Theacrine Supplement Guide

Theacrine AKA TeacrineBackground / Overview of Theacrine (Teacrine)

Theacrine is a purine alkaloid compound that is present in a variety of different teas and coffees, and which occurs naturally in the Theocrama, Herrania, and Camella Assamica plants. The Kucha variant of the Camella Assamica plant, in particular, has a history of use in a number of different cultures as an herbal remedy. It has traditionally been served in the form of Kucha tea, and has been used to treat common illnesses like the common cold, and is also believed to fight the effects of aging.

Chemically speaking, theacrine is very similar to caffeine, being almost identical in molecular structure apart from the addition of both a ketone group and a methyl group. In fact, it is believed that plants synthesize theacrine from caffeine itself, thereby accounting for the structural similarities between them.

Note: Theacrine is not to be confused with the pseudo amino acid Taurine or relaxed focus producing L-Theanine.

Theacrine’s similarities to caffeine are not limited only to molecular structure, but extends to its effects on mental functioning as well. Specifically, theacrine provides a boost to physical and mental energy that is subjectively similar to the familiar effects of coffee and tea, but also has a number of important advantages over caffeine.

For example, theacrine does not appear to have any effects on blood pressure, thereby making it more specific in its functional profile than caffeine; it may also have a number of important secondary benefits on bodily health, such as anti-oxidizing and pain-suppressing properties. Most importantly, however, is that theacrine does not appear to cause the sorts of physiological tolerance and dependence that often emerge as a consequence of habitual caffeine consumption. This is a great advantage – particularly in light of the fact that caffeine tolerance can emerge in as little as 4 days of repeated use, which is well within the typical habits of many caffeine users worldwide.

Given that caffeine is (technically speaking) the most widely-used “drug” in the world, theacrine’s ability to confer similar benefits to physical and mental energy without the potential for the development of tolerance is therefore a tremendous advantage. For this reason, it is rapidly becoming popular among nootropic users looking for a consistent and sustainable way to increase their overall energy and alertness.

Theacrine is a relative newcomer onto the nootropic supplementation scene, however, and the scientific investigation of its wider pharmacological profile is in a correspondingly early stage. For this reason, formal experimental studies on the effects of theacrine are presently relatively few in number. Nonetheless, the experimental literature that currently exists on the subject paints a promising picture, and we will review this nascent scientific field in its current state of development in what follows.

Theacrine Mechanisms of Effect

Theacrine’s precise mechanisms of effect are currently undergoing investigation, but it is presently believed that the adenosine neuromodulation system plays a central role in its biological pharmacology. This is in large part due to its previously-mentioned structural similarity to the caffeine molecule from which it is synthesized in nature.

It is therefore likely that theacrine promotes increased wakefulness and mental alertness by inhibiting the adenosine receptor subtypes A1 and A2A, which otherwise normally signal the brain to enter a restive, sedated state. In this respect it is therefore pharmacology similar to drinking tea or coffee.

However, it has been proposed that theacrine may also exert an effect on the brain’s dopamine system. Evidence for this has come from a recent animal study (see above) in which rats were given dopamine blockers to induce a low-dopamine state, which reduces their physical activity and motivation. They were then given theacrine, which was observed to reverse these cognitive and behavioral deficits. Thus it seems as if at least some of theacrine’s stimulant-like properties may come from its ability to enhance dopaminergic function in the brain.

Primary effects of Theacrine Supplement Usage

Animal studies

Theacrine’s primary beneficial effects are its ability to improve alertness and ability to focus, in much the same manner in which coffee or tea does.

This has been shown in both animal and human studies. For example, the (above-mentioned) study of theacrine’s effects in rats has shown that it substantially increased locomotor activity in a dose-dependent fashion (in other words, the effect became greater as the administered dose was increased).

