Chillaxin’ with L-theanine

// Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO


Chillaxin’ with L-theanine

Does ‘relaxed alertness’ sound like an oxymoron to you? For me, this conveys an image of a lion, calmly surveying the surrounding landscape, with just the constant twitch of his tail betraying his immediate readiness. A state of mind that is at once calm and composed, and, at the same time, focused and sharp, ideal for problem-solving, productivity, and composure. Further, this state of mind sheds anxiety.

L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea (Camellia sinensis) at 1-2% of dry weight of tea leaves.We can achieve this state of mind through meditation and mindfulness practice. We can also facilitate this mindset with L-theanine, or y-glutamyl-ethylamide.* L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea (Camellia sinensis) at 1-2% of dry weight of tea leaves.

L-theanine has been shown in several studies to increase GABA activity1, increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and induce alpha brain waves thereby facilitating selective attention during the execution of mental tasks.*2 Lu, et al demonstrated that L-theanine can create a relaxed state3 prior to induced anxiety and with demonstrated superiority over a well-known conventional agent or placebo.* The effects were evident within one hour of dosing.* Lyon, et al showed that L-theanine may generate relaxed focus in a subset of boys by monitoring sleep quality .*White, et al found that human subjects’ cortisol response to a multitasking cognitive stressor was reduced within one hour after consumption of 200 mg of L-theanine.* Further, brain alpha activity was modulated, especially in a subset of subjects.*5

L-theanine is a reliable and effective way to support relaxation and cognitive alertness.* Typical dosing is 200 mg – 400 mg.

Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO

Lise Alschuler is a naturopathic doctor with board certification in naturopathic oncology. She graduated from Brown University with an undergraduate degree in medical anthropology and received a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in 1994. Dr. Alschuler is board certified in naturopathic oncology and has been a practicing naturopathic physician since 1994.

  1. [no author listed]. L-theanine. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2005;10(2):136-8.
  2. Lardner AL. Neurobiological effects of the green tea constituent theanine and its potential role in the treatment ... Nutr Neurosci. 2014 Jul;17(4):145-55.
  3. Lu K, Gray MA, Oliver C, et al. The acute effects of L-theanine in comparison ... Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004;19(7):457-65.
  4. Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev. 2011;16(4):348-54.
  5. White DJ, de Klerk S, Woods W, et al. Anti-Stress, Behavioural and Magnetoencephalography Effects of an l-Theanine-Based Nutrient Drink: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 19;8(1).

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