Therapeutic Supplements for Better Golf
Theanine and 5HTP
L-Theanine is a relaxing and nondietary amino acid found pretty much exclusively in teas from Camellia sinensis (alongside Green Tea Catechins and Caffeine) and is known to promote relaxation without sedation. It appears to be effective at this as well as reducing stress at standard dosages.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is not common in the diet (not one of the essential amino acids or even one of the common nonessential amino acids), and is deemed a nondietary amino acid similar to L-Ornithine or L-Citrulline. L-Theanine has structural similarity to Glutamine and both neurotransmitters that are produced from it (GABA and glutamate) and is known to reach the brain and act in the brain following oral ingestion.
The properties of L-theanine can be summed up as being a relaxing agent without sedation (relative to something like lemon balm which relaxes but may also sedate), and is also implicated in reducing the perception of stress and slightly improving attention. While L-theanine does not appear to induce sleep, it may (quite weakly) help with sleep although its potency suggests it may not be a good first line treatment for this.
Interestingly, the relaxing and attention promoting properties of L-theanine coupled with the lack of sedation may L-Theanine have its most significant supplemental role in attenuating the ‘edge’ of many stimulants. A combination of L-Theanine with Caffeine (200mg each) is noted to be synergistic in promoting cognition and attention.
L-Theanine, for the most part, is a relaxing but not sedating amino acid that is synergistic with stimulants such as caffeine as it can ‘take the edge off’. It is effective by itself in the standard supplemental dosages as well, and although it can be attained via a diet high in green tea ingestion that is the only dietary source of L-Theanine
There are some health benefits associated with green and black tea ingestion that are thought to be more reflective of the Theanine content rather than the Green Tea Catechins or the Theaflavins, and this is thought to be related to cardiovascular health (as L-Theanine positively regulates nitric oxide) and some cognitive benefits.
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally occurring substance derived from the seed pods of Griffonia simplicifolia, a West African medicinal plant. In humans, 5-HTP is the immediate nutrient precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT). This means that 5-HTP converts directly into serotonin in the brain (see Figure 1). Serotonin has many profoundly important functions, including a role in sleep, appetite, memory, learning, temperature regulation, mood, sexual behavior, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, and endocrine regulation.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH SEROTONIN DEFICIENCY?
Serotonin production declines with age, and at any age its abundance can be compromised further by stress. Low levels of serotonin are most commonly manifested by depressed mood, anxiety, and insomnia. They can also lead to various other complaints and disorders, diminishing one’s quality of life.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin. There is a massive amount of evidence that suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living. The lifestyle and dietary practices of many people living in this stress-filled era results in lowered levels of serotonin within the brain. As a result, many people are overweight, crave sugar and other carbohydrates, experience bouts of depression, get frequent headaches, and have vague muscle aches and pain. All of these maladies are correctable by raising brain serotonin levels. The primary therapeutic applications for 5-HTP are low serotonin states as listed in Table 1.
Conditions associated with low serotonin levels helped by 5-HTP
- Carbohydrate craving
- Sleep apnea
- Migraine headaches
- Tension headaches
- Chronic daily headaches
- Premenstrual syndrome
Although 5-HTP may be relatively new to the United States health food industry, it has been available through pharmacies for several years and has been intensely researched for the past three decades. It has been available in several European countries as a medicine since the 1970s.