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What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in green and black tea, as well as some mushrooms. It can also be taken in supplement form as a pill or tablet.
Many people claim that L-theanine can help alleviate anxiety, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality. However, before deciding to use L-theanine, it is important to understand its potential health benefits as well as any possible risks or side effects.
L-theanine benefits and uses
Most known for helping people relax, L-theanine has other potential health benefits, including:
Anxiety and stress relief
Research suggests that drinking tea can help you relax without causing drowsiness. In a review of five randomized controlled trials involving 104 participants, L-theanine was linked with reduced stress and anxiety in people experiencing stressful situations.
Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that L-theanine decreased anxiety and improved symptoms in people living with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. It’s worth noting that before trying L-theanine, it’s important to learn about its potential benefits as well as any possible risks or complications.
When combined with caffeine, L-theanine can potentially enhance concentration and attention.
According to a small study, a mixture of L-theanine (97mg) and caffeine (40mg) improved the ability of a group of young adults to focus during challenging tasks. A typical cup of coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine. Additionally, participants reported feeling more alert and less fatigued overall.
According to some studies, L-theanine may have positive effects on the immune system. A study published in the journal Beverages suggests that L-theanine may help decrease upper respiratory tract infections. Additionally, research has found that green tea catechins, which contain antioxidants, and theanine may help prevent the flu. Furthermore, a study has shown that L-theanine can potentially improve inflammation in the intestinal tract. However, further research is needed to confirm and expand on these findings.
Tumor and cancer treatment
L-theanine has shown potential in enhancing the anti-tumor effects of certain chemotherapy drugs. Consequently, researchers anticipate that L-theanine could improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in fighting cancer (10).
Although there’s no conclusive evidence to support the notion that tea prevents cancer, several studies indicate that regular tea drinkers have lower cancer rates (10, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
According to a study conducted in China, women diagnosed with ovarian cancer who consumed at least one cup of green tea daily had longer survival rates than those who didn’t (13Trusted Source). In another study comparing tea drinkers to nondrinkers, it was found that women who drank green tea were 32 percent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
Blood pressure management
L-theanine may have potential benefits for individuals who experience high blood pressure during stressful situations. According to one study, L-theanine helped to decrease the increase in blood pressure that is often experienced by people after completing specific mental tasks. In comparison, caffeine had a similar but less beneficial effect.
Additionally, L-theanine may promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Research shows that doses of 250 mg and 400 mg of L-theanine improved sleep quality in both animals and humans, while also reducing resting heart rate. A double-blind study conducted on 98 boys aged 8 to 12 years old diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) found that L-theanine helped them achieve longer, more restful sleep. However, more research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of L-theanine for children with ADHD .
L-theanine has also been studied for its effects on sleep in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Results showed that L-theanine improved sleep quality.
L-theanine risks and side effects
Consuming L-theanine is generally considered safe, and there are no confirmed or direct side effects associated with its use. However, it’s important to note that the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, so it’s up to the manufacturers to ensure their products’ safety.
It’s crucial to be aware that some teas containing amino acids may contain other ingredients that could be harmful to people undergoing cancer treatment. For example, green tea’s polyphenol EGCG can reduce the efficacy of some chemotherapy drugs, such as bortezomib.
Thus, those undergoing chemotherapy should consult their healthcare provider before consuming green tea or any other supplements.
While no side effects from taking L-theanine have been reported, excessive consumption of green tea, which contains caffeine, can lead to nausea, upset stomach, and irritability. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also limit their tea intake to avoid consuming too much caffeine.
To ensure your safety, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or giving them to children.
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