L-Theanine For Depression

The Use Of L-Theanine As A Natural Depression Treatment

L theanine supplements are used to help mild cognitive impairments, like depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and excessive physiological stress responses.

Some claim the effects of l theanine include improvement of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder (BPD), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Another reported beneficial effect of l theanine supplementation is improved sleep quality.

However, there has been little confirmed evidence that l theanine reduces psychological disorders or cognitive impairment.

What is L-theanine?

L theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid with an effect on neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine.

L theanine is commonly found in tea leaves and other natural sources, though if higher doses are desired, L theanine can also be taken as a dietary supplement.

What is an Amino Acid?

An amino acid is usually a molecule that combines to form proteins.

Proteins help your body:

  • Digest food properly
  • Grow and repair muscles, and all other tissue, including brain cells
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Conduct cognitive functions
  • Activate your immune system

As you can see, proteins have many beneficial effects, and you need an amino acid to make it happen.

However, L theanine is unique. L theanine does not combine to form proteins. Instead, L theanine directly affects cognitive functions through the creation of neurotransmitters.

What Are the Benefits of Taking an Amino Acid?

Your body needs twenty different amino acids. Nine of these are called essential amino acids because your body cannot make them. These must be consumed in the food you eat or by taking amino acid supplements.

Most experts agree that eating a balanced diet will provide you with the amino acids you need. However, some people disagree, and take additional supplements to help with general health or mild cognitive impairment.

Many healthy adults take amino acid supplements to help with sleep quality, cognitive function, blood pressure, or other stress related symptoms. However, the FDA has not approved these, because there has been no behavioral and molecular evidence of the therapeutic effects of amino acid supplements.

What is L-theanine Found in?

L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is exclusively made by plants. L theanine is not made by the human body, though consuming L theanine does have effects on neurotransmitters that affect cognitive function, like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine.

For those that are interested in taking L theanine, it can be found in green tea and some mushrooms.

Green Tea

L theanine occurs naturally in green tea, but the amounts are unpredictable. Your cup of green tea can have anywhere between 30 and 50 mg of L theanine depending on how it is prepared and what tea leaves are used. This makes it an unreliable form of l theanine administration.

That is why some choose to instead take green tea extract for their l theanine supplementation. This can ensure a higher l theanine dosage.

Green tea extract also has a higher amount of green tea catechins, which have a number of positive effects. In particular, caffeine improves cognitive performance, though it can also cause or increase anxiety symptoms. L theanine is thought to relieve the negative effects of caffeine.

What Are the Benefits of L-theanine?

L theanine administration has a number of alleged positive effects, especially when L theanine is used as an adjunctive treatment with other more direct methods.

L theanine is said to help with several mental health problems, though there is no mental disorder research to conclusively back up this claim. It is also said that L theanine improves memory, reduces sleep disturbance, and helps focus for mental tasks.

There are few adverse reactions to L theanine. One is the antihypertensive effect of l theanine. L theanine can be helpful if you want to lower high blood pressure, but if you’re already taking any antihypertensive drugs, these will interact poorly with l theanine.

Antihypertensive drugs are any drugs that lower blood pressure. The blood pressure effects of l theanine work too strongly with these drugs and can cause adverse events for your circulatory system.

The bottom line? Avoid l theanine supplements or green tea extract if you have low blood pressure.

L-theanine and Mental Health

L theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier, directly affecting the brain, unlike many other molecules. This is how l theanine increases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.

L theanine induced neurotransmitters increase feelings of calm and well-being, leading to improved mental health. This is how green tea, and the l theanine it contains, calms you and improves your sleep quality.

However, it is doubtful that tea leaves, or even tea extract, could have a high enough l theanine dosage to impact neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

It’s also unlikely that l theanine can help with complicated mental disorders like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, though there is evidence L theanine can help with major depressive disorder and some associated side effects of mental disorders, like anxiety and stress.

If you are undergoing antipsychotic therapy, discuss L theanine with your doctor before attempting L theanine administration. The psychotropic effects of L theanine, though generally positive, may interfere with your other treatments.

L-theanine and Wellness

As far as general wellness, L theanine has many positive effects. One potential benefit is L Theanine has an indicated protective effect on a number of mental disorders, including chronic stress induced neuroinflammation, anxiety symptoms, major depressive disorder, and more mild cognitive dysfunctions.

This means that the effects of l theanine can prevent, or protect you from, mental illness before it even starts.

L theanine also improves cognitive performance, such as memory and focus, and can have natural stress-relieving results that match anti anxiety medications, without the side effects.

How does L theanine help with memory and focus? L theanine upregulates (meaning helps create more of) a molecule called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which helps your brain remember things short-term and pay attention.

L-theanine and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a mental disorder characterized by cognitive dysfunction, difficulties with any sustained attention task, and a lack of inhibitory control leading to hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

While it is unlikely that L theanine treats the cause of ADHD directly, the effects of l theanine can lessen ADHD symptoms.

For example, L theanine improves inhibitory control by helping to unblock glutamate receptors. When unblocked by l theanine, glutamate receptors give us greater control over our behavior.

In a placebo controlled clinical trial, L theanine was shown, when combined with caffeine, to have positive effects on focus in boys with ADHD. While more trials in more subgroups are necessary, this study is a promising result for l theanine and its effects on ADHD.

L-theanine and Major Depressive Disorder

Of the supposed mental problems l theanine relieves, positive results have been seen in clinical trials for treating depression.

An open label clinical trial of l theanine conducted by the National Center Hospital in Japan showed that l theanine had positive effects on patients with major depression.

Participants took l theanine for eight weeks. This study measured improvements due to l theanine on the following scales:

  • Hamilton Depression Rating Scale
  • Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index
  • State Trait Anxiety Inventory
  • Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia

Using these rating systems, participants saw improvements after taking l theanine in their anxiety trait scores, objective sleep quality, and a decrease in their depressed mood, all of which could also mean possible improvements affecting side effects and symptoms related to bipolar disorder. The brief assessment showed improvements in memory and cognitive function after taking l theanine.

This kind of study means that information was not withheld from the participants. The participants consuming l theanine for major depression knew that they were given l theanine for that specific reason.

This is different from a placebo controlled study evaluating l theanine, where some subjects would be taking l theanine, and some would be taking nothing at all, but the subjects themselves wouldn’t know the difference. This style is also usually a randomized controlled trial and is preferred by scientists because it can more effectively rule out other causes besides the l theanine itself.

Nootropic Applications and Alternatives

If you are looking for relief from cognitive impairments or low sleep quality, green tea and l theanine administration is not the only natural option. Especially if your conditions are chronic, l theanine administration is not a long-term solution.

Zero-In by Root is a natural, vegetable-based dietary supplement that improves cognitive function and mental acuity.

The ingredients are simple:

  • Turmeric
  • Pine Bark
  • Velvet Bean Seed
  • Vitamin D

One way it does this is by improving cerebral blood flow. This can help reduce brain fog and avoid repeated cerebral ischemia, or acute brain damage from lack of oxygen delivery to the brain.

Zero-In also optimizes your sleep and circadian rhythm by balancing production of dopamine and serotonin. Unlike L theanine, which has an immediate but limited effect on your brain, Zero-In helps with your natural cycles, so your brain can regulate itself in the long-term.

If you want to see long-lasting relief from a natural supplement, Zero-In provides the benefits you’re looking for.