L-Theanine . an amino acid and focusing agent found in green tea and guayusa, taken alone is slightly sedating. The addition of caffeine helps to balance if out via caffeine l-theanine synergy. Though related both chemically and structurally to GABA, it’s analytical signature is far richer and more diverse pharmacologically speaking. In certain brain regions, it is found to boost levels of serotonin, dopamine, glycine, GABA, NGF, and BDNF.
L-Theanine, ancient Chinese focus secret
In mouse models, it increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis(the hippocampus plays a vital role innew memory formation) and spatial learning while reducing stress and psychiatric symptoms. Theanine is thought to be one of the primary constituents responsible for the cognitive-enhancing effects of Japanese tea. It may be a good general brain supplement for people of all ages.
It has also been shown to be neuroprotective as far as prevention of glutamate excitotoxicity (according to certain models). It acts as an agonist at the NMDA site (in contrast with magnesium and memantine), while antagonizing mGlur1 and mGlur5. The mGlur5 site is of special interest, its antagonism may play a role in its NGF and BDNF boosting properties of theanine, and it is also suspected to be important in lithium’s anti-manic properties. These diverse pharmacological actions may contribute to theanine’s beneficial and noteworthy effect.
The old stand-by: Caffeine
Caffeine used alone is a stimulant that promotes motivation, attention, and certain forms of memory. It may cause slight anxiety or jitters, as a result the addition of theanine to balance out the more stimulating substance can improve the efficacy of focus more than either alone. Caffeine is an antagonist at three main receptor sites: adenosine (A1, A2A, A2B, and A3), glycine, and inositol trisphosphate receptors. . Regardless of voltage-gradient, caffeine activates ryanodine receptors. Adenosine is part of the body’s natural “energy currency.” It’s the “a” in ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and is the chemical signal that is produced and released when we’re tired or have performed work (physical or mental) that should cause exhaustion.
Adenosine normally inhibits the release of dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine, so introducing caffeine undoes this effect by in turn causing a release of serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine in select brain regions. In fact the adenosine inhibition is caffeine’s main mechanism, it is responsible for most of caffeine’s wakefulness-promoting effects. Independent of its dopamine-releasing effects, caffeine appears to allosterically modulate D1 and D2 receptors, , although tolerance may develop to these effects. This may explain its addictive properties and its usefulness in treating ADHD (albeit not as effectively as amphetamine or methylphenidate).
Caffeine L-Theanine stack, synergy that packs a punch
Theanine reverses caffeine-induced stress or anxiety (it may even lessen non-caffeine models of chronic mild stress), without adversely affecting cognition as benzodiazepines or other anxiolytic drugs do. In fact when combined with caffeine, theanine may further promote cognition while reducing anxiety . Many students opt for this combination before studying or taking final examinations, as it helps promote a clear, collected focus or “omnipresence”
However, theanine on its own can be slightly sedating, and cause slight confusion, mental slowness, or put one in a “trance”. This is likely due to its GABA-releasing properties. In high doses, theanine’s side effects resemble side effects of low dose benzodiazepines. To balance this out, an equal portion of caffeine is recommended (the adenosine inhibition complements theanine well) resulting in a highly regarded and sought after compound as old as Chinese green tea. The combo is quite complementary considering the mitigation of side effects of the other (jitteriness, anxiety, inattentiveness, racing thoughts for caffeine, sedation and brain fog for theanine).
Caffeine Side Effects:
- Racing Thoughts (Large Doses)
Theanine Side Effects:
- Brain Fog (Large Doses)
Duration or Half Life:
Caffeine: 5 hours
Theanine: 3 hours
The half-life (or duration) of caffeine is around 5 hours, whereas the half life of theanine is nearly half the time. Since theanine has a slightly shorter half-life, a supplemental dose may be taken after a few hours. Another idea is to take 300mg of theanine per 200mg of caffeine.
The recommended starting dose is 200mg of each. This amount is found in about 4 cups of strongly brewed high-quality Japanese tea. Please be aware that if tea is drunk throughout the day, caffeine will accumulate more quickly than theanine and the profile will transfer from meditative and calm to speedy and jittery. For this reason, it may be preferable to not rely solely on natural sources (tea), but to supplement the diet with some theanine (usually extracted from naturally fermented yeast).
Green Tea, the caffeine-theanine combo in it’s natural habitat
High quality Japanese tea can be an excellent source of both, even with slightly more theanine than caffeine. This is especially true of “first flush” leaves, because of the gentle Spring sunlight, or of “Gyokuro” which is a shade-grown cultivar (the UV rays catalyze the conversion of theanine and other amino acids).
However most store-bought teabags have very little theanine , and are leftovers or “shake” from the second or third flush leaves. Prices range from $9-$25/100g, and recommendations can be found on tea chat forums.
Caffeine and theanine in addition to great synergy are also, considering their strength and efficacy together, relatively benign. Regardless, everyone’s body is different and even with natural sourced supplements like caffeine and theanine it’s a good idea to check with your personal care practitioner before beginning any new diet, fitness or exercise regimen especially if you are currently taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications for any existing illnesses.
 D1 and D2 dopamine receptor antagonists block caffeine-induced stimulation of locomotor activity in rats.
 The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood.
 Quantification of catechins and caffeine from green tea (Camellia sinensis) infusions, extract, and ready-to-drink beverages