Psychotropic effects of L-theanine and its clinical properties: From the management of anxiety and stress to a potential use in schizophrenia

Pharmacol Res. 2019 Sep;147:104395. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104395. Epub 2019 Aug 11.

Abstract

Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in modern societies, and are ranked the sixth most important contributor of non-fatal negative health outcomes. L-theanine is an amino acid naturally found in green tea (Camellia sinensis) and some other plant extracts, and recent clinical studies have proposed promising adjuvant effects of L-theanine for the negative impact of anxiety and psychological stress on health. In this integrative narrative review, we aimed to appraise and further discuss the effects of L-theanine administration on anxiety disorders and psychological stress. Published data suggests that L-theanine administered at daily doses ranging from 200 to 400 mg for up to 8 weeks are safe and induce anxiolytic and anti-stress effects in acute and chronic conditions. L-theanine at doses lower and higher than these may also show promising therapeutic potential; however, a more thorough investigation through randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover clinical trials are necessary to elucidate its effects for longer periods, providing further insights for meta-analyses and the development of recommendation guidelines. Additionally, animal studies investigating a higher dosage, its combination with other pharmacological compounds and associated metabolic comorbidities are recommended, as cases of hepatotoxicity associated with the consumption of green tea extract have been reported.

Keywords: (L)-theanine; Anxiety; Camellia sinensis; Green tea; Psychological stress; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Glutamates / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical / therapeutic use*
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy

Substances

  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Glutamates
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical
  • theanine