What is L-theanine?
The soothing tranquility and balance we seek in our busy lives often lie hidden in the most humble and everyday places. ?
Today, let’s uncover the magickal secret of one such gift from Mother Nature: L-theanine, and show you how using it for rest, relaxation, and relief can help you create more grounded and inspired days.
This tiny, often unsung gem brings immense harmony to our lives. I only found out about it a few months ago, and ever since, we’ve been using it before bed and even in the mornings to set our days up for a more gentle flow and reduce stress and anxiety from tasks or people that may make us feel a little jittery.
There are 20 different types of amino acids, some of which can be created from our bodies, and others that can’t be obtained without being supplemented through food. If you look at the list of amino acids, you might see that “theanine” isn’t on there. That’s because theanine is an analog– or a structure similar but not totally identical to– glutamine, one of the 20 amino acids.
So, we know that L-theanine is an amino acid– but what is an amino acid?
Amino acids chains make different types of proteins to supply to your body. Your body needs to make proteins so it can help build things like genes, blood, and tissue and natural antibiotics.
But unlike protein amino acids, L-theanine is a nonprotein amino acid that helps relax the body. It increases GABA, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain which helps the brain regulate emotions, sleep, and alertness, so our thoughts can flow instead of race.
Health Benefits of L-theanine ?
- Sleep: L-theanine can increase your sleep quality by enhancing Alpha brain waves, promoting a relaxed state
- Reducing stress and anxiety throughout the day: promotes stress reduction without sedation (like melatonin or valerian root may cause), providing a calming effect while it is generally safe to use when you’re awake.
- Improved focus, memory, and mental focus for people prone to anxiety: If you’re more likely to be anxious when you need to be focused and learning, taking L-theanine helps increase attention span and reaction time, reduce anxiety, and reduce stress all at once, boosting your cognitive performance while bringing calming effects to stressful times.
I loved this video by Dr. Yaseen Arsalan from Asalan Aspires that explains L-theanine simply ?
How L-Theanine was found
L-theanine was discovered in 1949, in the heart of Japan, a land rich in tradition and deep respect for nature’s gifts. As researchers explored the camellia sinensis plant, they discovered a gift: L-theanine, a beautiful substance that can help relax without sedating the body and is used in Ayurveda and holistic medicine. ?
In Ayurveda, L-theanine may be seen as a part of the Vata Dosha, or those who are creative and spontaneous but also, in turn, have an err for anxiety and worry. In turn, L-theanine and other Vata Doshas like ashwagandha, Triphala fruit, and ginger help regulate nerves, acting as calming, warming, and moistening. ?
There are also trace amounts of L-theanine in black teas, white teas, oolong teas, and mushrooms.
Factors to consider when choosing an L-theanine supplement
Like all good things, choosing the right L-theanine requires knowledge of why you’re looking to soothe through L-theanine and natural supplements in general. In your holistic wellness journey, here are a few considerations you may want to bring up when perusing L-theanine supplementation.
- Bioavailability, or the amount of L-theanine that can actually be absorbed in your bloodstream and pass through the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine’s bioavailability is said to be between 47% and 54%, but some say that it could even be higher than that.
- Absorbability, which is the ease with which your body can absorb L-theanine from a supplement can vary. Often, the form in which you take the supplement can influence this. Capsules and tablets are common, but powders and liquids may be absorbed more quickly.
- Purity and quality, choosing a supplement that doesn’t contain any unnecessary additives such as “natural flavors,” sugars, or artificial flavorings. A non-GMO label is a good start, but even then, it takes further research on your own to make sure that the quality of your supplement is the best L-theanine form out there!
- Brand reputation, because not all supplement brands are created equal. Look for brands that are reputable and have a history of delivering high-quality products. You can often find this information through online reviews or through health and wellness communities.
- Dosage and caffeine amount because while some people might want their L-theanine paired with caffeine, others might be sensitive and just want the L-theanine.
Related: 5 ways to boost your energy (without caffeine!) ⚡️
5 ways to take L-theanine: The best L-theanine supplements
With a typical dose range from 100 mg to 400 mg per day, you can make L-theanine a part of your day in a few different ways. Some take it with their morning coffee, while others like to use it to fall asleep and improve sleep quality in general. No matter which type you like, here are 5 unique ways, that even surprised me, what you can take L-theanine!
1. L-theanine supplements
You’ll probably see this as the most common form of L-theanine: through capsules or tablets. NOW Foods, Nature’s Trove, and Vital Nutrients are all popular supplements and brands that you can take. I prefer supplements with the most minimal ingredients possible so I know exactly what’s going into my body, as well as vegetarian capsules compared to tablets, as I’ve felt they absorb more easily into my body. If you’re not one for swallowing pills, you can also explore L-theanine with Suntheanine chewable tablets for a gently sweetened chewable option, keeping in mind the added sugar and “natural flavors” that come with it.
