Bath and Body Blog
Unearthing the benefits of an l-theanine + caffeine + ashwagandha stack.
Keeping steady stamina going throughout the day gets a little rough as 2 or 3 pm rolls around. To keep energy levels up, traditionally, a trusted supplement is a cup of coffee containing about 100mg of caffeine. Coffee is incredible as it contains nutrients like alkaloids and antioxidants that can benefit your health while also giving you the energy and stimulation needed to start the day. However, it can also cause unwanted inflammation and persistent overstimulation of the HPA-axis. Basically, the overstimulating effect that caffeine has on the adrenal glands causes a minor activation of the bodies fight or flight response. While minor, over time this quickly leads to burnout causing long term imbalance which then becomes a chronic fatigue issue. This has been recently referred to as adrenal fatigue or HPA-axis dysfunction and is one of the most prominent issues that come from an overconsumption of caffeine.
With what we know about all of the good and bad effects of caffeine, we’re bringing forth a way to combat the negative side effects that come with coffee while actually enhancing all of the positives. Stacking L-theanine with caffeine at a 2:1 ratio has been studied for about a decade now and the results are quite impressive. However, specifically stacking 200mg L-theanine + 100mg Caffeine + 500mg Ashwagandha is the beautiful synergistic combination that we’re bringing to the table. We believe that this pairing makes the perfect stack to maintain afternoon energy levels and while the short term boosts in cognition and energy may be the initial reason for utilizing the stack, the true beauty comes from its long term effects.
What is L-theanine & why do we add it to coffee?
L-theanine is a unique amino acid that’s found almost exclusively occurring in green tea leaves. It has modulatory and neuroprotective effects on the brain by stimulating neurotransmitter function, increasing BDNF production and alpha wave production. Using EEG recordings in humans, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reported that activity in the alpha frequency band increases as a reaction to L-theanine administration. This has been of interest in the neuroscience community because the alpha rhythm has long been known to be sensitive to overall attentional states.
The study also reports that participants who took an l-theanine and caffeine ratio of 100mg l-theanine to 50 mg caffeine engaged in an attention-switching test and a memory test for both 60 and 90 minutes. The participants all showed a great improvement in speed and accuracy of performance in both tests as well as a reduction in susceptibility to distracting information during the task that involved memory. The results are evidence that proposes L-theanine and caffeine at a 2:1 ratio are beneficial for improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks.
L-theanine has also been shown to significantly increase activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness. At alpha frequencies, the brain is awake but relaxed and is associated with clear-minded focus. Think of alpha brain waves as a bridge between beta and theta frequencies. This is when our minds begin to relax but are still cognitive and we are able to effectively process information, problem solve, and store information. It’s the source of creativity and where most of our greatest ideas are developed. Clinical research found back in 1998 found that supplementing orally with 200mg of L-theanine caused a feeling of relaxation during a study among 8 female college students. It was actually shown that the group of women that had the highest levels of anxiety produced the most alpha brain waves after administration.
How this all effects the frequency of our brain waves.
Interestingly, a fast-acting dose of caffeine actually greatly promotes the production of beta waves which then forces us into a beta state or ‘beta brain’ which is a great state to be in when it’s beneficial to productivity. It’s actually thought that one of the purposes of beta waves is to increase our level of cortical arousal. While having access to produce beta brain waves is crucial for us to function well throughout the day the overproduction can cause stress, frustration anxiety, and other high-intensity emotions.
To learn more about how to take control of excessive beta brain wave frequencies as well as how to manage stressors, read our post specific to this topic here.
Why we add Ashwagandha to the mix.
Ashwagandha comes in for adrenal support. Being a strong anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic herb it can counteract those unwanted effects on the HPA-axis by helping to maintain homeostasis while providing mood and energy support. Speaking long-term, adaptogens build adaptive energy that acts as a reserve for cellular energy. They also help to normalize the function of the neuroendocrine system as well as the HPA-axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system) in order to work on the fatiguing facets of stress, anxiety, and long working hours.
Ashwagandha has even been proven effective in decreasing unwanted adrenal cortisol.
In a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants with a history of chronic stress had their serum cortisol levels tested and after 60 days of administration with 300mg of Ashwagandha extract. The participant's cortisol levels were tested again after 60 days revealing a severe reduction relative to the placebo group.
To delve deeper into Ashwagandha specifically, check out this blog post.
So what makes this specific caffeine+l-theanine+ashwagandha such a great combination?
It’s all in the synergy of them working together. Since l-theanine is known to be amazing at enhancing efficient cognitive function. Its calming effects takes the edge off of caffeine by balancing out the unwanted results that coffee may have on the brain and canceling out jitters, hyperactivity, overstimulation, etc. Protecting the adrenals is Ashwagandhas’ strong suit which makes it such an effective pairing with coffee since caffeine is known to cause adrenals to overwork and produce excess cortisol which leads to fatigue. This is especially beneficial with long-term use for long-term health benefits and may be specifically helpful for those with a caffeine sensitivity because caffeine sensitivity could very well be an effect of fatigued adrenals.
Most importantly, the synergy of caffeine with l-theanine when taken together have been scientifically proven to enhance the potential benefits of all compounds. Adding ashwagandha to the mix makes sure to cover all of the bases needed to acquire a well-balanced cup of coffee for the mind and body.
Haskell, Crystal, et al. “The Effects of l-Theanine, Caffeine and Their Combination on Cognition and Mood.” Biological Psychology, Elsevier, 26 Sept. 2007, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051107001573.
Kelly, Simon P., et al. “L-Theanine and Caffeine in Combination Affect Human Cognition as Evidenced by Oscillatory Alpha-Band Activity and Attention Task Performance.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Aug. 2008,
Kobayashi, Kanari, et al. “Effects of L-Theanine on the Release of.ALPHA.-Brain Waves in Human Volunteers.” Research Gate, Jan. 1998, www.researchgate.net/publication/273220751_Effects_of_L-Theanine_on_the_Release_of_ALPHA-Brain_Waves_in_Human_Volunteers.
Nobre, Anna C, et al. “L-Theanine, a Natural Constituent in Tea, and Its Effect on Mental State.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328.
Owen, Gail N, et al. “The Combined Effects of L-Theanine and Caffeine on Cognitive Performance and Mood.” Nutritional Neuroscience, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988.
Shenoy, Shweta, et al. “Effects of Eight-Week Supplementation of Ashwagandha on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Elite Indian Cyclists.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545242/.
Simon P., Gomez-Ramirez, et al. “L-Theanine and Caffeine in Combination Affect Human Cognition as Evidenced by Oscillatory Alpha-Band Activity and Attention Task Performance.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Aug. 2008, academic.oup.com/jn/article/138/8/1572S/4750819
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