Ethical Naturals extends AlphaWave stress-relief benefits

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© / Getty Images
© / Getty Images

Related tags L-theanine stress management focus

A new study funded by ingredient supplier Ethical Naturals supports the safety and efficacy of longer-term AlphaWave L-theanine supplementation to manage stress, improve sleep quality and increase mental focus.

“We've now been collecting clinical and use data on AlphaWave ​for about 10 years, and this has supported its consistent growth in both supplements and beverages,” said Cal Bewicke, founder and CEO of Ethical Naturals. “Good clinical studies always involve a lot of time and work, but this new, longer-term study is another step forward in the development of AlphaWave ​and its contribution to stress relief.”

The research, conducted in partnership with KGK Science and published in the journal Neurology and Therapy​, builds on previous findings that a single 200 mg dose of AlphaWave ​significantly increased alpha brainwave levels in moderately stressed adults​. Alpha brainwaves, as measured by electroencephalography (EEG), are in turn associated with a state of relaxed wakefulness​ and have been shown to positively affect a variety of cognitive processes​ including attention, memory and creativity.

Stress in America 

Noting the inverse association between stress and quality of life, Ethical Naturals positions the ingredient as an alternative to drug treatments and their undesirable side effects in an increasingly stressed society.

In its 2023 Stress in America report​, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that stress levels across all age groups have grown consistently over the last five years in a nation recovering from collective trauma cultured by the global pandemic, international conflict, racial injustice, inflation and climate-related threats.

“The data suggests the long-term stress sustained since the COVID-19 pandemic began has had a significant impact on well-being, evidenced by an increase in chronic illnesses—especially among those between the ages of 35 and 44, which increased from 48% reported in 2019 to 58% in 2023,” according to the report. “Adults ages 35 to 44 also experienced the highest increase in mental health diagnoses—from 31% reported in 2019 to 45% in 2023—though adults ages 18 to 34 still reported the highest rate of mental illnesses at 50% in 2023.”

The APA noted that the accumulation of ongoing stress leads to inflammation, immune system dysfunction and an increased risk of a host of ailments, including digestive issues, heart disease, weight gain and stroke.

Study details

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial enrolled 30 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who supplemented with either AlphaWave (400 mg L-theanine) or placebo for 28 days. 

Stress was assessed by salivary cortisol, Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale-21. Sleep, cognition and mood were also evaluated using a combination of objective and subjective data. All outcomes were measured at baseline, day 14 and day 28. Safety included vital signs, clinical chemistry, hematology and adverse events. 

“Participants supplemented with AlphaWave L-theanine had decreases of 12.92% and 17.98% in PSS scores after 14 and 28 days, respectively, while those on placebo had respective decreases of 9.74% and 17.88%,” the researchers reported. “There were no significant differences between groups for change in salivary cortisol.” 

The AlphaWave group also demonstrated decreased time asleep (without reducing deep sleep time) after 28 days and significantly reduced light sleep after 14 and 28 days compared to placebo. In terms of cognitive attention, the study found that supplementation improved Stroop test correct reaction time by 21.79% at 14 days and 21.33% at 28 days, while those in the placebo group improved after 28 days only.

“This new study thus confirms the key structure-function claims that AlphaWave ​helps relax without drowsiness, promotes mental clarity and focus and reduces nervous tension,” Ethical Naturals shared in a statement.​

Introduced to the U.S. market in 2010, AlphaWave has been incorporated in a range of supplement products, calming beverages and powdered coffee drinks by brands such as NOW, Life Extension, Healthy Origins, Doctor’s Best (currently introducing), California Gold (iHerb), DoTerra and Everyday Dose.

Although L-theanine was originally identified for its calming properties as a component of green tea, Bewicke explained there is a low percentage found in the tea and that concentrating and isolating the compound is a complex process. 

“It’s not feasible to extract L-theanine from green tea leaves and achieve the level of purity and value that AlphaWave offers, so AlphaWave is manufactured [for Ethical Naturals] through a proprietary fermentation and purification process,” he said.

The ingredient is self-General Recognized as Safe (GRAS) affirmed in the U.S. and earned Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval earlier this year as the first (and so far only) source of L-theanine for supplement use in Australia​.

Source: Neurology and Therapy
doi: 10.1007/s40120-024-00624-7
“Safety and Efficacy of AlphaWave® l‑Theanine Supplementation for 28 Days in Healthy Adults with Moderate Stress: A Randomized, Double‑Blind, Placebo‑Controlled Trial”
Authors: Moulin et al.

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