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ADHD Herbal Remedies: L-Theanine

L-theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea, black tea, and oolong tea.  Research has shown that regular consumption of L-theanine improves concentration and attention, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and reduces the occurrence of anxiety attacks. L-theanine also produces a nice calming effect without drowsiness.

L-theanine easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and stimulates the production of alpha brain waves; the person feels a deep state of relaxation while staying mentally alert.  L-theanine also plays a role in stimulating the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on brain activity.  It also seems to help the regulation of dopamine and serotonin, two important brain neurotransmitters involved in helping us stay focused and making us feel good, respectively. 

L-theanine can be used by those recovering from drug addictions, adults who experience chronic depression, and now children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  A pair of twins who had been using Ritalin throughout their childhood were starting to suffer severe side effects from the drug– specifically, loss of appetite and developmental delays.  When they started taking L-theanine tablets, they slowly regained their appetite, did better in school, and experienced a calmer behavior.

Since L-theanine is non-toxic and safe, you can try supplementing you child’s diet with it.  The dosage for children is around 50-100mg, taken in capsule form or powder at any time of the day. You can find L-theanine in a product called LTO3, an herbal supplement that also contains sementis and skullcap. You may also give your child green tea, but L-theanine only constitutes 1-2% of tea leaves’ dry weight.  In order for your child to benefit from the L-theanine from green tea, he or she would have to drink tons of it.

Most of the information we have about the benefits of L-theanine comes from Japan, where green tea is an integral part of the diet and where most of the research is being done.  Although no studies have been done to explore the potential benefits of L-theanine in children with ADHD, one study found that it was more effective than a common medication in promoting relaxation in people with anxiety.

Keep in mind that with a complex condition like ADHD, no one treatment will work successfully for all children.  For that reason, you should not treat L-theanine or any herbal remedy as a magic bullet that can instantly cure all symptoms of ADHD. Instead, these herbal remedies should be used as important complements of a comprehensive holistic approach such as the one I suggest in the UnRitalin Solution.