Theanine is widely regarded as an effective and reliable anxiolytic. This means people generally regard it as a great supplement to take to reduce anxiety and lower stress levels.
It is for this reason that L-Theanine is a stapel ingredient in all of the top nootropics, stress supplements, and sleep aids on the market today. Thank to Theanine’s synergistic relationship with caffeine, the amino acid is often used in energy supplements and caffeine pills too!
However, that does not mean that L-Theanine is always effective for reducing anxiety. There have been some reports from people who find that L-Theanine supplements actually increase their anxiety levels. In rare cases, people may find that consuming large doses of Theanine through tea seemingly spikes their anxiety levels, and may even precipitate a panic attack!
Is this true?
Does L-Theanine cause anxiety?
Let’s take a closer look at what Theanine is and how it works to answer this question once and for all.
Does Theanine Increase Anxiety?
As mentioned above, L-Theanine is a popular ingedient in a wide range of supplements, from caffeine pills to nootropics for anxiety to sleep aids. The reason it is used in such a wide variety of supplements is that theanine has broadly beneficial effects; in most cases, L-Theanine reduces stress and anxiety, promotes relaxation, and enhances focus.
Theanine works primarily by suppressing CNS activity. It does this by promoting the release of several different neurotransmitters in the brain, such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. Of these, it is GABA that sees the largest spike after Theanine consumption. GABA inhibits nerve activity in the CNS. In other words, it makes your brain activity less frantic, eases muscle tension, and reduces both mental and physical stress as a result. This is why Theanine is such an effective nootropic for depression and anxiety.
However, as we have already aluded to, some people seemingly find that taking L-Theanine increases their anxiety levels.
If Theanine lowers CNS activity and promotes the release of soothing neurotransmitters, how can this be?
There are a few reasons why some people might feel their anxiety worsening after taking L-Theanine.
One common reason why Theanine might increase anxety is that it is most commonly consumed alongside caffeine. L-Theanine typically assuages the worst side effects of caffeine. However, if the dose of caffeine is large, the dose of theanine too small, or if you are particularly sensitive to caffeine’s side effects, you may still experience a significant rise in anxiety after taking a caffeine and theanine stack.
Another reasons why people may occassionally find theanine supplements making their anxiety worse is that they are experiencing a disturbance in how their brain releases GABA, serotonin, or dopamine. It is also possible that theanine’s effects on blood pressure may make certain people feel dizzy or light-headed (normally those with already very low blood pressure); this experience may cause acute anxiety, and even a panic attack.
It is vital that you talk to your doctor if you experience any increase in anxiety following the use of L-Theanine. You must also carefully look at the label of any supplement to ensure you are not consuming too much caffeine alongside your L-Theanine. Theanine does not generally cause anxiety but in rare cirucmstances it may make anxiety worse.
Can L-Theanine Make You Jittery?
If you are someone who regularly experiences jitters after drinking too much caffeine, after taking caffeine pills, or just aftr a stressful day at work, then L-Theanine might be the perfect supplement for you to try.
L-Theanine is frequently taken alongside caffeine because of its observed effects on caffeine side effects, particularly jitters, anxiety and insomnia. Theanine increases the release of various neurotransmitters, most notably GABA. For those of you who haven’t read the sections above, GABA is the primary inhibitory transmitter in your CNS.
In simple terms, GABA’s job is to reduce nerve activity, slowing down brain activity, easing muscle tension, and relaxing the body as a whole.
By increasing the release of GABA in the brain, Theanine helps reduce jitters by directly reducing the kind of excessive nerve activity which causes jitters.
This is not just theory. Clinical trials have repeatedly shown that supplementing with L-Theanine can quickly and reliably reduce the main side effects of caffeine, including jitters. The same mechanism which allows theanine to stop caffeine jitters will work for jitters caused by any stimulants or anxiety.
Does L-Theanine Help With Anxiety Attacks?
Studies show that increasing intake of theanine can help with the symptoms of anxiety attacks, such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, and increased secretion of immunoglobulin A in saliva. Its effects are somewhat similar to those of a sedative, but L-theanine does not have any sedative effects.
Theanine’s effects on GABA levels in the brain make it a fantastic supplement for helping treat, prevent, and reduce the severity of anxiety attacks. By promoting GABA, serotonin and dopamine release in the brain, L-Theanine quickly reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, improves mood, and soothes the physical symptoms of anxiety attacks like shaking, jitters, sweating, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
When Should I Take L-Theanine For Anxiety?
For best results you should take L-Theanine twice per day for chronic anxiety; once in the morning and once at night. Moderately severe anxiety symptoms may respond to L-theanine taken at a dose of 200 mg twice daily. More severe anxiety may need up to 600mg per day divided into 150mg increments every 3 to 4 hours.
Taken in this way, Theanine tends to work very fast. A calming effect is usually noted within 30 to 40 minutes of taking L-theanine (at doses of 50 to 200mg), and typically lasts 8 to 10 hours. Moderate anxiety symptoms usually improve with a regimen of 200mg once or twice daily aftr just a few days.
As is often the way with natural nootropics, it is best to take Theanine every day, at roughly the same time if possible. Taking Theanine on a consistent, daily basis is the best way to keep on top of anxiety, reducing symptoms as they happen, and preventing any caffeine you consume for sparking an anxiety or panic attack. Taking Theanine every day is also the best approach if you want to avoid side effects; it gives you time to get accustomed to the dose, and it is not thought possible to develop a Theanine tolerance.
We recommend adding L-Theanine to your regular, daily nootropic stack. It has an excellent side effect and safety profile, is most effective when taken consistently, and has broad nootropic benefits. If you want to improve focus, learning capacity and energy levels, then a great stack is Theanine and Tyrosine with either Citicoline or Alpha-GPC. You can then add in caffeine for an extra energy kick if needed.
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.