In this experiment, the theacrine was injected directly into the nucleus accumbens, which is the brain region in which caffeine is most effective in producing its energy-promoting effects in both animals and humans alike. Thus, while this study was performed in non-human animals, the results of this early study nonetheless strongly suggested that its psychological properties are likely to generalize to humans as well.

In addition, the same study also looked at whether the rats gradually showed less of an effect over the course of several days, in order to see whether theacrine could induce desensitization and tolerance in the way that caffeine does. The authors found no significant decrease in the enhancement of the rats’ locomotor activity over the testing period, thereby concluding that theacrine appears able to maintain a similar level of effect without causing desensitization or adaptation.

Human Studies

While still relatively few in number, the related human studies which have been performed so far have yielded confirmatory evidence of the preliminary findings in animals – thereby providing strong evidence that theacrine is effective in humans in a similar fashion.

For example, a recent human study from 2015 gave a sample group of young, healthy subjects an acute (one-time) dose of either caffeine or theacrine and assessed their cognitive performance on a series of simple cognitive tests, as well as tracked the subjects’ subjective ratings of mood, lethargy, and overall mental energy. The authors found that the subjective ratings of attentional focus and mental energy were significantly higher when the subjects were given theacrine than when they were given either an inactive placebo or regular caffeine.

Meanwhile, although no significant effects were observed on the subjects’ performance on the battery of cognitive tests for either the theacrine or caffeine conditions , a few promising trends were evident in the data – and the lack of statistical significance may therefore have been in part due to the relatively small sample size.

Additionally, the study found that theacrine’s effects on alertness and attentional focus came without any secondary effects on the subjects’ blood pressure or heart rate, therefore indicating that theacrine’s effects, though psychologically similar to those of caffeine, are nonetheless more specific or selective in that they affected mental functioning without producing a cardiovascular response. This may indicate that theacrine is more appropriate for those who tend to experience unwanted side-effects from caffeine consumption, such as increased heart rate, headaches, or mild anxiety.

Relatedly, an even more recent human study from 2016 has further verified these findings. In this study, a group of healthy human subjects were given 200mg of theacrine per day over the course of an entire week, and were tested multiple times per day following ingestion in order to track the time-course of their psychological response. The authors found significant increases in the subjects’ ratings of their overall energy, attentional focus, and concentration ability on each day after taking the drug, which were interpreted as acute (short-term) effects.

Interestingly, the authors also report additional, longer-term effects such as increases in their subjects’ libido and willingness to exercise as the week of theacrine treatment progressed, suggesting that theacrine may gain additional beneficial effects when taken regularly.

It is worth noting that in the above study, a 400mg dose was not seen to provide stronger benefits than a 200mg dose. This suggests that the dose-response relationship of theacrine may be somewhat complex; fortunately, this means that it may not be necessary to take large doses to achieve an optimal effect (at least, not as far as its effects on attention and alertness are concerned; but also see next section, below, for other potentially dose-dependent effects).

Finally, another recent study specifically investigated theacrine’s potential for inducing tolerance and desensitization in human subjects, and confirmed the findings of the earlier animal studies: even an 8-week regimen of daily theacrine use did not lead to any habituation in human subjects, therefore demonstrating that theacrine is a reliable nootropic for boosting energy and alertness over an even longer time-period than caffeine.

Other Effects of Theacrine Supplement Usage

Beyond its energy-boosting effects, theacrine also has a number of additional effects which may be of nootropic significance:

Analgesia and anti-inflammation

Theacrine may act as an analgesic (pain reliever). Evidence for this comes from a study which observed elevated pain thresholds in mice given an acute dose of theacrine. While this has so far been observed only in mice, the mammalian pain system is similar across species, and so it is plausible to suspect that this effect may generalize to human users as well.

Additionally, the same study (see above) also showed that theacrine acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. This may account for some of its uses in traditional medicine, as well as making it especially attractive to athletes looking for a supplement to help them recover from intense workouts.

