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L-Theanine: Plant-Based Powerhouse

Posted by admin 08/27/2018 0 Comment(s)

Have we found and isolated the secret ingredient that gives tea its powerfully calming-yet-focused effect?

L- theanine might be the closest thing we’ve got so far to meditation in a capsule. The traditional therapeutic use of green tea dates back to China 4,700 years ago, and the Japanese regard tea so highly they’ve created a ceremony for it and a separate teahouse in which to serve it. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen master and global spiritual leader, describes tea drinking as a spiritual, meditative act: "Tea is an act complete in its simplicity... This is the act of life, in one pure moment, and in this act, the truth of the world suddenly becomes revealed: all the complexity, pain, drama of life is a pretense, invented in our minds for no good purpose..."

Today, drinking tea still symbolizes psychological calm and contentment for most, and now science is starting to explain the physiological reasons and mechanisms behind these effects. Several scientific publications including clinical and epidemiological studies are beginning to back up the health benefits of both black and green teas, with particular focus on L-theanine—a calming amino acid found to promote alpha-wave brain production, an index of wakeful relaxation similar to that experienced during and directly after meditation. Here's all you need to know about nature's powerful relaxant.

What is L-theanine? More than just "umami," it turns out.

L- theanine is a neurologically active organic compound present almost solely in the green tea plant (Camellia sinensis, and certain other species of Camellia) with the exception of a kind of edible mushroom (the bay boletes). L-theanine is the main component responsible for the exotic savory taste of green tea known as "umami."

Within around 30 minutes of consumption, L-theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it appears to smooth out brain waves, without flattening them as visualized on an EEG and improving cognition in humans in interesting ways.

L-theanine promotes alpha waves­­—the same brain bandwidth seen during the deepest states of meditation.

L-theanine has been shown to significantly increase alpha waves and promote relaxation without drowsiness or sedation, making it an ideal mental state for, well, most things.

Alpha brain-wave production also happens during deep meditation, when sensory inputs are minimized and the mind is generally clear of unwanted thoughts or distractions. Interestingly, stimulating alpha waves has also been shown to boost creativity and alleviate depression.

L-theanine has been shown to boost attention and working memory. 

Green tea consumption appeared to enhance performance on a test of working memory by increasing connectivity between frontal and parietal brain regions during working memory processing. This is a fascinating discovery because activity in the frontal region of the brain is correlated to executive function, while the parietal region handles sensory input. L- theanine has a similar chemical structure to glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter related to memory.

L-theanine might reduce or slow cognitive decline. 

Because of its antagonistic effects on glutamate receptors and how it affects overall cognition, L-theanine seems to have neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing abilities. Researchers observed that elderly individuals who consumed green tea powder enriched with L-theanine (47.5 mg theanine per day) had reduced cognitive decline, compared to the placebo group. Other preliminary studies show promise for L-theanine as an agent to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease.

L-theanine may improve mood.

By helping to improve the production of the inhibitory relaxing neurotransmitter GABA, L-theanine plays a key role in mood support. GABA is important for nervous system function, often used as a natural supplement to ease anxiety, promote sleep, and improve mood. L-theanine has also been shown to have a similar boosting effect on dopamine as well as serotonin levels in the brain; although, so far only in animal neurochemistry studies, so more research is warranted.

L-theanine increases resilience to acute stress and balances out sympathetic nervous activation. 

There are several studies detailing that L-theanine supplementation prevents the abrupt rise in blood pressure and reduces salivary immunoglobulin A (s-IgA) responses usually associated with stressful situations. Not only does L-theanine reduce feelings of anxiety and stress in the first place, but it also attenuates the effects of a high-stress response right after the fact!

L-theanine can improve sleep quality (including for children with ADHD).  

Green tea consumption appeared to enhance performance on a test of working memory by increasing connectivity between frontal and parietal brain regions during working memory processing. This is a fascinating discovery because activity in the frontal region of the brain is correlated to executive function, while the parietal region handles sensory input. L- theanine has a similar chemical structure to glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter related to memory.

Not surprisingly, L-theanine has been shown to help sleep in a number of ways, including promoting relaxation pre-bedtime (with the added bonus of not inducing the drowsy sedation often associated with other sleep aids or anxiolytics). Researchers in Japan gave volunteers 200 mg of L-theanine daily and recorded their sleep patterns on wearable sleep devices. Sleep quality, recovery from exhaustion, and refreshed feelings were all enhanced by L-theanine.

There’s evidence that L-theanine may help improve sleep quality in children with (ADHD). A study examined the effects of L-theanine on the sleep of boys ages 8 through 12 and found that the supplement worked safely and effectively (at a dose of 400 mg daily) to improve the quality of their sleep.

The content of this Website is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments.

Content Credit to Kiara Mudge of mindbodygreen.com

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/l-theanine-everything-you-need-to-know-about-this-plant-based-powerhouse

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