A cup of tea is often associated with a sense of calm and it is L-theanine, a unique free amino acid that is naturally present in tea, that is the most likely compound creating this effect.
Studies on L-theanine have demonstrated promising anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), cognitive and sleep- promoting benefits in humans, with preliminary data suggesting that it may also provide further benefits as a neuroprotective and chemotherapy adjuvant.
While L-theanine’s actions on the brain are not fully understood, its consumption is shown to induce alpha brain wave activity in humans (as observed in EEGs). This change in brain function is associated with a state of mind described as alert yet relaxed, making its effects beneficial for concentration during stressful situations as well as supporting sleep without undesirable drowsiness during the day.
L-theanine reaches peak plasma levels about 30 minutes after administration and is able to cross the blood brain barrier where it is thought to inhibit excitation.
Doses of 50-200mg have achieved significant benefits for supporting stress relief, relaxation and reduction of anxiety. Other supportive approaches which provide symptomatic relief via this mechanism include the minerals zinc and magnesium as well as the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine.
Addressing mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation and oxidation, along with stress management practises will assist in achieving a calmer state of mind.
L-theanine may have potential here as well, and while it is not an antioxidant, it has the ability to promote and preserve antioxidant status within the tissues of the central nervous system and liver, preserving these tissues from oxidant-induced damage.
So get out the cup and saucer, pop the kettle on, cut yourself a slice of Mandarin, Pistachio & Chickpea Cake, and relaaaxxxxx!