Stress Relief Nutritional: L-Theanine

Stress animation

Periodically I’ll be writing about particular nutritional supplements that we’ve used in our practice for specific issues.  Today I’ll be discussing l-theanine, a great nutritional that helps you deal with stress and improves your mental clarity.

In today’s fast paced, pressure packed society, people are under incredible amounts of stress.  I talked in an earlier post about Adrenal Fatigue, which occurs when the body has been under so much stress for a prolonged period of time, that the adrenal glands get tired and begin producing less than ideal amounts of cortisol hormone.

One way to avoid adrenal fatigue is to treat stress sooner rather than later.  This can be done through a combination of diet, exercise, other lifestyle changes, and often with the help of appropriate nutritional supplementation.

A great nutritional supplement in the arsenal of weapons to fight stress is l-theanine, a non-essential amino acid that occurs primarily in leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, which is used to produce black, oolong and green tea.

People have used L-theanine and green tea historically as a way to reduce stress while remaining alert and avoiding drowsiness.  While drinking green tea is one of the best things you can do for your health, studies have shown that taking l-theanine as a supplement in specific doses can reduce stress and increase mental clarity – all without causing drowsiness and with little or no side effects.

L-Theanine increases the body’s GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) levels, making it ideal for those looking to relax, relieve stress and/or anxiety.  It’s been proven to be effective during stressful and high anxiety times, but it may be even more effective if taken prior to stress and anxiety levels rising.

l-theanine plant 2

A study published in the January 2007 issue of “Biological Psychology” found that l-theanine intake resulted in reduced heart rate and salivary responses to a stressful task when compared with a placebo.  A Japanese study showed that l-theanine promotes alpha brain waves (the brain waves that occur when we meditate), an indicator of alert relaxation.

In the course of our Wellness Consultations we look at symptoms, lifestyle, diet, nutritional status, medications, and we often recommend testing hormone levels – including cortisol.  Many times we see a pattern of stress leading to hormonal changes which lead to unwanted symptoms.  Often, l-theanine – either alone or in combination with other herbs and vitamins – can help the body deal with this stress in conjunction with lifestyle and dietary changes.

So, if you’re looking for some help in dealing with stress, consider stopping by and talking to us about the benefits of l-theanine.  Remember, all nutritional supplements are not created equal, so it’s important to get a high quality l-theanine supplement and use the proper dosage.  As always, it is generally wisest to consult with your doctor or health care practitioner before adding any supplement particularly in the case of pregnant women, children and those individuals with health complications.

Be well.


Michael Lenz RPh, is a partner in Fallon Wellness Pharmacy of Saratoga.  He has over 10 years of experience in custom compounding.  He has received extensive training in Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) and Adrenal Fatigue.  He is currently enrolled in the Institute of Functional Medicine’s Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Program.


sources:  Biological Psychology: L-Theanine Reduces Stress Responses


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