L-Theanine - Sex Drive Support / Dopamine / Glutamate

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L-Theanine - Sex Drive Support / Dopamine / Glutamate
Reprinted by permission from Bill Faloon of the LIfe Extension Foundation

Ever wonder why tea doesn't give you the same buzz as coffee even though it has caffeine?  The reason is scientific, my dear Watson.  Tea contains an amino acid known as l-theanine.  Theanine is tea's version of a relaxant ... think Japanese tea ceremony.

Calming effect
In Japan, stress is legendary.  People literally die from overwork.  It's so bad that a Japanese doctor invented a name for it.  Karoshi is death due to overwork.  Anything that calms people down is very welcome in Japan.  Tea, obviously, has been a part of Japanese culture for thousands of years.  But it took a Japanese researcher to point out that caffeine ingested in tea has a different effect than the same amount ingested as pure caffeine.  When researchers went to find out why, they discovered that theanine was offsetting caffeine's hyper-effect with a calming-effect.  This led to the manufacture of a new natural antidote to modern stress.

In 1964, Japan approved the use of theanine in all food ... except baby food.  In Japan, you can buy over 50 different food items that contain theanine.  Japanese soft drinks are spiked with the relaxant and it has been put into chewing gum.

The effects of theanine are not imaginary.  It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier of humans and exerts subtle changes.  An increase in alpha waves has been documented and the effect has been compared to getting a massage or taking a hot bath.  Theanine is different than kava-kava in that it doesn't cause drowsiness.  And, unlike tranquilizing drugs, it doesn't interfere with the ability to think.  Studies on rodents show just the opposite:  Theanine enhances the ability to learn and remember.  By shutting down the worry mode, theanine increases concentration and focuses thought.  This is the concept behind the Japanese tea ceremony which causes a person to focus on the moment.  Consider this:  The risk of mortality for Japanese women who practice tea ceremony is half of other Japanese women.  The Japanese are already the longest-lived people on earth.

Theanine is a caffeine antagonist -- it does the opposite.  The effects can readily be seen in EEGs of rodents given caffeine and then theanine.  One of the things that theanine changes is GABA -- a brain chemical known for its calming effect.  Theanine increases GABA, while caffeine decreases it.  GABA doesn't just relax, it also creates a sense of well-being.  Theanine's ability to increase this brain chemical helps create better moods.  Theanine also increases dopamine levels -- another brain chemical associated with mood-enhancing effects without side effects and increased feelings associated with sex drive.

Protect Your Ability to Think
A very interesting feature of
l- theanine is its ability to protect neurons.  Theanine may protect against glutamate which is an essential brain chemical that is toxic in high amounts.  Although essential to brain chemistry, too much glutamate kills brain cells.  The most common cause of glutamate overload is insufficient blood supply.  If the brain doesn't get adequate blood flow, glutamate surges, calcium increases, and free radicals damage cells.  In studies on neurons in cell culture, theanine significantly reverses glutamate-induced toxicity.  In-vivo (animal) studies show the same effect in rodents.

Theanine is structurally similar to the amino acid, L-glutamic acid.  The similarity enables theanine to physically block glutamate (which is a version of glutamic acid).  Although researchers aren't positive how theanine works, however, they theorize that theanine blocks the NMDA receptor which is the doorway that glutamate uses to enter cells.  Because of the similar structure, theanine can also fit in this doorway by blocking access to glutamate.  Even though it can fit in the doorway, theanine does not have the same effect on the cell as glutamate does.  Rather than causing damage, theanine acts like a shield against damage with no known side effects.

One of the protective factors in the Japanese diet is green tea.  Green tea contains a much higher concentration of theanine than other teas.  L-Theanine supports healthy blood pressure.  It works through its GABA-enhancing effects.  Green tea extract contains a phytochemical known as GMA.  Combining them together may have significant effects.

Theanine has multiple benefits with virtually no side effects.  It's like zen in a bottle and its effects have been compared to tobacco or aromatherapy.  Studies show that theanine is a non-toxic, highly desirable mood modulator that can be enjoyed by every adult.


References:
Abe Y, et al. 1995. Effect of green tea rich in gamma-aminobutyric acid on Dahl salt-sensitive rats. Am J Hyper 8:74-9.

Cardiovascular risk factors among Japanese and American telephone executives. Int J Epidemiol 6:7-15, 1977.

Comstock GW, et al. 1985. Risk factors in American and Japanese executives. Telecom Health Research Group. J R Soc Med 78:536-45.

Juneja LR, et al. 1999. L-theanine - a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans. Trends Food Sci Tech 10:199-204.

Kakuda T, et al. 2000. Inhibiting effect of theanine on caffeine stimulation evaluated by EEG in the rat. Biosci Biotech Biochem 64:287-93.

Kakuda T, et al. 2000. Protective effect of -glutamylethylamide (theanine) on gerbils. Neurosci Lett 289:189-92.

Kobayashi K, et al. 1998. Effects of L-theanine on the release of brain waves in human volunteers. Nippon Noegik Kaishi 72:153-57.

Sadakata S, et al. 1992. Mortality among female practitioners of Chanoyu (Japanese tea-ceremony). Tohoku J Exp Med 166:475-77.

Sesso HD, et al. 1999. Coffee and tea intake. Am J Epidemiol 149:162-7.

Simons LA, et al. 1992. Health status and lifestyle in elderly Hawaii Japanese and Australian men.  Exploring known differences in longevity.  Med J Aust 157:188-90.

Yokogoshi H, et al. 1998. Hypotensive effect of -glutamylmethylamide in rats. Life Sci 62:1065-68.

Yokogoshi H, et al. 1995. Side effects of theanine in rats.  Biosci Biotech Biochem 59:615-18.

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