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The Caffeine and Theanine Nootropic Stack

The Caffeine and Theanine Nootropic Stack

I’ve been reading a lot lately about so-called nootropics and nootropic stacks. Without getting too detailed a nootropic is a substance that (allegedly.. need to put that word in there so that I’m not accused of being a woo peddler*) enhances cognitive ability and in particular according to the Wiklpedia entry on nootropics, executive function. Executive function is a whole bunch of stuff, such as focus, planning and cognitive flexibility. Have a look at the Wikipedia entry for the full details. Needless to say, this is the stuff you want enhancing, if you can.

This stuff became popularised in the 2011 movie limitless (which, strangely enough, I have never actually watched – note to self, download and watch) starring Bradley Cooper. In the movie, Cooper starts taking a wonder drug that allows him to think with extreme clarity and focus.

Now the thing is this is a very attractive thing to a lot of people these days. The worldwide sales of nootropics exceeded US 1 billion dollars in 2015. Of course, with a lot of these sales being US based, the US FDA has had to come out and warn people of marketing scams and dodgy ingredients that do nothing. Why, oh why America is your naming becoming more and more associated with corrupt practises, ethics free business and marketing scams every day? But that’s a story for another day. For now let’s get to the point.

Now the thing is, one of the big buzzes on youtube when you look up stuff about nootropics is the caffeine and l-theanine stack.

Everybody know what caffeine is and how to get a dose, but when I say l-theaine, some people may not know right away what I’m talking about. Put simply, it’s an amino acid that is found in tea.

When you look at the articles on in the internet you could almost be forgiven for missing this. They continually tout the use of l-theanine supplementation. Perhaps it’s because many of these articles are written by Americans who have a coffee drinking culture, but not a tea drinking culture.

Having said this I see one benefit of using a supplement rather than drinking cups of tea is dosage. I haven’t tried theanine supplements yet (will report back when I do) but apparently the dose is about a 8 times the dose of a cup of tea. I could see how that dose could give very different results. I can also see a benefit in taking supplements if for example you don’t like drinking tea, or alternatively don’t like drinking coffee.

However, for now, I’m doing it the old fashioned way.. drinking cups of coffee and cups of tea.

I have even combined the two in the one cup. Yes this is as disgusting as it sounds. However, the buzz you get is worth it.

The thing is, when combined the two act synergistically (I wonder how many people use that word and don’t actually know what it means).

We all know that caffeine is a stimulant, waking you up and making you more focused. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about the benefits of caffeine in this area. I have already written about the health benefits of coffee.

But let’s look at the benefits of tea, for the purpose of it acting as a nootropic. Firstly, one of the big ones is that tea lowers your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is necessary for our survival in certain circumstances. However, in our high stress world cortisol can be flowing through our body more often than we need it. Modern living messes with the fight or flight mechanisms of our bodies.

As a result of drinking tea and lowering our cortisol levels, we are more relaxed. Additionally , it does two other things Firstly theanine puts the brain in an alpha brainwave state.  Alpha brainwave states are the best state in which to be if you want to learn something. Secondly it stimulates the production of a neurotransmitter known as GABA. I have yet to really study the benefits of GABA, but in a nutshell it acts to banish stress and anxiety.

One more question that must be addressed before I wrap this article up is green tea or black tea. It’s always an issue whenever tea consumption is discussed. Many people who write about the health benefits of green tea. Why is that? Is it because black tea is so ordinary, they have to dismiss its health benefits?

My personal view is that I would rather gouge my eyes out with chopsticks than drink green tea. I drink black tea. I drink it white and I put sugar in it. Sue me.

My view is that the benefits of black tea and green tea are roughly equivalent, so don’t get hung up on one or the other. Use whatever floats your boat. I can guarantee you that if you start a regime of drinking green tea every day for it’s health benefits and you hate it, you won’t last 2 weeks. What you want is something you can do every day with pleasure.

In closing I want to say this is one you really want to give a try. It is going to cost you virtually nothing to try it and you will see the benefit the moment you do it. Also, you won’t have thrown money away on dodgy supplements that do nothing.


*Although it appears the woo peddlers of the world are making a very good living. Note to self. Article on why woo peddling works, and a series of articles on how to think, so that people are immune from woo peddlers.

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