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With the rising popularity of herbal medicine and naturopathic remedies, many interested in such plants may be curious about the efficacy of combining one or more for enhanced results. Two properties of such interest are L-theanine and ashwagandha, which have complementary benefits but different mechanisms regarding how they work.
Ashwagandha works on the hormonal level, while L-theanine operates on neurotransmitters. As such, combining them may produce more powerful health benefits than using either individually. Read on to learn the pros and cons of mixing ashwagandha and L-theanine and how consumers can use both to achieve their wellness goals.
- Ashwagandha soothes stress and enhances focus by working on hormones, while L-theanine affects neurotransmitters to enhance mental clarity and improve mood.
- Both supplements offer health benefits taken separately but work in complementary pathways when combined.
- There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dosing ashwagandha and L-theanine. Consumers must consider many factors when evaluating how to incorporate them into their wellness routine.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows natively in India, Africa, and the Middle East. Also called Indian ginseng and winter cherry, the pungency of the ashwagandha plant’s roots gives it its name, which translates to "smell of a horse.”
Many cultures, especially Ayurvedic medicine, have relied on ashwagandha as a remedy for millennia. The plant was thought to lengthen lifespan, heighten endurance and strength, and promote sexual function. Most often, practitioners grind the roots into a powder to use as a supplement, though sometimes the red berries are used.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps the body naturally cope with mental and physical stress. Researchers believe that ashwagandha interacts with cortisol by lowering its flow in the body, helping to reduce the stress response it triggers.
While we need more research to understand ashwagandha’s many health benefits and efficacy, the current evidence shows promising potential. Ashwagandha may be useful for those seeking to perform at the top of their game, such as taking tests or operating in demanding scenarios at work.
What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid present in tea leaves, especially green and white tea. It's known for its calming and relaxing effects on mind and body.
L-theanine was first discovered as a component in green tea in the mid-20th century. The compound is present in green, black, and white tea and certain species of fungi. On average, a cup of tea has 20 mg of L-theanine, while L-theanine supplements range from 50 to 250 milligrams per dose.
Per recent research, L-theanine is structurally similar to glutamate, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which allows L-theanine to cross the blood-brain barrier and directly influence brain function. L-theanine also appears to increase the amount and effectiveness of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes calmer mental states and decreased anxiety.
L-theanine has grown in popularity for its many wellness uses, and some studies have emerged to support these claims. Consumers use it for stress management, improving mood, heightening focus and concentration, and as a sleep aid.
Ashwagandha vs. L-Theanine: Which is Better?
Whether ashwagandha or L-theanine is a better supplement is a subjective, personal decision. Some prefer one over the other, but many people opt to combine the two. Here’s a breakdown of their similarities and differences.
Ashwagandha operates by lowering cortisol to reduce stress response and feelings of anxiety. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha also works on other facets of the body to promote overall wellness.
L-theanine, conversely, controls the amount of GABA and dopamine in the body and influences the frequency of alpha brain ways. This mechanism means that L-theanine directly impacts the brain, which has trickle-down effects of calming stress and sharpening focus for the rest of the nervous system.
Combining Ashwagandha and L-Theanine
Both ashwagandha and L-theanine are beneficial herbal supplements; because they work in different ways, it makes sense to combine them. Both herbs are considered generally safe to use with little or no side effects.
High-quality varieties of both supplements can effectively lower stress, improve sleep, boost low moods, and improve overall focus and concentration.
So far, no controlled trial studies test the effects of combining L-theanine and ashwagandha. Anecdotal reports cite many benefits in combining the two, but just because no risks have been reported means that combining the two herbs is risk-free.
It’s important to source your supplements from reputable brands that use high-quality ingredients. Read reviews, check lab results, and be sure you’re sourcing the best possible supplements before evaluating whether L-theanine and ashwagandha work for you.
The Bottom Line
Deciding whether to combine the two is an entirely personal choice. However, though research is lacking, many anecdotal claims cite the pros of combining ashwagandha and L-theanine. These perks include lower stress, improved cognitive function, and more restful sleep. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about potential drug interactions, but the purported benefits of these herbs may be worth a try.
If you're looking for natural stress relief and relaxation, don't miss out on Evn's Sleep Powder, which contains L-theanine, CBD, and other herbs for effective rest.
- Kimura, K., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L. R., & Ohira, H. (2007). l-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological Psychology, 74(1), 39–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.06.006
- Hidese, S., Ogawa, S., Ota, M., Ishida, I., Yasukawa, Z., Ozeki, M., & Kunugi, H. (2019). Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 11(10). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102362