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Theanine Dopamine Research

Theanine dopamine studies have confirmed that theanine from tea passes through the blood-brain barrier and affects the central nervous system.

Theanine is a very rare amino acid protein found in green, black, and oolong tea from Camellia sinensis (and at least one mushroom, Xerocomus badius, the Bay Bolete).

Among many other positive neurological effects, this amino acid increases dopamine concentrations in the brain.

Dopamine in the brain is formed from dopa and is a precursor of adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone.

Dopa, in the form l-dopa or levadopa, is famous for revolutionizing the treatment of Parkinson’s disease which may be associated with low levels of dopamine in certain areas of the brain.

Theanine dopamine studies are still preliminary.

Researchers are exploring all the chemical pathways that are involved from theanine ingestion (such as drinking 5 cups of green tea a day) to how it affects the brain including effects that

  • increase concentration,

  • reduce psychosocial stress,

  • reduce anxiety by increasing alpha brain waves,

  • increase a sense of well-being by increasing GABA,

  • protect against ischemic dementia, and

  • improve learning and memory.

Unno K, et al: Ingestion of theanine, an amino acid in tea, suppresses psychosocial stress in mice, Experimental Physiology, June 2012

Yamada T, et al: Theanine, gamma-glutamylethylamide, a unique amino acid in tea leaves, modulates neurotransmitter concentrations in the brain striatum interstitium in conscious rats. Amino Acids, January 2008

Yamada T, et al: Theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, increases neurotransmission concentrations and neurotrophin mRNA levels in the brain during lactation. Life Sciences, September 2007

Nathan PJ, et al: The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy 2006

Yamada T, et al: Effects of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on neurotransmitter release and its relationship with glutamic acid neurotransmission. Nutritional Neuroscience August 2005

Yokogoshi H and Terashima T: Effect of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on brain monoamines, striatal dopamine release and some kinds of behavior in rats. Nutrition, September 2000

Yokogoshi H, et al: Effect of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on brain monoamines and striatal dopamine release in conscious rats. Neurochemical Research, May 1998

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This page last updated by Sharon Jones.

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