Maybe it began when we cast it by the crateload off the side of ships in Boston Harbor, but American men aren’t big tea consumers. Americans, in general, lag behind much of the world when it comes to tea consumption. And L-theanine is just one piece of evidence we could be worse off for it.
Tea is said to help with everything from cancer prevention to better sleep, and it’s compounds like the amino acid L-theanine that are credited with these benefits. L-theanine is said to be the compound that gives traditional green tea it’s frothy texture and unique taste, and it may be responsible for some of its healthy reputation.
L-theanine is one of several compounds found in tea leaves and credited with the widely-touted benefits of tea.
The most promising research on L-theanine finds it may have anti-stress and anti-anxiety benefits, particularly in people prone to anxiousness.
Several studies were left off of our roundup, as they were poorly designed or funded by companies with potential bias in the results.
L-theanine is considered safe and its side effects mild.
ti-Stress and Anxiety
Several studies have tied L-theanine to anti-stress and related anti-anxiety benefits. In animal studies, scientists have confirmed it actually increases feel good brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-amino-butyric acid. L-theanine’s effects on brain waves is said to resemble the effects caused by meditation.
In the lab, a small study found L-theanine led to a reduced heart rate and the detection of stress indicators in saliva when participants were under stressful conditions — doing mental math exercises. A meta-analysis in 2014 looked at 11 different randomized human studies and found positive mental effects including alertness and attention on subjects who took L-theanine with caffeine.
Some studies have been specific to people who struggle with high anxiety. One found that group, in general, experienced decreased heart rate, improved visual attention, and improved reaction time. Those with minimal anxiety didn’t experience the same benefits. Another monitored brain waves and found dietary levels of L-theanine (like those found in a cup of tea) had positive effects on mental alertness and relaxation without drowsiness in people prone to anxiety.
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