Theanine is an amino acid which is present in tea plant (camellia sinensis). It cannot be found in any other plant except for one non edible mushroom. Green tea, black tea and oolong tea contains theanine.
Promotes alpha brain wave activity
Theanine is readily absorbed by the intestines and because it can cross the blood-brain barrier, it enters the brain and affects the neurotransmitters. The alpha brain wave activity, which can be measured at the back to the top of the head, increases at approximately 20 minutes after ingesting tea. A person is in a relaxed and calm state of mind when the brain is in this alpha state. The mind also becomes more alert, not drowsy as you may associate with a calm state. This state can last for up to four hours.
The frequency of our brain waves depends on our waking or sleeping state. From the deep sleep of 0.5Hz(cycles per second) to around 14Hz when fully awake. The following is a summary of our brain wave activities:
- Beta waves - approximately 14 cycles per second, occurs when we are fully awake. This is our normal conscious state.
- Alpha waves - between 8 to 13 cycles per second, occurs when we are awake but in a relaxed state. Meditation also produces this waves.
- Theta waves - between 4 to 7 cycles per second, occurs when we are in a light sleep.
- Delta waves - between 0.5 to 3 cycles per second, occurs when we are in deep sleep. Sleep walking and talking in your sleep are most likely to occur in this stage. This is also the stage where a person is hard to wake.
Beta waves have the highest frequency (cycles per second) but the lowest in amplitude (strength). It is also exhibits an erratic pattern because of conscious waking activity. As the waves become lower in frequency, it's amplitude increases.
Theanine can make your more attentive
Recent studies have shown that theanine can alter the networks in the brain responsible for attention and focus. That could mean better efficiency and productivity in accomplishing tasks. Our minds can easily wander by the multitudes of information and activity going on in our brain. Try to stop what you are doing for a while and examine your mind, what other things are you thinking? Many other things for sure with lesser focus. But if you're not paying much attention to the task at hand, your mind could easily give focus to those 'other things'.
Anxiety and stress reliever
Your worries will be put aside since theanine can put you in a relaxed mood. Theanine influences the formation of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA inhibits 'excitement' thereby inducing relaxation. GABA also influences the dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters which are responsible for giving us a sense of well being and putting us in a happy mood.
Calming effect of tea
Tea also contains caffeine which 'stimulates' and it may enhance the attention and focus that theanine brings. However, the other effects of caffeine like elevating the cortisol levels and releasing adrenalines may not be beneficial for our health. Decaffeinating your tea can be a solution in bringing about the many good benefits of the other ingredients in tea like the antioxidants from catechins and the calming effect of theanine.
If you want to have a calm mind, heightened attention level, antioxidant protection from free radicals, and be in a good mood - consider drinking tea. Some people however don't like the taste of tea. An alternative way to ingest the benefits of tea is taking the extracted form like this green tea extract. It's a flavored concentrated liquid green tea extract combined with other herbs to give you all the benefits of green tea plus the added benefits of other herbs and it does not contain caffeine.
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