New clinical study shows Suntheanine helps calm ADHD symptoms and may improve their quality of life

Child sleeping in bed with white pillow

July 23, 2009

Parents: if your child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD) or suffers from related symptoms, then you know how stressful the condition can be for the entire family. Even with prescription medication, children with ADHD commonly feel anxious and worried, and may need special attention in school. They may also get fidgety or aggravated in the evenings as their medication wears off. Most of these kids have difficulty getting to sleep and their sleep tends to be restless. Now medical researchers have discovered that some relief from ADHD symptoms may be found in something as safe and simple as an active ingredient in green tea.

In many cultures, children consume green tea from the time they are toddlers. Green tea is known to have calming benefits and there is mounting scientific evidence that one of its key ingredients — Suntheanine (a pure form of the unique amino acid L-theanine produced via a patented enzymatic process) – is responsible this calming effect. Suntheanine supports alpha brain waves, a state often achieved by meditation where one is deeply relaxed and mentally alert. Its effects are generally felt within 30 minutes and have been shown to last up to 8-12 hours.

A recent clinical study conducted at the Canadian Center for Functional Medicine has revealed that Suntheanine helps to improve the quality of sleep, reduce hyperactive behaviors and improve cognitive performance in children with ADHD.

This double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 100 children, each of whom met the diagnostic criteria of ADHD as defined by the America Academy of Pediatrics. Children were randomly assigned to code labeled bottles with chewable tablets containing either Suntheanine or placebo. Highly significant improvements were seen in the majority of children. The improvements in sleep quality and hyperactive behaviors were particularly dramatic in those kids taking Suntheanine.

“Sleep quality is poor in most children with ADHD and stimulant medications do little or nothing to improve this,” said Dr. Lyon. “When kids sleep poorly, every aspect of their learning and behavior is adversely affected. To find something completely natural with no side effects that improves sleep quality as dramatically as we saw in our study is a real breakthrough. A child who is well rested will have better behavior, more stable mood, improved school performance and better overall health. We found Suntheanine to be equally effective in kids who were on ADHD medications as well as those on no medications. Because Suntheanine does not cause drowsiness, it never results in morning grogginess unlike melatonin, antihistamines or prescription sleeping pills.”

Dr. Lyon added that Suntheanine may also be helpful for children who have ADHD-related difficulties, such as trouble with staying on task, but whose symptoms are not severe enough to warrant medication. “Unlike drugs, Suntheanine nourishes and protects the brain. Because there are no long term effects, it may also be helpful in a number of situations. For example, parents may want to consider giving after school or in the evening to children who become overactive at bedtime. Suntheanine doesn’t cause drowsiness but rather improves quality of sleep so it can be used at any time of the day or night. After analyzing the results of our study and after seeing the results of Suntheanine in scores of kids, I am now of the opinion that this supplement should be given to all kids with ADD, ADHD or in any child with anxiety, sleep or behavioral problems. Because it is healthy, you don’t need a specific diagnosis to justify it use.”

Meet the Experts

  • Derek Timm, PhD, RDN

    Derek Timm, PhD, RDN is more than your typical nutrition expert. In addition to being a registered dietitian nutritionist, Timm has earned a PhD in nutrition science. He is also a Monash University FODMAP-trained dietitian with expertise in how a high FODMAP diet impacts the symptoms of IBS.

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