Tea is a very popular drink in many different countries. For hundreds of years, many cultures around the globe have enjoyed tea for its energy boosting caffeine, its comforting warmth, its pleasant and often smooth taste and its health benefits. Tea has seen a major resurgence in popularity in the last decade. Herbal teas, black teas, white teas and green teas, these drinks—enjoyed both in a hot format and a cold format—are often touted for massive health benefits. Of course, while some of the health claims made about tea are untrue—more are actually true than untrue. Once of the true tea benefits is found in the amino acid derivative called l-theanine.

Amino acids are called body building blocks because they form the basis of your muscles and tissue connectivity. Specifically, l-theanine works in the brain to create an effect on cognition and mood not unlike the one that caffeine causes. Tests have been conducted on rats as well as humans—including in double blind studies that reduce the possibility of a biased study–and they show few if any harmful effects.

L-theanine is most often found in green tea and is responsible for some of the acidic and bitter tastes you find (and may enjoy) in green tea. L-theanine can have a positive effect on dopamine and serotonin levels which can lead to better sleep and mood. It is possible that l-theanine may also reduce stress in those who drink tea containing it.

Current Research

L-theanine is relatively new to the United States, but researchers in Japan have been studying it for years. Many researchers are trying to unlock more of the mysteries of l-theanine. As such, they are looking into the possibilities of its effectiveness on PMS, Attention Deficit Disorder, high blood pressure and cancer. It is unknown whether or not any of these research efforts will result in a miracle cure or possibly even a reduction in the harmful effects of these disorders and diseases.

The Food and Drug Administration has not discussed the safety or efficacy of many of the supplements containing l-theanine, but it has been studied and promoted in Japan for many years. Most of the clinical trials that one can find discussing the findings of l-theanine use were conducted in Japan, but they are published for the entire world to enjoy and learn from.

Supplements Containing L-theanine
Many supplements contain l-theanine in order to benefit from its stress reducing and mood elevating capabilities. Some folks decide that, instead of taking it in pill form, they will drink more green tea. Unfortunately, it is unknown how much l-theanine one needs in order to actually benefit from the amino acid derivative. Supplements may contain more of the acid than tea.

Thus far, there are no reported side effects from l-theanine, but it is suggested that if you are pregnant or lactating you not take high dosages of l-theanine. It is always a good idea to check with your primary care physician prior to taking any new supplements. If you know that you have a sensitivity to l-theanine, then you should attempt to limit the amount of green tea you consume and you should avoid taking any supplements with l-theanine.

If you are concerned about a possible l-theanine sensitivity, be sure to have your primary care physician run the appropriate tests so that you can be sure before you begin taking l-theanine supplements or drinking large amounts of green tea. It is also a good idea to have your physician discuss any possible problems with drug interaction, although studies show that this should not be a concern.

Last updated on Mar 6th, 2010 and filed under Nutritional Information. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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