How L-Theanine Can Support Your Mental Well-being
Good physical health has been a topic of research and conversation for decades, even centuries, but good mental health has only recently become a point of focus. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and is all about how we think, feel, and act. It includes many factors such as how we handle stress, having a sense of meaning, and feeling confident in who we are.
Good mental health does not necessarily mean we never feel sad, overwhelmed, or anxious, but rather that we are able to cope with these feelings in a healthy manner and bounce back from life’s adversities. Like good physical health, good mental health means taking care of ourselves and investing in wellness on a regular basis.
Our mental wellness can be improved by moving our bodies, connecting with our loved ones, eating nourishing food, engaging in meaningful activities, being out in nature, enjoying a good laugh, and more. We can also improve our mental health with supplements that impact our brain function. In this series we are looking at different supplements that can support mental wellness.
L-theanine and Mental Health
L-theanine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in tea leaves. (1) Unlike many other molecules, l-theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to affect the brain directly, where it has a number of very positive effects. First, l-theanine increases levels of serotonin, GABA, and dopamine, which all increase feelings of calm and well-being.
It also inhibits excitatory neurons which cause feelings of stress. L-theanine lowers blood pressure and heart rate and increases alpha brain wave activity which lead to a more calm and focused state. Finally, l-theanine is also an antioxidant which helps to prevent free radical damage to brain tissue, leading to more optimal brain function.(2)
Studies show that taking l-theanine on a regular basis improves sleep quality, enhances mood, and reduces anxiety, all without causing drowsiness and with no risk of dependence.(2) Basically it encourages wakeful relaxation without costing you stamina.
L-theanine is naturally found in tea, but is especially high in green tea. L-theanine makes up almost 50% of the amino acids found in tea. However, the content of L-theanine varies depending on the type of tea. You can enjoy its benefits from a few cups of green or black tea, or in supplement form if you prefer to skip the hot beverages or the caffeine. L-theanine is a great, natural choice for improving your overall mental health.
(1) Shinsuke, et al. “Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 3 Oct. 2019, www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/10/2362/htm.
(2) Hidese, Shinsuke, et al. “Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nutrients, MDPI, 3 Oct. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836118/.