The Effects Of L-Theanine: Anxiety And Wellness

Updated August 10, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

What Is L-Theanine?

L-Theanine, a natural constituent in tea, is a unique amino acid with potent anxiety-fighting effects. While it might sound like a chemical you've never heard of, you've probably consumed L-theanine if you've ever had a soothing cup of tea. Tea made from the camellia sinensis plant, including black, green, white, oolong, pu-erh, and purple teas, as well as certain types of mushrooms, are all high in l-theanine. It's also readily available as a supplement and can be found in most pharmacies and grocery stores.

Natural Herbal Remedies Can Help With Feelings Of Anxiety

From Taylor Swift to health and wellness professionals, L-theanine has seen a surge in popularity in recent years as more people become aware of the benefits of this unique compound. L-theanine is safe to use and can have remarkable effects on symptoms of anxiety, helping to reduce physical and psychological stresses and contribute to clarity and focus.

If you're looking for an herbal alternative to traditional anxiety medications, l-theanine could be just the thing for you. 

L-Theanine And Anxiety

As a growing number of people continue to experience anxiety and depression, more and more people are looking for alternative treatments for these conditions. Although some alternative medicines have dubious scientific authority, l-theanine and its effect on mental health is backed by scientific research. 

Peer-revieweed studies suggest taking l-theanine enhances cognitive performance and can reduce symptoms of anxiety. Healthy participants in a placebo-controlled trial were found to have higher verbal fluency, better sleep quality, and better executive function than those in the control group.

More research supports this as well. A double-blind prospective randomized trial found that l-theanine administration increases subjective alertness and improves attention span. Just 200 mg of l-theanine was found to provide a boost to cognitive function. And a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found a 400 mg l-theanine supplement regimen led to reduced anxiety in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

The relationship between l-theanine and anxiety is also demonstrated by a long history in herbal medicine and Eastern culture and religion, where the calming, stimulating effects of tea are often incorporated into meditative ceremonies and rituals. While everyone is different when it comes to mental health symptoms and treatments, l-theanine has been shown to have a positive effect in treating stress and anxiety, along with a wealth of other health benefits.

L-theanine increases alpha brain wave activity, the same mental state achieved during mediation, resulting in a feeling of calm and focus. It also raises levels of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters known for their potent mental health effects. While many treatments for anxiety work by slowing down the nervous system, l-theanine doesn't induce drowsiness or lack of clarity and is relaxing without a sedative effect. There's also no risk of becoming dependent on the drug despite its many positive attributes.

If you're looking for a natural, plant-based anxiolytic, l-theanine can be a great alternative to traditional anxiety medication. While you should always check with your doctor before taking a new medication or supplement, studies show that l-theanine is a promising treatment for anxiety that is safe, effective, and readily available. Even if you're not sure if l-theanine might help with your anxiety symptoms, it's never a bad idea to take a moment to sit back with a cup of tea and relax. You might be surprised by the effect it has!

L-Theanine and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

A study of the cognitive effects of l-theanine administration  was split between two groups of participants: those prone to anxiety and those relatively less prone.  An interesting result is that researchers found that the cognitive performance benefits of taking l-theanine only seemed to apply to those relatively more prone to anxiety. On the other hand, those with low propensity for anxiety were unaffected. 

Because those with Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder often have comorbid anxiety symptoms, this suggests l-theanine may have special benefits for those with the disorder.

However, more research is needed in this area.

Other Health Benefits Of L-Theanine

While much of the hype surrounding l-theanine focuses on its effects on anxiety, there are many other potential health benefits to the drug. Although research concerning l-theanine is still ongoing, studies show that it has a variety of other positive mental and physical effects. 

L-theanine has been shown to have a positive effect on the immune system, helping to ward off diseases and promote wellness throughout the body. It also helps reduce inflammation and may even help prevent and treat certain types of cancer.

When taken alongside caffeine, l-theanine has been shown to increase focus, alertness, and cognitive performance. Caffeine improves cognitive performance by itself, and since l-theanine which also contains caffeine, is often found in tea, a cup of tea can have a double-sided positive mental effect. It's also been shown to increase our ability to multitask, boost memory, and improve concentration. 

Whether you need to study for an upcoming exam or simply focus on the task at hand, l-theanine can simultaneously soothe your stress while also providing clarity and focus. For this reason, matcha and other types of tea are often associated with meditation practices.

