L-theanine and ashwagandha are two natural supplements people often use together due to their similar effects. Both substances exhibit a calming effect on ingestion and are popular daily supplements in wellness circles.
However, it’s crucial to understand the differences between ashwagandha and l-theanine, so you can make an informed choice before you try these supplements. This article covers the differences between the two and how you can use a combination of l-theanine and ashwagandha simultaneously.
- What Is Ashwagandha?
- Ashwagandha Benefits
- Ashwagandha Side Effects
- What Is L-Theanine?
- L-Theanine Benefits
- L-Theanine Side Effects
- Can You Take Ashwagandha and L-Theanine Together?
- Is Taking L-Theanine and Ashwagandha Together Safe?
- Bottom Line
- Ashwagandha & L-Theanine FAQs
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (scientific name Withania somnifera) is an evergreen shrub found across Africa, the Middle East, and India. Also called winter cherry, ashwagandha has a long history of use in traditional medicines as an aphrodisiac and anti-inflammatory.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it can help the body acclimate and respond to stress and anxiety. The active ingredients in ashwagandha include approximately 40 withanolides and 12 alkaloids. People use ashwagandha to manage numerous conditions, including insomnia, aging, anxiety, and more.
Many scientists have studied ashwagandha to investigate its medicinal and therapeutic properties. Below are a few of the potential benefits of ashwagandha.
Several studies show that ashwagandha exhibits adaptogenic and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. Specifically, researchers have demonstrated that a 125 mg daily dose of ashwagandha can significantly reduce scores on stress-tasting exams and improve sleep quality.
Ashwagandha can affect stress levels because it interacts with the body’s parasympathetic nervous system — i.e., the system that controls a relaxation response after periods of high stress and activity. Ashwagandha might also reduce cortisol levels (the ‘stress’ hormone) in healthy adults and reduce anxiety, according to some studies.
There is also a fair amount of evidence that ashwagandha can help manage symptoms of insomnia and other sleeping difficulties. One study found that 300 mg of ashwagandha daily can increase Sleep Efficiency (SE) scores by as much as 10% over the placebo group. The same study also found that ashwagandha root can help improve a person’s quality of sleep by reducing stress.
Ashwagandha contains moderate levels of triethylene glycol, an organic molecule that induces a sleep response. Triethylene glycol can increase non-rapid eye movement during sleep and has smaller effects on rapid eye movement.
Improve Immune Functioning
Last but not least, studies have shown that ashwagandha may help improve immune functioning. Specifically, the leaf and roots of the ashwagandha plant stimulate the formation and functioning of antibodies that play key roles in immune system defense. Moreover, the immune boost from ashwagandha affects both natural and adaptive immunity.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Most people taking ashwagandha experience very few side effects, if any. However, those who do experience side effects can have the following:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Upset stomach
Health experts recommend pregnant people and people with stomach ulcers not take ashwagandha. You should also not take ashwagandha if you have any auto-immune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis.
What Is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid that is a common substance in mushrooms and teas. L-theanine is a popular supplement people use to manage anxiety and reduce stress. Mushrooms and tea leaves containing l-theanine have a long history of use in systems of traditional and indigenous medicine.
In the modern day, many people use l-theanine and other amino acids to promote relaxation or as a supplement for increasing focus. L-theanine is a common ingredient in energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster.
L-theanine works by stimulating serotonin and dopamine production and interacting with the endocannabinoid system. L-theanine also increases alpha brain wave and beta brain wave patterns.
L-theanine is a popular supplement in health circles and has several potential benefits, such as the following:
Like ashwagandha, l-theanine has stress-reducing and anti-anxiety properties. According to studies, 200 mg of l-theanine help reduce daily stress self-reports and can also reduce the amount of cortisol the brain produces. Other studies indicate that l-theanine can preempt a stress response when people undergo stressful situations.
L-theanine is a popular ingredient in energy drinks because it may help improve mental health, as well as cognitive function. L-theanine promotes alpha brain wave activity, which may have an effect on alertness and focus levels. Other studies have found that the chemical can potentially improve executive functioning and working memory performance.
Reduce Blood Pressure
L-theanine may also help lower blood pressure in concentrated doses. Studies have found that l-theanine can directly lower blood pressure in stressful situations and has a similar effect on blood pressure as caffeine.
Another study shows that 22 mg of l-theanine can lower resting heart rate and promote relaxation without drowsiness. Some researchers believe that l-theanine’s calming effects may help support symptoms of ADHD in young children.
L-theanine may reduce inflammation by increasing levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, and lower levels of an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. These findings suggest that taking L-theanine may help manage symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions.
L-Theanine Side Effects
Like ashwagandha, l-theanine usually has few side effects, and most people take daily doses without problems. However, some possible side effects include:
- Upset stomach
L-theanine does not have many side effects on its own, but many people take it with caffeine and can experience negative side effects from the caffeine dosage.
