L-Theanine as a Remedy for Wound Up Nerves

June 18, 2013 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Send to a friend

* Required fields

  or  Cancel

 L-Theanine as a Remedy for Wound Up Nerves
A variety of human studies over the past few years show that the role of L-theanine is expanding to help the rather common problem of nervous system wind up. Wind up means the nervous system is developing friction while spinning its wheels. It feels like a cat on a hot tin roof. It is like sitting at a stop sign with one foot on the gas and the other depressing the clutch, going 60 miles per hour nowhere. Other symptoms include anxiety, trouble sleeping, lack of focus, addictive tendencies, and risk for a variety of nervous system problems, including more serious mental health distress.

This issue reflects that the nervous system is running too fast – it is too excited. It is as if the 911 switchboard of the subconscious brain has too much to do. If this issue persists for an extended length of time, inflammatory levels of substance P affect subconscious brain perception, as well as cause multiple symptoms in large nerves (jumpy or restless legs) or nerve endings (pain or other uncomfortable sensations).

A variety of nutrients help nerves to stabilize and settle down. Some of my favorites include calcium AEP, magnesium, acetyl-l-carnitine, and quercetin. It is now clear that L-theanine is an excellent addition to this list.

One study showed that 200 mg per day of L-theanine boosted mood in individuals under high stress. This study shows L-theanine is able to reduce nerve tension and thereby help modulate stress-induced overload.

Another study in individuals with mild cognitive impairment showed that L-theanine helped both memory and attention span (cognitive alertness) – two key abilities that are invariably disrupted when nerves are wound up.

The degree to which nerves are wound up during the day sets the stage for sleep problems at night. In a study of boys, 400 mg of L-theanine (200 mg in the morning and 200 mg at dinner) was shown to significantly improve sleep. Sleep is invariably disrupted by wound up nerves. Any time nerves remain calmer during the day, sleep begins to improve at night, as demonstrated in this study.

The combination of anxiety and sleep problems leads to cravings for a quick fix or reward, a temporary solution to “brain pain.” Many substances may bring temporary relief, including junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, pot, etc. This leads to addictive behavioral patterns. An animal and cell study shows that L-theanine can directly calm down the dopamine-based reward circuitry involved with nicotine addiction, although the mechanism of action implies it may help other types of reward-driven behavioral issues.

It takes time to change nerves, and nutrition is a tool that can help guide them in the right direction. L-theanine now has plenty of data to support its use to help improve overexcited nerves -- a common health issue for many people, especially as the pressures of stress take their toll. It is best to nip these problems in the bud, as their tendency is to get worse and place a person at greater risk for a variety of nerve and pain related issues, as well as more difficult mental health challenges.

Search thousands of health news articles!