If you’ve been reading our nootropic stack reviews, then you will have noticed that many of the best nootropics on the market right now use L-Theanine as an ingredient. There’s definitely good reason for this; L-Theanine is easily one of the most effective, safest and most reliable natural nootropics in existence. This simple amino acid not only works in a synergistic way with caffeine, but it has several nootropic properties of its own and it very rarely causes any side effects whatsoever. It therefore makes for a fantastic ingredient in any nootropic stack or caffeine pill.
Another thing you may have noticed while reading nootropic stack reviews is that some supplements use L-Theanine, while others use branded forms of Theanine. Of these branded forms of theanine, the most popular is undoubtedly Suntheanine.
Suntheanine is a key ingredient in many of the leading nootropic stack, energy supplements and caffeine pills on sale today. Many popular brain supplements list the use of Suntheanine rather than L-Theanine as a major selling point, and as a justification for why their products are so expensive!
But is Suntheanine really that much better than L-Theanine? Is it worth paying a lot more money for a nootropic that uses Suntheanine rather than L-Theanine? What are the benefits of taking Theanine anyway? In this article, we’re going to answer all of these questions and more. We will compare Suntheanine and L-Theanine to see if there really is a big difference between the two. But first, what is Theanine and what does it do for brain function?
What is L-Theanine?
As stated above, L-Theanine is a popular ingredient in nootropic stacks such as NooCube, Qualia Mind and Alpha Brain. The reason for its widespread use is that theanine offers reliable nootropic benefits without posing serious side effect risks.
Also known as L-γ-glutamylethylamide and N⁵-ethyl-L-glutamine, Theanine is an amino acid. More specifically, L-Theanine is an amino acid analogue of the proteinogenic amino acids L-glutamate and L-glutamine.
Theanine is naturally found in small amounts in many common foods (such as mushrooms), but it is highly prevalent in tea leaves (black tea has far more theanine than green tea despite people assuming otherwise). However, the amount that you can realistically obtain from tea in a single day is not enough to make a noticeable difference to your cognitive performance, anxiety levels, or to mitigate caffeine side effects. This is why theanine supplements are usually recommended for people looking to enjoy the benefits of this nootropic amino acid.
Benefits of L-Theanine Supplements
So what are the benefits of L-Theanine supplementation?
L-Theanine affects the body and the brain in several different ways at once. It also interacts a great deal with other substances, particularly sitmulants like caffeine and theacrine.
Theanine therefore has several varied benefits, including:
- Reduced stress and anxiety levels
- Improved mental clarity and calmness
- Reduced muscle tension
- Improved sleep quality and faster sleep onset
- Better verbal fluency and reduced social anxiety
- Reduced side effects from stimulant use
- Heightens beneficial effects of caffeine and other nootropic sitmulants
The fact that L-Theanine has such varied and complimentary benefits is a major reason why it is used in so many nootropic stacks today.
One benefit of theanine supplements that is often overlooked is the effect the amino acid has on other substances. In particular, L-Theanine’s effects on stimulants and stimulatory nootropics is hugely beneficial when used correctly. Theanine can enhance and accentuate the most beneficial effects of stimulants like caffeine and theacrine while decreasing side effects at the same time. Theanine can also heighten the effects of stimulatory nootropics such as Aniracetam or Adrafinil without increasing negative side effects.
For a lot of people, L-Theanine supplements simply don’t do a great deal until they take the amino acid alongside caffeine. A theanine/caffeine stack, when the correct doses and ratio is used, is usually what makes people see the full potential of L-Theanine supplementation for the first time!
What is Suntheanine?
Suntheanine is a branded, patented form of L-Theanine. Originally created and patented by Taiyo International, Suntheanine is a specific L-Isomer-Theanine molecule said to be signficiantly more bioavailable and potent than other forms of L-Theanine. According to the manufacturer, Suntheanine is actually more potent than 100% pure L-Theanine as the former is much more bioavailable and therefore more can be absorbed and used by the body.
The Taiyo website tells us that Suntheanine is produced using a natural fermentation technique which replicates how L-Theanine is formed in tea leaves. But this is left as a very vague statement without any further explanation or supporting evidence.
However, aside from the fact that it is L-Isomer-Theanine, we aren’t given many details about what Suntheanine actually is or what makes it supposedly so much more potent than L-Theanine.
Benefits of Suntheanine
What are the benefits of Suntheanine?
As you might have guessed, the benefits of Suntheanine are exactly the same as the benefits associated with taking L-Theanine supplements. Suntheanine is just a branded form of L-Theanine, and while the exact molecule may be slightly different, it is eventually broken down in the body into L-Theanine. So the benefits of Suntheanine are just those that we associate with L-Theanine.
The only difference in benefits is that Suntheanine claims to be much more powerful and fast-acting than regular L-Theanine. The usual benefits linked to L-Theanine (i.e. reduced anxiety, better sleep quality, reduced side effects from caffeine, etc) are therefore said to come on much faster and much stronger with Suntheanine than with any other form of L-Theanine.
Suntheanine vs L-Theanine: Is there a difference?
Is there really a difference between Suntheanine and L-Theanine?
The answer seems to be no. Despite the claims made by the manufacturer – and the supplements that use Suntheanine – we cannot find any hard evidence that Suntheanine produces any benefits that you don’t get from other high quality forms of Theanine, such as L-Theanine.
There is also no concrete evidence that Suntheanine is any more potent, powerful or fast-acting than other forms of L-Theanine. In fact, there is evidence to the opposite! According to the Suntheanine website, the optimal ratio of Suntheanine to caffeine is 2:1. The website says that clinical studies show that this is the ideal ratio to minimize side effects from caffeine while maximizing the sitmulant’s benefits. This is the exact same ratio identified by clinical trials as ideal for regular L-Theanine and caffeine. Suntheanine therefore appears no more potent than L-Theanine.
It is therefore difficult for us to see why anyone would pay so much more money for Suntheanine when it appears to offer no substantive benefits over and above L-Theanine, or any other form of theanine for that matter. Studies looking at Suntheanine and those looking at L-Theanine report very similar results, with participants showing improved focus, reduced stress, better sleep quality, etc. Participants in studies using Suntheanine do not show substantially greater results than those using L-Theanine.
Conclusion: Is Suntheanine worth the cost?
The answer to this question seems to be a pretty resounding “no”. We see no justification for spending extra money on Suntheanine. This ingredient provides no benefits that you don’t get from a high-qualuty L-Theanine supplement.
That said, if you don’t mind spending extra money for no extra benefit, there is certainly no reason to avoid Suntheanine. It is an effective nootropic ingredient and sleep aid proven to work in dozens fo clinical trials. Both L-Theanine and Suntheanine are backed up by lots of hard clinical data, they both work as advertised, and they both have excellent side effect profiles.
If you’re looking for a supplement to help reduce anxiety, promote mental clarity, sharpen focus and help keep a lid on caffeine jitters, we strongly recommend using a pure, highly-bioavailable form of theanine such as L-Theanine or Suntheanine.
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.