Alpha Brain Waves and Theanine

The human brain is made up of billions of neurons (nerve cells). They communicate with each other via electrical signals. Millions of signals are sent every second. Collectively, they are known as brain waves and may be detected using an electroencephalogram (EEG).

There are four different types of brain waves and they are classified based on their frequency, measured in hertz (Hz).

Delta brain waves are the lowest frequency (0.5-3 Hz) and are detected during deep sleep. Theta brain waves (4-7 Hz) are detected during light sleep. Alpha brain waves (8-13 Hz) can be detected during a focused, relaxed, and alert mental state. Beta brain waves (14+ Hz) are detected during a highly stressful, low concentration mental state.

Alpha Brain Waves and Theanine

Beta brain waves may be induced by stimulants such as caffeine and can lead to increased stress and anxiety. A focused, relaxed, and alert mental state is the preferred mental state to have during the day for many tasks.

Think for a moment about all the tasks you perform during the day that could be enhanced by being in a focused, relaxed, and alert mental state. When you're interacting with your children, partner or co-workers, giving a presentation, driving, studying for an exam, and even exercising, a focused, relaxed, and alert mental state will definitely be beneficial.

Benefits of Increased Alpha Brain Waves:

Green tea plantation Increasing the production of alpha waves in your brain can offer a range of benefits.

Increases creativity

Researchers have demonstrated that people who are naturally creative tend to be able to generate alpha brain waves more readily than their non-creative counterparts. Therefore, increasing alpha brain waves may be able to increase creativity.

Improves sports performance

It appears that immediately prior to a peak performance, well-trained athletes generate a surge of alpha brain waves. Furthermore, with training in the particular sport alpha brain waves increase slightly prior to performance compared with not training.

Reduces depression symptoms

Increasing alpha brain wave production has been shown to improve depressive symptoms compared to a placebo.

Also, since stress hormones (i.e. cortisol, negatively affect brain chemicals, minimising these hormones by increasing alpha wave production may help to improve mood and memory.

Relaxes the mind and relieves anxiety

Alpha brain waves have been shown to have a calming and relaxing effect without causing drowsiness. Increasing alpha waves can even reduce the symptoms of anxiety in people with severe mental health disorders such as schizophrenia.

Promotes better sleep

Increasing alpha brain waves helps to improve sleep quality by relaxing the mind prior to sleep.

Reduces the body's stress response

Alpha waves have been shown to reduce the stimulation of the HPA (Hypothalamus- Pituitary- Adrenal) axis. This means the production of cortisol (the body's primary stress hormone) decreases. Alpha waves also lower heart rate and breathing rate; high stress levels are associated with increased levels of both.

How do you increase alpha brain waves?

A relaxed, alert mental state can be induced by meditation, breathing exercises, or relaxation techniques. However, it is now possible to induce this mental state by simply taking an amino acid, L-theanine (theanine).

Research has demonstrated that alpha brain waves can be promoted within 30-40 minutes after the consumption of theanine.

How to obtain theanine

Green tea and theanine Theanine may be obtained from drinking tea; however, the amount of theanine contained in each cup is actually quite low (6-7 mg) and is not enough to have a therapeutic effect (100-200 mg is required). Therefore, the only practical way to obtain therapeutic amounts of theanine is via supplementation.

Up until recently it was too difficult, expensive, and inefficient to be able to isolate theanine from tea leaves. However, advances in extraction techniques have now made available economically feasible methods of extracting theanine successfully.

How to choose the best theanine supplement

The best theanine supplement to use is one that is extracted from green tea. Instead of having theanine manufactured synthetically in a laboratory, a theanine extract will not only provide you with all the health benefits of theanine, but it will also provide you with the additional health benefits provided by the green tea catechins and polyphenols, which will also be contained in the supplement.

How to take theanine

A theanine supplement contains around 100 mg of theanine per capsule. It is recommended to take 1-2 capsules twice a day, with or without food.

It is interesting to note that a 2-capsule serve of a standard theanine supplement contains the same amount of theanine as approximately 25 cups of green tea!

For more information about theanine, please watch this video:

Where to get theanine

Theanine is available in supplement form from health food stores and selected pharmacies. In fact, one of the best supplement forms of theainine on the market is BCN Health's Tranquil Mind.

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