Hi Dr. Annie K! I love your blog and always look forward to learning more about love, medicine and more from your intriguing posts. I’m in a bit of a pickle. I love coffee and need it to stay awake throughout the day, but I am extremely sensitive to caffeine and it tends to make me feel very anxious. Even decaf – that has significantly less caffeine – gives me an uncomfortable, tense feeling. I heard that adding L-theanine powder to your coffee can counteract this anxiety-inducing reaction and allow you to drink your coffee without feeling anxious afterwards while still reaping the benefits of caffeine. Have you heard anything about this? Worth a try ordering some on Amazon? Thanks!
Another great question! We are always searching for natural means to treat anxiety.
While I was trained traditionally, I am always interested in integrating natural treatment methods – as long as they have substantial research to back them up.
Anxiety is extremely common. It is the most common mental illness in the United States. I have written a few articles about anxiety in Love and Medicine. Check out Worry, Freedom from Worry and (yikes!) About Last Night.
Along with other integrative therapies like yoga, meditation and acupuncture, L-theanine is natural remedy that is consistently backed by research. Studies consistently support its use for anxiety. It is a unique non-protein amino-acid that is extracted from green tea.
Do we need yet another reason to drink green tea?
It works by decreasing excitatory chemicals (GABA) that contribute to stress and anxiety. It also decreases heart rate and blood pressure. Enhanced alpha brain wave activity has been seen on EEG. This pattern of brain wave activity resembles that of someone who is very relaxed, yet awake. Improved cognitive functioning such as concentration and focus were also improved in an NIH article. Sleep quality improved in these studies, most based on 200mg per night.
The dosage ranges from 50-200 mg for mild anxiety, 200-400mg for moderate, and 600-800mg for severe cases.
Green tea has 8-30mg of L-theanine. The idea of using the powdered form in coffee has gained popularity. The addition of L-theanine to coffee provides the benefit of better focus and the joy of drinking coffee without the jitters.
L-theanine appears to be safe and effective. Clinical trials report 100% compliance! No major side effects were reported. There are no issues with addiction or interactions with other medications or herbals.
I so appreciate the question and plan to incorporate this in my armamentarium to ease the agony of anxiety. Go out and have a cup of coffee! Enjoy the ritual loved by so many in this world!