Theanine seems to be the unsung, smart-drug for people with ADHD. Theanine boosts dopamine and focus, whilst improving sleep and calming anxiety without sedation or side-effects. Exactly where many adults with ADHD need help.
Calming yet stimulating
Theanine is an active ingredient in tea, particularly green tea. By boosting GABA, theanine exerts a moderating influence on caffeine, resulting in mental stimulation without the usual physical, “jittery” side-effects of coffee. Taken alone, Theanine is both stimulating and calming at the same time. It binds to glutamate receptors, blocks the reuptake of glutamine & glutamate, and increases dopamine, GABA, and glycine levels in the brain. There are many small-scale studies supporting the benefits of focus and attention, see here, here and here. Studies are plentiful on the effects on it reducing anxiety too, like this one and this.
Most adults with ADHD have sleep issues, whether being too awake at night or from poor, interrupted sleep. Lack of quality sleep affects focus, motivation, intelligence, and interest – seriously compounding many ADHD symptoms. Fortunately if taken shortly before sleep, Theanine has a gentle soporific, sleepy effect and promotes deeper sleep.
In a randomised, double-blind l-theanine trial in 2011, 98 ADHD boys aged 8 to 12, were evaluated for theanine’s sleep effects. Half the boys took two doses of 200mg Theanine, one in the morning and one after school for six weeks, the other half were given placebos. At the start and end of the trial, their sleep was assessed with wrist devices and parents completed sleep questionnaires. The boys who took theanine had significantly higher sleep percentage and sleep efficiency scores, combined with less time awake after they fell asleep. The theanine was well tolerated with no significant adverse events. This is my personal experience as well.
Do your own research, experiment with caution
As with all supplements and medications for ADHD, do your research. Even with the standard ADHD medications, like Ritalin and dexamfetamine, medical science cannot yet determine which drug will work best for you and at what dosage. So as always, experiment with caution, try small doses to start and monitor the effects over a period of time. If you are on other medications or have any doubts at all, talk over theanine with your doctor, because I am certainly not a doctor myself. Theanine appears to be extremely non-toxic.
Theanine protects against my anxiety
My personal experience, taking theanine 400mg daily for the last year, is that my anxiety brought upon by my Irritable Bowel is kept at very manageable levels. Theanine brings me a sense of quiet and calm without tiredness. I find it easier to concentrate and combined with my strong morning coffee, it helps me start the day without feeling on edge. L-theanine is available widely and is quite inexpensive, I buy mine from Amazon. As a bonus, I sleep better. Maybe theanine could help your ADHD symptoms too?