Green tea has made somewhat of resurgence lately. You’ll find it in the aisles of your local grocery store and on the menu at Starbucks too. From metabolism to memory recall, there are a ton of benefits, which explains why you have been hearing about it everywhere recently.
The truth however, is that green tea has been around for quite some time. Should you have been born centuries ago, you might have seen Buddhist monks sipping it as they meditated. It wasn’t until centuries later that western science began to understand the built-in properties for increasing relaxation and concentration that those monks had been enjoying for centuries.
At first glance, we thought it was just the caffeine. But there was another compound lurking in the background that we’re finally beginning to understand. It’s called L-theanine.
L-theanine is essentially an amino acid that’s derived from green tea and select mushrooms, and it comes with a surplus of potentially amazing benefits that you don’t have to be a monk to enjoy.
But before you sit back and start sipping, let’s answer some hard-hitting L-theanine questions.
What are the health benefits of L-theanine?
Warning: lots of heavy words coming up . . . that’s because some of the benefits to L-theanine aren’t readily noticeable, but they’re scientific. And they work. One of the greatest promises of L-theanine is that it may help support healthy levels of GABA, dopamine and serotonin—all key neurotransmitters that have a radical impact on your state of happiness and your ability to cope with life’s everyday challenges. According to the National Institute of Health, L-theanine:
“significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band, which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness.”
That “alpha frequency” is a big part of why you are hearing so much about L-theanine lately. Alpha waves are what your brain gives off when you are “in the zone”. Think of when you have felt most creative, or the words seem to be flowing out of your mouth easily, or your work seems to be coming easily… that is called your “flow state”. It is when your brain is primarily in Alpha frequency. CEOs, athletes, and public speakers have spent millions chasing this flow state. So these new discoveries have immediately launched the popularity of L-theanine.
Sounds good, right? L-theanine has the unique ability to stimulate and soothe the brain…all at once, so you can get in a good study session AND a good night’s sleep.
How much L-theanine should I take?
While L-theanine is an amino acid, it’s not of the essential variety. It’s labeled as non-dietary and nonessential. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t safe. And some people may notice some difference within 30 minutes of taking it.
Where can I find L-theanine?
L-theanine is hard to track down in your common foods – at least the ones we eat every day. It is found, however, in green, black, and white teas. You can also find it in the mushroom species, Xerocomus badius (or Bay Bolete). Sounds delicious.
Are there side effects to having too much L-theanine?
First off, if you’re pounding multiple cups of caffeinated tea to try and reap the benefits of L-theanine, you’re going to be extremely jittery and struggle to fall asleep. Overdoing things in the caffeine department can produce nervousness, nausea, and irritability. However, IF you want to take L-theanine as a standalone supplement, there are currently no known side effects.
Should I take L-theanine?
That’s a great question, and mileage varies from person to person, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. If you’re someone who wants a natural remedy to help cope with everyday stress, L-theanine might be a good place to start. Similarly, if you want to increase your concentration, or ability to think, or you want to increase your energy while also increasing relaxation, give it a shot. As always, consult your doctor first before you introduce any new supplement or dietary ingredient into your life. You’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit for you – and that it won’t interact negatively with any other medications or supplements you’re taking.
Whether they’ve known it or not, people have benefited from L-theanine for centuries. Its ability to promote calmness and combat everyday stress, promote sleep, and stimulate while it soothes puts this supplement in a category all its own. Whether you’re enjoying it in a regular cup of tea or as a supplement, you might find that L-theanine delivers just the right dose of peace and serenity you need.
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