Understanding Ashwagandha and L-Theanine: Their Benefits and Safety

In this article, we will take a close look at Ashwagandha and L-Theanine, two substances often used in dietary supplements. We will delve into their origins, their traditional uses in Ayurvedic medicine and tea respectively, and their potential health benefits. We will also discuss their safety profiles and the potential effects of combining them.
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.

A blue image with text saying "Ashwagandha and L-Theanine$"

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is a type of herb that grows naturally in India and Southeast Asia. It's often used in Ayurvedic medicine, a form of traditional Indian medicine, and is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. The plant is part of the nightshade family and has been used for thousands of years for its therapeutic properties [1, 2].

Typically, the root of the plant is used in Ayurvedic medicine, but the leaves and flowers can also be utilised. Extracts of ashwagandha can have as many as 35 different chemical components, although a specific active ingredient hasn't been determined yet [1].

Ashwagandha has been traditionally used to reduce stress and anxiety, improve energy and reduce fatigue, ease pain, decrease inflammation, and improve sleep quality. It's also considered an aphrodisiac, used to improve sexual desire, pleasure, or performance [1, 2].

What is L-Theanine?

L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid primarily found in green and black tea, and some mushrooms [3]. It is the most abundant free amino acid in tea leaves and contributes to the unique flavor of tea [4]. L-Theanine is also known as l-γ-N-ethyl-glutamine [5].

L-Theanine has been associated with various health benefits. It has been shown to have anti-stress and calming effects, and it can improve cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and learning [6]. It also has potential therapeutic effects in regulating central nervous system disorders [7].

Moreover, L-Theanine has been found to exhibit action atN-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are important for controlling synaptic plasticity and memory function [5].

In addition to its natural occurrence in tea and some mushrooms, L-Theanine can also be produced through chemical synthesis or enzymatic transformation in factories [4].

Can you combine ashwagandha and L-Theanine?

There may not be sufficient evidence to answer exactly whether it is safe to combine Ashwagandha and L-theanine. The current range of scientific literature does not specifically address the combination of these two substances.

Both Ashwagandha and L-theanine are commonly used in dietary supplements and are generally considered safe for most people. However, despite their individual safety profiles, combining them could potentially have different effects. It's always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you're currently taking other medications or have underlying health conditions.

Remember, while these substances are generally considered safe, they can still cause side effects in some people. For Ashwagandha, these can include stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting [8]. For L-theanine, potential side effects can include headache, dizziness, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

What are the potential benefits of combining ashwagandha and l-Theanine?

When combined, they may offer a range of benefits, particularly in the areas of mental health and stress management.

Ashwagandha, has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to improve cognition, reduce stress, and potentially benefit certain neuropsychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It may also improve sleep quality and exercise capacity in healthy adults [8].

L-Theanine, has been associated with regulating central nervous system disorders, providing anti-stress and neuroprotective roles, and potentially aiding in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. It has been found to reduce anxiety and improve symptoms in patients with chronic schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder [9, 10, 7].

When combined, Ashwagandha and L-Theanine may work synergistically as adaptogenic herbs, helping the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. This combination may provide enhanced stress relief, increase the body's adaptability to various stressors, promote greater physical and mental vitality, enhance cognitive function, and support mood regulation. It may also improve physical performance and endurance, particularly in those who engage in physical activities or workouts [7].

However, it's important to note that while these potential benefits are promising, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of combining Ashwagandha and L-Theanine. As always, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

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Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.