Scientific Assessment of the Synergistic Effects of
L-Theanine and Ashwagandha
Based on the common health benefits that L-theanine and Ashwagandha have shown through clinical studies, and different mechanisms of action, it makes scientific sense that the combination of the two would have synergistic benefits.
There have been numerous clinical studies conducted on L-theanine in the areas of stress and relaxation, focus, memory and cognitive support. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that has been studied for its effects on sleep, anxiety, stress and cognitive function. The synergistic combination of L-theanine and Ashwagandha makes for a potent nootropic, stress, anxiety relief formulation. We examine the basis for synergism here.
L-theanine has been clinically shown to promote an alert state of relaxation without drowsiness, within 30-60 minutes, as indicated by an increase in alpha brain waves, and a decrease in beta and theta brain waves. L-theanine is one of the most studied dietary ingredients, demonstrating health benefits for stress reduction, quality of sleep, improved mood, increased energy, cognition and memory, performance, learning, anxiety reduction, calming effects, and PMS management. Newer research shows benefits for substance abuse, aluminum toxicity, cognitive spectrum management in children, managing neurodegeneration, and for management of post-traumatic effects.
Mechanisms of Action
L-theanine demonstrates neuroprotective effects. L-theanine increases serotonin, dopamine and GABA in the brain and is antagonistic for glutamate receptors. The hormonal effects of L-theanine help manage cortisol levels. GABA levels in the brain are increased through the GABAgenic pathway. L-theanine also interacts with the endocannabinoid system through the endocannabinoid 2-AG which acts on the CB2 receptor. The effects on brain waves – increasing the alpha-brain waves (relaxed) and reducing the beta-brain waves (excited) and theta-brain waves (light sleep) – is well established.
Ashwagandha has a long history of traditional uses for stress, cognitive health, performance – muscle and endurance, managing inflammation and oxidative stress, digestive health, joint pain, stiffness and muscle soreness, stress-induced cardiovascular protective effects and improved circulation. Ashwagandha has been studied in several clinical trials, with demonstrated effects on stress reduction (reduced cortisol and increased DHEA-S levels), increased testosterone in men, reduced anxiety, and reductions in non-restorative sleep.
Mechanisms of Action
The biochemical mechanisms behind ashwagandha have been studied for its GABA mimetic properties (imitates GABA) and cholinergic effects (activates the parasympathetic system by maintaining normal acetylcholinesterase). Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, so it demonstrates phyto (plant) hormonal behaviors. Ashwagandha has also been shown to help decrease Cortisol (stress hormone) levels, increase DHA (energy hormone) levels and decrease C Reactive Protein.
Synergistic Effects of L-Theanine and Ashwagandha
Based on the common health benefits that L-theanine and Ashwagandha have shown through clinical studies, and different mechanisms of action, it makes scientific sense that the combination of the two would have synergistic benefits. L-theanine acts within 30-60 minutes, while Ashwagandha takes time (up to a week) to feel the benefits. This creates a bridge effect where daily doses of L-theanine bridge the longer-term benefits of Ashwagandha. On a mechanistic level, the GABA activators of both ingredients are synergistic in that L-theanine increases GABA levels while Ashwagandha mimics its action –this gives a multiplier effect. Both natural products have hormonal type effects, and this creates endocrine system synergisms, which are important for cortisol control. Both L-theanine and Ashwagandha have been shown to activate other different biochemical pathways, as discussed above. This differential activation creates additional synergistic effects between the two ingredients. Furthermore, L-theanine affects brain waves – increases alpha waves and reduces beta and theta waves in the brain. This wave action might have a synergistic effect on molecular mechanisms, i.e.: molecular mechanisms affect brain waves and then brain waves affect the molecular mechanism.
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L-Theanine and Ashwagandha ingredients, click the links below.