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L-Theanine – Unleash Your Alpha Waves

L-Theanine is an amino acid that we don’t obtain much of through our diets. It is however active in the brain following oral ingestion and exhibits many benefits – including those principally related to cognitive function – that makes its supplementation highly worthwhile.

With a structure similar to some important neurotransmitters, Theanine has been shown to improve attention span, reduce stress and anxiety and take the edge of stimulants (e.g. caffeine) turning them into positive nootropics themselves.


Even the health benefits linked to the consumption of green tea and black tea are mostly down to the Theanine content of the leaves over anything else.

Extracted from certain tea leaves, other herbs and a type of mushroom, Theanine is a natural and safe addition to any nootropic or health supplement with many benefits that are rarely found outside of a quality concentrated extract.

How Does L-Theanine Work?

neuron brainOwing to its similar chemical structured to the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate, the amino acid Theanine can reach the brain from oral ingestion and exert its benefits directly. It crosses the blood brain barrier via the neutral amino acid transport system within an hour of oral ingestion.

Alpha waves in the brain can be significantly increased via Theanine ingestion. This reduces stress and anxiety substantially and has been shown in human trials. Specifically alpha waves are synonymous with relaxation AND improved attention and alertness. While this appears paradoxical, evidence for many similar stress-reducing compounds shows that the mind can focus much more efficiently without the distraction of anxiety occupying a good portion of it.

A good description of this effect is: Relaxation without sedation. This benefit has been shown to occur as quickly as 30 minutes from ingestion.

Toxins which can impair memory formation are suppressed by Theanine and it has been shown to improve the memory of people with mild cognitive impairment.

Theanine is also very synergistic when used alongside stimulants such as caffeine. While it attenuates the edgy side effects which can result from stimulants, it actually improves the cognitive benefits of them. Many nootropic supplements do not contain caffeine or other stimulants as they are not strictly regarded as nootropic in nature, however, the L-Theanine ingested in the supplement will bring out the best of a morning cup of coffee!

Are There Other Benefits?

Additional benefits of L-Theanine are as follows:

  • Enhanced Blood Flow and Cardio Vascular Health
  • Potential Lifespan Extension (shown in laboratory studies)
  • Increase of GABA neurotransmitter, implying improved Physical Performance
  • Reduction of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder symptoms
  • Improved Sleep Quality (again, not through sedation)
  • Anti-convulsive properties (prevents seizures)

Where Does L-Theanine Come From?

camelia sinensisThe majority of L-Theanine comes from camelia sinensis (Green Tea), though to ensure full potency it should be derived from dried extract. Merely drinking buckets of green tea is not the way to get your L-Theanine. Dried and concentrated extract added to a supplement formula is likely the most efficacious method.

Some Theanine is sourced from other plants and mushrooms.

It is a very safe compound and no side effects have been reported from its ingestion.


L-Theanine is one of the unsung heroes of the nootropic industry, in fact, the supplement industry as a whole. It is a safe and highly effective nootropic; both relaxing the user without sedation and improving attention and alertness.

Relaxation without sedation is an extremely positive feeling, and one that L-Theanine induces very effectively. As part of an overall nootropic blend, it is one of the steady workhorses that does more for you than you realize at first. Its synergistic effects with caffeine should also make coffee drinkers jump for joy – literally.


About Ross

Ross is a writer for several online health and fitness magazines. He has designed the formulae for nootropic and ergogenic supplements, and is always on the look out for the next big breakthrough in sports supplement science. An Ironman triathlete and distance runner, Ross loves the endurance game, but he's happy powercleaning a sandbag in the park. Feel free to ask him a question in the comments section.

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