Theanine: Relaxation Without Sedation

Theanine: Relaxation Without Sedation

Brain Feed, the brain health and performance experts, give us the low-down on L-theanine including what it is, how it works and why their natural L-theanine is different.  

As human beings, we have a default survival mechanism which is reinforced through learnt behaviour and enables us to become mentally robust to the challenges we face. However, we were not mentally prepared for COVID-19. We had no previous experience; and for many this increased emotional stress and feelings of isolation which were exacerbated by worries about job security and schooling. Home working has also brought about a unique set of challenges centred around motivation, productivity, and relaxation. The good news is that nutrition, exercise, and sleep can help us manage many of these new challenges.

What is theanine and how can it help with relaxation?

Theanine is a fast-acting, non-sedative relaxant which reduces the impact of excitatory pathways in the brain. Put simply, this means it makes you feel more relaxed without feeling sleepy.

How does theanine work?

Theanine increases the relative concentration of the chemical messenger, GABA. GABA’s principal role in the brain is to relax the nervous system without sedation. 

In human studies, theanine also stimulates the production of alpha brain waves which is indicative of a relaxed but alert mental state. It is often referred to as wakeful relaxation, which can help increase creativity and performance under stress as well as reducing anxiety.

In patient groups containing subjects with higher anxiety propensity symptoms, theanine has also been shown to reduce heart rate during stressful mental tasks. The relaxation effect of theanine leads to increased GABA concentrations that result in general feelings of calm and wellbeing however, unlike other conventional calming treatments, theanine does not result in increased drowsiness, slowed reflexes, or impaired concentration. 

How is brain feed’s theanine different?

Most l-theanine on the market is synthetic. The theanine in brain feed's 250mg capsule is extracted green tea from the mountainous region of Hunan Province in South Central China. We keep it as pure as possible, so you won’t find additives such as lemon balm whose mechanisms of actions, ability to enter the brain or synergistic benefits is unknown.

Why should I take isolated theanine from green tea, rather than just drinking green tea?

Theanine is the major amino acid in green tea and constitutes 1-2% of the dry weight of the leaves. If you were to drink enough green tea to obtain sufficient levels of theanine for a therapeutic dose, it would also result in very high levels of caffeine. 

How long does it take to have an effect?

Between 15 and 40 minutes. In human studies, increased alpha waves were generated 15 minutes after the supplement was taken and it has been shown to influence the secretion and function of neurotransmitters 30 minutes after ingestion. Maximum uptake in the brain is usually within 30-40 minutes.

How do I take it?

Take 1 capsule with a glass of water, maximum twice a day.

Does it help with cognition?

In human studies, theanine alone has shown virtually no positive effect on performance. However, 250mg of theanine has been found to positively interact with caffeine to enhance reaction time, the accuracy of rapid information processing, mental fatigue, and tiredness. This combination also enhanced the speed of rapid information processing, sentence verification, and word recognition reaction time when caffeine alone did not. 

Will it make me sleepy?

No. It does not promote the onset of melatonin and it is not a sedative. Sleep inducers and sedatives normally induce drowsiness or sleep within an hour whereas theanine, which achieves its maximum uptake in the brain within 30-40 minutes does not induce any sleep or drowsiness.

Are there any side effects?

Anybody taking medication for high blood pressure should consult their GP. If you have low blood pressure, discuss theanine with your healthcare provider before starting it.




Brain Feed Relax Theanine 30 Capsules