When life gets too stressful, we can start feeling irritated, angsty and unable to focus. That’s why finding something to help recalibrate and restore our minds back to balance is vital. Some people manage stress with meditation, exercise, practicing a creative hobby, or reading. For others, it may be something as simple as enjoying a cup of tea after a long day.
Speaking of tea, Japanese scientists wanted to uncover what made green tea so healthy, so began clinical research into green tea’s bioactivity a few decades ago. And they’ve learned a lot since then. A 2010 review of the scientific literature on green tea showed a complex chemical composition of proteins, enzymes, amino acids, alkaloids, polyphenols, minerals, vitamins, and many other compounds.
One of the identified amino acids, l-theanine, stood out amongst the rest. And so research began on this nootropic’s potential to help people cope with stress, mind and body.
So, what exactly is l-theanine? Can it really help you manage stress and get rid of that chronic knot in your stomache? And does this naturally-derived nootropic have other benefits?
What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is a nootropic compound found in green and black tea leaves, as well as some bioactive mushrooms. It is responsible for the savory, umami taste of green tea and the many health benefits of this beverage. Green tea is perhaps the oldest known tonic for calm, immunity and overall physical health, and l-theanine is an integral part of that heritage.
As a nootropic, it is believed (and has been observed in scientific research!) l-theanine supports cognitive health and may even boost the ability to focus, concentrate and learn. L-theanine may also promote increased energy levels without sacrificing a feeling of calm.
What Are the Benefits of L-Theanine?
Regular green tea consumption has many benefits, and scientists identified l-theanine as one of the reasons. This chemical compound was first isolated in 1949 from the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Since then, use of this nootropic has quickly proliferated and become a functional food additive in Japan, as well as an essential constituent of many supplements, including plant-powered energy powders like MTE.
Common uses of l-theanine include:
- Manage stress
- Reduce severity of emotional under/overreactivity
- Improve nightly recovery
- Boost cognitive performance and attention
- Balance mood
- Improve immune response
Because of the diverse potential to improve various aspects of our health, l-theanine has become a common ingredient of many functional beverages and herbal drink mixes. You can find it in virtually all types of holistic wellness powders and energy drinks for things like hangxiety, stress-relief, anti-procrastination, mood, and mental focus.
L-theanine isn’t just a wellness fad; it’s got a body of science to back up its claims. And that’s why we’ve included it in our MTE energy powder supplement formulation.
Here’s what science has to say about the potentials of l-theanine:
L-Theanine May Help People Skate Through Stress
L-theanine is likely one of the reasons a cup of green tea helps you relax after a stressful day. In a placebo-controlled study, scientists investigated how consuming l-theanine supplements affected mental state and focus. They discovered that the group that consumed l-theanine daily presented more alpha brainwave activity.
Why is that cool? Well, there are five different types of brainwaves that become dominant when we are asleep, focused, relaxed, focused, and active. Alpha brainwaves are connected with feelings of relaxation without drowsiness. What’s even more interesting about this study is that it was successfully replicated, and that second study had complementary results.
What this means is that clinical data indicates l-theanine may boost your ability combat stress while allowing you to stay alert and focused. That’s why l-theanine is such a useful ingredient in a stress-relief drink for work and studying. You’ll be able to slip into that zoned-in vibe without phasing out and falling asleep at your desk.
Another study on the nootropic qualities of this powerful amino acid measured stress responses in a group who took an l-theanine supplement and a group who’d had a placebo. The results of this study found a single dose of l-theanine increased alpha brainwave activity and decreased physiological indicators of stress. An increase in alpha activity in the frontal region also supports l-theanine’s indication as a pro-concentration nootropic.
Studies on L-Theanine Suggest it Eases Unease
A 2016 systematic review identified five studies investigating l-theanine’s ability to reduce acute stress reactions. Researchers found that supplementation with this nootropic helped people cope better in stressful situations and reduce reactivity. And although studies had small sample sizes, these findings indicated that l-theanine could be one of the best nootropics for crisis moments during times of stress.
More recent trials supported these findings, where supplementation with l-theanine helped people feel less stressed with a more balanced mood. The ups and downs of stress are all too common in today’s fast-paced world, so the idea that there may be natural alternatives to synthetic pharmaceuticals is intriguing to say the least. Why take a medication if you notice that same calming effect from a drink containing l-theanine?
