Do you ever feel rundown, worn out, and unable to focus? Perhaps you’ve experienced a time when you couldn’t quite solve problems you knew you should have the answers to. This can happen for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons could be a lack of sleep, but it can also be associated with a lack in proper nutrition.
There are a variety of nutrients that are essential to proper mental cognition and other functionality. That’s where Nootropics come into play.
Nootropic supplements designed to improve overall brain health, mental function, and cognitive abilities. Some ingredients found in these nootropics are better than others. Today we’re looking at L-theanine.
This nutrient is actually an amino acid.
L-theanine is an amino acid that has long been believed to help boost certain brainwaves. When the alpha brainwaves increase, stress and anxiety can decrease. It can also have a positive impact on mental alertness.
There are numerous ways that L-theanine helps to improve overall brain function. Some of those ways are by:
- Helping to calm “excitable” neurons. By doing so, this can create improved mindset and an overall sense of a balanced mood.
- Protecting brain cells against damage. When brain cells become damaged, it can cause them to misfire and, ultimately, shutdown.
- Helping to modulate alpha brainwaves that allow you to feel more relaxed and even more creative.
- Creating more balance in the brain chemicals, including serotonin and dopamine.
There are various brainwaves within your brain. These are electrical impulses that occur at various frequencies. It’s the frequency that defines the brainwave itself. For example, when you are conscious, the brainwaves are at a specific frequency. However, when you’re sleeping, dozing off, or not really paying attention but rather ‘daydreaming,’ then those brainwaves are at a different frequency.
Many old memories that you may not be able to conjure up when you want to are actually being stored on a specific brain wavelength. Most people have a tendency to assume they ‘forgot’ those memories, but the brain never forgets anything; it simply stores the memories in different parts of the brain that can only be accessed on specific frequencies.
There are four main brainwaves that include alpha, beta, delta, and theta.
Alpha brainwaves are associated with relaxation. You can be alert and have a calm and relaxed mindset. Alpha brainwaves have also been connected to creativity.
Beta brainwaves occur during REM sleep. If you tap into those beta brainwaves while awake, it can actually create a sense of heightened alertness and even tense concentration.
Delta brainwaves occur during deep sleep and help to heal the brain and generate memory.
Theta brainwaves can occur during that period between being asleep and being awake. When a person is meditating, they are tapping into their theta brainwave frequencies.
The feeling you get with L-theanine.
When you take L-theanine as a supplement, you will likely begin to experience a sense of calm tranquility. At the same time, you will also notice a bit stronger focus and attention to detail. That’s because L-theanine taps into the alpha brainwaves.
What would L-theanine be beneficial for?
Taking L-theanine supplements would be a great asset in many situations, but can be most beneficial when studying and trying to learn something new, delving into some form of art and wanting to improve in the most effective and efficient way possible, and even during creative problem-solving tasks.
How does L-theanine actually work?
Researchers indicate that the most important aspect of L-theanine is its ability to increase alpha brainwaves. Those alpha brainwaves are directly connected to a slower and larger brain wavelength amplitude, a strong cognitive brain state, and more consistent brain activity.
In one particular study (Kakuda T., et al), gerbils were treated with L-theanine and, as a result, exhibited stronger brain cell survival.
In a separate study (Egashira N, et al) that was conducted on rats, L-theanine was determined to protect brain cells better and that led to improved spatial memory.
What about for humans?
There are several research studies that have been conducted on human subjects taking L-theanine supplements, but the size of the sample population of each of the studies have been relatively small.
For example, in one study researchers provided 35 participants a placebo or 50 mg of L-theanine and then conducted EEG tests to measure the brain’s electrical activity. They did this at various intervals of 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 75 minutes, 90 minutes, and 105 minutes.
The researchers in this study (Nobre AC, et al) found that those participants who were given L-theanine experienced a significant increase in alpha brainwaves. The researchers concluded that L-theanine “relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness.”
In a different study (Kimura K.), a double-blind study, the subjects were exposed to different tasks intended to induce acute mental stress through a variety of challenging mathematical problems. Some of the participants were provided a placebo and others were given a dosage of L-theanine.
What the researchers found in this double-blind study was that those subjects taking the supplement of L-theanine exhibited a decreased heart rate and lower salivary stress markers than those taking the placebo.
This research indicates that L-theanine can be a positive asset to Nootropics because it helps to relax the mind, which in turn helps to create better focus and the ability to solve problems.
Potential side effects.
Because L-theanine is an amino acid and is naturally found in the brain, the body generally tolerates it quite well. As a result of this, there have been no adverse side effects associated with taking it as a supplement.
The best dosage.
When looking at various nootropic supplements on the market, dosage levels between 50 mg to 250 mg are the most common. Most standalone L-theanine supplements can be found in dosage levels of 100 mg and 200 mg.
That being said, what seems to be a consensus among researchers is to focus on 150 mg of L-theanine. If you begin to notice some positive changes and wish to see if it improves with a higher dose, then you can increase from there.
Keep in mind that one of the best benefits of L-theanine is helping calm neurotransmitters, which include serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. This has been shown to help reduce anxiety and level a generally excitable mood (Nathan PJ, Lu K., Gray M., and Oliver C.)