Is theanine good for social anxiety?

What is theanine?

Theanine is a chemical found in green tea leaves and in several fungal species. It was isolated for the first time in 1949 by the Japanese scientists. Being an amino acid, it exists in two forms: L theanine, which is believed to provide real benefits for the individual’s mental health, and D theanine, a raw form whose biological effects have not been sufficiently studied yet.

However, a lot of researchers consider D theanine responsible for blocking the absorption of L theanine in the body and being risky for human consumption. The supplements based on L theanine are recommended for:

  • anxiety symptoms

  • depression

  • high blood pressure

  • stress relief

  • better quality of sleep

Facts about L theanine

  1. L theanine is a water soluble chemical that crosses the blood-brain barrier

This property is the jumping off point of the L theanine influence on the human brain:

  • promotes gamma amino butyric acid (well-known as GABA) production

GABA‘s function is to slow down the brain’s activity in order to reduce nervous tension and get a better night sleep.

  • enhances the production of serotonin and dopamine, two major neurotransmitters involved in providing the feeling of well-being

Dopamine improves learning capability, memory, attention and efficacy in solving everyday problems. Serotonin (the “happiness hormone”) affects many of the body’s functions such as appetite, sleep, social interaction, mood changes, and sex drive.

  • increases the generation of alpha brain waves

Alpha brain waves create a deep state of relaxation meant to counterbalance the hyper alert feelings promoted by the beta waves. L theanine keeps under control the amount of beta waves preventing the sensation of fear to occur.

  • protects the nerve cells by regulating the level of glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter

  • L theanine does not cause addiction

Unlike many other drugs used in the treatment of social anxiety, L theanine is not habit forming and does not induce worrisome withdrawal symptoms when its administration is ceased.

  1. L theanine is tolerable by most people

  2. L theanine has stress reduction features

The clinical research made to check the influence of L theanine on people’s stress response showed that the oral intake of L theanine led to a considerable reduction of the heart rate (HR) and the secretion of immunoglobulin A in saliva. The level of these two parameters measures the immune system response to stressful tasks.

  1. The dietary supplements with L theanine acquired the GRAS status

FDA offered the GRAS (meaning generally recognized as safe) status to the L theanine based supplements.

  1. L theanine helps cancer patients

L theanine reduces the anxiety in cancer patients during chemotherapy sessions. Moreover, it was noticed an enhancement of the chemotherapy drug effects while patients are on L theanine supplements.

  1. L theanine reduces the blood pressure

High stress social situations come with anxiety symptoms as well as with an increased blood pressure. The medical trials indicate that L theanine attenuates both the blood pressure and anxiety signs.

  1. L theanine blocks the toxic effect of alcohol

L theanine blocks the free radicals released by alcohol and boosts the glutathione level enabling the liver’s role in detoxification. Alcohol impairs the production of glutathione (a natural antioxidant that protects the cell’s components), and L theanine comes to counteract this loss.

Side effects of L theanine

Higher doses of L theanine taken for long periods of time may lead to:

  • drowsiness

  • diarrhea

  • irritability

  • vomiting

  • stomach discomfort

People diagnosed with glaucoma, diabetes, and osteoporosis, have to ask for their health care provider’s opinion before starting to drink green tea or consume extracts.

L theanine dosage for social anxiety

The dosage greatly depends on the individual’s body weight and the strength of the anxiety symptoms. Many patients reported that lower doses (50-100 mg) are helpful for increasing concentration, while doses between 250 and 400 mg per day support relaxation and relieve stress.

L theanine is a mild chemical whose side effects can be easily kept under control as long as you follow a daily regimen with the prescribed dose.

The interaction between L theanine and caffeine

L theanine and caffeine taken together provide synergic effects because L theanine attenuates the hyperactive energy and “speedy” effects of caffeine. The result of this combination is a better focus on assignments, improved dexterity and memory that increase the user’s self-confidence.

A popular dosage is 4 parts of L theanine with 1 part caffeine. Even though things look great, it is very important to consult a doctor before mixing your supplements.


L theanine is useful in treating the social anxiety symptoms because induces calm, improves the mental acuity, provides better sleep, and acts as a mood modulating factor. Side effects are very gentle compared to the standard antidepressant medications. Alongside with meditation, diet, and exercising, L theanine is a safe way to cope with the challenges of anxiety disorders.