Nootropic Showdown: 5-HTP vs L-Theanine

So you’re on a budget.  You want to keep up with your nootropic regimen but you also want to pay your rent.  What’s a person to do?  Simple – figure out which supplement to keep and which supplement to kick until you have some surplus cash.  For this article, we’ll take a look at two of the most commonly used nootropics, 5-HTP and L-Theanine, and give you a point by point breakdown of the pros and cons.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to establish a definitive victor so that you don’t have to play the guessing game when it comes to purchase time.

So What Are the Benefits of 5-HTP?

5-HTP is an over-the-counter health supplement touted as a way to boost mood and anxiety, and to promote an overall feeling of wellness.  5-HTP works by directly affecting the central nervous system – it crosses the blood-brain barrier – thus stimulating the production of Serotonin.  Serotonin is released at times of relaxation and happiness, so when additional serotonin is released, feelings of sadness and anxiety are reduced.

5-HTP has been extensively studied in double-blind placebo-controlled experiments.  These experiments consistently show 5-HTP’s effectiveness at improving mood and reducing and anxiety.  However, no major studies have been done, and thus additional research would be beneficial.

See my other post if you are looking for additional 5-HTP benefits.

There are no known major side-effects, though some users report feelings of nausea at higher doses, and some studies indicate that there could be rare cases of serious side-effects, though this is presently inconclusive.  Generally, dosing is at around 50mg-200mg per day, depending on user sensitivity.

What Are the Benefits of L-Theanine?

L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea.  For years, scientists have hypothesized that L-Theanine is beneficial to the body in numerous ways, and recently several studies were done that support this hypothesis.  L-Theanine works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and affecting GABA receptors, as well as spiking the production of dopamine.  Both of these effects have been shown to reduce anxiety, reduce physical stress, brighten moods, and increase cognition.  Can’t get much better than that, right?

Even more impressive than the previous effects is that L-Theanine strengthens the illness-fighting ability of T-cells, and overall boosts the body’s immune system.  So not only will you be more relaxed and a faster thinker, you’ll also be healthier.

There are no side-effects at all – a study done on lab rats showed that even at excessively high doses of L-Theanine, there are no adverse effects.  Dosing ranges from 20mg to 300mg per day, once again depending on a person’s sensitivity.

5-HTP and L-Theanine Review

Now that you know the facts, which should you pick? Both 5-HTP and L-Theanine reduce anxiety and boost mood.  However, L-Theanine also boosts the immune system, and shows no indications of having any side-effects at all.  The lack of immune-boosting capabilities for 5-HTP, as well as the slim chance of an adverse reaction from 5-HTP gives L-Theanine the slight edge in this competition.  So if your budget is tight but you still want that boost to your brain, go with L-Theanine and save 5-HTP for another day.

Trying My Hand at a Pre-Workout Mix

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different preworkout mixes and have found a great combination. The reason I decided to try making my own is because it’s a good idea to have something to cycle onto after taking something like Craze or Jack3d for too long (to allow tolerance to reset, so they’re effective again).

Pre Workout Ingredients

My first ingredient is 6 grams of L-Citrulline. I was fortunate enough to have Powder City send me a free sample of this. I know it’s a good compound to have, because it is thought to increase Nitric Oxide in the body (therefore acting as a vasodilator – increasing the size of blood vessels). The reason I want a vasodilator is that Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor.

My second ingredient is Caffeine (200mg). For the obvious reasons, this is for the energy and focus that I like to have in my workouts. Even if tolerance is an issue, caffeine has several benefits even while not being cycled. It is shown to still have the same effect on exercise (not wakefulness, but by increasing the time to exhaustion). Unfortunately, as stated above Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, but I included L-Citrulline for this very reason, and additionally, exercise acts as a vasodilator, so I don’t have to worry about this too much.

The third ingredient is Beta-Alanine powder (roughly 500mg). I’m still new to this stuff, and haven’t had much experience with it, but in theory could be great for my workouts. When the body starts to feel a burn on longer exercises (a higher repetition range), the burn is actually due to lactic acid in the body being released. One great Beta-Alanine side effect is it actually reduces the pain of lactic acid, and therefore the “burn” sensation in the muscles isn’t as pronounced, and the body can work longer before failing.

Finally, I put my trusty Alpha-GPC in. Though there isn’t much research on how it affects the body in exercise, there are a few studies showing that it does increase strength output. Plus it’s a choline source for my racetams which is a good thing to have.