For centuries green tea has been highly valued as a soothing drink to calm the body and soothe the soul. Now new research has discovered the biochemical key to green tea’s deeply soothing effects—the amino acid L-theanine, which is found almost exclusively in the leaves of green tea (Camellia sinensis). L-theanine has been shown to have a deeply relaxing effect, reducing stress and anxiety, but without the sedating effects of other relaxing agents. In fact, many people find L-theanine actually increases energy levels while reducing anxiety.
Researchers have found that L-theanine works by supporting the formation of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that blocks the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin to promote a state of deep relaxation and calm, while increasing sensations of pleasure.
L-theanine has also been found to directly stimulate the production of alpha brain waves, which are associated with deep states of relaxation and enhanced mental clarity.
In a recent study, Japanese researchers also revealed that—in addition to promoting a deep state of relaxation—L-theanine may also support healthy blood pressure levels, enhance concentration and learning, promote mental clarity and strengthen the immune system.
In human studies L-theanine has been shown to exert profound relaxing effects, 30 to 40 minutes after ingestion, including:
- Relaxation without drowsiness
- Generation of calming alpha-waves
- Improved learning ability, and
- Enhanced sensations of contentment and pleasure