L-Theanine as a Nootropic: Benefits

L-Theanine is a completely natural amino acid, that is found mainly in green tea leaves. It makes up to half of the amino acid profile in a cup of green tea.

It’s non-dietary, meaning, you don’t need it to live. However, it contains numerous benefits that can benefit your life in several ways.

In this short article, we tell you exactly what you need to know about L-Theanine and why you should be supplementing it for your cognitive gains.

l-theanine-symbolThe topics we’ll be covering include:

  • What are the benefits of L-Theanine?
  • How does it work?
  • The studies behind it
  • Should you add it to your stack?

Here’s what you need to know.


What are the Benefits of L-Theanine?

We’re going to go into more detail later, but basically L-Theanine, when dosed correctly, is packed with a ton of benefits.

Supplementing this amino acid on a daily basis has been seen to promote:

  • Relaxation – Feel more at ease, allowing you to focus more
  • Lower Anxiety – Experience less pressure when performing tasks
  • Improve Sleep Quality – Have a better night’s sleep
  • Boost Learning – Increase your ability to retain new information
  • Improve the effects of caffeine – Less jitters, and overall better experience
  • Enhance Focus – Calm and collected, you can solve more problems

It’s a serious bundle of benefits, and some reports claim that the amino acid may even help prevent against cancer. However, there’s limited research out there to support these claims – and a lot more in-depth study is needed to confirm this.


How Does It Work?

After being absorbed the main thing that L-Theanine does is get to work on your Alpha Brain Waves.

Alpha Brain Waves?

Essentially, these are certain electrical impulses in your brain that promote certain ways of thinking. There are four different types, Alpha, Beta, Delta and Theta.

Alpha waves are responsible for promoting relaxation and calmness – although it still promotes alertness. Basically this is the brain wave that you’d associate with being in control – you’re on top of everything and you’re difficult to rattle.

On top of this, L-Theanine also boosts calming neurotransmitters in the brain such as GABA, Dopamine and Serotonin – the feel good hormones. It also helps to reduce the ones that cause stress and anxiety.

You’ll be calm and in control, and overall productive.


Studies on L-Theanine – The Facts

Here’s just some of the studies we found on L-Theanine. As you can see it’s pretty effective:

Relaxation, Focus and Attention

Study 1: Kristy et al. [1]

In a study of 16 subjects split into 2 groups, one L-Theanine, and one placebo, there was clear evidence of L-Theanine working.

When compared to the placebo group, the L-Theanine group reported that they felt a lot more relaxed and in control.

Study 2: Higashiyama et al. [2]

In a further study using 18 subjects, compared to the placebo, those taking the amino acid had positive results. The L-Theanine group was seen to have a more relaxed demeanor. This gave them improved visual-attention performance, improved reaction time – and just overall better focus.


Study 1: Ritsner et al. [3]

40 subjects diagnosed with Schizophrenia supplemented L-Theanine for 8 weeks. Results showed that their anxiety and activation symptoms were significantly reduced over the period, and it didn’t negatively effect their quality of life in any way.

Study 2: Kimura et al. [4]

Subjects were split into two groups and were tasked with solving a mental arithmetic task – one group on L-Theanine, the other placebo.

The L-Theanine group had far less anxiety when presented with the task, with a saliva test showing half the amount of anxiety as the placebo group.

Sleep Quality

Study 1: Lyon et al. [5]

In a study involving 197 males suffering from ADHD, researchers gave a portion of them L-Theanine and recorded the results. There was a significant improvement in sleep quality with the subjects sleeping more than usual.

L-Theanine and Caffeine

This is one of the better nootropic stacks out there.

The calming yet attention-peaking powers of L-Theanine are extremely complementary to the stimulating effects of caffeine. The two have a lot of synergy. [6]

When caffeine usually gives you an uncontrolled boost of focus, followed by a hard crash – L-Theanine picks up the slack. By promoting the downer component GABA in your system, which can cancel out the jitters and anxious mood people usually get from stimming up.

Most users report being in a heightened state of focus, while still remaining completely calm and in control. If you need to get a lot done without hyping yourself out – this is the kind of stack you need.

Side Effects

There have been no side effects reported in subjects taking L-Theanine.

However, just as a precaution, it’s advised that you should not supplement L-Theanine if pregnant or breastfeeding.


Should you add L-Theanine to your stack?

If you’re looking for more focus, concentration, and calmness, then L-Theanine is definitely the nootropic you’ve been looking for.

With its ability to lower the jitters you usually get from caffeine, but streamline the concentration, L-theanine is the smartest way to boost your energy levels.

There have been no side effects reported with it, and it has been seen to deliver a host of benefits – even sleep quality.

It’s cheap, it’s safe, and best of all it works. It’s one of the best natural nootropics out there.


[1] Lu K, Gray MA, Oliver C, et al. The acute effects of L-theanine in comparison with alprazolam on anticipatory anxiety in humans. Human Psychopharmacology. 2004;19(7):457–465.

[2] Akiko Higashiyamaa, Hla Hla Htay, , , Makoto Ozeki, Lekh R. Juneja, Mahendra P. Kapoor, Effects of l-theanine on attention and reaction time response, Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd., 1-3 Takaramachi, Yokkaichi, Mie 510-0844, Japan

[3] Ritsner MS, Miodownik C, Ratner Y, Shleifer T, Mar M, Pintov L, et al. 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;72:34–42. Epub 2010 Nov 30.

[4] Kimura K., Ozeki M., Juneja L.R., Ohira H. l-theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol. Psychol. 2007;74:39–45. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.06.006.

[5] 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.

[6] Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB., The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood., Biol Psychol. 2008 Feb;77(2):113-22. Epub 2007 Sep 26.