November 27, 2017
Caffeine is by far the most widely used psychoactive chemical in the world. The source of this caffeine can vary a lot depending on where you are in the world....
Let’s take South America for example, here we find the guarana plant, with the highest known concentration of caffeine in the world, to the tea fields of China and Japan, or the leaves of the large Paraguayan holly plant (yerba maté), caffeine has saturated nearly every culture in the world.
In the UK and the rest of the Western world, the predominant form of caffeine comes from coffee. This stimulating beverage is a staple amongst silicon valley professionals and MIT professors. It’s always been a drink of productivity, dating all the way back to the early cafes of Cairo where only scholars and businessmen were permitted inside to discuss new ideas and business opportunities.
The side effects of caffeine are fairly widespread, and can actually have a negative impact on focus and productivity. Coffee can cause anxiety, jitteriness, and surges in blood pressure. One study focusing specifically on caffeine's effect on cognition found that it wasn’t able to make us any smarter, or even more productive, it merely makes us feel less tired .
There is a solution, a way to get the stimulating activities out of your coffee, useful for periods of mental and physical exertion, while making special use of an important phytochemical contained only in none other than the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The marriage of these two chemicals is a match made in heaven, and a secret that every coffee-loving biohacker should have in their nootropic tool belt.
We call this chemical L-Theanine.
L-Theanine is a special molecule nearly exclusive the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The molecule is most similar in structure to the amino acid L-glutamate, which is an essential precursor to GABA (the main inhibitory molecule in our brains that directly combats anxiety and high blood pressure).
L-theanine promotes relaxation, minimizes the negative effects of stress, and improves memory and cognitive function. It’s been shown through a series of Japanese studies to offer particular benefit to an area of the brain known as the hippocampus , which plays a major role in the formation and retrieval of memories. It also has a direct vasodilating effect on the arteries throughout the body, which is a major reason it combines so well with caffeine.
L-Theanine is produced in shade grown tea crops only, but can be extracted and concentrated into more useable forms. This is likely the reason why shade grown tea crops are so highly valued by connoisseurs despite the huge amount of extra labour and associated cost this cultivation practice brings with it. The euphoric, cognitive enhancing effects of L-Theanine in high quality shade-grown tea has been well regarded for a millenia. The famous Japanese tea ceremony has been using shade grown green tea, high in L-theanine, as a compliment to meditation practices for nearly a thousand years.
Despite its presence in high quality teas, L-Theanine has shown stronger promise in combination with coffee, simply due to the higher caffeine content in a cup of coffee . Tea requires brewing at much lower temperatures, which allows far less caffeine to infuse into the brew.
Synergy is a word used to describe a compounding interaction of 2 or more substances. In a traditional sense, the action of 1 substance + the action of another substance = 2 actions. When the combination involves strong synergy between the two substances, the result would look more like 1 + 1 = 10. The actions of each substance compound off each other, making the sum far stronger than either substance on their own.
L-theanine and caffeine have complimenting, but opposite effects in the human body. They’re a perfect example of synergy.
Caffeine's stimulating and hypertensive effects help to keep us alert and focused when fatigue starts to set in. When combined with L-theanine, nearly all of its negative side effects are eliminated. Blood pressure spikes are leveled out with the hypotensive qualities of L-theanine, and the anxious side effects are balanced out by the relaxing activities of L-theanine and its interaction with GABA.
On top of this, L-Theanine offers cognitive benefit above and beyond combatting the symptoms of caffeine. L-Theanine is directly cognitive enhancing, offering a unique clarity of thought. It’s calming without being sedating, and allows us to think more clearly and concisely while we work or study.
Combining L-Theanine with your daily coffee is simple. You can get started by taking 200mg of our L-Theanine capsules in the morning with your coffee and see what it’s like to feel real productivity with that delicious coffee and avoid the annoying side effects to boot. PS: We also sell it in pure powder form too.
- Article written by Justin Brooke
1. Rogers, P. J., Heatherley, S. V., Mullings, E. L., & Smith, J. E. (2013). Faster but not smarter: effects of caffeine and caffeine withdrawal on alertness and performance. Psychopharmacology, 226(2), 229-240.
2. Sakato, Y. (1949). The chemical constituents of tea: III. A new amide theanine. Nippon Nogeikagaku Kaishi, 23, 262-267.
3. Rogers, P. J., Smith, J. E., Heatherley, S. V., & Pleydell-Pearce, C. W. (2008). Time for tea: mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine and theanine administered alone and together. Psychopharmacology, 195(4), 569.
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Everybody and their dog has heard of resveratrol, and for good reason. This potent antioxidant can prevent free-radical-induced damage in the neurons of the brain, and helps maintain an effective blood brain barrier. What many people don’t know is that there’s actually an entire class of neuroprotective antioxidant molecules, many of which have gained popularity for their nootropic benefits. . . . .