A Natural Nootropic
L-theanine is an amino acid and is one of the main component found in tea. It can reduce the negative aspects of caffeine such as increased blood pressure, anxiety, poor sleep quality while simultaneously retaining the positive aspects such as increased attention.
Increased Alertness and Reduces Anxiety
A systematic review of 11 human trials found that L-theanine and epigallocetchin gallate (EGCG) combined with caffeine increased alertness and decreased anxiety. It has been shown to improve concentration, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
Increases BDNF and NGF
Even more so, animal models show that l-theanine can increase BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and 100% increase in NGF (nerve growth factor) in the hippocampus (an area in your brain important for processing information and memory formation). BDNF is a protein in humans that facilitate production of new brain cells and strengthening existing ones. Harvard psychiatrist John Rately describes BDNF as “miracle-gro for your brain”.
Promotes Alpha Waves
Research shows that L-theanine may change brain function in humans. In one study, ingestion of 50mg of L-theanine increased alpha waves in the brain (measured by an electroencephalograph (EEG)). Alpha activity is understood to play an important role in attention and is the resting state for the brain. Alpha waves are described as a state of “wakeful relaxation” where one experiences creativity and a meditative state of mind. They are also present during REM sleep.
L-theanine seems to initiate the release of alpha waves which promotes relaxation, focus, and creativity.
Some users report taking L-theanine with Ashwagandha to help with sleep and others report that it stops their mind from “going a million miles an hour”.
Dose: 100-200mg usually taken with caffeine
Side effects: Headaches
Anecdotally, some Reddit users report that l-theanine made them feel lethargic and some users report getting anxiety from it.
Does L-theanine cause rebound anxiety once you stop taking it?
Research has not found that it does and anecdotally, l-theanine does not make anxiety worse after stopping its use.
Do you need to take it with caffeine?
L-theanine has a synergistic effect with caffeine which means that that work better when taken together. It increases the positive effects of caffeine and decreases the negative effects. It helps promote relaxation without the drowsiness by “taking the edge off” of caffeine.
Does it help with severe anxiety?
L-theanine seems to help people relax and provide mild anxiety reduction.