by Joan Haynes, NMD
Adjusting to the classroom can be challenging. L-Theanine is a simple supplement that families can try with their children to help them relax, focus and learn. I’ve been using it with kids and adults for over 20 years and find it a gentle and effective supplement. Along with dietary support (whole food, blood sugar regulation, avoiding food sensitivities, quality multivitamin), L-theanine can help kids make the most out of their day.
L-Theanine is an amino acid from green tea which fosters a state of calm, attentive wakefulness. It helps restless & anxious students by lowering levels of the stress hormone corticosterone. When stress levels are high, it interferes with memory and learning.
How L-theanine Works
From a recent Psychology Today article. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201708/what-you-need-know-about-l-theanine
L-theanine promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep by contributing to a number of changes in the brain:
- Boosts levels of GABA and other calming brain chemicals. L-theanine elevates levels of GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and they work in the brain to regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, and sleep, as well as appetite, energy, and other cognitive skills. Increasing levels of these calming brain chemicals promotes relaxation and can help with sleep.
- Lowers levels of “excitatory” brain chemicals. At the same time it is increasing chemicals that promote feelings of calm, L-theanine also reduces levels of chemicals in the brain that are linked to stress and anxiety. This may also be a way that L-theanine can protect brain cells against stress and age-related damage.
- Enhances alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves are associated with a state of “wakeful relaxation.” That’s the state of mind you experience when meditating, being creative, or letting your mind wander in daydreaming. Alpha waves are also present during REM sleep. L-theanine appears to trigger the release of alpha-waves, which enhances relaxation, focus, and creativity. One of the appealing aspects of L-theanine is that it works to relax without sedating. That can make L-theanine a good choice for people who are looking to enhance their “wakeful relaxation,” without worrying about becoming sleepy and fatigued during the day.
At Boise Natural Health Clinic, we find these amounts helpful:
50 mg is a starting dose for elementary school children.
100 -200 mg may be more appropriate for high school children and adults.
L-Theanine can be given each morning and if needed a second time at the end of the day to promote relaxation, focus, and eventually sleep.
* L-Theanine may not be appropriate with certain medical conditions or medications, so check with your provider before giving it to your child or taking it yourself.
Using L-Theanine is an example of Targeted Amino Acid Therapy which is used to treat many common disorders such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, inattentiveness and more. For more information, call for a free consult.