(Interestingly, these effects were not observed when the mice were given caffeine instead of theacrine, suggesting that both the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects appear to be unique to theacrine itself.)

Also noteworthy is that both of these effects were observed to be dose-dependent; in other words, the effects became relatively stronger as the doses of the theacrine supplement were increased.

Stress reduction & anti-oxidation

Theacrine may also provide resilience against acute stress, as evidenced by a mouse study in which metabolic indicators of the body’s natural stress response were reduced after 7 days of theacrine administration. These effects were particularly strong in the liver, which is a common site of stress-related damage to the body. Perhaps these benefits extend beyond the liver, similar to how TUDCA supplements can detox on the cellular level?

Theacrine may also act in part as an anti-oxidant, effectively protecting the body from cumulative damage from free radicals (see above). The mechanisms of this effect have not yet definitively identified, and may be many in number; however, existing research has at least identified a primary role for the enzyme glutathione, a natural anti-oxidizing compound naturally produced by the liver, whose endogenous activity may be increased by taking theacrine.

Theacrine Safety & Side Effects

Although toxicity has not been directly investigated in human subjects, existing animal research suggests that it is exceptionally safe.

For example, the (above-mentioned) study on theacrine’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties also carried out toxicity analyses, and found that the doses required to cause toxicity effects in mice were over 26 times greater than the doses required to produce detectable therapeutic effects.

Interestingly, the corresponding toxic dose of caffeine is three times smaller than that of theacrine, in principle giving theacrine a margin of safety that is three times larger in comparison. This finding suggests that theacrine is quite safe, as a truly massive amount would have to be taken in order to experience toxicity-related effects.

Nonetheless, as with all nootropics, it is best to start with a relatively low dose, only increasing as needed.

Finally, because theacrine – like most nootropics – have not been studied in the context of fetal development, it should be avoided by pregnant women.

Proper Theacrine Dosage

Biochemical analyses of Kucha tea leaves have suggested that theacrine accounts for between 1-3% of the total dry weight of the plant. A standard Kucha tea serving (one tea bag weighing about 2000mg) would therefore likely contain between 20-60mg of theacrine.

However, several of the human studies carried out so far have used dosages that are much higher than the tea-based dose, including treatments as large as 200-400mg/day.

It should be noted that some of theacrine’s secondary effects – like pain relief and anti-inflammation – appear to be dose-dependent, while its alertness-promoting effects appear to top out at medium-sized doses (200mg). It is therefore recommended that anyone wishing to use theacrine as a nootropic supplement should start with relatively small doses and keep detailed notes on its subjective effects, only increasing the dose gradually as needed.

Top 5 Theacrine Supplements and Brands

Currently, the Theacrine selection online is very limited as this is a specialty supplement. With that being said, we are still waiting for a brand with a really good reputation to begin making a Theacrine supplement for us to strongly recommend. In the meantime, here are the best Theacrine supplements available, based on the current market.

#1 SYM Nutrition Theacrine

#2 Theacrine Depot Theacrine

  • 100 mg per serving
  • 60 servings
  • $19 on Amazon

#3 NutraHack NutraHustle

  • 100 mg per serving
  • 60 servings
  • $20 on Amazon

#4 PrimaForce Theacrine

  • 50 mg per serving
  • 120 servings
  • $20 on BB

#5 Bulk Stimulants Teacrine Powder

  • 75 mg per serving
  • 133 servings
  • $28 on Amazon

Summary / Conclusion

Theacrine is a new and highly-promising nootropic compound which may have substantial energetic benefits, improving attentional focus and concentration in a manner similar to caffeine, the molecule from which it is biosynthetically derived in nature.

It also has a number of advantageous secondary anti-aging, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as being easier on the cardiovascular system.

However, theacrine – unlike caffeine – does not appear to induce physiological or psychological dependence or desensitization, making it an attractive candidate for anyone with a regular caffeine habit looking for a more stable, long-term energy and focus boosting supplement regimen.

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