L-Theanine Nootropic Review

l theanine nootropic review

L-Theanine is a naturally occurring component of green tea and certain mushroom species. It’s known for enhancing alpha brain waves which are associated with creative thinking, calm focus, and mental clarity. L-Theanine will reduce your anxiety, improve sleep, and can even help with memory.

If you experience a lot of stress in your day to day life. Or perhaps have issues with anxiety and intrusive thoughts, then L-Theanine could be your answer.

Structurally, L-Theanine looks similar to l-glutamine and the neurotransmitter l-glutamate. However, its effects in the brain are all but similar to these compounds.

L-Theanine is a soothing compound. After ingestion, it crosses your blood-brain barrier fairly easily. It takes about 30-45 minutes for l-theanine to start exerting its benefits, including:

  • Stabilizes brain chemicals. These include dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. The unique benefit of having optimal levels of these neurotransmitters is that you’ll feel calm, yet energized both at the same time.
  • Tunes brain waves. L-Theanine boosts your alpha brain waves as I mentioned before. It also enhances theta brainwaves. Both of these are linked to states of relaxation, deep creativity, focus, and trauma relief. Alpha brain waves, for example, are heightened when you meditate or are deeply focused on your work. (3)
  • Protects brain cells. L-Theanine might reduce the levels of glutamate in your brain, which is a chemical that can, when there’s too much of it, overexcite your neurons to the point of death.

In this science-backed article, I’ll look at how L-Theanine works as a nootropic, whether it’s the right supplement for you, and how you can get the most out of it.

A Glance at L-Theanine

L-Theanine is a non-essential amino acid from tea. You’ll find it in particularly high amounts in green tea.

The compound L-Theanine was first isolated in 1949. by a Japanese scientist Sakato. It was shown that L-Theanine is similar to glutamate and glutamine. It gets hydrolyzed into ethylamine and l-glutamate and quickly passes through your blood-brain barrier.

Now, what’s most interesting about L-Theanine is its ability to modulate your brain waves. In fact, it’s one of the only nootropic compounds known to have this benefit.

The result of these effects is that L-Theanine will make you calm yet more alert at the same time. This makes retaining knowledge and learning new information much easier.

Having higher alpha brain waves also promotes feelings of peace and joy.

Alongside boosting your neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. The soothing nootropic L-Theanine also increases the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Both of which stimulate neurogenesis – the creation of new brain cells.

As you start taking L-Theanine regularly, you’ll notice that it relieves stress, improves cognition, and boosts mental well-being over time.

How L-Theanine Works?

Two main ways in which L-Theanine works in your brain are:

  1. Boosts resistance to stress. L-Theanine attunes your brain waves to a more relaxed state, which helps you stay mentally focused and at ease during high-pressure situations.
  2. Enhances GABA and other brain chemicals. By doing so, L-Theanine protects your brain from excess glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter that increases the firing between your neurons – too much of it can be toxic to your brain cells, though.

Who Should Take L-Theanine?

Is L-Theanine for you? Should you supplement it?

L-Theanine is for anyone looking to lead a calmer, more balanced lifestyle. It doesn’t make you drowsy or sleepy like a benzo pill. Instead, it maintains your cognition while relaxing you at the same time.

This is a similar mental state to that of when you meditate. You’re fully aware, but also fully relaxed.

Many people say that L-Theanine helps them be “wakefully relaxed”. It’s this mental state that is associated with improved learning, problem solving, mood, and attention.

Why You Should Consider L-Theanine

As we hit adulthood, our energy metabolism and brain chemistry start to change.

  • Neurotransmitters downregulate
  • Glutamate levels raise, and so does its toxicity to our brain cells
  • Stress increases
  • Long-term mood and memory decline
  • Sleep worsens

The issue is, this decline doesn’t just happen in older people. Anyone can be at risk, especially if you’re going through a lot of stress.

How L-Theanine Can Help You

L-Theanine’s soothing and protective effects on the brain might offer a number of benefits. Human research suggests that L-Theanine works to:

  • Promote anti-stress effects by inhibiting glutamate, resulting in reduced stress hormones and slower heart rate
  • Supports healthy sleep through relaxation, but not sedation
  • Increases attention during cognitively demanding tasks
  • Might offset some of the negative symptoms of cognitive decline in the elderly

Nutrition Tip: I use L-Theanine together with other proven mental enhancers in Mind Lab Pro. This is currently the highest rated professional nootropic formula on the market – using state of the art ingredients for safe brain optimization. Mind Lab Pro helps me stay calm, focused, and mentally sharp. What I like about it the most is that it’s effective for anyone to use; young students, adults over 50, or caffeine-driven professionals looking for a cleaner pick-me-up for productive success. Read my Mind Lab Pro Review to see how it works.

Which Brain Pathways Does Theanine Target?

Brain Waves

L-Theanine is shown to significantly boost Alpha brainwaves. As a result, you should feel an increase in mental awareness and clarity, more relaxed minus the drowsiness, and more creative.

