Theacrine is a molecule that is similar to caffeine in its structure and may even derive from the caffeine in certain plants. Interestingly, it even works by processing through similar signaling pathways as caffeine. Moreover, theacrine supplements are a popular addition to workouts for many athletes.
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What Is Theacrine?
Theacrine is an alkaloid molecule that is similar to caffeine. It is found in its highest known levels in Camellia assamica ‘kucha,’ also known as the kucha plant. This is what Kucha tea is made from. Other plants may also be sources for this molecule, such as the cupuacu fruit. These plants are from very different parts of the world. The cupuacu fruit grows only in the Amazon, while the kucha plant grows only in certain areas of China.
Theacrine works in a way much like caffeine, but it appears that when people take theacrine, they build up much less tolerance to it than when taking caffeine. In lower dosages, theacrine has a sedating effect, which is most commonly seen with Kucha tea or theacrine tea. This product is often recommended for relaxation rather than as a stimulant.
Theacrine has not shown a build-up of tolerance, which is generally seen within a pretty short window of time with caffeine. More research needs to be done in this venue, especially where theacrine is considered for other tasks, such as theacrine pre-work supplements. In addition, researchers are looking into theacrine because it appears to be a compound involved with adenosine signaling, although scientists don’t know when or where it might be useful as a supplement in this regard.
Theacrine Benefits and Use
Theacrine has many potential benefits or uses, but there has not been a significant amount of research into its actions.
Focus & Energy Improvements
Popular among athletes as a workout and fat burning supplement, theacrine is a nervous system stimulant. According to anecdotal evidence, it provides a boost of energy without some of the negative aspects that caffeine has been associated with, such as anxiety and insomnia.
In one study, 200 mg of theacrine improved participants had more energy and focus as well as a motivation to train. Another study in healthy people supported that using a supplement with theacrine and caffeine was more effective than using one with just caffeine when it comes to alertness and focus. One animal study also shows that using theacrine enhances physical activity.
While there are limiting effects, theacrine shows the benefit of lowering LDL levels. Some think that the mechanism of action is like the polyphenols in tea. In fact, one study shows a reduction in LDL and total cholesterol when using high doses of theacrine.
Theacrine promotes a better mood in people and animals, although studies in people are few. However, some show that theacrine improves mood by leading to higher dopamine levels in people and animals, which increases energy.
Interestingly, theacrine works by activating two dopamine receptors which are DRD1 and DRD2. It also increases activity in an area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens which is responsible for feelings of pleasure.
In people, a combination of theacrine and caffeine shows improvements to energy, mood, and less lethargy.
Other Possible Uses
There is limited research into theacrine, but the supplement may have effects on sleep and inflammation in the body. By increasing the levels of adenosine in the brain, it offers some sleep-promoting effects and therefore, reductions in insomnia from caffeine. In mice, theacrine shows a reduction of inflammation. It also shows actions like that of an anti-inflammatory medication known as indomethacin. This current evidence is from animal studies, so more research is necessary for humans.
Theacrine vs Caffeine
Caffeine and theacrine are structurally quite similar, as purine alkaloids, and they work via similar mechanisms in the human brain. Lower dosages decrease stimulation in the central nervous system, while higher dosages lead to stimulation. While there is no way to dose caffeine to decrease stimulation, it is possible with theacrine. Also, with similar capabilities, they both improve energy, concentration, and motivation.
In addition, caffeine has a “comedown” effect. This is the feeling that you get when the energy from the caffeine wears off. Unfortunately, it also makes people and animals feel drowsy. This effect usually leads to people taking more caffeine which leads to a faster build-up of tolerance.
Conversely, theacrine does not appear to lead to tolerance over time. Even with daily use for several weeks, people did not create habits with theacrine. This supplement also doesn’t have the same “comedown” effect that caffeine does and does not appear to lead to fatigue.
Side Effect Improvements
Another benefit of theacrine is that it does not have some of the other effects that caffeine does. For instance, caffeine is notorious for making people jittery. These unpleasant effects cause insomnia, increase blood pressure, and bring on anxiety. However, theacrine does not appear to do any of those things. In fact, in animals, theacrine may even have hypnotic properties that aid in relaxation.
Caffeine also causes withdrawal symptoms. In fact, the body craves it. A good example is that morning cup of coffee you “have” to drink before you can do anything else. Conversely, theacrine appears to be non-habit forming which means your body does not require it to function.
