Caffeine and L-theanine For Dummies
What do you think that stands for?
*Yet Another Post On Caffeine and L-theanine.*
You’re probably wondering – what could I possibly have to save about caffeine and l-theanine that you haven’t heard before?
A lot – you’ll see.
I must confess that I’m a caffeine/l-theanine addict. (I can’t start my day without black tea and/or coffee).
Many of us require a cup of tea or black coffee before being remotely functional in the morning. These compounds keep us alert and energetic.
In terms of total consumption, caffeine is the most popular drug in the world, rivaled only by ethanol and nicotine. L-theanine is naturally abundant in tea, particularly green tea. And tea is the most popular *beverage* in the world.
What’s The Science Behind Caffeine and L-theanine?
Some basic facts:
– Caffeine and L-theanine are plant-derived substances.
– Both may enhance cognitive performance in a manner that doesn’t overstrain the brain.
– Caffeine is a mild psychostimulant; l-theanine promotes a sense of relaxed concentration.
–Caffeine and l-theanine are *synergistic*
You’d be surprised how many products and beverages contain caffeine. Chocolate, migraine medication, soft drinks, tea, kola nuts – you name it.
Chemically, caffeine belongs to the methylxanthine class of compounds. It’s bitter, abhorred by children and loved by most adults.
Benefits of Caffeine
For a long time, people assumed that chronic coffee consumption is a vice. I always hear people say that they’re going to cut back on coffee consumption as though it’s a terrible habit.
I couldn’t disagree more. Coffee protects against parkinson’s disease and is one of the most potent blends of antioxidants seen in nature. It contains hundreds of neuroprotective compounds.
Coffee is not without downsides, however.
– It’s mildly addictive.
– Most regular coffee consumers will experience withdrawal symptoms like a headache, irritability, or fatigue upon cessation of use.
– Excess caffeine can rarely precipitate psychosis (like hallucinations). This is consistent with the fact that caffeine is a mild psychostimulant.
– Caffeine and coffee in particular may temporarily decrease cerebral blood flow.
Yet, after decades of scrutiny, regular coffee consumption appears to be net beneficial.
From a medical point of view, caffeine shows promise as a kind of prophylaxis against Parkinson’s disease.
L-theanine is also marketed as the over-the-counter supplement suntheanine.
Where Does L-theanine Come From?
L-theanine is extracted from tea leaves and mushrooms. L-theanine underlies the umami taste of green tea. It’s most well known for its ability to enhance relaxation and cognitive function.
L-theanine is an amino acid analogue – so it’s not like the 20 amino acids that comprise proteins in our body. I use it to relieve stress and offset the negative effects of psychostimulants (like caffeine!). L-theanine also affects the cardiovascular system. For example, l-theanine prevents caffeine-induced increases in blood pressure.
As discussed above, L-theanine is a natural component obtained from tea is a CNS stimulant. It enhances the activity of GABA in the brain, which is a calming neurotransmitter. It alters the level of serotonin and dopamine in your brain. It can help control blood pressure, mood, and anxiety. Remarkably, it promotes alpha waves in your brain.
Caffeine is a CNS stimulant and it boosts your mental level and makes you active energetic. But high doses of caffeine also cause anxiety. When both of these components are combined they give the synergistic effect.
Where can you get Caffeine and L-Theanine?
Caffeine and to a lesser degree l-theanine are present in
- herbal tea
- soft drinks
- some foods
Caffeine and theanine capsules are priced in the range of 5-12$. Most formulations contain 200mg of l-theanine and 100 mg of caffeine mostly.
Tea is the richest source of both components so to maximize your intake you might end up drinking a lot of tea. A single cup of tea, depending on preparation, contains about 5-45 mg of l-theanine. The variability
L-theanine is available in the range of 5-45 mg in a single cup. Its range basically depends on the quality of the tea either it is cheap or of high quality.
Tea is widely considered net-healthy. However, tea has some under-recognized downsides. My biggest concern with tea is excess fluoride exposure. Fluoride is an anionic halogen that’s added to the water supply in the United States to control dental hygiene. However, it’s neurotoxic because it inhibits a crucial enzyme in the citric acid cycle.
Analogous to fluoride, coffee is the largest dietary source of acrylamide – which is also neurotoxic.
L-theanine and Anxiety
L-theanine is touted as a substance that reduces anxiety. What does the research say?
One study compared how l-theanine stacks up against the benzodiazepine Xanax. The authors evaluated the effects of l-theanine vs Xanax on anticipatory anxiety. L-theanine had a relaxing effect on participants’ baseline. But surprisingly, neither Xanax or l-theanine had an effect during the anxiety state.
Caffeine and l-theanine are the mainstays of any good nootropic stack.
They’re tried and tested and work well together. My favorite way to enjoy the benefits of this combination is take a capsule filled with l-theanine in the morning with coffee. L-theanine helps offset the hypertensive effects of caffeine while also preventing any jitters or caffeine associated-anxiety/edginess.