Anxiety is a common reaction to stress. However, in some cases, it exceeds drastically, becomes difficult to control, and hampers day-to-day living. In such situations, anxiety can be classified as a disorder and may need to be treated with medications. In this day and age, the sheer number of anxiety medications are endless. And one of the most popular anxiety medicines is Xanax, which has been the cause for a lot of controversies. L-theanine, on the other hand, has gained popularity in the recent past because it could be a natural alternative to Xanax. Read on to know which of these may work better for your anxiety.
Xanax (Alprazolam): The Anti-Anxiety Drug
Xanax is a drug from a class of compounds called benzodiazepines, which are commonly used for their sleep-inducing effect. It also goes by the name alprazolam and is one of the most prescribed medicines for those with anxiety and panic disorders. It works as quickly as 10 minutes after taking it.
Xanax binds to certain sites on receptors called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain to slow down heart rate and breathing, relaxing you when you’re anxious or panicking. Then again, only if you have a severe case of anxiety or panic attacks should a drug like Xanax be recommended to you. Apart from the treatment of anxiety and panic and to induce sleep, Xanax is also used to relax muscles and prevent seizures.
Does Xanax Have Side Effects? What Are They?
While it has been found to be effective against anxiety, Xanax comes with a number of side effects:1
- Low motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Low sex drive
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Excessive salivation
- Constant talking
Besides these side effects, Xanax tends to make you physically and psychologically dependent on it. Taking it over a long period of time may eventually make you immune to its effects. Not just that, you start believing that you can’t cope with your anxiety without it even if you can, resulting in addiction. So, every time you have an anxiety attack, you’ll want to take it. And if it isn’t available, you’re likely to have more anxiety.
Also, medicines like Xanax only suppress anxiety temporarily and don’t really cure it. So, it’s never a good idea to choose medication as the first option to treat anxiety. To prevent long-term adverse side effects, try natural alternatives like l-theanine.
L-Theanine: Nature’s Xanax
There’s a good chance that l-theanine may sound unfamiliar to you. However, if you drink tea, it’s very likely that you’ve had l-theanine in it. L-theanine is an amino acid that is said to be capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. This allows it to directly interact with the brain and central nervous system. In the recent past, a lot of research has been conducted to prove that l-theanine could be effective as a natural alternative to Xanax in treating anxiety.
How Does L-Theanine Benefit Anxiety?
L-theanine has been found to increase the brain’s alpha wave activity and synthesis of the receptor GABA in your brain. Increased alpha wave activity indicates a high state of alertness and relaxation. And high GABA in your brain increases the levels of dopamine, which is a receptor that controls your brain’s pleasure and reward centers, resulting in calm feelings.23
What makes l-theanine different from benzodiazepines like Xanax is its ability to reduce anxiety without making you sleepy, slowing down your reflexes, and affecting your concentration.
How Can It Be Consumed?
The recommended dose of l-theanine for anxiety is 50–200 mg depending on the severity of anxiety. It is best consumed either in black or green tea. A 200 ml cup of black tea contains about 25 mg of l-theanine when brewed. And a cup of brewed green tea contains about 8 mg of l-theanine.
Try l-theanine instead of Xanax if you’re looking to treat your anxiety and prevent long-term side effects.
|↑1||ALPRAZOLAM- alprazolam tablet, orally disintegrating. NIH U.S. National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑2||Song, Chan Hee, Ju Hae Jung, Je Sung Oh, and Kyung Soo Kim. “Effects of theanine on the release of brain alpha wave in adult males.” Korean Journal of Nutrition 36, no. 9 (2003): 918-923.|
|↑3||Wakabayashi, Chisato, Tadahiro Numakawa, Midori Ninomiya, Shuichi Chiba, and Hiroshi Kunugi. “Behavioral and molecular evidence for psychotropic effects in L-theanine.” Psychopharmacology 219, no. 4 (2012): 1099-1109.|