Every single one of us experiences stress on a daily basis. The human brain and body deal with this stress by activating the flight or fight response. However, neither fight nor flight are appropriate responses to the modern-day stresses we face in society.
Not having an outlet for stress can lead to increased anxiety and other mood disorders such as depression or anger management problems. While pharmaceutical treatments are available to alleviate the symptoms of these mental health issues, they often have mild to extreme side effects.
More and more people are seeking healthy, natural alternatives to help their bodies and minds cope better with stress. Two popular compounds that appear to alleviate anxiety and mood disorders are L-theanine and CBD. But what are these compounds, how do they work, and which one is better? Read on to find the answer of this CBD Vs L theanine debate.
What Is CBD And How Does It Work?
CBD or cannabidiol is a compound (cannabinoid) that is inside the cannabis and hemp plants. The cannabinoid helps regulate the endocannabinoid system by binding or acting on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors that make up this system. In turn, the endocannabinoid system regulates certain functions within the body, such as the immune system as well as the central nervous system, and the brain.
This regulatory function either blocks or stimulates the release of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters act as a messenger and react with the neurons in the brain. These neurons are responsible for inhibiting or stimulating specific responses in the human body, including the release of hormones, motor functions, or regulating the immune system.
CBD Vs L Theanine – How Does CBD Work in Alleviating Anxiety?
In order to potentially relieve anxiety, CBD primarily stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an inhibitor that reduces neuronal excitability and therefore inhibits the heightened reaction to stress. Thus, resulting in a more calm and relaxed response to it that prevents the release of cortisol, the stress hormone.
However, CBD also stimulates the release of other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine stimulates the brain’s reward system, which basically results in experiencing feelings of happiness and contentment. Dopamine is critical to alleviating depression that is often associated with anxiety and stress.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) acts on the brain’s neurons that are responsible for mood and results of feelings of happiness. CBD stimulates the release of serotonin, which can also help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression. It may also ease other symptoms of mental health disorders, such as lack of appetite and insomnia (sleeplessness).
Recent research about serotonin indicates that it is mainly found in the gastrointestinal system or ‘the gut’ and promotes healthy digestion. New research suggests there’s a brain-gut connection where a happy gut results in a happy brain. CBD receptors are located throughout the body and, to a great extent, in the gastrointestinal tract in order to stimulate the release of serotonin.
CBD may relieve anxiety by boosting GABA levels and stimulating the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. For some people, that provides a calming and relaxing effect while promoting feelings of happiness and well-being, allowing the brain and body to better cope with the effects of stress.
Dosage Instructions for CBD and Anxiety
The effects of CBD to relieve anxiety should last up to 6 hours. However, some users report being able to feel it for much longer; some claiming it lasts past 24 hours. The simple explanation for that is that their metabolism likely takes longer to break down compounds like CBD. Yet, on average, you can expect CBD’s effects on your body to last around 6 hours at most.
How quickly CBD takes effect depends mostly on the rate of absorption. Topical CBD oils applied to the skin are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Therefore, they are faster acting than edible products, pills, or capsules that need to pass through the digestive tract and be processed by the liver. When applied topically, users can expect to feel the oil’s effects in less than 30 minutes.
We recommend starting with a low dose at first to start getting a handle on the product’s effects. If, after a while, you start to feel that the dose you are taking no longer causes you any effects, then increase it gradually. Continue to do so until the symptoms of anxiety begin to assuage once again. Although scientific research has confirmed that CBD is an effective treatment for anxiety, there’s still no average dosage recommended. It usually does take some experimenting to find the ideal dose for your body.
Side Effects Of CBD
CBD does have some potential side effects. However, these side effects may occur only in some users, while others might never experience them. Side effects may include dry mouth, sleepiness, dizziness, and nausea. If any of these symptoms appear, consult a doctor before resuming the use of the product.
Interactions with other medications are mostly unknown at this stage, as are contraindications for specific medical conditions. If you happen to be on any medication or/and have medical conditions, consult a doctor before considering CBD.
CBD Vs L Theanine – What Is L-Theanine? How Does It Work?
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea with a chemical structure similar to that of Glutamate, a neurotransmitter. Glutamate has a stimulating function on the brain and, in essence, excites brain activity. It is the most abundant stimulatory neurotransmitter in the brain and has the most significant effect on increasing brain activity.
Because L-theanine is so similar in structure to Glutamate, it can bind with the brain’s receptors or neurons. However, it actually has the opposite effect on Glutamate – instead of stimulating activity, it inhibits it. It does so by preventing Glutamate from binding with the receptors because it has already taken their place on them.
How Does L-Theanine Work to Relieve Anxiety?
The inhibiting properties of L-theanine basically reduce the brain’s reaction and, as a result, reduce the stress the body feels. Thus, it may have a calming and relaxing effect that alleviates the anxiety that could come from the body’s response. This calming effect also helps with some of the symptoms of anxiety, such as sleeplessness or insomnia. Overall, it effectively lowers the levels of cortisol produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress.
Dosage For L-Theanine for Anxiety
The effects of L-Theanine do not happen right away. However, an anxiety reduction may happen around 40 minutes after taking the supplement. The effects commonly last anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. A dose of 200mg, twice a day, is recommended to treat moderate or mild anxiety. Doses of up to 800mg per day may be effective for addressing severe or extreme anxiety in some people.
Side Effects Of L-Theanine
L-theanine may cause headaches, nausea, and irritability. However, these side effects are most commonly noted when using green tea rather than supplements containing a measured dose of L-theanine. Though it gives out a calming, relaxing effect, it does not produce lethargy or drowsiness.
The amino acid may have interactions with other medications. If you regularly take any medications, it would be better if you discuss taking L-theanine with your doctor first. That is especially true if you are being treated for high blood pressure or heart disease. Though it does lower blood pressure, taking it together with hypertension medication might lower it too much.
L-theanine also decreases heart rate and is, therefore, a contraindication for patients with heart conditions. Once again, you should first consult a doctor before taking L-theanine if you suffer from cardiovascular disease.
CBD Vs L Theanine – Which Is Better for Anxiety?
Both CBD and L-theanine have clear potential benefits for reducing anxiety, stress, and associated disorders such as depression. However, CBD has the advantage of addressing symptoms associated with anxiety, such as sleeplessness (insomnia) and appetite changes. CBD may also stimulate feelings of well-being together with calming and relaxing effects. L-theanine, on the other hand, only relaxes you and nothing else.
L-theanine’s side effects can be serious, while CBD’s side effects are rare and relatively mild. There are no contraindications for CBD, although it can interact with certain medications. But it is not recommended to take L-theanine if you have a heart condition. On the other hand, L-theanine will not cause drowsiness, but that is precisely the case for some CBD users.
Currently, there’s a lack of research into the side effects, interactions, and contraindications of CBD may be a shortfall. However, due to CBD side effects’ rarity and mildness, its use falls squarely into the low-risk spectrum. It is clear that CBD may have some benefits over L-theanine. However, there is also a case to be made for taking L-theanine and CBD to increase the effectiveness of reducing anxiety and stress.
CBD Vs L Theanine – Are They Better Together?
There are a few reasons why it is a good idea to take L-theanine along with CBD. First, it doesn’t cause drowsiness. There is some evidence suggesting it may even counteract this side effect of taking CBD. It also increases brain activity, which can aid in both stimulating and inhibiting regulatory functions of CBD.
However, again, consult with your physician before considering taking L-theanine in combination with CBD. Also, don’t ever discontinue the use of any medication to treat any mental health condition in favor of CBD or L-theanine. The use of both should only supplement those other medications if your doctor does approve of you using them.