Written By Dominique Allmon at Help Yourself to Health Blog
Calming effects of L-theanine
For many people stress and anxiety are the symptoms of their high-powered day to day existence. If not managed properly, chronic stress and anxiety may cause many disorders, including insomnia, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cognitive impairment. There are many pharmaceutical drugs on the market that promise to bring peace of mind and relieve the symptoms of anxiety, but many people prefer to look for natural alternatives out of fear of side effects and possible addiction.
One of the most powerful natural antidotes to stress is L-theanine. L-theanine (gamma-ethylamino-L-glutamic acid) is a non-protein forming amino acid found almost exclusively in the green leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The only other significant source in nature is the Boletus badius mushroom also known as Bay bolete. Among other active compounds, Bay bolete contains substantial amounts of L-theanine.
L-theanine was first isolated in Japan, where green tea is part of the culture since inception of Buddhism in the 6th century. Green tea was used traditionally by the Buddhist monks to keep them calm and awake during long hours of meditation. Researchers found out that caffeine ingested in green tea had a different effect on the mind and the body that had the same amount of caffeine from coffee. The excitatory effect of caffeine in green tea was offset by the calming action of a compound that was named theanine. L-theanine constitutes about 50 per cent of the dry protein weight of green tea.
L-theanine is a powerful stress and anxiety reliever. It effectively reduces both, mental and physical, stress. About 30-40 minutes after ingestion, it induces tranquility and a state of deep relaxation without causing any drowsiness or forming a chemical dependence. In fact, it helps to improve attention and concentration. L-theanine is one of the few known substances that easily cross the blood-brain barrier. It exerts subtle changes in the brain chemistry by altering the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid). L-theanine induces state of well-being and relaxation in four ways:
The inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA is considered to be the brain's own tranquilizer. It helps to reduce the excess of stress hormone adrenalin and calm down. It also controls the levels of noradrenalin, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain. Insufficient levels of GABA are associated with anxiety, tension, depression, and insomnia. L-theanine increases the secretion of GABA thus helping the brain to calm itself.
L-theanine has been shown to reduce the blood pressure in individuals with elevated blood pressure. It did not, however, affect individuals with normal blood pressure which means that in only acts where there is lack of balance.
Other benefits of L-theanine
While L-theanine received the greatest attention as a natural anti-anxiety drug, it also has many other benefits as it restores chemical balance in the body:
L-theanine has remarkable cognitive effects. Research shows that L-theanine increases brainwave activity that is normally associated with attention and concentration. It helps to stay centered in spite of stress. Studies show that the substance has remarkable ability to minimize interference from distracting outside stimuli helping at the same time to focus attention. Subjects in the study were able to concentrate on important tasks without getting distracted.
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