If you’re heavily reliant on your cup of coffee in the morning, it’s because your body needs the caffeine. Want a healthier option? Theacrine could be it. Health and Wellness coach Phillippa Quigley explains all…
From time to time, there can be some hype surrounding a ‘new’ supplement or medicine that will give you a good health boost, particularly when it can be sourced naturally.
Theacrine is an effective nootropic supplement that can enhance cognitive and physical performance. In this article we will deep dive into what theacrine is and how it works, its properties and health benefits.
What is Theacrine?
Also known as tetramethyluric acid, Theacrine is a compound mainly found in the leaves of the Camellia Assamica var. Kucha, a wild tea plant. This plant is native to China. The compounds found in this plant are known as alkaloids.
Alkaloids contain nitrogen and are known to have important physiological effects on humans. These alkaloids have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years thanks to their alertness and energy-boosting properties.
They can also be found in smaller amounts in the Theobroma cacao plant and the coffea arabica plant, which give us things like cocoa and coffee.
Theacrine and caffeine both share a similar molecule structure and can have comparable effects on the brain. However, the difference between the two is that theacrine has an extra methyl group. It is this difference that means it has more health benefits than caffeine.
Caffeine has long been known for boosting your energy and focus. If it’s not yourself, it’s highly likely you’ve met someone who says they ‘can’t operate without their morning coffee’. This could be true for some, as it does improve your mental clarity and cognitive function. However, caffeine also has its drawbacks.
Theacrine and caffeine work very similarly in that they both stimulate the central nervous system. However, caffeine is known to overstimulate blood pressure and heart rate, which explains why people can sometimes feel quite jittery if they consume too much. We also know that too much caffeine can be attributed to suffering from insomnia, as well as increased anxiety.
Caffeine can also have a short-lived stimulant effect – it wears off dramatically, leaving some people feeling low, tired and sleepy, also referred to as a ‘caffeine crash’. Caffeine can also become an addictive habit, where some can experience withdrawal symptoms if you cut it out.
How does Theacrine work?
So let’s switch our focus away from caffeine and back to theacrine, and take a look at how theacrine works within the body.
Firstly, to understand, let me introduce you to adenosine. It’s a neurotransmitter that’s used throughout our bodies, and it helps us to relax and promote sleep. Well, theacrine binds to these adenosine receptors in the body.
Now, although theacrine blocks adenosine like caffeine does, effectively giving us the energy boost we need, it does so in a gentler way.
Remember that over time, our body gets used to the amount of caffeine consumed as a stimulant, and will require more of it to have an effect. As a result, it’s common for the need for caffeine to escalate into an addiction.
In contrast, theacrine will adjust how sensitive the adenosine receptors are. This ensures there is a much reduced habitual need for that energy boost. This difference between the theacrine and caffeine is key to our health.
There are many people who would call themselves a ‘caffeine addict’ and may find it hard to break the cycle of needing coffee to encourage focus. Theacrine is a more health conscious option for those who rely on coffee solely as an energy boost or an addicted ‘need’ each morning.
Additionally, theacrine also promotes the release of dopamine into the body. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel pleasure and reward, and increases our motivation. So we can conclude that by consuming theacrine, you would feel a boost in your mood as well as your energy, leaving you feeling more productive and focused, without the crash or addiction.
Is Theacrine better than Caffeine?
Theacrine offers all the benefits of caffeine, without the ’caffeine crash’ or risk to blood pressure and heart rate.
Caffeine might do the trick when you need a quick boost to your mood and day in general, but its stimulant properties can make it hard for your body to wind down and this can impact other areas of your health, like sleep. It can also leave you in an unsettled state. Many regular coffee drinkers report feeling anxious and jittery. Theacrine, however, leaves you in a calm state.
Now we understand what theacrine is, let’s take a more detailed look at its numerous potential health benefits.
Improved cognitive function
It is thought that theacrine stimulates the brain and improves its functions. Some people feel like their mental clarity becomes enhanced and that they experience better concentration.
As we’ve mentioned, theacrine activates the release of dopamine. With this increased motivation and pleasure, you feel in a positive mood and able to achieve your goals. Theacrine is often used as an effective supplement before needing to concentrate on a work deadline or perhaps before a physical workout.
With its mood-enhancing properties, theacrine is also believed to therefore help with reducing stress and managing anxiety. As well as increasing dopamine, but theacrine also increases serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’ – thus, promoting overall wellbeing and helping individuals feel calm and relaxed. This makes theacrine a good option for those looking for natural alternatives to boost their mood.
We now know that theacrine gives you an energy boost due to the interaction it has with the adenosine receptors. However, instead of the short-lived boost from caffeine, theacrine gives you a long-lasting dose of energy to last throughout the day.
Many athletes and gym-goers have taken an interest in using theacrine as part of their exercise preparation, due to its ‘pre-workout’ qualities. It is thought it can help improve endurance and sustain energy levels.
Even though theacrine is marketed and used as a stimulant, some have stated that they felt their sleep improved when using it. As reported, it can induce a calming effect on the nervous system, particularly if taken in low doses.
An improvement in an individual’s sleep may also be due to the fact that if it has been used as a replacement to caffeine. Afterall, an individual who consumes a lot of caffeine will have undoubtedly experienced some sleep disruption as a result. This is due to the increase in blood pressure as well as interference with a person’s natural circadian rhythm throughout the day.
When switching to theacrine, you get a better night’s sleep.
It has been found that theacrine can also hold anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation causes various health issues and diseases in the body. It is said to interfere with histamine; histamine being a chemical your immune system releases, causing allergy symptoms.
That’s right, on top of all these other incredible benefits, it seems theacrine can also indirectly play a part in weight loss. With its positive impact on energy levels and motivation, theacrine can boost your motivation and energy for increased and more enduring physical activity.
The knock-on effect of this is an improvement in metabolism and increased calorie burn. Of course, the end result of this would be weight loss.
How to take Theacrine
We know that theacrine originates from the leaves of the Camellia Assamica var. Kucha tea plant. The leaves of this plant have been used in traditional medicine for years. So buying some Kucha tea is certainly one way to incorporate theacrine into your diet.
With its low dose, the Kucha tea method helps induce relaxation. Kucha tea has quite a bitter taste, and you’ll likely only find it in a specialty tea shop or online.
There are then various forms of supplementation. A popular one being TeaCrine, which is a nature-identical compound containing pure theacrine. These are capsules which you can take daily to feel the benefits.
Whilst there aren’t many long-term studies about the impact of supplementing with theacrine, it is clear that if you are someone who relies on caffeine, finding a more natural stimulant is beneficial.
When adding anything new to your diet, it is always best to proceed with caution and introduce it gradually.
We also always recommended that you seek advice from your healthcare provider before taking a new supplement, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions. With theacrine being a more recent supplement, it is unknown how it may interact with other medications.
Theacrine appears to have many health benefits, such as improved mood, increased energy, and better focus and alertness. Its natural stimulant-like properties are seeing it become increasingly popular with those who like to be physically fit or require sharpened focus for a long period of time.
With anything that helps you replace a bad habit such as caffeine addiction, it appears that theacrine could be a valued part of your daily diet.
So far we can conclude that theacrine does naturally and positively help your wellbeing, and we hope that as time passes, more research and studies will confirm as such.
Make sure that you do seek advice from your healthcare provider before including any form of supplementation.