L-Theanine is a non-dietary amino acid. It’s not unlikely to be present in the normal diets of many people, and some people may have diets that don’t provide any L-Theanine at all, but that is not an issue because the body does not require it to survive.
However, on a structural level, the compound is very similar to glutamine, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. This is one of the reasons L-Theanine has such great value as a nootropic supplement. It is also present in some of the best muscle building supplements.
L-Theanine is usually sourced from green tea but is also naturally-occurring in a certain species of mushroom (Xerocomus badius) and two species of camellia (C. japonica and C. sasanqua).
Why is L-Theanine a Valued Nootropic?
The main reason L-Theanine has become such a valued nootropic is it has the ability to provide relaxation without causing sedation.
However, the compound also has stress reducing capabilities and can provide a modest improvement to the attention.
L-Theanine’s ability to provide relaxation while also improving the attention instead of providing sedation allow it to work well with many stimulants because it can take the “edge” off them and make them easier to tolerate.
For this reason, it’s often paired with caffeine, and nootropic stacks that provide L-Theanine (200mg) and caffeine (200mg) have been shown to have good synergy when it comes to promoting higher levels of cognition and attention.
L-Theanine Benefits at a Glance
- Provides relaxation without sedation
- Improves attention
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves sleep quality
- May help control the symptoms of schizophrenia
- Lowers blood pressure
- Boosts thinking ability
- Improves the mood
- Balances brain chemistry and improve cognitive health
A Closer Look at How L-Theanine Works
One of the good things about L-Theanine is it crosses the blood-brain barrier easily. This means you can feel the benefits quite quickly—typically within 30-40 minutes.
After it has reached the brain, L-Theanine increases alpha brainwave activity. This helps provide that “alert relaxation” many nootropic users crave. It also boosts theta brainwaves and, in so doing, may increase creative ability and help provide relief from trauma. The value of L-Theanine in both these areas has been scientifically proven time and time again.
For the purposes of one seven-day study, intended to explore L-Theanine’s ability to enhance alpha brainwave activity, scientists at the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul, Korea, enlisted the participation of 20 male volunteers.
All the men were aged 18-30-years-old and in good health.
The men were segregated into two groups. One group was given daily doses of a placebo. The other received tablets that provided L-Theanine. The brainwave activity of the members of both groups was monitored 40 minutes after administration.
The resulting data showed supplementation had successfully boosted alpha brainwave activity levels and the scientists concluded:
“The results of this study suggest that L-Theanine-containing tablets promote the release of alpha waves related to mental relaxation and concentration in young adult males.”
There is also plenty of scientific evidence to show L-Theanine boosts theta brainwave activity and the compound has been shown to offer value in other areas as well, and one of the things it does is improve synaptic signaling by encouraging a higher availability of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.
Although dopamine and serotonin are primarily thought of as “happiness hormones” they also have value in other areas and, apart from lifting the mood, one of the things these two important neurotransmitters can do is help prevent/reduce age-related cognitive decline.
L-Theanine also has proven neuroprotective capabilities.
Again this has been scientifically proven, and during one study, conducted in Japan, the compound’s ability to prevent neuronal cell death proved to be very beneficial for the elderly volunteers who took part and they showed a “significantly lower decline in cognitive function compared with that of the placebo group.”
Final Thoughts | L-Theanine as a Nootropic and Muscle Building Ingredient
The body may not need L-Theanine to survive, but numerous studies show its mind-boosting potential has the ability to improve quality of life greatly.
It’s a valuable nootropic agent that should never be overlooked or taken too lightly.
However, some care may be needed when choosing a good L-Theanine nootropic. As with anything in life, quality counts and it’s always best to avoid all the lesser-known brands, with their bargain-basement prices, and only buy L-Theanine-providing supplements from a respected nootropic manufacturer.
The efficiency of the extraction techniques used by some of the less-established manufacturers can be quite poor and, in the case of L-Theanine, poor extraction techniques can lead to potency issues because the resulting extracts may be diluted with D-Theanine and the “D” form of theanine has not been sufficiently studied.
So the benefits provided by such extracts may not be as good as those sold under a more respected brand name.