L-Theanine Could Defend Against Despair
In addition to helping people overcome stress and chronic unease, it appears that l-theanine could be one of the crucial nootropics for fighting chronic low mood, including feels of unshakable sadness and despair.
Studies in mice discovered that supplementing with l-theanine balanced the levels of mood-regulating neurochemicals in key areas of the brain. That’s important because regulation of these neurotransmitters plays a vital role in managing mood and emotions. In this particular study, this translated to mice exhibiting less anhedonic-like behaviors.
We only have a few studies examining the effects of l-theanine on clinical decreased well-being in humans, but the results show great promise. For example, results from a 2017 open-label study with serious limitations showed that supplementing with l-theanine positively impacted people with psychiatric low mood conditions. Subjects experienced improvements in low mood, less stress reactivity, improved nightly recovery and better cognitive performance.
In a 2019 randomized, placebo-controlled trial on l-theanine’s effects on symptoms of a malady characterized by severe low mood, 30 healthy middle-aged adults were split into a placebo group and a 200mg l-theanine per-day group. After 4 weeks of daily consumption, the l-theanine group had better scores on the self-rating diagnostic scale than the placebo group. This scale is commonly used to screen adults for mood/affect dysregulation and is widely used in clinical research. Improvement in scores suggests l-theanine could be a great tool that helps people feel better.
It's Possible L-Theanine Boosts Brain Health
Today we are bombarded with information and interesting content from all sides. That makes it harder to concentrate on a task at hand. So, if you’re looking into alternatives to caffeine for focus, l-theanine is an excellent option, or at least science is starting to think so.
Results from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study indicated that consuming l-theanine with green tea extract could help improve attention and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment. These problems are common in older populations as, often, mental abilities begin to decline with advanced age. In this study, researchers observed an increase in theta brainwaves in certain parts of the brain, which is a good indicator of mental alertness. In addition, subjects taking l-theanine and green tea extract performed better on memory tests.
A 2021 study exploring the relationship between caffeine, l-theanine and attention evaluated the cognitive performance of middle-aged and older adults after a single dose of l-theanine as well as after 12 weeks of supplementation. The results showed that the single-dose group presented improvements in attention, working memory, and cognitive functions. The results of this study also suggested that while caffeine and l-theanine act synergistically in energy and wellness drinks, l-theanine might be the main player of the two with regard to these cognitive performance benefits.
Other studies examined how l-theanine combined with other chemical compounds to benefit cognitive performance. For example, in one study, combining it with epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and caffeine (two important compounds found in green tea) improved people’s mood and helped them feel more alert.
Multiple studies demonstrated that combining l-theanine with caffeine positively affected alertness, energy levels, and the ability to focus on complex tasks. It appears that this combo is excellent for mentally demanding challenges, as it can help people improve speed, accuracy, memory, and the ability to ignore distractions. That’s why green tea is among the most popular mental-focus drinks.
What’s interesting is that l-theanine seems to cancel the experiential stimulant effects of caffeine, which could reduce the negative experiences associated with frequent consumption of caffeinated beverages like coffee. An alternative to coffee that keeps you awake, alert and focused without the jitters and that weird clammy-hands thing? Yes, please!
L-Theanine May Revamp Nightly Rest & Recovery
How often have you tossed and turned in your bed for hours, unable to fall asleep while your mind was running all over the place? That’s because stress and overthinking are natural enemies of sleep. And since clinical research indicates l-theanine may help reduce these feelings and/or their effects, it is probably one of the best nootropics for sleep.
One study on the effects of a 4-week course of l-theanine consumption on sleep quality saw subjects who took the l-theanine supplements take less time to fall asleep, wake up less frequently during the night, and not feel the need to take sleep-aid medication as often. This study specifically noted, as many others do, that the l-theanine was well-tolerated across the subject population, further supporting the claims that this nootropic is just as safe as it is effective.
In addition, supplementation with l-theanine may help improve sleep quality in people with psychotic episodes and attention neurodivergence. It appears that l-theanine helps balance levels of a key pair of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, disruptions of which have been connected with the pathophysiology of these conditions.
Other studies confirmed l-theanine’s potential to improve nighttime recovery. This natural sleep aid could be one of the best nootropics for sleep because it has not been observed to sedate or make you drowsy. Instead, the data suggests it helps you relax on a biological level, making it easier to fall asleep and improving the quality of your rest.
