Green tea is the most widely-consumed beverage in the world (after water). Millions of people enjoy it for its characteristic taste and its relaxing effects. And both of these qualities can be traced to the same compound.
Research shows that this compound (a unique amino acid) can significantly reduce anxiety. It does so without making you drowsy. In fact, it can increase alertness. The effect has been compared to a state of meditation.
Lekh Juneja, Ph.D. led a recent study of this compound. He graduated from the prestigious Nagoya University in Japan. He has written over 200 research papers.
Dr. Juneja suspected the amino acid could influence the body while under stress. He put his theory to the test.1 His research confirmed his hunch. “Our results suggest that (it) was effective for reducing stress responses,” says Dr. Juneja.
Other doctors agree with his findings. Dr. Ronald Steriti is a naturopathic physician in Florida. He points out that stress and anxiety can be debilitating. They upset our hormonal balance. Worse, they can lead to serious conditions, including cardiovascular disease. But Dr. Steriti says that “people can mitigate many of the harmful effects of stress with (this compound).”
A Solution for Stress
The amino acid is called L-theanine. It is found only in tea leaves and in a certain wild mushroom. However, it’s quickly becoming popular as a nutritional supplement.
Dr. Juneja tested the effects of L-theanine in four separate trials. Each trial consisted of a 20-minute mental stress test. There was a subjective follow-up evaluation. He also tested levels of anxiety.
In the first trial, patients took 200 mg of L-theanine at the start of the test. In the second, they took 200 mg midway through the test. And in the other two trials, they took a placebo or nothing at all.
The patients taking L-theanine saw a reduction in their heart rate. They also saw reduced levels of a certain bio-marker in saliva. Both reactions are important because these factors usually increase with stress. In this case, they decreased.
“These results suggest that L-theanine exerts anti-stress effects during an acute stress challenge,” says Dr. Juneja.
Adding the Amino Acid to Your Diet
Experts believe L-theanine is effective because it can cross the blood-brain barrier. This allows it to affect the central nervous system. It works by blocking neurons from sending stress signals. It has also been shown to improve cognition.2 And it works in synergy with caffeine.3
The use of L-theanine has been studied extensively in Japan for almost 50 years. It has been proven safe, even in extremely high doses. However, several experts suggest that 200 mg is the right dose in supplement form.
If you suffer from anxiety and stress, consider taking a supplement. But the easiest and most enjoyable way to consume this all-natural stress buster is to enjoy a few cups of green tea.
1 Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja L, Ohira H (2007). “L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses”. Biol Psychol 74 (1): 39–45. DOI:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.06.006.
2 Park SK. Jung IC. Lee WK. Lee YS. Park HK. Go HJ. Kim K. Lim NK. Hong JT. Ly SY. Rho SS. (2011). “A combination of green tea extract and l-theanine improves memory and attention in subjects with mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled study”. Journal of Medicinal Food 14 (4): 334–343. DOI:10.1089/jmf.2009.1374.
3 Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB (2008). “The effects of l-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood”. Biol Psychol 77 (2): 113–22. DOI:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.09.008.