Along with its other positive effects, l-theanine has also been shown to be effective in improving sleep, promoting both mental and physical relaxation. Lack of sleep is also often correlated with increased anxiety, so l-theanine can kill two birds with one stone by reducing anxiety, increasing relaxation, and leading to improved sleep quality.

Other benefits of l-theanine include:

Not only does this natural constituent in tea help with anxiety, it can help ameleriotate a variety of health conditions, making it one of the best nutritional supplements for overall health promotion.

Where To Find L-Theanine

L-theanine is very common and is typically found in foods that you can pick up in any grocery store. L-theanine is also available as a supplement and can be easily incorporated into a balanced diet.

L-Theanine In Tea

Natural Herbal Remedies Can Help With Feelings Of Anxiety

Most people are familiar with the soothing, relaxing sensation of a hot cup of tea - a feeling that's now backed by science. Tea is one of the easiest and most common ways to consume l-theanine and has a wealth of additional health benefits, including plenty of antioxidants and a mild to moderate amount of caffeine.

L-theanine is most commonly found in the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant and has been used for centuries to promote wellness and treat anxiety. While people often refer to drinks like herbal infusions and rooibos as "tea," the word properly refers only to drinks made from camellia sinensis. L-theanine can be found in black, green, white, oolong, purple, and pu-erh teas.

While all tea made from the camellia sinensis plant contains l-theanine, green tea, in particular, has been shown to contain the highest amount. If you've ever had a green tea with a sweet, slightly savory umami taste reminiscent of the sea, you can thank the presence of l-theanine in the cup. Since green tea is typically steamed or pan-fried before it is allowed to oxidize, it often contains higher levels of many beneficial compounds, including l-theanine.

It’s for this reason green tea consumption in particular is associated with boosted cognitive performance.

If you're looking for a cup to cool off within the summer, iced tea can have just as many positive effects. Whether you take it hot or cold, tea can be an easy, natural way to help ease anxiety and promote relaxation. And as more and more people explore alternatives to coffee, tea is an increasingly popular alternative that promotes both mental and physical wellness.

Matcha

Matcha, long a staple in Japan, has recently seen a surge of popularity in the west. Matcha is powdered green tea and is often prepared in a traditional tea ceremony in Japan. While it can be drunk straight when mixed with hot water, matcha is often also added to smoothies, lattes, and baked goods.

Since when drinking matcha you consume the entire tea leaf, matcha has all the benefits of green tea at an even higher level. People also describe the taste of matcha as being a concentrated and more intense version of green tea. The leaves of the camellia sinensis plant used to make matcha are also shade-grown in the weeks leading up to harvest, leading to an increase of l-theanine and a bright, vibrant green color. Because matcha is particularly high in l-theanine, as well as caffeine, and is often used in meditation and mindfulness, particularly in Japanese Buddhist monasteries. It has a calming effect that promotes clarity without any of the jittery side effects of caffeine and is sometimes described as producing a kind of "body high" in addition to mental focus.

Want the benefits of l-theanine but aren't a fan of tea? Culinary grade matcha can be added to almost anything, from breakfast smoothies, ice cream, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. Matcha has a slightly sweet, slightly savory taste that pairs well with a wide variety of cuisines and gives any dish a vibrant bright green color.

Mushrooms

While l-theanine is primarily found in the camellia sinensis plant, it's also found in one species of mushroom, imleria badia, commonly known as the bay bolete. This mushroom is native to Europe and North America and has a sweet, mild flavor. While it is sometimes available in specialty food markets and also grows wild, this mushroom is harder to come by than tea or supplements, making it a less popular choice for treating anxiety.

Supplements

While drinking tea is an easy, enjoyable way to introduce l-theanine into your daily routine, you often have to drink several cups of tea in order to receive the greatest benefits. If you don't like tea, are on the go, or are just looking for an easy way to incorporate l-theanine into your diet, a variety of supplements are also available.

Research concerning l-theanine is still ongoing, so dosage recommendations for supplements may vary. L-theanine may also interact with other medications, including prescriptions for ADHD and blood pressure, among others. While l-theanine is safe to consume and has many beneficial properties, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor about introducing any new supplement into your diet. Once you get the okay, you can easily incorporate l-theanine into your daily regimen.

L-Theanine And Mental Health And Wellness

For those looking for a natural herbal anxiety remedy that's supported by both science and tradition, l-theanine is a great option that's seen a recent surge in popularity as more people learn about its unique properties.

If you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety, there are also a variety of other options. Whether you're looking for professional counseling or just need someone to talk to, BetterHelp offers a diverse selection of online therapy services that can provide you the help you need to manage your mental health. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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