Health Benefits of L-Theanine

Health Benefits of L-Theanine

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

The next time you take a sip of green tea and feel the calming effects from that freshly brewed cup, think of L-theanine, a naturally occurring amino acid in tea that helps promote relaxation, better sleep, a positive mood and even mental clarity and memory.

But let’s get real—if you had the spare time to enjoy this lovely herbal interlude, you probably wouldn’t need that calming cup in the first place! It’s our busy schedules we can blame when we’re feeling frazzled.

That’s why some of the busiest health seekers get the benefits of green tea from an L-theanine supplement rather than a mug. It’s great to get a little zen-on-the-go when your day is all go-go-go. 

Wondering what L-theanine is, how it impacts your body, and how much you should take? Here’s everything you need to know about this nutrient for the hustle and bustle of modern life.

What is L-theanine?

L-theanine is an amino acid found in nature that is not naturally produced by the body, but found in herbs and vegetables, specifically, green tea leaves, black tea leaves and even in mushrooms.

Most commonly, you’ll find L-theanine in the green tea plant, Camellia sinesis. It’s actually this amino acid that is responsible for the unique taste of the tea known as umani. L-theanine has been used by people from Japan for decades and has been touted for its benefits with supporting mood, restful sleep, already-healthy cortisol levels and promoting healthy stress levels. In fact, this herb appears to exert calming effects by inducing brainwave patterns similar to those associated with meditation and a massage.

Once consumed, L-theanine is readily able to cross into the brain, where its cognitive benefits come into play.

What are the benefits of L-theanine?

Woman at work with heightened alertness and improved concentration

The benefits of L-theanine are primarily all in your head—literally! The amino acid provides a calming effect and helps you think with more clarity, so you may experience healthy stress management and support for how well you focus. Here’s how L-theanine benefits your brain—and the rest of you, too.

1. Brain-boosting benefits

Woman reading book by window with better mental focus

During the workday, most people turn to a hot cup of coffee to give them the energy to power through, but sometimes that cup of joe can leave you with a crash instead of the boost your brain cells were looking for.

If a cup of green tea isn’t in the cards, but you’re seeking better mental focus and cognitive performance, explore the brain boosting benefits that L-theanine has to offer. Research suggests that L-theanine can help improve attention span and overall reaction time—which may help you work smarter, not harder.

2. Calming effects

Man maintaining cortisol levels by meditating

When you are stressed, your body increases production of certain hormones which prompt the release of cortisol.

Incorporating L-theanine into your wellness routine helps to maintain already-healthy cortisol levels, promoting healthy stress levels.

Healthy stress management and better cognitive performance might sound like totally different benefits, but they’re actually closely connected. If you’ve ever felt like you were “too stressed to think clearly,” L-theanine can help you clear away those cobwebs so you can make more thoughtful decisions.

3. Better sleep quality

Woman sleeping soundly after taking L-theanine

If dodging a sleep difficulty or catching some quality ZZs is on your mind, then the relaxing benefits of L-theanine might be the answer. The relaxing benefits of L-theanine help you wind down before hitting the hay, so you can fall asleep more easily.

When L-theanine enters the body, the amino acid helps induce a feeling of calm that promotes healthy stress levels. L-theanine signals to your brain cells that it is time for your body to relax and unwind. This calming agent has the potential to promote sleep latency, so if you are searching for ways to sleep better, L-theanine may be the supplement for you.

4. Promote a healthy weight

Older man jogging to maintain a healthy weight

The calming effects of L-theanine play a vital role in the way your body reacts to stress and may even ultimately help you maintain a healthy weight. With benefits like getting better sleep, improved mood and healthy stress levels… weight will be the last thing you will have to worry about (as long as you adhere to a healthy diet and exercise regimen, of course).

If you are counting calories and looking to replace savory snacks or sugary beverages with healthier options, turn to green tea with L-theanine. Green tea has often been used as a snack replacement and may help fight unwanted snack cravings and help promote a healthy weight.

When do I take L-theanine?

L-theanine capsules sitting in and near wooden spoon

The calming and cognitive boosting benefits of L-theanine can be enjoyed any time of day. If you’re looking to gain more alertness and mental focus, then incorporating an L-theanine supplement into your morning wellness routine is the right option for you.

For enhanced sleep support, incorporate L-theanine in the evening at least 40 minutes prior to going to sleep to experience its relaxing effects.

Make sure that you speak with your doctor first prior to taking L-theanine—especially if you are taking other sleep-supporting nutrients. It is also imperative to follow the dosage guide on the bottle and not to take more milligrams than recommended.

Are there any side effects to L-theanine?

Woman speaking with her doctor before taking L-theanine

There have not been any documented side effects of incorporating L-theanine into wellness routines. It is safe to drink teas and take nutritional supplements that contain L-theanine.

However, too much tea (green or black) might not be a good thing—particularly if that tea is caffeinated. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should speak with their doctor about recommended caffeine limitations.

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