WORDS: Alyce Cimino | Naturopath + AHARA HEALTH owner
Matcha, while very trendy has been around for centuries as part of Japanese culture and tea ceremonies. Today, we have learned so much more about Matcha and its fantastic source of the very calming amino acid L-Theanine.
L-Theanine is one rather impressive amino acid, it has the ability to increase energy and improve concentration while at the same time promoting relaxation and even facilitating sleep! You could say that it helps to promote a state of calm alertness. A 2020 systematic review found the use of L-Theanine showed a reduction of stress and anxiety-like symptoms, exactly what we are needing for the midyear burnout so many of us are experiencing.
So how does it work?
- Enhancing neurotransmitters: L-Theanine works by elevating the production of GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine. These three neurotransmitters help to regulate emotions, concentration, stress response, mood as well as sleep and relaxation.
- Calms the mind: L-theanine is a natural anxiolytic, meaning it helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety. L-Theanine supports the production of GABA; GABA works to promote a feeling of calmness. GABA levels reduce during prolonged stress which affects how we experience stress and in turn influences sleep.
- Improves sleep: while coffee and its caffeine stimulate the body and mind worsening sleep, matcha and L-theanine has the ability to gently stimulate the body while promoting better sleep outcomes. If you are very sensitive it is best to avoid matcha in the evening just in case it is too stimulating for you.
How to use it?
Since Matcha is a tea, we are able to use it just as we would food as medicine. It is a much lower dose than taking a compounded supplement of L-Theanine itself, however not all matcha is created equally. There are different grades of matcha, the purest highest ceremonial grade also contains the highest levels of L-Theanine, inexpensive matcha is generally an older leaf and used more as a food dye than a therapeutic tool.
Matcha is a fine powder rather than a tea leaf, you only need a small amount 1/4 of a teaspoon added to lightly boiled water. you can add a small amount of raw honey or a splash of nut milk for taste.
As mentioned above L-Theanine can also be used as a compound supplement, if you are thinking this may be for you we recommend speaking to your health care provider before starting.
We love The Healthy Chef Matcha powder.. having worked with the healthy Chef team in the past I know how amazing the quality of this product is, it’s the one I personally use and the brand I recommend to our clients.
- Williams JL, Everett JM, D’Cunha NM, Sergi D, Georgousopoulou EN, Keegan RJ, McKune AJ, Mellor DD, Anstice N, Naumovski N. The Effects of Green Tea Amino Acid L-Theanine Consumption on the Ability to Manage Stress and Anxiety Levels: a Systematic Review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2020 Mar;75(1):12-23. doi: 10.1007/s11130-019-00771-5. PMID: 31758301.