Caffeine is the world most popular psychoactive substance. At current rates of consumption a single serving of a caffeinated beverage is consumed for every person on earth every day. Structurally, it is similar to the ribonucleic and deoxyribonucleic acids which make up the back bone of DNA and RNA. Caffeine functions as a central nervous system stimulant that has been shown to decrease fatigue and drowsiness as well as improve reaction time, concentration and motor coordination. [i]
L-Theanine is an amino acid analogue related to L-glutamate. It is found in high abundance in many plant species, most importantly in black, green and white teas, where it can make up almost 1% of the dry weight of the leaves.[ii] Being so similar to an amino acid, L-theanine is readily absorbed in the small intestine where it enters the blood stream and eventually the brain by passing through the blood brain barrier. Theanine has been found to reduce mental and physical stress in humans in small laboratory settings.[iii] Under the experimental conditions L-theanine reduced heart rate and salivary biochemical markers for stress. The mechanism of action for this effect is hypothesized to be via the inhibition of certain subsets of neurons in the cerebral cortex.
While both of these compounds are useful by themselves, where they truly shine is when co-administered. A 2008 study found that in laboratory tests measuring delayed word recognition reaction time the group that received both caffeine and L-theanine out preformed the group that received either drug in isolation.[iv] This lead the authors to hypothesize there is a modulation of action of both biochemical pathways when the other drug is present. Other studies since then have found the combination of L-theanine and Caffeine to improve other, more complex cognitive tasks and neurophysiological measures of selective attention.[v]
Despite both L-theanine and caffeine being present in many different varieties of teas, to get the most out of the L-theanine (and consequently and L-Theanine caffeine combination) the dosage required is several times higher than what is naturally found in tea. Making this combined capsule the absolute best way to reap the benefits of this combination.
To further add to this capsule is BioPerine. It was isolated from black pepper and patented with the purpose of increasing absorption of other chemicals. BioPerine has been licensed from Sabinsa for use in this blend to further enhance its mental energy producing qualities. While the exact mechanisms causing it to enhance absorption are still under investigation it is currently thought that by inhibiting glucuronidation enzymes that it is preventing compounds from being metabolized for a longer time, thus allowing them to exert their effects for a longer period of time. You can read more about BioPerine at the manufacturers website http://www.bioperine.com/index.php/mechanismsofactions
[i] Nehlig A, Daval JL, Debry G (1992). “Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects”. Brain Research. Brain Research Reviews.
[ii] Finger, Andreas; Kuhr, Susanne; Engelhardt, Ulrich (1992). “Chromatography of tea constituents”. Journal of Chromatography
[iii] Kimura, Kenta; Ozeki, Makoto; Juneja, Lekh Raj; Ohira, Hideki (2007). “L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses”. Biological Psychology.
[iv] Haskell C, Kennedy D, Milne A, Wesnes K, Scholey A. “The effects of l-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood”. Biological Psychology. 2008.
[v] Kahathuduwa C, Dassanayake T, Amarakoon T, Weerasinghe V. “Acute effects of theanine, caffeine and theanine–caffeine combination on attention” 2016.