Brain Chemicals

L-Theanine is a molecule that can cross the blood brain barrier to support your mood-boosting neurotransmitters: dopamine, GABA, and serotonin.

At the same time, L-Theanine binds to glutamate receptors – preventing your brain from going into ‘overdrive’.

Brain Protection

Consuming tea has been suggested to benefit cognitive performance and protect against cognitive decline in older adults. This benefit has been attributed to tea’s neuroprotective compounds, including antioxidants and l-theanine.

How L-Theanine Supports Your Brain Health

  • Increases Alpha brain waves
  • Inhibits over-excitation of neurons
  • Supplies antioxidants for neural protection
  • Supports hormonal balance

Nootropic Benefits of L-Theanine

  • Instills calm focus
  • Helps attention and learning
  • Potentiates the good effects of caffeine while canceling the negatives
  • Promotes mood, alertness, and memory

Recommended Product That Uses L-Theanine: Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is the best reviewed brain health supplement on the market right now.

Developed by experts, featuring 11 bioactive ingredients, designed to naturally boost mood, motivation and cognitive function.

>Click to Read Review<

Scientific Studies

Study #1: L-Theanine Boosts Cognitive Health

This double blind placebo controlled study looked into the effects of L-Theanine on memory and attention.

91 people with mild cognitive impairment were split into two groups. One group received a placebo, while the other group took 1,680mg of L-Theanine every day for 4 months.

The study found that L-Theanine raised Theta brainwaves linked to cognitive creativity and alertness. Their memory improved too. (1)

This is quite a profound finding when you think about it. People spend years doing meditation. This allows them to have access to higher brain wave states like Theta. However, in this trial, people achieved the same with a dose of L-Theanine.

Key Point: L-Theanine works to reduce cognitive impairment, it improves memory, and induces Theta brain waves which are known to induce states of relaxation and deep creativity, which is seen in regular meditators.

Study #2: L-Theanine Alleviates Stress

If you suffer from stress, then L-Theanine is one of the best supplements to help you feel calmer and more in control.

Both animal and human research support this – showing that this nootropic amino acid reduces corticosterone and other stress hormones.

One study caught my eye in particular. Animals were fed water laced with L-Theanine daily for 3 weeks. After this, they were put through stress-inducing exercises. The researchers saw a significant reduction in corticosterone levels in animals who were given L-Theanine.

It turned out that stress had no effect on these animals. Their memory remained unaffected. (2)

Key Point: L-Theanine helps you maintain memory and mental sharpness otherwise impaired by stress.

What Does L-Theanine Feel Like?

Most people report feeling calmer within 45 minutes of ingesting L-Theanine. You may feel a boost in cognition and energy levels without the typical anxiety or jitteriness of caffeine or other stimulants.

Some report that L-Theanine helps to reduce their anxiety. Others say it helps them sleep better. L-Theanine can also improve your general quality of life and sense of well-being.

How it Works For Me

On a personal note, I’ve found that L-Theanine takes the edge off my stress, anxiety, or nervousness – especially during times where I’m having a lot of things going on in my personal and professional life.

It helps me stay calmer and think more rationally. The effect isn’t huge, but it’s definitely enough to help me work longer, stay less stressed, and feel just slightly better overall.

How to Get the Most Out of L-Theanine

You can easily reap the benefits of L-Theanine by drinking tea. Including green, black, and white tea. However, green tea has the highest levels of this nootropic compound.

A side benefit of green tea is that it also has some caffeine. A little bit less than your regular coffee. This can also be a negative thing though; depending on if you can tolerate caffeine. If you can’t, then it’s best to take L-Theanine as a supplement.

Japanese manufacturer Taiyo is the most renowned green tea supplement company. They patented their L-Theanine extraction process from green tea. Their L-Theanine is called Suntheanine® – and is considered to be the best form of L-Theanine available today.
  • You can find Suntheanine® in some professional nootropic formulas, including Mind Lab Pro. 

Mind Lab Pro has 11 brain-enhancing compounds that work together to boost your stress resistance, mental energy, brain circulation, neurogenesis, and other aspects of brain function. It’s what I use and it works very well for me.

You’ll also find Suntheanine® in Performance Lab Stim. Which is a brand new supplement that gives me a clean energy boost. Containing caffeine extracted from Coffea Robusta Seeds, 250mg of patented L-Tyrosine, 100mg of Suntheanine®, and a premium NutriGenesis B-Complex – which uses nature-identical ingredients. This ingredient combination ensures that you get sustained energy without the caffeine crash afterward.

Should You Take L-Theanine Alone or With Caffeine?

If you tolerate caffeine well, then taking it together will L-Theanine will enhance its effects. While minimizing side effects.

A study from Unilever UK looked at the combination of L-Theanine+caffine on mental performance. Specifically, they compared 50mg of caffeine alone vs. when combined with 100mg of L-Theanine.

