Ashwagandha Vs L-Theanine

In a time when herbal teas and supplement aisles are brimming with promises of tranquility and focus, ashwagandha and l-theanine have emerged as two front runners in the quest for managing stress and anxiety. But which is the right one for you? Let’s compare ashwagandha vs l-theanine before you choose.

Before you rush out to add these stress-soothing agents to your daily health regimen, it’s vital to understand their individual characteristics, if you can take l-theanine and ashwagandha together, and how they can be most effective for you.

This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider. 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Supplement capsules on a wooden spoon and table for ashwagandha Vs l-theanine

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha’s Origins

Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, is an Ayurveda herb native to India. It is also known as Indian ginseng and Indian winter cherry. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine uses ashwagandha to strengthen the nervous system.

4 Ways Ashwagandha Reduces Stress

  1. Ashwagandha is rich in phytochemicals, including withanolides. These help reduce levels of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. By doing so, ashwagandha may promote a more relaxed state of being, without the sedative effects of some prescription anti-anxiety medications.
  2. Ashwagandha also functions as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help your body adapt to stress. They increase your body’s resistance to stress and changing environments. This ability makes adaptogens a popular choice for those looking to manage stress levels and enhance mental health.
  3. Ashwagandha decreases anxiety and stress with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. When you are stressed, anxious, or depressed, the inflammation and oxidative processes in your body are increased. Ashwagandha can help neutralize the inflammation and oxidation to reduce your stress.
  4. Ashwagandha can help you get more sleep and better quality sleep. More and better sleep can lead to more mental alertness, lowered anxiety levels, and better quality of life.
Ashwagandha root, powder, and supplements on a wooden board
Ashwagandha

Research-Backed Benefits

Many studies have shown ashwagandha’s benefits, especially for anxiety, stress, and sleep, but I will highlight a few. In 2022, a systematic review of the research found that ashwagandha significantly reduced anxiety and stress levels.

In a study with college students who experience chronic stress, researchers found that ashwagandha helped the students feel like they has more sustained energy, more mental clarity, and better sleep quality within 30 days.

Potential Side Effects and Considerations

Ashwagandha is considered safe for most people, but it is possible to experience some side effects, such as drowsiness, upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting. Also check with your healthcare provider to make sure ashwagandha will not interact with any of your medications.

What Is L-Theanine?

L-Theanine and Its History

L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid and a phytochemical. It occurs naturally in tea leaves with green tea being a particularly rich source. Research into green tea is what led to the discovery of L-theanine and its beneficial effects. People in Asia have benefitted from L-theanine for centuries through their daily tea consumption before its isolated usage in supplements.

3 Ways L-Theanine Reduces Stress

  1. L-theanine enhances alpha brain wave activity, the same type of brain activity observed during meditation. This alpha state is associated with a relaxed, yet alert, mental state. So it relaxes the mind without causing drowsiness.
  2. L-theanine can influence neurotransmitters because it can cross the blood-brain barrier. It can have a balancing effect on neurotransmitters, such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. This balance can help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.
  3. L-theanine impacts sleep quality, not by acting as a sedative, but by promoting relaxation. It can help you unwind, making it easier to fall asleep and transition into a deep sleep more smoothly. When you receive adequate, high-quality sleep, your body undergoes essential restorative processes that can reduce the effects of stress.
Dried green tea leaves on and around a scoop to represent l-theanine
Green tea leaves with L-theanine

Research about L-Theanine

A study in 2019 found that research participants had decreased stress-related symptoms and improved cognitive function after taking an L-theanine supplement for 4 weeks. They also found that the participants had better sleep quality.

A systemic review of the research found that taking a L-theanine supplement can help reduce stress and anxiety in people experiencing stressful situations.

Safety

L-theanine is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. But check with your healthcare provider before you begin taking an L-theanine supplement.

Ashwagandha Vs L-Theanine

Ashwagandha is an herb, and L-theanine is an amino acid extracted from tea leaves. Both L-theanine and ashwagandha are well-regarded natural options for stress and anxiety, but they work in distinct ways.

Ashwagandha works as an adaptogen to help your body adapt to stress. It supports your body’s resilience to stress by regulating cortisol levels and calibrating the nervous system.

On the other hand, L-theanine promotes relaxation through altered brain waves and impacting key neurotransmitters without sedating you. Both supplements can help your sleep.

Choosing Between Ashwagandha and L-Theanine

When deciding between the two, consider the following factors:

  • Mechanism of Action: If you seek a more widespread approach to stress management, ashwagandha might be the better option due to its adaptogenic properties.
  • Short-term vs. Long-term Relief: For an immediate sense of calm, L-Theanine may fit better with its effects on brain waves. However, if you’re looking for long-term benefits, ashwagandha with its adaptogenic nature might be the supplement to integrate into your daily routine.
  • Personal Health: Always take into account your individual health profile and medications you may be taking when introducing any supplement. Talk to your doctor about which supplement is the best choice for you.
Yellow sign with an arrow to wellness and a line through stress

Can I Take L-Theanine and Ashwagandha Together?

Yes, you can! In fact, taking L-theanine and ashwagandha together may provide a synergistic effect. Ashwagandha and L-theanine combined may offer a broader, more encompassing approach to managing stress, anxiety, and sleep. This combination could serve as a balanced daily regimen that provides both immediate and long-term stress management.

My daughter likes to take this Nature’s Bounty supplement that combines ashwagandha and L-theanine together. But if you prefer to take them separately, I recommend and have used this ashwagandha supplement and this L-theanine supplement.

Bottom Line

When it comes to ashwagandha vs L-theanine, the decision isn’t about one being better than the other, but about which one aligns best with your health goals. You can try each one separately or consider combining them for a holistic approach. They both have the potential to be powerful allies in the battle against stress and anxiety.

More Info about Stress and Anxiety

The Pillars of a Good Mental Health Diet

When Is the Best Time to Take Ashwagandha?

The Best Mushrooms for Anxiety and Depression

Tea for Anxiety: 9 Calming Brews

Anti-Inflammatory Food List (Free Printable)

Holy Basil for Anxiety

The Best Psalms for Anxiety and Fear

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