Theanine: The Little Amino Acid That Packs A Powerful Punch – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 311
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
When it comes to staying calm, cool and collected, this can be a challenge. There can be a lot of different factors that can alter our perception within our own environment in terms of how we manage stress or how we actually handle the stress itself. I wanted to talk today in regards to theanine because I think theanine is one of the most useful amino acids out there when it comes to stress management.†
There is so much science and research out there that really reinforce the utilization of theanine. Oftentimes, we refer to theanine in its nomenclature of L-theanine. When they put the ‘L’ in front, we’re just talking about the actual structural form of theanine. I want to talk about all of the interesting and unique studies that have come out recently on theanine. Researchers have been looking at theanine for many, many years, but there is some new research that has come out that is reinforcing what we already know about this very, very powerful amino acid.†
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What is theanine?
When we think about amino acids, we know that they play a role as being that building block to proteins. They are heavily relied on in the body for many different functions. Theanine is quite unique because it is kind of this blend of glutamate and glutamine.†
Glutamine is an amino acid that has many different functions that are incredibly important in the human body. It plays a very important role in the intestinal lining, for example. It is important for making sure we have the best uptake for different nutrients into our system. We can also see its role in cellular energy, lipid synthesis and regulation of acid-base balance. Then, theanine would make a lot of sense in terms of working within the human body.†
Theanine is actually plant-derived and predominantly where we find the highest abundance of theanine coming from plants is from green tea. This is why green tea touts so many different medicinal benefits beyond that of just the antioxidant that it possesses.†
We know that theanine has been most widely researched when it comes to stress and management of stress. The reason why is because theanine is working in a means to actually decrease the binding capacity of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate is excitotoxic and if we have too much of this, this can create problems.†
Theanine can actually downregulate the glutamate, but at the same time, it can help to enhance or upregulate the production of gaba. Gaba is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. That’s what allows for that calming effect. What’s interesting is that when we have different imbalances between the neurotransmitters glutamate and gaba, then we can start to see some of those clinical implications. This is why, oftentimes, people will utilize even prescribed medications that will help to downregulate glutamate and enhance gaba production.†
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How theanine is actually working in the brain is quite interesting. We’re using an amino acid that is derived from green tea that has this ability to inhibit that excitotoxicity that’s occurring because of too much glutamate and it helps to enhance the calming properties of gaba. It’s actually mimicking gaba’s effects. We know that prescription anti-anxiety drugs can also do this, but we also know that these drugs can come with a whole slew of side effects, which can certainly become problematic over time.†
Learn more about the powerful impacts of theanine and the research behind it by tuning into the full podcast episode.
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