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.

Theanine - The Super-Nutrient!

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 anxiety

Theanine 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.[1] 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 sleep

Researchers 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 function

Japanese 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 body

Theanine 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 attention

Theanine 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 depression

Two 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 loss

There 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 symptoms

Theanine demonstrates an ability to improve the various mental and physical symptoms associated with menstruation.21

May improve sports performance

The 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 flu

Theanine 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 stress

Since 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.

References

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.
2. Yokogoshi H, Kobayashi M, Mochizuki M, Terashima T. Effect of theanine, r-glutamylethyamide, on brain monoamines and striatal dopamine release in conscious rats. Neurochem. Res. 1998 May; 23(5):667-73.
3. Giesbrecht T, Rycroft JA, Rowson MJ, De Bruin EA. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Dec;13(6):283-90.
4. Owen GN, Parnell H, De Bruin EA, Rycroft JA. The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Aug;11(4):193-8.
5. Foxe JJ, Morie KP, Laud PJ, Rowson MJ, de Bruin EA, Kelly SP. Assessing the effects of caffeine and theanine on the maintenance of vigilance during a sustained attention task. Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jun;62(7):2320-7. Epub 2012 Feb 2.
6. Song CH, Jung JH, Oh JS, Kim KS. Effects of Theanine on the Release of Brain Alpha Wave in Adult Males. Korean J Nutr. 2003 Nov;36(9):918-923. Korean.
7. Ritsner MS, Miodownik C, Ratner Y, Shleifer T, Mar M, Pintov L, Lerner V. L-theanine relieves positive, activation, and anxiety symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2-center study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;72(1):34-42. Epub 2010 Nov 30.
8. Miodownik C, Maayan R, Ratner Y, Lerner V, Pintov L, Mar M, Weizman A, Ritsner MS. Serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and cortisol to sulfate of dehydroepiandrosterone molar ratio associated with clinical response to L-theanine as augmentation of antipsychotic therapy in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder patients. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2011 Jul-Aug;34(4):155-60.
9. http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Green-tea-lulls-brain-into-quality-sleep
10. Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec;16(4):348-54.
11. Li G, Ye Y, Kang J, Yao X, Zhang Y, Jiang W, Gao M, Dai Y, Xin Y, Wang Q, Yin Z, Luo L. L-Theanine prevents alcoholic liver injury through enhancing the antioxidant capability of hepatocytes. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Feb;50(2):363-72. Epub 2011 Oct 14.
12. Sadzuka Y, Sugiyama T, Suzuki T, Sonobe T. Enhancement of the activity of doxorubicin by inhibition of glutamate transporter. Toxicol Lett. 2001 Sept 15;123(2-3):159-67.
13. Saduka Y, Inoue C, Hirooka S, et al. Effects of theanine on alcohol metabolism and hepatic toxicity. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Sep;28(9):170-6.
14. Price LH, Cappiello A, Malison RT, et al. effects of antiglucocorticoid treatment on 5-HT1A function in depressed patients and healthy subjects. Neuropsychopharmacology. 1997 Oct;17(4):246-57.
15. Janowsky DS, Risch SC, Huey LY, Judd LL, Rausch JL. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal regulation, neurotransmitters and affective discorder. Peptides. 1983 Sep-Oct;4(5):775-84.
16. Kakuda T. Neuroprotective effects of theanine and its preventive effects on cognitive dysfunction. Pharmacol Res. 2011 Aug;64(2):162-8. Epub 2011 Apr 6.
17. Cho HS, Kim S, Lee SY, Park JA, Kim SJ, Chun HS. Protective effect of the green tea component, L-theanine on environmental toxins-induced neuronal cell death. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Jul;29(4):656-62. Epub 2008 Mar 20.
18. Kakuda T. Neuroprotective effects of the green tea components theanine and catechins. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Dec;25(12):1513-8.
19. Park SK, Jung IC, Lee WK, Lee YS, Park HK, Go HJ, Kim K, Lim NK, Hong JT, Ly SY, Rho SS. A combination of green tea extract and l-theanine improves memory and attention in subjects with mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Med Food. 2011 Apr;14(4):334-43. Epub 2011 Feb 8.
20. Zheng G, Sayama K, Okubo T, Juneja LR, Oguni I. Anti-obesity effects of three major components of green tea, catechins and theanine in mice. In Vivo. 2004 Jan-Feb;18(1):55-62.
21. Takehiko Terashima and Hidehiko Yokogoshi. Ameliorated effect of theanine on premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in volunteers. The University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Shiz40ka, 422--8526, Japan
22. Matsumoto K, Yamada H, Takuma N, Niino H, Sagesaka YM. Effects of green tea catechins and theanine on preventing influenza infection among healthcare workers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 21;11:15.
23. Murakami S, Kurihara S, Koikawa N, Nakamura A, Aoki K, Yosigi H, Sawaki K, Ohtani M. Effects of oral supplementation with cystine and theanine on the immune function of athletes in endurance exercise: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Apr 23;73(4):817-21. Epub 2009 Apr 7.
24. Miyagawa K, Hayashi Y, Kurihara S, Maeda A. Co-administration of l-cystine and l-theanine enhances efficacy of influenza vaccination in elderly persons: nutritional status-dependent immunogenicity. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2008 Dec;8(4):243-50.
25. Calabrese JR, Kling MA, Gold PW. Alterations in immunocompetence during stress, bereavement, and depression: focuson neuroendocrine regulation. Am J Psychiatry. 1987 Sep;144(9):1123-34.
26. Ou XM, Storring JM, Kushwaha N, Albert PR. Heterodimerization of mineralcorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors at a novel negative response element of the 5-HT1A receptor gene. J Biol Chem. 2001 Apr 27;276(17):14299-307.
27. Bhatia V, Tandon RK. Stress and the gastrointestinal tract. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Mar;20(3):332-9.
28. Schleimer RP, Jacques A, Shin HS, Lichtenstein LM, Plaut M. Inhibition of T cell-mediated cytotoxicityby anti-inflammatory steroids. J immunol. 1984 Jan;132(1):266-71.
29. Rogers PJ, Smith JE, Heatherley SV, Pleydell-Pearce CW. Time for tea: mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine and theanine administered alone and together. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008 Jan;195(4):569-77. Epub 2007 Sep 23.
30. Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45. Epub 2006 Aug 22.








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