Anti-stress effect of theanine on students during pharmacy practice: positive correlation among salivary α-amylase activity, trait anxiety and subjective stress

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Oct;111:128-35. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2013.09.004. Epub 2013 Sep 16.


Purpose: Theanine, an amino acid in tea, has significant anti-stress effect on experimental animals under psychosocial stress. Anti-stress effect of theanine on humans was evaluated in 5th-year university students during pharmacy practice.

Method: The study design was a single-blind group comparison and participants (n=20) were randomly assigned to theanine or placebo groups. Theanine or placebo (lactose) tablets (200 mg, twice a day, after breakfast and lunch) were taken from 1 week prior to the pharmacy practice and continued for 10 days in the practice period. To assess the anxiety of the participants, the state-trait anxiety inventory test was carried out before the pharmacy practice. Salivary α-amylase activity (sAA) was measured as a marker of sympathetic nervous system activity.

Results: In the placebo-group, sAA in the morning (pre-practice sAA) was higher than in theanine-group during the pharmacy practice (p=0.032). Subjective stress was significantly lower in the theanine-group than in the placebo-group (p=0.020). These results suggest that theanine intake had anti-stress effect on students. Furthermore, students with higher pre-practice sAA showed significantly higher trait anxiety in both groups (p=0.015). Similarly, higher pre-practice sAA was correlated to shorter sleeping time in both groups (p=0.41×10(-3)).

Conclusion: Stressful condition increased the level of sAA that was essentially affected by individual trait anxiety. The low levels of pre-practice sAA and subjective stress in the theanine-group suggest that theanine intake suppressed initial stress response of students assigned for a long-term commitment of pharmacy practice.

Keywords: ANS; Anti-stress; Chronic stress; HPA; STAI; Salivary α-amylase; Subjective stress; Theanine; Trait anxiety; VAS; autonomic nervous system; hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal; post-practice sAA; pre-practice sAA; sAA; sAA in the evening; sAA in the morning; salivary α-amylase activity; the state–trait anxiety inventory; visual analog scales.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Education, Pharmacy*
  • Female
  • Glutamates / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • Saliva / enzymology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Workforce
  • Young Adult
  • alpha-Amylases / metabolism*


  • Glutamates
  • Placebos
  • theanine
  • alpha-Amylases