Biol Psychol 2007 (Jan); 74 (1): 39–45
Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H
Nagoya University Department of Psychology,
L-Theanine is an amino acid contained in green tea leaves which is known to block the binding of L-glutamic acid to glutamate receptors in the brain. Because the characteristics of L-Theanine suggest that it may influence psychological and physiological states under stress, the present study examined these possible effects in a laboratory setting using a mental arithmetic task as an acute stressor. Twelve participants underwent four separate trials: one in which they took L-Theanine at the start of an experimental procedure, one in which they took L-Theanine midway, and two control trials in which they either took a placebo or nothing. The experimental sessions were performed by double-blind, and the order of them was counterbalanced. The results showed that L-Theanine intake resulted in a reduction in the heart rate (HR) and salivary immunoglobulin A (s-IgA) responses to an acute stress task relative to the placebo control condition. Moreover, analyses of heart rate variability indicated that the reductions in HR and s-IgA were likely attributable to an attenuation of sympathetic nervous activation. Thus, it was suggested that the oral intake of L-Theanine could cause anti-stress effects via the inhibition of cortical neuron excitation.