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The right l-theanine dose for anxiety depends on individual factors, but below is a guide to what you should know before taking this supplement that also occurs naturally in some foods and teas. L-theanine for anxiety can be effective, but make sure that you read the following before you try it.
What Is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid. It’s found in some types of green and black tea and a few types of mushrooms. People also commonly use L-theanine as a supplement because it’s said to reduce stress, insomnia, and anxiety.
Benefits of L-theanine may also include:
- Increased focus
- Stronger immunity
- May help improve the anti-tumor effects of certain chemotherapy drugs
- May lower blood pressure, especially when people experience it during stressful situations
- Helps with sleep quality
Does L-Theanine Work for Anxiety?
L-theanine, according to research, can be an effective treatment for moderate to severe anxiety. While it can help reduce insomnia because of its relaxing effects, it doesn’t cause drowsiness, so you can use it during the day.
L-theanine is believed to have anti-anxiety effects because it can enhance alpha brain wave activity and increase GABA synthesis. When there’s increased GABA synthesis in our brains, it can increase brain levels of serotonin and dopamine, leading to more feelings of calm and well-being.
Researchers have looked at changes in brain wave activity from L-theanine and found they’re dose-dependent.
While some of the effects of taking an L-theanine dose for anxiety are similar to pharmaceutical drugs like benzodiazepines, L-theanine doesn’t lead to negative side effects. For example, taking an L-theanine dose for anxiety doesn’t lead to impaired concentration, slow reflexes, or drowsiness.
There’s no risk of addiction, tolerance, or dependence either.
To delve more into the science of taking a dose of L-theanine for anxiety—the non-protein amino acid is structurally an analog of glutamate. L-theanine competes for the receptors with glutamate, which can pass the blood-brain barrier and promote an anti-anxiety effect. The ability of the substance to cross the blood-brain barrier is one of the reasons it’s so effective for mental health and the positive effects of neurotransmitters.
L-theanine, since it increases GABA, can control anxiety. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down overactivity. Abnormalities in GABA levels and function are often found in the brains of people with mood disorders. In animal studies, the accumulation of L-theanine in the brain significantly increases dopamine. Dopamine is related to stress, fear, and behaviors involving social interaction.
In other studies, along with increasing dopamine, L-theanine has been shown to increase serotonin in the hippocampus of animal models.
L-Theanine and Alpha Brain Wave Activity
Above was mentioned the fact that L-theanine may be a powerful supplement for anxiety because of its effects on alpha brain wave activity.
When neurons send electrical signals to other neurons, these are brain waves. EEG tests can detect and measure the electrical activity in the brain and create a picture that looks like a pattern of waves.
There are five brain waves, ranging from slow to very fast. Alpha brain waves are in the middle, and your brain produces them when you’re awake but not focusing on any one thing.
You’re not asking your brain to solve any major problems when producing alpha brain waves. You are simply in a state of being awake but calm. Researchers have found that doing things like meditation can help the brain more effectively produce alpha waves.
When your brain produces alpha waves, it indicates you’re feeling calm. Even though you might feel calm and relaxed during the production of these waves, they can also increase your creativity. For example, in a 2015 study, researchers found that focusing on enhanced alpha waves could trigger a creativity surge. Increasing alpha brain waves have also been associated with reduced symptoms of depression in people with major depressive disorder.
What’s the Best L-Theanine Dose for Anxiety?
While you should speak to your health care provider and read the manufacturer’s instructions, the ideal L-theanine dose for anxiety is usually between 50 and 200 mg. Since L-theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier, the calming effects may begin within 30 minutes and last for 8 to 10 hours.
Some evidence from short-term studies shows that you can take anywhere from 250 mg to 400 mg daily in divided doses. For people who want to use L-theanine for cognitive performance and mental alertness when combined with caffeine, a dose is usually around 100 mg.
For sleep, a dose of around 200 mg at bedtime has been shown to significantly improve sleep efficiency. Sleep efficiency is an index of the time you’re sleeping between when you fall asleep and when you wake up at night.
If you’re someone with very high-stress levels, you should consider taking anywhere from 100 to 200 mg of L-theanine one to three times a day, with your doctor’s approval. You shouldn’t take more than 600 mg within six hours. Your L-theanine dose for anxiety shouldn’t exceed 1,200 mg in 24 hours.
Is L-Theanine Safe?
L-theanine is considered generally safe. There are no major known interactions or serious adverse side effects, although taking very large amounts could lead to nausea or stomach upset.
How to Take L-Theanine
You can take L-theanine on its own as a pill or capsule. You can typically take it any time of day without feeling drowsy.
Some people like to take it with their coffee or add it as a powder to their coffee. The combination of L-theanine and coffee can help mood and cognitive performance. For example, in one study, combining caffeine and L-theanine helped improve performance on cognitively demanding tasks.
L-Theanine Dose for Anxiety—Summing Up
The L-theanine dose for anxiety can range from 200 to 400 mg for most people. You can take it in divided doses throughout the day. You can take L-theanine in the morning, afternoon or evening, and it also pairs well with coffee or caffeine to help not only with anxiety but also with cognitive performance and overall mood.
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