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.

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.