In 1949, scientists in Kyoto, Japan discovered an amino acid called L-Theanine, which is prevalent in green tea leaves—and later found it in other forms of tea as well as the edible wild mushroom Xerocomus badius (commonly known as a bay bolete in North America). The umami-rich, vegetal flavor of all tea is attributed to the presence of this amino acid, which has since been extracted and turned into a dietary supplement. However, knowing what the proper L-Theanine dosage is for you can be difficult. While the average cup of green tea has around 25mg of the amino acid, L-Theanine supplements can have as much as 500+mg. How do you know if you’re taking the correct L-Theanine dosage and what are L-Theanine’s effects?
What is L-Theanine
L-Theanine is an amino acid that promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep. Because it is a nonessential amino acid, you don’t need it to live—think about its limited origin in tea and one specific type of mushroom. If it was an essential amino acid, you’d require it in your diet for normal health and growth. Other non-essential amino acids that affect sleep include GABA and Glycine. L-Theanine, when added to the diet, has been shown to have relaxing and refreshing properties, so in our work-a-day, stressful world, it can be used to help you get away from the day-to-day anxieties, especially if you’re trying to get a better night of sleep.
How do you know how much of the amino acid to take? Individual L-Theanine dosages will vary, but WebMD suggests a single dose of 100mg of theanine before a test, or under 100mg in conjunction with caffeine. Because it is considered a safe drug, theanine can be taken in dose sizes ranging from 25mg (a single cup of green tea) to 500mg (high dose pills). It’s best to start slow and work your way up if you’re curious about what limit works best for you. If you’ve never taken an L-Theanine supplement before, start with a cup of tea, which can be very relaxing and help you get into a better headspace for sleeping with its myriad of positive effects.
The L-Theanine Dosage for Relaxation
Most of us are exposed to stress on a daily basis, whether from work, family, bills, taxes, or the state of the world, and dedicating time for relaxation and relaxing spaces is an essential part of overcoming these mental pressures. If you’re looking for a simple way to add a relaxing boost to your evening, L-Theanine can contribute in several ways:
- Neurotransmitter Boost—A proper L-Theanine dosage helps boost levels of calming brain chemicals like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters help your brain regulate emotions, mood, alertness, concentration, and ability to sleep, so increasing levels of these calming brain chemicals can help you wind down and sleep more easily.
- Promotes Feelings of Calmness—While it increases chemicals that help calm you down, an L-Theanine dosage can also reduce the levels of chemicals in your brain that are linked with stress and anxiety. When you’re stressed, your brain produces hormones like cortisol and corticosterone, which both inhibit brain activities like spatial learning and memory. L-Theanine can lower the amount of the stress hormone corticosterone your brain naturally produces, which’ll help you avoid interference with your memory and learning.
- Enhance Alpha Brain Waves—As an anxiolytic, L-Theanine has been shown to enhance/amplify alpha brain waves, which are also present when you’re meditating or letting your mind wander. You experience alpha waves during REM sleep as well, when your sleeping brain is still experiencing “wakeful relaxation.” You might be able to replicate some of the focus and creativity-oriented effects of meditation and REM sleep with L-Theanine.
- Nootropic Effects—The nootropic (cognitive enhancing drug) effect of taking an L-Theanine supplement has shown that taking the amino acid before testing helps reduce errors and improve focus. The calming effect it has on your brain may be responsible for keeping your mind from wandering too much while you’re trying to recall information and stay on task. In conduction with caffeine, the nootropic stack can help you with several things.
L-Theanine and Caffeine
Research has shown that the effect of taking both L-Theanine and Caffeine (from coffee, tea, or a supplement) in tandem improves a person’s ability to switch attention between tasks, as well as enhance your attention span and ability to process visual information. Some folks simply put L-Theanine in powder or liquid form directly into their morning cup o’ joe, but you can also just take a dosage of each separately for the same effect. This particular chemical combination should be relegated to morning and early afternoon, so as not to interrupt your sleep schedule from the extra caffeine.
Side Effects of L-Theanine Dosage
Oddly enough, L-Theanine has been shown to have almost no level of toxicity and no correlation with chemical dependency. Theoretically, that means you can take large doses every day without negative side effects, though we of course don’t recommend such drastic measures, and you should always consult your doctor before experimenting with new supplements.
Non-Essential But Still Important
L-Theanine is an important amino acid, despite being considered “non-essential.” Approximately 600,000 tons of green tea is drank every year around the world, so there’s a good chance that you’re already taking an L-Theanine dosage on a semi-regular basis! Even so, with a little more forethought, L-Theanine can become an essential part of your relaxation and sleep regiment, allowing you to enjoy the positive effects of boosted calmness and lowered corticosterone so you can strive for the stress-free life you outta be living!