Everyday stress is a normal part of modern living. Job pressures; family arguments; financial pressures; traffic, and time management are just a few of the "stressors" we are faced with on a daily basis. For some people, the stress can be overwhelming leading to feelings of anxiety and insomnia. Fortunately, there are safe and effective natural approaches that produce immediate results when we are feeling “stressed out.” One of the top recommendations is L-theanine.

L-theanine, a unique amino acid found almost exclusively in tea plants (Camellia sinensis), is emerging as one of the premier natural compounds to relieve stress and anxiety. In green tea, L-theanine is the primary amino acid comprising between 1 to 2% of the dry weight of tea leaves. In dietary supplements, highly purified forms of L-theanine are produced via a fermentation process that mimics the natural process in green tea leaves.

L-theanine: A Gentle, Natural “Stress Buster”

The effects of L-theanine are truly amazing. Clinical studies have demonstrated that L-theanine reduces stress, improves the quality of sleep, diminishes the symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome, heightens mental acuity and reduces negative side effects of caffeine. These clinical effects are directly related to L-theanine’s ability to stimulate the production of alpha brain wave activity. This helps people feel calm and centered, focused and mentally energized. It also reduces beta-waves activity associated with nervousness, scattered thoughts, and hyperactivity. 

In Japan, L-theanine has been approved for use for decades as an aid to conquer stress and promote relaxation. It is a very is a popular ingredient in functional foods and beverages in Japan as well as in dietary supplements designed to produce mental and physical relaxation, without inducing drowsiness. L-theanine is fast-acting. Generally, the effects are felt within the first 30 minutes, and have been shown to last up to 8 to 12 hours. 

At typical dosages, e.g., 100-200 mg L-theanine does not act as a sedative, but it does significantly improve sleep quality. In one double-blind study, L-theanine at a dosage of 200 mg was shown to produce statistically significant improvements in sleep efficiency, an index of actual sleep time enjoyed between the time of falling asleep and nighttime awakenings.

L-Theanine is a Specialty Brain Booster for Kids

Like adults, children are exposed to stressors and pressures on a daily basis. Temporary, minor stress is not harmful and most kids are able to deal with it well. In contrast, prolonged daily minor stresses accumulate and become as damaging as severe stressful events, even going as far as damaging physical, emotional and mental health.  A general feeling of uncertainty can leave kids feeling higher levels of anxiety and depression. 

L-Theanine stimulates the production of alpha brain waves as well as reduces beta waves (associated with nervousness, scattered thoughts and hyperactivity). It is particularly helpful in providing help for children who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep because their minds refuse to shut down at night. A recent study conducted at the University of British Columbia demonstrated that 200 mg twice daily of L-theanine is safe and effective in improving some aspects of sleep quality in boys aged 8-12 years diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD). Since sleep problems are a common in children with Attention Deficit Disorder, and because disturbed sleep may worsen this disorder, L-theanine may represent a safe and important adjunctive therapy in childhood Attention Deficit Disorder.

Dosage Recommendations

Based on the results of clinical studies, it has been established that L-theanine is effective in the range of 50 - 200 mg. If a person has higher levels of stress it is often recommended that they take at least 100 to 200 mg one to three times daily. Although L-theanine is completely safe and without any known adverse drug interaction, as a general guideline it is recommended to take no more than 600 mg within a 6-hour period and no more than 1,200 mg within a 24 hour period.