L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid that is found in tea leaves in high concentrations. L-theanine passes across the blood brain barrier easily and in the brain it can have physiological effects. In particular, L-theanine is known to block the binding of L-glutamate to glutamate receptors in the brain, thereby preventing the excitatory effects of glutamate neurotransmission. In this way L-theanine may have neuroprotective effects as despite the lower affinity for the glutamate receptor compared to glutamate, L-theanine may prevent overstimulation of neurons that can lead to neuronal death. In humans L-theanine has been shown to benefit mental functions, and in particular may reduce both physiological and psychological stress responses following stress inducing tasks. The beneficial experimental effects of L-theanine in studies may reflect that which is known about the stress relieving effects of drinking tea, which can include a general calmative effect on the consumer.
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