Ashwagandha vs. L-Theanine: Similarities & Differences Explained

Ashwagandha and l-theanine are two herbs that are often compared because of their similar calming effects. However, there are also some key differences between these supplements that you should be …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Ashwagandha and l-theanine are two herbs that are often compared because of their similar calming effects.

However, there are also some key differences between these supplements that you should be aware of before choosing one over the other.

In this article, we’ll dig into the differences between l-theanine vs ashwagandha, as well as their similarities.

Ashwagandha vs. L-Theanine

Ashwagandha Overview & Uses:

Ashwagandha is a popular Ayurvedic herb that is used as an adaptogen.

For millennia, this plant has been utilized as an aphrodisiac and health cure in India. It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-stress and immune-supporting properties.

Ashwagandha has been shown in scientific studies to help with anxiety, sleep quality, and stress resilience.

1. May Help With Stress Management

Ashwagandha has been found to have adaptogenic anti-stress properties.

In a human clinical trial, ashwagandha was tested for its ability to reduce stress in individuals with mild anxiety. Ashwagandha was found to help with reducing overall levels of stress and anxiety in the study.

This study, as well as others, suggests that ashwagandha might be the best approach to counteract stress’s negative effects.

2. May Improve Sleep

According to clinical trials, ashwagandha is an herb that can improve sleep quality and sleeplessness.

Researchers found that ashwagandha has a beneficial impact on several sleep criteria in people with poor sleep quality.

Another human clinical study compared the effects of ashwagandha on insomniacs. The researchers found that ashwagandha aided in improving sleep quality in both the insomniac and healthy group.

3. May Reduce Mild Anxiety

According to clinical trials, ashwagandha appears to help with anxiety and overall mental well-being.

A human clinical trial showed that taking 300mg of ashwagandha daily helped to reduce self-reported stress levels.

Another human clinical trial showed that ashwagandha helped to reduce anxiety in the study participants, as measured by various anxiety indexes.

You can learn more about ashwagandha’s advantages in our comprehensive article here.

L-Theanine Overview & Uses:

L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid that’s commonly found in green tea (Camellia sinensis).

It is primarily used to help focus the brain and provide a feeling of relaxation.

While l-theanine is often thought of solely as a “focus supplement”, it has other uses, including benefits for anxiety and sleep.

1. May Reduce Stress

Research shows that l-theanine may be able to help to reduce stress.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that 200mg of l-theanine daily helped to promote mental health and reduce stress-related impairments.

Another clinical trial looked at the effect of l-theanine on individuals encountering various cognitive stressors. The study found that l-theanine helped to reduce cortisol response, a measure of internal stress within the body, in the study participants.

A meta-analysis found that 200-400mg of l-theanine may assist in the reduction of stress and anxiety in people exposed to stressful conditions.

2. May Improve Cognitive Function

Various studies have shown that l-theanine may have the ability to improve brain function.

A human clinical trial found that l-theanine works to increase mental alertness. The researchers noted that l-theanine works by supporting alpha brain wave activity, which promotes a state of mental focus.

Another clinical trial found that l-theanine helped to increase focus in middle-aged adults. The researchers indicated that l-theanine may contribute to improved attention, thus enhancing working memory and executive functions.

3. May Improve Sleep

According to research, l-theanine may help to increase sleep quality.

A research review noted that l-theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness. Unlike conventional sleep inducers, l-theanine is not a sedative but promotes good quality of sleep through anxiolysis. The researchers suggested that l-theanine is a safe natural sleep aid.

Another study found that a combination of l-theanine and GABA worked to improve nREM sleep and decrease sleep latency (i.e. the time it takes to fall asleep at night).

L-Theanine vs. Ashwagandha: Similarities & Differences

When it comes to comparing these two supplements, there are many similarities between ashwagandha and l theanine.

Both ashwagandha and l-theanine help to promote healthy brain function, sleep, stress levels, and overall mood.

The key difference between the two is that ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb with anti-stress properties while l-theanine works by relaxing the brain.

Both l-theanine and ashwagandha have been used in traditional medicine systems. Ashwagandha is highly used within the Ayurvedic system of medicine, while l-theanine (in the form of green tea) has been used in Asian cuisine and medicine for thousands of years.

Ashwagandha vs. L-Theanine: Which is right for you?

When comparing ashwagandha vs l theanine, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Think of ashwagandha as an anti-stress herb that builds resilience within the body. It also has the ability to support increased sleep quality.

Whereas l-theanine has the ability to increase relaxation and focus in the brain is its main benefit. It also has an anxiolytic benefit, but this is more of a secondary function.

These properties make L-theanine a great addition as a nighttime sleep aid.

We recommend checking out Stay Asleep, a natural sleep aid that contains l-theanine along with a complement of natural herbs.

If you are stressed out and need support in your ability to adapt to stress, then ashwagandha root is the best option. Its sleep-supporting properties are icing on the cake.

If you feel mentally sluggish or overwhelmed, then l-theanine might be right for you. It has a calming, brain-focusing effect that is beneficial for many, especially office workers. It’s also great to take before bed to help wind down.

Can You Take L-Theanine and Ashwagandha Together?

Yes, you can take l-theanine and ashwagandha together.

These supplements do not have any known negative interactions when taken together.

In fact, these herbs may be a good combination to help increase sleep quality at night and stimulate cognitive function during the day.

It would be best to take l-theanine in the morning or afternoon and then take ashwagandha later at night (prior to bedtime).

Potential Side Effects & Interactions:

As with all things, supplements have the potential to interact negatively with your body.

L-theanine is generally well tolerated, especially at moderate doses.

You can find a full safety profile review of l-theanine here.

Researchers note that it may cause an allergic skin reaction for some individuals.

Ashwagandha is also well-tolerated and generally safe to consume.

A safety review study showed that midrange doses (~300mg daily) of ashwagandha do not appear to be associated with any side effects or adverse reactions.

You can find our full safety profile review of ashwagandha here.

As with all supplements, it’s wise to check in with your personal doctor before taking them.

Conclusion:

As you can see, both herbs are generally well tolerated and safe to consume.

If you’re trying to decide between the two, consider taking a few weeks to experiment with each herb for yourself before making your final decision.

You might find that one works better than the other or vice versa! Or, try them together and see if you get a synergistic effect.

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About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.

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