The study included 27 volunteers. They were tested for mood, attention switching, word recognition, visual information processing, and other cognitive parameters. Their performance was tested before ingestion, after 60 minutes, and after 90 minutes. Followed by a 7-day washout.

And here are the results…

Caffeine alone improved volunteers’ alertness after 60 minutes. It also improved their attention-switching accuracy at 90 minutes. However, the caffeine+L-Theanine combination improved both accuracy and speed, along with reducing the sensitivity to distractions on the memory test.

The research team concluded that the caffeine+L-Theanine combo are beneficial for boosting performance on cognitively heavy tasks.

For me, the most impressive finding is that L-Theanine takes that jittery edge off of caffeine. This makes the caffeine ‘buzz’ more stable and last longer.

Key Point: L-Theanine+caffeine work better than caffeine alone. In addition, L-Theanine helps to reduce the negative side effects of caffeine, such as energy crashes, ups and downs, and jitters.


The recommended dosage for L-Theanine is 200-400mg one or two times per day. The upper limit is suggested to be 1,200mg per day.

However, I’ve personally found much lower doses of Theanine to be more effective. 100-150mg of L-Theanine for a single dose at most is my sweet spot. But as everyone is different, your mileage may vary.

Another point to note is that L-Theanine is water soluble. So you can take it without food.

Side Effects

L-theanine is a natural amino acid found in edible mushrooms and tea. It’s non-toxic and safe for most people.

Theanine does seem to reduce blood pressure. If you’re on high blood pressure meds, consult with your doctor before taking it.

Anything Else to Consider?

Your body doesn’t make L-Theanine by itself. This amino acid is only found in one little known mushroom and tea.

If you’re suffering from chronic stress, nervousness, overthinking, and you can rarely relax, then you should consider L-Theanine supplementation.

As L-Theanine boosts your Alpha and Theta Brain waves. It will keep you relaxed and at ease – helping with everything from confidence, cognitive well being, to stress resilience.

And if you love caffeine, then it only makes sense to stack it with L-Theanine. The two potentiate each other’s benefits while minimizing side effects. They’re like yin and yang.

  • If supplementing with L-Theanine, use the highest quality form of the amino acid available. Suntheanine is your best bet here. It’s a premium form of L-Theanine only found in high-quality nootropics, including professional nootropic stacks like Mind Lab Pro. MLP contains a synergistic formula of 11 brain boosting natural ingredients that support your cognition and brain health across the board.


Is L Theanine Anticholinergic?

L-Theanine isn’t known to be anticholinergic. The current evidence doesn’t point to the potential issue of L-Theanine reducing acetylcholine levels in the brain. As a result, you shouldn’t have any problems with it in that regard.

L-Tyrosine and Theanine Together?

You can safely stack L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine together. In fact, the two have synergistic effects on your mood, mental clarity, and resistance to stress. The brand new Performance Lab Stim (which I use) is a professional nootropic that utilizes both of these ingredients – giving you maximum benefits on your cognition and mental well being.

L-Theanine and Ashwagandha For Sleep?

Some neurohackers like to stack L-Theanine and Ashwagandha for sleep. As both of these ingredients help to raise GABA – which is a calming brain chemical – they can help you unwind and relieve stress.

Can You Take L Theanine with Lion’s Mane?

Yes, you can take L-Theanine with Lion’s Mane. The two work very well together when it comes to boosting your mental performance and thinking. In fact, the current top rated nootropic on the market, Mind Lab Pro, uses both of these ingredients.

Conclusion on L-Theanine Nootropic Review

So there you have it. That was my L-Theanine nootropic review.

  • This is one of the more effective nootropics for dealing with stress and everyday pressures. It increases your Alpha and Theta brain waves which are linked to wakeful relaxation and deep creativity – allowing you to feel and perform at your best.

L-Theanine is naturally found in green tea and in some mushrooms. It’s considered safe.

If you’re thinking about using L-Theanine, make sure to do proper research and choose a high-quality form of the supplement. Because many L-Theanine supplements on the market are low quality and downright ineffective.

Taking L-Theanine as a part of a proven pre-formulated nootropic stack is even better, as it will give you a multitude of mental benefits that L-Theanine alone doesn’t offer.

Recommended Product: Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is the best reviewed brain health supplement on the market right now.

Developed by experts, featuring 11 bioactive ingredients, designed to naturally boost mood, motivation and cognitive function.

>Click to Read Review<

  1. A combination of green tea extract and l-theanine improves memory and attention in subjects with mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. (source)
  2. Preventive effect of theanine intake on stress-induced impairments of hippocamapal long-term potentiation and recognition memory. (source)
  3. 200 mg of Zen: L-Theanine Boosts Alpha Waves, Promotes Alert Relaxation. (source)
About Valentino M. 84 Articles
Valentino is a nutritionist, author, spiritual practitioner, and health coach. He's been researching nutrition and brain health since 2015, and has launched Valentino's Naturals to help people maximize their cognitive performance. When he isn't writing, Valentino loves to travel around Europe, spend time recharging in nature, and research topics within his field of expertise. More...

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