With the rise of adaptive stress in today’s society, it is no wonder that conditions such as anxiety are increasing in incidence now more than ever before. As the speed of life itself fast tracks, we are up against all sorts of stressors. We are required to do more, achieve more, and simply be more than ever required before in history. Smart phones are within an arm’s reach at most times alerting us of emails, notifications, and instant news. As harmless as these stressors may seem, it is feeding into the problem we have today of trying to do too much too quickly, causing a rise in the hallmark of our age; anxiety.
Anxiety is defined by psychiatry as a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. There are many different categories of anxiety disorders ranging from mild to severe, and can affect one’s ability to cope with day to day life. Historically, harmful situations triggering feelings of anxiety and therefore setting off the “fight or flight” response were necessary for survival. Humans were needing to fight off other predators or run from danger, so the response of the body increasing sensitivity to our surroundings and raising the heart rate was absolutely necessary. The difference today though is that these anxieties are stemming from financial worry, family life, stressful work, or the recent pandemic. Although these stressors are reasons for concern or worry, they are not typically life and death situations requiring a full “fight or flight” response from our bodies.
In Canada, it is estimated that the economic burden of mental illness is $51 billion per year, and once a Canadian reaches the age of 40, 1 in 2 have or have had a mental illness in the past. With daunting numbers like these, it is important to know that there are alternatives to the conventional medicines that can come with a whole array of frightening side effects. One of these alternatives is a magical amino acid found in green tea – something called L-Theanine!
L-Theanine is an amino acid that was first discovered in green tea by Japanese scientists in 1949. L-Theanine can be found in nature in green tea, black tea, as well as various types of mushrooms. It is also used today in supplement form due to its ability to effortlessly cross the blood brain barrier and work its magic on relaxing the central nervous system. L-Theanine is perfect for those suffering from anxiety due to its anxiolytic properties – reducing anxiety without acting as a sedative that would make you drowsy. It works to increase serotonin, dopamine and GABA (gammo-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain, which slows the over-firing of excited neurons therefore lessening feelings of stress and fear; reducing both physiological and psychological effects of anxiety.
In short, L-theanine can help to reduce feelings of anxiety, while simultaneously promoting a feeling of productive relaxation! My favorite way of getting a daily dose of L-theanine is to have a matcha latte or drinking an iced green tea (the real kind, sorry Nestea!) This way, you’re not only getting a healthy dose of L-theanine, but also benefiting from other beneficial nutrients and antioxidants! Supplements are also available, but as always ensure to be referred to a professional product by your Practitioner.
Written by: Quinn Ponton, Holistic Nutritionist CNP
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