Research Indicates L-Theanine Supports Immune Function
Tea consumption is considered to have beneficial effects on your immunity. Catechins, powerful antioxidants in green tea, are the main compounds responsible for these effects. However, one study indicated l-theanine has the potential to improve lymphocyte function in the upper respiratory tract, increase antibody response, and reduce markers of inflammation.
This nootropic also seems to demonstrate anti-oxidative properties, which are thought to help immunoregulation. A normalized immune system has beneficial effects on most organs in our body.
In addition, l-theanine may aid athletes in recovering faster after intensive workout sessions by modulating specific inflammation markers. Quick recovery is vital for better performance, so this improvement can be a great advantage for elite athletes. These touted physical benefits are why you’ll often find l-theanine in energy supplements, especially powder mixes for pre-workouts or morning wake-up drinks.
Science Suggests L-Theanine May Improve Mood
This one’s a bit of a cherry-on-top benefit of including a nootropic tonic in your daily routine: If l-theanine drinks and supplements can help promote reduced unease, stress and sadness, and all of these have significant effects on your mood, it would follow that l-theanine may aid in mood regulation and perceived mood levels. For example, results from one study suggested taking l-theanine could reduce headaches and mental fatigue while promoting better mood and alertness.
So, if you’re searching for the best nootropics for mood support, l-theanine should definitely up there on your list.
How Does L-Theanine Work?
Here's what the people in the lab coats think: When you consume an l-theanine drink, this molecule quickly enters your bloodstream and begins to interact with important brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. Studies show that l-theanine needs around 30 minutes for the effects to kick in.
In the brain, this nootropic interacts with different receptors, affecting the levels of many neurotransmitters. That includes those involved in:
- Muscle relaxation
- Cognitive function
- Sleep/wake cycle
The levels and interactions between these neurotransmitters are vital for regulating mood, anxiety, satisfaction, and other aspects of our mental well-being. If l-theanine acts to balance levels and streamline communication, our nootropic achieves its health benefits. While many nootropic compounds have targeted benefits, l-theanine’s posited wide-ranging effects on our CNS makes it a multi-faceted nootropic, which is why the health and wellness industry is so fond of this jack of all trades.
Is L-Theanine Safe?
L-theanine is generally recognized as safe by the FDA. This is backed by many studies where people took this amino acid supplement for 8-10 weeks without observable adverse side effects.
Some people report brain fog and headaches after taking l-theanine. Others have experienced nausea or irritability. However, these side effects are mostly linked to unusually-high doses.
We need more evidence to confirm the safety of l-theanine for certain groups of people. If you have any of the following conditions, it’s important to discuss adding a feel-good energy powder with l-theanine and other bioactive plants to your daily routine with your doctor first:
- People who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- People with low blood pressure
- People taking blood pressure-lowering medications
- People taking stimulants for mental health conditions
Should You Take L-Theanine With Other Supplements?
L-theanine is often a part of stress relief and mental focus powders and tonics because of its spectrum of versatile benefits. Clinical research and real-life application suggest l-theanine acts synergistically with a number of other bioactive plants, including adaptogens and superfoods. So, yeah - it combines great with other supplements. That’s why we’ve included it in the unique formulation of our More Than Energy (MTE) daily wellness powder.
MTE is a natural feel-good drink mix that promotes your energy levels and aims to help you deal with stress and anxiety. It combines l-theanine with 12 adaptogens, nootropics, and superfoods, giving you all the support you need to be your best self every day.
Drinking a daily dose of MTE may help boost energy levels, alertness, stress resilience and management, mood, calm focus, and so much more. We recommend mixing one scoop of MTE’s clean energy greens into water, your favorite smoothie, or to augment another daily green drink. Take it in the morning to wake yourself up, or in the afternoon to boost you through the rest of your day.
This unique energy supplement powder uses some of the most potent natural ingredients to help you achieve that elusive state of just feeling good every day. It is formulated for a sustainable energy boost that doesn’t leave you crashed afterward. More importantly, it has the potential to help you mitigate the effects of stress and reduce reactivity, making this natural energy supplement a perfect stress relief drink.
Drinking MTE before a big exam, work presentation, or another stressful event could help you remain focused and tune out bad thoughts and distractions.
Order MTE to discover how this wellness-focused mix of greens can help you improve mood, manage stress, boost recovery, enhance energy, and more.