Theacrine also has a longer half-life than caffeine does. It is even effective for decreasing inflammation and possibly pain in rodent models. According to WebMD, theacrine may even reduce liver damage caused by stress. Amazingly, this makes it a potential therapeutic option for those suffering from anxiety-disorders that lead to higher levels of cortisol in their bodies.
Theacrine VS. Theanine
There is often confusion between theacrine and theanine because the names are so similar. However, these are two different supplements. Again, theacrine is like caffeine and has potential effects such as elevating mood and increasing energy.
However, theanine, or L-theanine, is a different type of supplement. It is a stress-reducing supplement that also has some anti-anxiety properties.
Theacrine and theanine may also be an effective stack for supplement aficionados. Using both may lead to fewer feelings of jitteriness or anxiety while the theacrine stimulates the central nervous system.
Supplement manufacturers make several recommendations about the recommended doses of theacrine. However, there are no “official” doses, as this supplement not regulated by the FDA. However, in studies and individual use, the dose ranges from 50 mg to 300 mg per day of theacrine.
Theacrine activity appears to be biphasic and relates to the dose, producing a dose-dependent response. At lower dosages, such as below 50 mg, theacrine has sedative properties. As an example, there are sedative qualities when drinking Kucha tea. However, higher doses are stimulating.
First, take theacrine at the lowest dosage and if you don’t experience a positive effect, slowly titrate your usage upwards. Many people taking it don’t need to increase their dosage over their starting point. This suggests that lower stimulant doses may be what you need as part of your focus-enhancing or pre-workout plan.
Theacrine & Caffeine Together
By taking theacrine and caffeine together the bioavailability of theacrine increases. This, in turn, improves the positive effects of taking theacrine. However, to reduce the effects of the caffeine, try taking a lower dose of caffeine when combining it with theacrine. Theacrine, when consumed with caffeine, also appears to increase the benefits associated with consuming caffeine.
In one study evaluating soccer players who took both theacrine and caffeine, the results show improvements to reaction times. Some supplement products combine both and receive favorable responses from people taking them.
In another study, a combination of theacrine and caffeine together helped people concentrate better on their tasks and reduced mental fatigue. Additionally, the combination shows improvements to focus and attentiveness.
Theacrine is a useful pre-workout supplement, whether it is taken alone or in combination with caffeine. As it improves energy and motivation, athletes are more likely to stick with their workout, rather than burning out. One of the most prevalent products is TeaCrine. As a pre-workout supplement, it is taken roughly 30 to 45 minutes before your workout begins. It also works in combination with other supplements, such as branched-chain amino acids or creatine for better workout results.
Forms of Theacrine
Theacrine comes in a few different forms. First, it is commonly taken as a theacrine supplement in powder or capsule form, where it may also be mixed with other supplements, such as caffeine. A popular brand of theacrine is known as TeaCrine. This tea is what several of the research studies use as their product, as it is a pure form of theacrine.
Theacrine tea has been in use for centuries and is known as Kucha tea. Unfortunately, this tea has a bitter taste, so it’s difficult to find outside of a specialty tea shop or purchasing it online. Interestingly, many users consume theacrine tea to relax. This is because it has lower levels of theacrine that those more commonly used as part of a pre-workout regimen.
Theacrine Side Effects
Theacrine appears to be a safe supplement, with the most common forms of side effects being those of a stimulant which includes anxiety. Especially when you take it at a lower dosage, these side effects appear to be unlikely.
In one study, people took theacrine or a placebo and had blood work to test for lipid profiles, blood counts, heart rate and blood pressure. None of the results show adverse effects in their measurement values. Additionally, none of them felt a need to increase their dosage for the same motivation or energy.
Because theacrine is relatively new as a supplement, researchers are not yet aware of all of the potential outcomes. However, if you are pregnant or lactating, consult with your medical professional as there are not enough studies for these conditions.
If you have a pre-existing health condition, first discuss taking theacrine with your doctor. While there are no current reports of drug interactions, first consult with your health care provider. This is especially true if you take prescription medications because theacrine has both relaxation and stimulant properties.
Theacrine has many potential uses. It is an active part of Kucha tea from China and has a centuries-old tradition. Unfortunately, there has not been a large amount of theacrine research, but the studies are promising.
Theacrine proves to be an effective pre-workout supplement with significant increases in motivation and energy. What’s more, this is in addition to improvements to mood and focus. This is also without the side effects of caffeine.
It is also an effective part of a supplement stack. This makes it increasingly popular with supplement users, especially those in athletics like bodybuilding. Continue to do your research and consult with your medical professional to consider giving theacrine a try in your daily supplement routine.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.