L-Theanine for Anxiety: Does it Work?

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Read Time: 5 Minutes
Written by:Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW

Published On: September 27, 2023

Medically reviewed by: Famous Erwin, LMHC, LPC, CAM 2

Reviewed On: September 27, 2023

Updated On: September 27, 2023


L-theanine — an amino acid found in green and black tea leaves and certain types of mushrooms — can be a potential option for people seeking natural anxiety relief. Research suggests that taking L-theanine for anxiety can help reduce stress while promoting relaxation. If you are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder or dealing with anxiety symptoms and looking for a natural remedy, you can learn more about L-theanine here.

Keep reading to learn how an L-theanine supplement can work to reduce anxiety. Then, you can decide if you want to try it as part of your treatment plan along with your healthcare provider. We’ll look at the research behind how an L-theanine supplement works, how you can use it, and possible side effects and interactions you should be aware of.

L-Theanine and Anxiety Reduction

Many people looking for natural relief wonder: does L-theanine work for anxiety? Research shows that it can relieve anxiety symptoms.

iconExpert Insight

“L-Theanine reduces anxiety, stress, and insomnia in people dealing with stressful life events.”
LCSW, Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) Olga Molina

L-theanine is a compound known for its calming effect on the mind. In studies, it significantly reduced stress levels, making it a popular option today for people seeking natural remedies for anxiety.

One of the ways L-theanine is thought to help reduce anxiety is by increasing levels of certain chemicals in the brain. In particular, it can raise serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels, all of which are linked to stress and anxiety.

L-Theanine’s effects on stress and cortisol levels

L-theanine impacts cortisol levels — cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” that’s released during times of extreme or toxic stress. Excessive cortisol can have long-term detrimental effects on the body. Cortisol contributes to increased blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, and sleep quality disturbances, among other things.

Studies show that L-theanine lowers cortisol to a healthy level and may improve sleep quality.

How long does it take for L-theanine to work for anxiety?

How long it takes for L-theanine to work depends on several factors, including weight, individual body chemistry, dosage, and severity of symptoms. That said, some people feel relief within just 20-30 minutes of taking L-theanine.

Is GABA or L-theanine better for anxiety?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter linked to anxiety. Studies have found low GABA levels can play a role in anxiety disorders. As a result, taking GABA supplements is one more popular option for some people seeking natural anxiety relief.

While GABA and L-theanine have both been shown to promote relaxation, there are some differences between the two supplements.

  • Efficacy: Taking L-theanine for anxiety might be beneficial over GABA because L-theanine can promote relaxation without causing the drowsiness that GABA supplements tend to.
  • Safety profile: L-theanine and GABA are both considered generally safe when used as directed. However, when compared to L-theanine, GABA is associated with a higher risk of side effects, including gastrointestinal issues and drowsiness.
  • Natural sources: L-theanine comes from green or black tea and some mushrooms. GABA is naturally found in fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi. Incorporating either into your diet might offer additional benefits vs just using supplements alone.

How to Use L-Theanine for Anxiety

If you’re using L-theanine to manage anxiety symptoms, you should understand how to implement it into your daily routine to get the most benefits. You can take L-theanine in multiple forms, including:

  • Capsules or tablets: L-theanine is available in capsule or tablet form and can be taken with water.
  • Powdered supplement: It’s easy to find L-theanine supplements in a powder form that can be mixed into smoothies, juices, water, or hot water to make tea.
  • L-theanine-rich foods: Not many foods are high in L-theanine, but mushrooms in the porcini family contain small amounts of the amino acid. Green tea is an excellent source of L-theanine, but keep in mind that it can also contain caffeine, which could be counterproductive in treating anxiety.

iconExpert Insight

““L-Theanine can be taken as a tea or with coffee and it’s also available in pill or tablet form. It helps people relax without causing drowsiness.”
LCSW, Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) Olga Molina

As with any supplement, talk to your doctor about the best dosage and ways to use L-theanine.

Combining L-Theanine with Other Natural Remedies

While research shows that L-theanine has relaxation properties that can address anxiety, you might benefit even more when combining it with other natural remedies.

Some people find added benefits by using L-theanine in combination with:

  • Valerian root: Valerian root is an herbal remedy that’s been used for centuries as a natural way to treat insomnia and anxiety. For more details about its effectiveness, check out our guide to Valerian root for anxiety.
  • Lavender oil: Lavender oil is commonly used in aromatherapy and is known to promote relaxation and reduce stress. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly used essential oils for anxiety.
  • Chamomile tea: Chamomile tea is known for its calming properties and can ease anxiety symptoms.
  • Passionflower extract: Passionflower (Passiflora) is a plant-based supplement that might alleviate mild to moderate anxiety. In studies, it’s been found effective in treating people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Learn more about the power of passionflower for anxiety.

Note: Although there’s no widely accepted evidence of interactions between L-theanine and these natural remedies above, it doesn’t definitively mean they don’t exist. Our bodies are intricate and unique, so reactions to certain substance combinations can differ.

Therefore, it’s always a smart move to have a discussion with your health professional or a qualified medical expert before you start pairing L-theanine with other natural remedies or altering your existing regimen. They can offer individualized advice, considering your health history and current conditions, helping ensure your treatment plan is safe and effective. Make sure to put your health first by seeking expert medical advice at all times.

Possible Side Effects and Interactions

Any time you’re incorporating a new form of treatment into your care plan, you should be aware of the potential side effects and interactions you might experience.

Side effects

L-theanine for anxiety can be a great option, but the following side effects should be known:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Gastrointestinal discomforts, like bloating or gas

When taken in moderate amounts, L-theanine generally has very few side effects. However, if you experience any of the above, consider reducing your dosage or discontinuing use. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about any of the side effects you’re experiencing.


L-theanine does have the potential to interact with some medications, so make sure your doctor knows if you’re considering using it. Medications that might interact negatively with L-theanine include:

  • Blood pressure medications: L-theanine naturally lowers your blood pressure, so combining it with prescription medication may be an issue.
  • Sedatives: Because it’s a natural relaxant, using L-theanine supplements in addition to prescription or over-the-counter sedatives can lead to excessive drowsiness.

Help Treat Anxiety Symptoms with Talkspace

While L-theanine for anxiety can offer effective relief, you might need more to treat your anxiety symptoms. Consider additional approaches like therapy for anxiety.

Talkspace makes getting help for your anxiety simple and affordable. We offer a wide range of experienced therapists specializing in treating anxiety online. Combining online therapy with L-theanine for anxiety can be a powerful treatment plan.Remember that while L-theanine may provide temporary — even if it’s effective — relief from anxiety symptoms, it’s also important to address the underlying causes of anxiety if you hope to see long-term improvement. Reach out today to learn how Talkspace can help you address your anxiety so you can get back to living a healthy, rewarding life, free from the grip anxiety might be holding over you.

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Olga Molina

Olga Molina is a licensed clinical social worker with approximately 40 years practice experience with diverse populations offering individual, family, and group counseling. Her research and publications focus primarily on divorce, intimate partner violence (women and children), African American and Latinx families, group work, and social work education. Dr. Molina has been in academia for approximately 20 years teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels on clinical practice with families and groups, and culturally competent practice.

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