At the present moment, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness among American citizens, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, which is 18% of the overall population. What`s more, according to a study commissioned by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders cost the U.S.A over $42 billion annually, which is nearly one-third of the country`s total mental health bill. Most people turn to Xanax when feeling anxious, being completely unaware of the side effects associated with its regular use. According to Data from SDI Health, Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, was eighth on the list of most prescribed medications in 2010.
What Is Alprazolam (Xanax): The Cost of Calm
Nearly 49 million prescriptions for alprazolam were written in 2011 alone. This medication works similarly to other benzodiazepines, binding to GABA receptors in the brain and slowing down breathing and heart rate.
Typical Side Effects of Xanax
- Decreased libido
- Skin rash, respiratory depression, constipation
- Drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, unsteadiness and impaired coordination, vertigo
- Dyspnea or shortness of breath
- Excessive talking
- Decreased motivation
- Anterograde amnesia and concentration problems
- Dry mouth
More Serious Side Effects of Xanax
- Slurred speech
- Strange dreams
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Suicidal thoughts
Long Term Side Effects Of Xanax
The high risk of becoming depend ant and addicted to this drug is the major long-term side effect. Its sedative effects often lead to development of tolerance, particularly when it comes to persistent use. Once this happens, the patient starts taking higher dose to get the same effect, which eventually leads to compulsive use and sedative addiction. As reported by Drug Enforcement Administration:
- There were nearly 350,000 emergency room visits related to benzodiazepines in 2010; alprazolam accounted for more than a third of these.
- Over 20 million people over the age of 12 have reported misuse of benzodiazepines at some point in their lives.
A Natural Alternative To Xanax: L-theanine
L-theanine is a strong amino acid found in teas made from Camellia sinensis plant. It works similarly to Xanax, offering relaxing effects but without the sedative or any other negative side effects associated with Xanax. What it actually does is interacting with brain receptors and increasing GABA, glycine, and dopamine levels in the brain. Consequently, this calms the central nervous system, reduces stress, and produces a sense of calm. It has been shown that L-theanine increases alpha-waves in the brain and thus leads to relaxed brain.
A 2004 study done by Australian researches used 16 volunteers and compared 200 mg of theanine to 1 mg of Xanax. It has been found that theanine worked much better in terms of inducing relaxation during the resting task while none of them exhibited acute anxiolytic effect during the second task (anxiety).
Taking L-theanine: Tea vs. Supplements
- The typical L-theanine dose offered on the marker is 200 mg which equals 8 cups of brewed black tea
- For therapeutic benefits, the recommended dose is 100-200 mg, 1-3 times daily
- Black tea: A 200ml cup of black tea contains approximately 25mg of L-theanine
- Green tea: An average cup of green tea contains approximately 8mg of L-theanine
- Matcha green tea powder: Amazingly, 2 mg of matcha yield about 29 mg of L-theanine
- Steep tea at 80 degrees Celsius for half an hour
- Use water to tea ratio of 20 ml per 1 gram
- Steep tea that is between 0.5 and 1 mm in particle size!