My patient is pregnant and, as pregnant women do, is experiencing some anxiety. I gave her a classic Chinese herbal formula to which has been added an amino acid called l-theanine. L-theanine is contained in green tea and induces a calming effect. I have used it before to help pregnant women sleep.
Unfortunately, medical authorities say that “you should not take l-theanine without your doctor’s approval and supervision.” And so my patient told me that she is wary about taking it. Of course, to help her sleep well at night, so to speak, I gave her the same formula without the added l-theanine.
One question I have is, what do medical authorities know about l-theanine? I assume they know as much about l-theanine as they know about ginsenosides, which are the active ingredients of ginseng.
Most research on l-theanine has been done in Japan, which is famous for its green tea. Research in Japan has shown that extremely high doses of l-theanine in rats has no toxic effect and have recommended a daily dose (for humans) of 25-200 mg. The formula I recommend has 200 mg of l-theanine.
What amazes me about the cautions against taking l-theanine during pregnancy is that another patient of mine, who was experiencing anxiety before she was pregnant, and was on Lexapro, was counseled by her doctor to stay on Lexapro during her pregnancy.
Unlike Lexapro, you will not find cautions about the use of l-theanine that look like this (from emedtv.com):
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of oxygen in the blood
- Feeding difficulties
- Constant crying