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Life’s journey brings stress out of nowhere, and it is our ability to cope with it and determine our success of defeating depression and anxiety in order to bring joy. The stresses of life are normal: relationships, work, environmental factors, illness, and other factors all frequently affect our health; but the key for the healthy person is to become educated in the ways to manage it. Diet, exercise, a spiritual component, and learning about dietary supplements such as Suntheanine can help manage the stresses of life.

In the United States, there are approximately 19.1 million adults who have a defined problem with anxiety. Women are two to three times more likely to experience panic-related problems than men. Healthy individuals can become overstressed because of challenges along life’s journey by having difficulty handling stress during the day and also getting a good night’s sleep. Excess stress increases blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and fat levels. Also, without a restful sleep individuals do not perform mentally and physically at their best during the day.

One of the problems with our American lifestyle is that from the time we get up until we go to bed at night, the average person is rushing either to get somewhere or do something. Taking time to “stop and smell the flowers” is a good idea, but most people will say they either don’t have the time or don’t remember to do it. It is important to slow down and learn how to relax and exercise in order to release tension from our body and add a spiritual component in our life. We can improve the quality of foods in our diet by eating more fruit and vegetables, reducing stimulating beverages such as caffeine, and consuming smaller meals to prevent a sluggish feeling and depression. Another tool is to learn more about dietary supplements that have been proven to be safe and to support relaxation. One of these ingredients is Suntheanine (L-theanine), an amino acid found in green tea.

L-theanine From Green Tea
In Asian countries, green tea has traditionally been used for relaxation, and it was determined that the amino acid, L-theanine, produced this effect. Researchers from Taiyo, Japan, developed a “pure” form of L-theanine called Suntheanine that promotes relaxation without drowsiness. It is enzymatically made through a special process for purification, and many animal and human studies have been performed to show that it is effective and safe.

Suntheanine has been shown to cross the blood/brain barrier, which allows it to work in the brain and on brain neurotransmitters and influence brain waves. Both animals and humans produce brainwaves on the brain surface. In the body, there are four types of brain waves that are produced and can be measured by an electroencephalogram ( EEG ) to show a person’s mental state. Of these four types, alpha waves are characterized as an expression for relaxation. Alpha waves are most prevalent in those who are in a relaxed state, which reduces the stress hormone called cortisol. Human studies have shown that Suntheanine promotes alpha waves 30– 40 minutes after consumption, which promotes relaxation, but has also been shown to increase alertness. There was also a study performed at the University of Shizuoka and The Family Planning Institute of Japan that showed that Suntheanine, administered at 200 mg per day, reduced anxiety and symptoms associated with PMS and produced a feeling of well-being.

Suntheanine helps improve the quality of sleep
There are products available in health food stores, such as valerian, that have been shown in research studies to promote sleep, but would not be helpful during the day because one would become tired. Suntheanine is different since it has been demonstrated to help to improve the “quality” of sleep. A new study at the National Institute of Mental Health in Japan demonstrated that Suntheanine taken at bedtime promoted sleep quality. A crossover, double-blind study was performed in which patients were given 200 mg Suntheanine or a placebo at bedtime. The study used an actigraph to evaluate the quality of sleep and showed a significant improvement in sleep efficiency with the Suntheanine and a reduction of wake after sleep onset. This means that Suntheanine improved sleep quality and reduced the occurrence of waking up in the middle of the night.

Suntheanine Dosage
What is the dose of Suntheanine that demonstrates benefits, and can drinking tea provide the same benefits? Suntheanine can be found in capsules, tablets or in beverage form. The research has demonstrated that 50 mg to 200 mg taken daily promoted health by reducing tension and stress and increasing relaxation. A person would have to drink 10– 40 cups of green tea for an equivalent amount of L-theanine taken in supplement or beverage form. The other problem with drinking tea is that as consumption increases so does caffeine intake.

If individuals are taking any prescription drugs or have any mental or physical disorders, it is best to check with their physician prior to use.

Judi Quilici-Timmcke, MS

Judi holds a Master's Degree in Dietetics and Exercise Physiology. She was in private practice , as a clinical nutritionist for 12 years in Colorado, including 2 1/2 years for the University of Colorado - Boulder's Human Performance Lab.

She presently operates as a technical consultant for companies in the dietary supplement industry. She performs exhaustive literature reviews on dietary supplements, writes third party scientific reports, formulates products, writes structure/function, gives scientific and educational presentations and investigates opportunities for new and unique ingredients. She has been appointed as a scientist for the AMC Cancer Center in Denver, Colorado, supporting their nutrition research. She also writes nutrition articles for magazines, completed the book New Nutrients Against Cancer and a second with Dr. Tom Slaga on Calcium D-Glucarate. She currently speaks on various nutrition topics on Channel 29 (FOX) News in Florida every week and regularly on radio programs.