience anxiety[*].
#3: L-Theanine May Reduce The Risk Of Stroke
A stroke occurs when there is a blockage of blood to the brain, which results in loss of brain cells. A stroke can be ischemic (due to lack of blood flow) or hemorrhagic (due to bleeding).
L-theanine has properties that can help prevent strokes and lessen the damage caused by strokes when they do happen.
Controlled trials have also demonstrated that L-theanine consumption 12 hours after a stroke helps protect brain cells and decreases the size of damage in the brain[*].
#4: L-Theanine May Alleviate Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that profoundly affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves.
It is most commonly known as “split personality” disorder because those who are affected develop different personalities and may experience hallucinations, trouble thinking and difficulty concentrating[*].
One study done specifically on patients with schizophrenia found that giving people 400 mg of L-theanine per day largely reduced their anxiety and negative symptoms that accompany the disease[*].
#5: L-theanine Helps Improve Sleep
L-theanine can boost objective sleep quality — not through sedation — but by lowering anxiety and promoting relaxation.
One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial done on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) found that supplementing with up to 400 mg per day of L-theanine appeared to be a safe and effective method for improving their sleep quality[*].
The Synergistic Effect of L-Theanine + Caffeine
Monks began drinking tea to achieve a state of zen-like focus during meditation — and research now confirms that sipping on tea has this effect.
This focus-boosting perk happens thanks to the synergistic action of 2 components in green tea leaves: L-theanine and caffeine.
When they take this combo, people often report:
- Increased focus
- Improvements in the ability to multi-task
- Increased learning ability
- A deepened state of relaxation
- Improvement in performance, especially stress
- Fewer anxiety symptoms
- Fewer psychological stresses
…and research backs this up.
A systematic review and meta-analysis found that L-theanine has acute effects on cognitive function and mood, especially when combined with caffeine[*].
In this study, caffeine + L-theanine improved alertness, calmness, contentedness, attentional switching accuracy, and attention overall in the first 2 hours after taking it.
Another study[*] found that combining 250 mg of L-theanine and 150 mg of caffeine…
- Sped up reaction time
- Accelerated working memory reaction time
- Increased accuracy
- Boosted alertness
- Decreased headaches and fatigue
Scientists have now pinpointed the mechanism behind this powerful combination of green tea components: L-theanine controls the stimulatory effects of caffeine by decreasing the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is otherwise elevated by caffeine consumption[*].
How Much L-Theanine Do You Need To Feel Its Effects?
Certain factors such as age, weight, height and natural tolerance play a large role in the amount of L-theanine you have to consume to feel its effects.
It’s always better to test your individual tolerance and assess your minimum effective dosage.
Start with a small dosage (50mg), measure the effects and work your way up until you find the best dosage that works for you.
Most studies recommend consuming around 100-200 mg of L-theanine once or twice a day[*].
However, there is only around 20 mg of L-theanine per cup of green tea, which means you need to supplement to experience these health benefits (or drink 5-10 cups of green tea, which isn’t ideal).
If you want to experience the relaxed focus that comes from combining L-theanine and caffeine, the best dosage is a 2:1 ratio of L-theanine to caffeine. For example, if you are consuming 100mg of caffeine, you should supplement with 200 mg of L-theanine.
There have been no reports of adverse effects from taking too much L-theanine.
Using a supplement that contains L-theanine, like Keto Nootropic, can help you experience all the brain-boosting perks without having to drink endless cups of tea.
Keto Nootropic also contains other 6 nootropics beside L-theanine, which help boost your productivity, energy, attention, and creativity.
L-theanine Is One of the Most Effective Natural Relaxation Nootropics Available
The overwhelming amount of research demonstrating L-theanine’s effectiveness for achieving a state of “relaxed focus” has made it one of the most popular nootropics.
L-theanine’s ability to boost the neurotransmitter GABA, stimulate alpha brain waves and lower excitatory brain chemical makes it significantly better than anti-anxiety medication because it relaxes you without causing drowsiness.
Beyond relaxation and stress reduction, L-theanine can also protect your brain cells, improve your sleep quality, and ensure heart health.
To get the most brain benefits out of this helpful compound, find a high-quality supplement like Keto Nootropic — and mix it with your morning coffee for ultimate focus.
Whether you are a biohacker or just someone looking for a natural way to relax, L-theanine should be a staple in your kitchen.