Zen in a Tablet: L- Theanine

Since ancient times, tea has been used as a relaxing and refreshing beverage.  Although tea has many health promoting compounds in it which act as antioxidants, the relaxing effect comes from a unique amino acid called L-theanine.  This amino acid is found only in tea, and unlike other amino acids, it is not used by the body to make proteins.  “Suntheanine” is the name given to a patented very pure form of L-theanine, which is available in capsules and some calming beverages. According to the manufacturer, Suntheanine is not an extract of tea, but is produced via its patented fermentation process.


Theanine Promotes Alert Calm

Theanine is unique among calming remedies in that it actually increases focus and cognition, and some studies indicate that it may enhance learning, although the research is mixed on this. It is a wonderful remedy for test taking anxiety, and I gave it repeatedly to my daughter in college and took it myself in graduate school.

Its unique effects are attributed to the fact that it shifts the brain to alpha brain waves and decreases beta waves. This is why it is like getting the effects of meditation – a calm relaxed awareness.

How to use it as a Supplement

A cup of green tea contains about 20 mg of L-theanine. But therapeutic doses start at about 50 mg and go up to 200 mg twice a day. It works within about 30 minutes to 90 minutes, so you can take it as needed. It is safe and will not interact with any other drugs for anxiety, sleeplessness or depression. It has been safely used with autistic children to reduce anxiety and help with sleep.

Theanine for Sleep

You will find theanine in a number of supplements designed to promote restful sleep. Research has indicated that it is most useful when sleep problems arise from too much stress. The only drawback in my opinion, is that it does not address the root cause of anxiety or sleeplessness, it merely helps to relieve the symptoms. So, you are not really healing the underlying problem, which means that you have to keep buying the theanine to use as a band aid. However, it can be a great help until you discover the underlying cause.

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