If you love having a calming cup of tea at the end of the day, you’re not alone – and as it turns out, your nightly cuppa isn’t just a soothing ritual. Tea also contains L-theanine, a naturally calming compound.
L-theanine is an amino acid that can help you sleep better at night and feel more relaxed and less stressed during the day.
In this article, you’ll learn what L-theanine is, what its potential benefits are, and why you might want to consider upping your intake of this important compound. Plus, we’ll share tips on choosing an L-theanine supplement in Canada.
What Is L-theanine?
L-theanine is a water-soluble amino acid commonly found in tea and mushrooms. Amino acids are the molecules that combine to form proteins, and they are often called the “building blocks of life.”
Of the 500 different amino acids found in nature, humans require only 20 to sustain life. Theanine (also known as gamma-glutamyl ethyl amide) is a type of non-protein amino acid that is not required by the human body – but when consumed, it does provide many health benefits.
Japanese researchers first discovered theanine in 1949 when they extracted it from Camellia sinensis tea leaves. These types of tea leaves are used to make black, green, white, and oolong teas.
L-theanine boosts levels of GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and other calming neurotransmitters in our brains. Increasing levels of these chemicals help promote relaxation. At the same time, L-theanine lowers levels of excitatory brain chemicals that are associated with stress and anxiety.
The Potential Health Benefits of L-theanine
Lab experiments suggest L-theanine may provide a range of health benefits – although in many cases, more study is needed to confirm the effects.
- Improve sleep quality
- Promote relaxation and calm
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Help relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance in people who have a major depressive disorder
- Improve cognitive performance and alertness (even amid distraction), particularly when L-theanine is combined with caffeine
- Help alleviate some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, including anxiety and sleep disturbances, when it is used as a supplement to the traditional antipsychotic treatment of patients
- Reduce the risk of stroke and improve blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin and idarubicin or reduce some of the adverse side effects of these drugs
After consuming dosages of 50 to 200 mg of L-theanine, people often report feeling a calming effect within 30 to 40 minutes. These effects often last 8 to 10 hours.
Note: This content is for informational use only, and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or professional diagnosis. Please discuss the use of L-theanine or other supplements with your physician.
Getting Enough L-theanine
Theanine is found in a number of foods, including black, white, and green tea, Camellia japonica and sasanqua leaves, and one edible mushroom species called Xerocomus badius.
In Japan, L-theanine is added to many foods, like herbal teas, soft drinks, and desserts – but in Canada, the most accessible way to get L-theanine is by consuming tea or taking an L-theanine supplement in tablets, capsule, or powder form.
At present, there is no official dosage guideline for theanine in Canada but research has shown that up to 400 milligrams of theanine a day are typically well-tolerated and safe. You may also get the benefits of L-theanine at lower doses, for example, 50 milligrams a day – which is equivalent to approximately 2 cups of tea a day.
Purified L-theanine is available as a dietary supplement that can be taken orally. The health benefits of theanine are attributed to the L-isomer form (L-theanine) rather than its D-isomer form (D-theanine).
If you purchase a theanine supplement, look for one that contains L-theanine, not D-theanine.
Better Focus with L-theanine
Scientists ran a study in 2019 to corroborate previous research indicating that caffeine and L-theanine could improve sustained attention in adults. The researchers designed the study to discover the effects of these substances on male children with ADHD.
The study, which was published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition, found that:
“L-theanine, caffeine, and their combination seem to improve sustained attention and overall cognitive performance in children with ADHD, possibly via decreasing mind wandering during exertion of attention. While L-theanine alone and caffeine alone seem to increase impulsivity, the combination seems to decrease (i.e., improve) impulsivity in children with ADHD. As such, the combination of L-theanine and caffeine may have the potential to be used as a therapeutic and/or dose sparing agent to manage symptoms in children with ADHD.”
There is also evidence that L-theanine supplementation can improve sleep quality in boys with ADHD.
L-theanine Interactions & Complementary Supplements
What supplements should you avoid combining with L-theanine? And what other supplements complement this calming amino acid?
First, it’s important to know that L-theanine supplements may lower blood pressure. Be aware of this and monitor your blood pressure if you are already on prescriptions or supplements that lower blood pressure. You may also wish to talk to your doctor about how your prescription blood pressure medication could interact with L-theanine.
Supplements to avoid combining with L-theanine include:
- Fish oil
- Casein peptides
- Cat’s claw
- Coenzyme Q-10
- Stinging nettle
None of these other ingredients are included in Natural Calm products, so if you’re getting your L-theanine through our Calm Sleep product, for example, you need not worry. Calm Sleep includes L-theanine with three other complementary and natural sleep-promoting ingredients.
L-theanine Supplements vs. Tea
Tea can be very healthy, and in moderation, black, green, white, and oolong teas are a good source of L-theanine.
However, if you struggle with sleep or simply want to avoid the stimulating effects of too much caffeine, you are better off getting L-theanine from a supplement. For some of us, even a single cup of tea in the afternoon can cause insomnia.
Plus, caffeine of all kinds does deplete magnesium levels. If you’re not aware, magnesium is a calming mineral that relaxes the nervous system, muscles, and helps to activate melatonin (the sleep hormone) at night.
So, if sleep is a concern, take your tea in moderation and consider a calming l-theanine supplement.
L-theanine and Natural Calm
If you’re shopping for L-theanine in Canada, you might be wondering what supplement to choose, or where you can buy it.
Suntheanine® stimulates alpha wave activity which aids relaxation and reduces nervous tension. Natural Calm products with Suntheanine® provide a therapeutic dose, so you can enjoy the benefits of L-theanine without drinking excessive amounts of tea.
Plus, a cup of Calm Sleep at bedtime is just as soothing as a cup of tea! Made with organic wildberry flavour and sweetened with stevia, it’s a naturally calming nighttime sleep supplement.
Calm Balance can also be taken as a hot, fruit-flavoured tea at night but this supplement does not contain sleep-promoting ingredients. So, you can take Calm Balance during the day and enjoy more calm and focus from morning until night, thanks in part to the L-theanine. (Note that Calm Balance is available for only a limited period of time, so grab a bottle before it’s gone!)