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What Is L-Theanine

by Landmark Recovery

September 9, 2019

Tea is one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world. Tea is known to help with a number of physical and mental function. One reason for the benefits that tea has is due to the fact that it contains L-theanine.

You may be wondering, what is L-Theanine?

What Is L-Theanine?

L-Theanine is an amino acid that is primarily found in the green tea plan, but is also found in other plants involved in the tea-making process. It was first discovered in 1949 in green tea but has since been found in multiple other types of tea including black and Moringa.

Chemically, L-theanine is similar to glutamate in structure and has a number of different effects on the body and brain. For example, L-theanine is known to inhibit glutamate reuptake, increase brain GABA, dopamine, and glycine concentrations.

Depending on the type of tea you drink your intake of L-theanine will vary. For example, standard green tea contains about 5mg per cup whereas matcha and black tea have about 46mg per cup.

Why Use L-Theanine?

Mental health disorders are somewhat of a common issue. In fact, they affect about 12 percent of people at some point during their lives. Some of these mental disorders include anxiety, mood, impulse control, and substance abuse issues.

One of the common treatment options used to help people with mental health disorders is medication. Medications such as Xanax, Valium, and Zoloft are all commonly used to help with problems such as anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, people who use medications such as these can deal with problematic side effects and they can even cause addiction issues.

This is where L-Theanine comes in.

Benefits of L-Theanine

According to information from Pennsylvania State University, L-theanine holds a number of benefits that can help someone if their dealing with issues related to anxiety or stress.

Some of the benefits associated with L-theanine include:

  • Balance in your sleep and wake cycles
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Feelings of calmness
  • Reduced mental and physical stress
  • Improved cognition and mood

Electroencephalography, or EEG, tests that look into brain patterns have found that theanine has been shown to help induce alpha waves in the brain during deep relaxation, this can help to improve certain cognitive functions such as imagination, visualization, memory, learning, and more.

It should be noted that despite the benefits that you may receive from L-theanine, there are also side effects that you may have to deal with. For example, there is some concern that L-theanine can interact with high blood pressure medication and may cause your blood pressure to lower too much.

There is some evidence that L-theanine can help with a number of different psychiatric disorders and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

One study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, found that L-theanine can enhance activity in the hippocampus, a brain section that is involved in short- and long-term. It also was shown to exert anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety, effects.

Another study published Acta Neuropsychiatrica found that L-theanine administration is safe and had a number of different beneficial effects on depressive symptoms.

Alpha Waves

As mentioned before, L-theanine can help to stimulate the alpha waves in the brain. Alpha brain waves are one of the four basic rhythms of brain function: alpha, beta, delta, and theta. Alpha rhythm is a prominent EEG wave pattern for an adult who is awake but relaxed.

As mentioned before, L-Theanine is an amino acid that may affect different aspects of brain function in humans. There is evidence from electroencephalograph (EEG) studies that show that it has a direct effect on the brain and can work to increase activity of the alpha frequency band. This indicates increased relaxation without inducing drowsiness. Alpha activity in the brain also plays a role in the critical aspects of attention.

Other Benefits

The use of L-theanine has been linked to a number of different benefits that go beyond anxiety and depressive symptoms. While there is more research that needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of L-theanine on helping with certain physical and mental problems, there is some existing evidence that it may hold a number of strong benefits.

Some of these benefits include lower cancer rates, blood pressure control, and improved immune functioning.

One study has shown that l-theanine found in some mushrooms has been shown to have a “synergistic effect” on the anti-tumor activities of certain chemotherapy medications.

There is also other evidence that points to the belief that L-theanine, if used a supplement may have some effects on learning ability, immune functioning, and even cancer suppression.

Dangers of Psychiatric Medications

While L-theanine can be beneficial in treating certain psychiatric and mental ailments, the true benefit comes in the fact that patients of these issues will no longer be exposed to some potentially dangerous and even addictive medications that sometimes have life-threatening results.

There are many different medications that patients are prescribed for issues such as depression and anxiety. The most common class of medication that is prescribed for these problems are benzodiazepines, two of the most common of which are Xanax and Klonopin.


Alprazolam, better known by its brand name Xanax, is a drug that is used to help people who suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related problems such as insomnia and panic disorders. Xanax boosts the effects of a neurotransmitter in your brain called GABA and reduces tension, anxiety, and panic by slowing down the activity of nerve cells in the brain.

While Xanax can offer relief for certain anxiety disorder symptoms, it can be paired with behavioral therapy to increase the effectiveness of treatment.

Unfortunately, Xanax can lead to certain side effects and there are a number of different precautions that users of the medication should be aware of. Some of the symptoms that those taking Xanax can experience include drowsiness, dizziness, slurred speech, poor balance, nausea, headaches, and more.

Xanax use can also lead to problems such as addiction and overdose. According to information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, data shows that deaths that involve overdoses from benzodiazepines like Xanax quadrupled between 2002 and 2015

Along with the risk of overdose, some patients may deal with issues related to addiction. While not everyone who uses Xanax will develop a substance use disorder, it is somewhat common for users to develop a dependence on the drug. Physical dependence will cause the body to need larger and larger amounts of the drug in order to get the desired effects. This increases the likelihood that a patient will experience an overdose.


Klonopin is the brand name for Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine that is prescribed to help with certain anxiety-related disorders such as panic disorder, insomnia, and more. Like all benzodiazepines, it is a central nervous depressant that is used to slow the nervous system down.

If used properly, Klonopin can help patients overcome some of the issues that they may be facing. However, there are many common side effects associated with the use of Klonopin. Some of these side effects include:

  • Body aches and pain
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Sleepiness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure
  • Difficulty breathing and more

However, like Xanax, the use of Klonopin can spiral to abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Unfortunately, Xanax and Klonopin addiction is something that happens all too often among those who are prescribed the medication. Addiction is never a good thing. Whether it is alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drugs, addiction and dependence can lead to disastrous consequences and even death.

While L-theanine may be an answer that can help patients without leading to addiction issues, more research needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of this substance.

For those who don’t have time to wait and need help now, it may be best to look into a drug and alcohol treatment center that can help you if you are dealing with substance abuse problems.

Next Steps

If you or a loved one is suffering from some type of substance abuse issue, whether it is related to alcohol or drugs, addiction can destroy your life. If you do not take these issues seriously it can even lead to death. Landmark Recovery is one drug and alcohol treatment center that can provide your loved one with the tools and knowledge they need to attain long-term sobriety. If you would like to learn more about Landmarks Carmel drug and alcohol rehab, please visit our website and reach out to our admissions team today.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.