Theanine - The Super-Nutrient!
The worldwide popularity of tea is unquestionable. It ranks second only to water as the most consumed beverage. There are countless varieties of tea available with black tea and green tea being the most popular. Its consumption dates back more than 5,000 years where it was primarily consumed as a medicinal beverage.
Tea is reported to offer a range of beneficial health and well-being effects. For example, it has been shown in clinical research to improve cardiovascular health, prevent certain cancers, have neuroprotective effects, improve cognitive function, and provide relief from anxiety and stress.
Tea contains numerous active ingredients that offer these health benefits. The latest nutrient that has been identified as playing a significant role is theanine (l-theanine), an amino acid.
Over the last few years a growing body of research has been accumulating, outlining the amazing benefits theanine offers. Many of the studies demonstrate the impact it has on the brain and brain chemistry, especially since it is one of the few nutrients that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Best of all, all the benefits of theanine can now be obtained by simply using a convenient theanine supplement. BCN Health's Tranquil Mind is the first product in Australia to contain therapeutic levels of this valuable amino acid.
In fact just one serving (2 capsules) of BCN Health's Tranquil Mind contains the same amount of theanine as approximately 8-10 cups of green tea!
Here's Just Some of the Theanine Benefits That have Been Discovered so Far...
Relaxes the mind and relieves anxietyTheanine has been shown to calm and relax the mind. It is able to do this by increasing activity in the alpha frequency band as noted by EEG studies on the brain. Even better still, the calming and relaxing properties exerted by theanine are provided without causing drowsiness.2 In fact, it can actually improve cognitive function and alertness!3,4,5
These mind-calming and relaxing properties of theanine even extend as far as relieving the symptoms of anxiety in healthy individuals and those suffering serious mental health conditions!6,7,8
Promotes better sleepResearchers in Japan discovered that theanine was able to improve the quality of sleep, speed recovery from exhaustion, and promote refreshed feelings after sleep. In fact, many of the participants in the study stated that they felt they had slept longer than they actually did!9 This is particularly good news for people who have trouble getting quality sleep each night.
Theanine has also been shown to improve the sleep quality of boys diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Disturbed sleep is a common co-morbidity associated with ADHD and theanine represents a safe and effective adjunctive therapy for childhood ADHD.10
Improves liver functionJapanese researchers have discovered that theanine is able to improve liver function by restoring glutathione (powerful antioxidant) levels in the hepatocytes (liver cells).11
This is of particular interest for people who consume alcohol and for those who take chemotherapy drugs. Both of these groups of people experience losses of glutathione from various organs in the body.
Theanine, however, is able to counteract the drug-induced losses of glutathione. There is even research suggesting that chemotherapy drugs can work more effectively when used in combination with theanine!12
Accelerates the removal of alcohol from the bodyTheanine has been shown to significantly lower alcohol levels in the body.13 It does this by accelerating the breakdown of acetaldehyde (a toxic by-product of alcohol breakdown).
Furthermore, it intercepts the free radicals that get produced during the process of alcohol breakdown, preventing them from damaging the body.13
Increases focus and attentionTheanine has an amazing capacity to promote greater focus and attention.3,4,5 Several studies have shown a positive effect of theanine to help focus attention during demanding cognitive tasks. It also increased the speed and accuracy of performance during those tasks.
May prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia and help to overcome depressionTwo of the major contributing factors to cognitive dysfunction are high levels of glucocorticoids (stress hormones) and depression. It appears that stress hormones, like cortisol, disrupt various brain neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.14,15 The resulting imbalance in brain chemistry causes problems with mood and memory.25,26,27,28
Glucocorticoids have also been shown to shrink the brain!14,15
Theanine has been shown to have neuroprotective effects due to its ability to suppress glucocorticoid effects by blocking glutamate receptors in the brain and by inhibiting an enzyme involved in converting glutamine to glutamate within neurons.16 Theanine is able to impart these benefits due to its rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. It has also been shown to have neuroprotective effects against environmental toxins and other oxygen-based free raicals.17,18
There may even be potential for theanine to reverse dementia with one study showing theanine to have the effect of improving the memory of subjects with mild cognitive impairment!19
Promotes weight lossThere are various components of green tea that have demonstrated weight-loss and fat-burning effects in a clinical setting. Theanine is included in this group.20 The same researchers also found that Theanine is able to lower triglyceride levels in the blood.
Improves PMS symptomsTheanine demonstrates an ability to improve the various mental and physical symptoms associated with menstruation.21
May improve sports performanceThe unique ability of theanine to calm and relax the mind in combination with increased alertness and focus (as a result of increased 'alpha wave' production in the brain) is said to be associated with being 'in the zone' or in a 'flow state'. Therefore, it is possible that theanine may help to improve sports performance.
Helps prevent colds and fluTheanine also demonstrates the ability to prevent colds and flu. A study conducted with 200 healthcare workers has shown a significant difference in the incidence of influenza infection between the test group and the control group.22
Theanine's ability to prevent colds and flu is also re-inforced by another study that demonstrated its ability to boost the immune function of intense-training athletes.23
This means theanine is a great supplement to take to prevent colds and flu over winter and provides a natural alternative to influenza vaccination or may be used in conjunction with it. In fact, one study found that the amino acids theanine and cysteine enhanced the efficacy of influenza vaccinations.24
Reduces psychological and physiological responses to stressSince theanine blocks the binding of glutamic acid to the glutamate receptors in the brain it has a positive effect on psychological and physiological responses to stress.29,30
Researchers have found that theanine can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and salivary immunoglobulins (s-IgA).
Since theanine offers such a wide range of enormously beneficial health benefits it is worthwhile using every day. Also, theanine has not been found to interact negatively with medications.
BCN Health's Tranquil Mind is a concentrated theanine supplement. It is available from health food stores and selected pharmacies or by visiting the Body Concepts website.
1. Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8.
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