My friend Eleanor doesn’t have coronavirus. But worrying about getting it is causing her stress. And she’s losing sleep.
“I have a cousin in New York who was diagnosed with COVID-19,” she told me. “I keep thinking, ‘If he can get it, why not me?’
“I’m prone to anxiety in the best of times. This pandemic isn’t helping.”
Even though many people in Eleanor’s situation take anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax or Valium, she wants no part of them because of the side effects. They include cognitive impairment, daytime drowsiness, amnesia, and even heart problems and hallucinations. Plus, they are addictive.
I recommended she try L-theanine (pronounced el THEE-uh-nine).
It’s an amino acid naturally found in tea. Research shows it fights anxiety and promotes relaxation in multiple ways:
- Relieves stress. A study published in the journal Acta Neuropsychiatrica tested L-theanine in 20 subjects who suffered from anxiety and depression. They took 250 mg daily for eight weeks. Researchers said the supplement had “multiple beneficial effects.” It relieved anxiety, sleep disturbance, and cognitive impairments.A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Intermediary Metabolism reviewed five randomized trials with a total of 104 subjects facing stressful situations. Researchers gave them L-theanine or a placebo. The amino acid significantly reduced their anxiety.
- Fosters relaxation. Alpha brain waves are associated with a state of wakeful relaxation. Researchers from the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute in the Netherlands found that subjects who took 50 mg of the amino acid had an increase in alpha waves.
- Improves sleep. Scientists at Australia’s University of Canberra randomly gave insomniacs L-theanine or a placebo. Those who took L-theanine slept better.
L-theanine has another coronavirus bonus… A study published in the journal Beverages found it decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections.
Green tea is the best dietary source of L-theanine. But if you’re not a tea drinker, supplements are your best bet.
You can safely take up to 400 mg a day. L-theanine has no known side effects.
Consult with your doctor before taking L-theanine if you take prescription medications. It can interact with some of them, including blood pressure drugs.
If you’re looking for relief from stress caused by coronavirus—or anything else—look no further than L-theanine.