2. L-theanine powder in a drink or smoothie
For those who enjoy creative and active engagement in their wellness journey, L-theanine powder can be a delightful addition to a drink or smoothie. If you already have a capsule, you could open it up and drop it in to see if you like adding a powder form to your drinks (or even foods!), and then if you find that you like powders more, you can switch off as needed.
This Anti-Anxiety Lavender Smoothie includes green tea powder, but if you’re caffeine-free like me, you can likely replace it with a basic, non-caffeine L-theanine powder instead, through Bulk Supplements which is pure L-Theanine and nothing else!
3. L-theanine gel
Out of all the supplements and forms, this has been my preferred way of taking L-theanine, as I’ve typically felt the benefits much more than using a capsule. We personally use the Designs for Health Liposomal NeuroCalm on Subscribe and Save and have really liked the results of pumping it before bed or in the mornings for anxiety relief.
4. Green tea
Let’s not forget the natural origin of L-theanine– the humble tea leaf. Drinking L-theanine in its purest form grants a variety of other beneficial antioxidants and polyphenols in each nourishing plant combining l theanine and other nutritious elements into your sip. ?
While green tea leaves have the highest amount of L-theanine, you can have the comfort of knowing that your black and oolong teas also have a bit of the amino acid magick you need.
5. L-theanine gum or gummies
Relaxant gummies like Olly’s Goodbye Stress gummies combine L-theanine, ashwagandha, lemon balm, and GABA to promote relaxants in a yummy form. These gluten-free gummies can be a great way to get in your L-theanine in a simple and yummy way– but for those who are turned off by things like “natural flavors,” it might not be the best choice.
Something new I also discovered when perusing around the L-theanine corner of the internet was L-theanine and nootropic gum! NeuroGum’s Energy & Focus gum contains 40mg of caffeine and 60mg of L-theanine with some added nourishing vitamins like Vitamin B with cinnamon and peppermint flavors to help relieve anxiety.
I personally haven’t tried these, but being sensitive to caffeine, I like to stick with the gel form that provides L-theanine without the caffeine. ?
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, amidst the noise and the hurry, it’s comforting to know that there is a resource available to us, promising gentle thoughts and restful sleep. Yes, caffeine can help promote energy, but the jitters that come with it can sometimes feel like it’s overdelivering and making anxiety levels rise even more.
Truthfully, I turn to L-theanine supplements more often over stimulants, because I find that the sheer amount of time spent in front of blue lights, being exposed to toxins in the air, and EMFs already have my body working so hard. I truly believe that choosing the best L-theanine supplement for you is indeed a tender act of self-love and care– not just from finding the right supplement, but from taking the time to do your own research and thinking for yourself.
Each decision you make in this journey, from considering its bioavailability and absorbability to selecting a supplement free from unnecessary additives, reflects your commitment to nurturing your well-being. And in fact, I’ve learned so much just by digging around the web, learning what these terms mean, and seeing how they can be reflected in my life.
And of course, while nootropics like L-theanine can indeed support our wellness journey, they’re just one piece of a larger puzzle. A balanced, whole diet, regular exercise, and a mindful approach to our lives through listening to our bodies are just as important.
Let sipping your cup of green tea or taking your nightly L-theanine supplement, serve as gentle reminders that peace is not an elusive dream, but a reality within our grasp, and restful sleep is not a luxury, but a gift that we all deserve. ??♀️
Frequently asked questions
What is the best-rated L-theanine supplement for anxiety?
Suntheanine is a well-known brand that’s been patented and has no unpure ingredients! It’s certainly a great choice if you want the purest form of L-Theanine (next to just consuming the tea leaves). We also like the Designs for Health Liposomal NeuroCalm because it’s highly absorbable.
What is the purest form of L-theanine?
Finding the purest green tea leaf might just be the way to get the purest form of L-Theanine!
Which is better, GABA or L-theanine for anxiety?
When it comes to managing anxiety, both GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and L-theanine have their merits, but they work in different ways.
GABA is a neurotransmitter in our brain that inhibits the activity of neurons, promoting relaxation and reducing feelings of anxiety, while L-theanine, on the other hand, is an amino acid primarily found in tea leaves. It is believed that L-theanine works by influencing neurotransmitters like GABA and also by reducing levels of chemicals in the brain linked to stress and anxiety.
Comparing the two, each may be more suitable for different individuals depending on their specific needs and how their body responds. L-theanine is often praised for promoting relaxation without causing drowsiness, making it an attractive option for those needing to remain alert. On the other hand, some individuals might find GABA supplements helpful if they’re specifically looking to enhance the function of the GABA system in their brain, although more research is needed on the effectiveness of these supplements.
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