What Is the Difference Between Ashwagandha and L-Theanine?
To summarize, ashwagandha and L-theanine are both known for their anti-inflammatory and stress-reducing properties, but Ashwagandha has additional benefits such as boosting the immune system and reducing symptoms of insomnia, while L-theanine primarily promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety. L-theanine also has cognitive-enhancing effects, which Ashwagandha does not possess.
While Ashwagandha affects the body’s stress response system, L-theanine acts on the central nervous system, providing almost immediate relief from sleep and focus issues. Ashwagandha may take up to a week to provide benefits, making it useful for increasing testosterone levels, building muscle, and improving overall health.
Can You Take Ashwagandha and L-Theanine Together?
Unfortunately, very few studies have observed the effects of combined doses of l-theanine and ashwagandha. However, we can rely on anecdotal testimony and make some reasonable guesses based on the similar therapeutic profiles of the two substances.
Many popular health and wellness supplements combine l-theanine and ashwagandha in the same product. The idea is to get a synergistic effect by combining the anxiety-reducing and focus-increasing properties of the two chemicals. Both l-theanine and ashwagandha act on GABA receptors in the brain, which is how they exert their relaxation and sleep-inducing effects.
So yes, you can take them together. However, we still need more research to determine how they work together.
Is Taking L-Theanine and Ashwagandha Together Safe?
Yes, taking the two substances together is safe, provided you do not take too much. The typical dose for ashwagandha is between 300 and 600 mg a day, while the typical dose for l-theanine is around 400 mg, though some people take upwards of 900 mg.
Taking ashwagandha and l-theanine together can have powerful effects on your overall health and well-being. While both of these supplements are generally considered safe, there is a risk of negative side effects when taken in large doses or when combined with certain medications.
Therefore, before taking either supplement, it’s important to speak with your doctor about proper dosages and any potential interactions with other medications you may be taking. With proper information and caution, you can use these powerful natural supplements to improve your physical and mental health.
Ashwagandha & L-Theanine FAQs
Below are some of the most common questions about ashwagandha and l-theanine.
Can Ashwagandha Help with Weight Loss?
Little evidence suggests ashwagandha can facilitate weight loss. However, the evidence is not conclusive, and researchers need to perform more studies.
How Long Does it Take for Ashwagandha to Work?
It can take a few weeks for people to feel the effects of regular dosing of ashwagandha. You can feel the effects from a single dose, but most people start taking ashwagandha as part of a larger routine.
Does Ashwagandha Taste Good?
Many people report that ashwagandha has a distinct “earthy” or bitter flavor when you ingest it. Many people dislike the taste of ashwagandha on its own and take it with tea or food to lessen the taste. You can brew ashwagandha tea with honey or cardamom to make it taste better.
Where Can I Find Ashwagandha?
You can find ashwagandha products and supplements at most drug and supplement stores, such as CVS. You can also buy ashwagandha from Amazon or another online retailer. Ashwagandha is legal in all states, but the FDA has not approved its use as a medicine.
Where Can I Find L-Theanine?
L-theanine is a common ingredient in green and black teas. You can also buy l-theanine tablets from a drug store or online. Like ashwagandha, l-theanine is legal in all 50 states, and the government does not regulate its sale.
Does L-Theanine Affect the Brain?
L-theanine plays a role in neurotransmitter production and has an effect on alpha and beta brain wave patterns.
Which Is Better: Ashwagandha or L-Theanine?
It depends on your needs and preferences. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen and exerts more of an effect on the endocrine system than l-theanine. Meanwhile, L-theanine interacts more with neurotransmitters, which explains how it improves focus and mood.
If you are sensitive to herbs or other evergreen plants, then l-theanine might be the better option. Moreover, both can regulate sleep, but L-theanine may be a better option if you’re looking for immediate relief.
Can I Take Ashwagandha or L-Theanine on an Empty Stomach?
Experts recommend that you do not take either supplement on an empty stomach. Both ashwagandha and l-theanine can cause an upset stomach or nausea if you consume them without any food, as food facilitates nutrient uptake.
What Is the Best Way to Take L-Theanine and Ashwagandha?
You can take these supplements in many ways. The most common method is taking capsules or tablets at the same time. Other options include dissolving ashwagandha and l-theanine into a meal or a drink; the two go great with a morning cup of coffee.
Can I Overdose on Ashwagandha or L-Theanine?
An adult human can take up to at least 6,000 mg of ashwagandha a day without significant negative effects. However, the long-term effects of regularly taking such high amounts of ashwagandha are unclear. Similarly, l-theanine is safe to take in large doses and is not likely to produce significant negative long-term effects.