Theacrine has been consumed for many years as a constituent of teas made from plants in the Camellia family, and has recently been isolated and consumed as a stand-alone product.
The uses of the traditional tea are plentiful and sometimes based on legend; curing the common cold, maintaining your youthfulness, and generally prolonging life are some of the unfounded benefits.
However, not all the positive effects of Theacrine lie solely in mythology. In recent years, science has stepped up to offer support for some of the more applicable attributes of Theacrine.
In this article, we will be exploring the suggested Theacrine benefits, as well as answering the much researched questions of: “How does theacrine work?”, recommended dosage, potential side effects and the fitness goals it could assist.
- What is Theacrine?
- How Does Theacrine Work?
- Theacrine Benefits
- Theacrine Dosage
- Theacrine Side Effects
- Theacrine With Other Medications
- When To Take Theacrine?
- Fitness Goals Assisted By Theacrine
- Theacrine Food Sources
- Theacrine vs Caffeine
- Where To Buy Theacrine?
Before we begin exploring the world of Theacrine, if you’re interested in furthering your knowledge on the human body and learning more about supplements, why not take a look at OriGym’s Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course to see how you can enroll today.
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What is Theacrine?
Theacrine, not to be mistaken with Taurine, is a naturally occurring purine alkaloid believed to help reduce inflammation and pain, whilst also acting with similar stimulant properties to caffeine. More so, Theacrine is held as a “clean” caffeine, offering all of the benefits without the crash.
Theacrine is commonly found in the leaves of Camellia kucha leaves and is consumed in some teas and varieties of coffee, as well as being found in the seeds of some plants, such as Herrania and Theocrama.
Theacrine supplements are available to purchase in the form of capsules and powders which can be mixed with either a drink or a meal before consuming.
How Does Theacrine Work?
Theacrine has a similar chemical structure to caffeine, and therefore engages with the body and affects the brain in much the same way. When produced in higher doses it stimulates the central nervous system, whereas in lower doses it has the opposite effect and decreases the nervous system.
However, unlike caffeine, theacrine does not appear to have an affect on blood pressure.
It is also suggested that theacrine may modulate dopamine reception, which if proven would support the benefits that theacrine promises.
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Studies conducted to date offer very little confirmatory data on theacrine benefits, however there are a number of suggested advantages that have seen theacrine become a popular supplement within the fitness industry and beyond. Some of the more promising uses for theacrine are mentioned here.
#1 Analgesic Properties
Analgesics are drugs used to reduce pain, such as popular names ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Pain reduction properties are very desirable, both in medal and sporting circles, with the ability to push through feelings of discomfort helping athletes to reach their peak physical limits.
In a 2010 study which measured anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of theacrine using hot plate sensitivity response, it was seen that after consuming a dose as low as 8mg per kilogram of body weight, pain sensitivity and associated physical responses were significantly reduced.
This confirmed the theory that theacrine possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties - this we will explore further a few points down. For another supplement which you can take that provides anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, check out OriGym's guide on the benefits of milk thistle.
Further exploration within this study discovered that the effect theacrine had was dose responsive, with a more apparent effect at higher doses of up to 32mg per kilogram.
While the results are optimistic with the available resources, like with all of theacrine’s suggested benefits, more research is needed to establish just how effective it is for analgesic purposes.
#2 Increased Energy Levels
Perhaps one of the most commonly researched theacrine benefits is its ability to increase the perceived energy levels of an individual.
Energy is vital for keeping us active. Low levels of energy result in poor bouts of exercise with limited physical advancement, and can even lead to injury if the individual is not able to focus properly on their movements.
Supplements that increase our energy levels are commonly taken before exercise as a form of ‘pre-workout’. They ensure that despite the energy expenditure that you have already seen throughout the day, your workout is not impacted and you can still get optimal results from your body.
Through the analysis of a number of available experiments and studies, results have implicated that after consuming theacrine powder and supplements, subjects describe feelings of increased energy, excitement and a willingness or desire to train, with some participants even reporting increased libido.
However, these results are not necessarily replicable for everyone who chooses to take theacrine powder and supplements. Although results were significant, without numerical or physical data it is tough to categorically claim that theacrine has a positive effect on energy management within the body.
Data from physical tests, such as blood pressure and concentrations of substances within the blood show no physical alterations after theacrine consumption, suggesting it may be a purely psychological effect.
Either way, it has gained a huge following in the fitness industry so it may be worth a try if you are looking to boost your energy levels! Alternatively, we have an entire shortlist on the best vitamins for energy right here.
#3 Anti-Inflammatory Response
Inflammation in the body can lead to discomfort and further complications.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen are commonly used to relieve symptoms of headaches, sprains, strains, painful periods, and other long-term causes of pain, such as arthritis. It has been suggested that theacrine supplements can provide those same benefits.
In the aforementioned study exploring theacrine’s analgesic properties, researchers also gathered data on the anti-inflammatory properties of the supplement. Inflammation response was measured via a carrageenan injection, which causes an acute, local inflammatory response.
The results found that theacrine oral consumption of 8-32 mg per kg induced dose-related anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects (reduction and inhibiting of swelling responses). It was also found that oral administration of the same doses of caffeine did not supply an inhibitory effect on the inhibition of inflammatory response or cause analgesia.
Therefore, if you are seeking theacrine for its anti-inflammatory properties, it holds promising findings to suggest it may be even more effective than that of caffeine supplements. If you would like an alternative to theacrine that can posseses anti-inflammatory properties, then you will be pleased to know it is one of the benefits of L-glutamine!
#4 Improved Focus and Concentration
The promise of increased concentration is an appealing one for many. Being able to apply your thorough focus and attention to a task can almost ensure that you are providing the optimal quality of work, whether that be in the form of education, work, or a hobby which requires intense focus.
For many people, heightened focus is one of the main benefits that they look for when choosing a supplement, even without truly knowing the effects of the supplement in question.
Many people assume that high sugar drinks will lead to a feeling of wakefulness and heightened focus, for example, whereas research has suggested that they can actually reduce the ability to concentrate on the task at hand.
In relation to theacrine, when subjective descriptive analysis of focus and concentration was recorded, it had conclusive enhancing effects on participants' experiences of both.
However, often within the same studies, it is noted that subjects did not have measurable improvements in cognitive tasks. Although participants regularly felt like they were more focused and able to concentrate, they were in fact just ‘feeling’ this as opposed to experiencing improved brain function.
Although not applicable to cognitive enhancement, through modulation of feelings Theacrine could be used to positively impact mood and willingness to approach daunting cognitive tasks.
It might not actually affect your focus during your next weight training session, but it will make sure that you feel motivated to get it done!
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#5 Reduced Feelings of Anxiety
Research into anxiety, depression and other mood disorders are limitless, with new findings coming to light on a regular basis.
Through studies, it has been proven that feelings of anxiety can lead to a number of health issues including: high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and other sleep disorders.
Possibly due to its reported impact on adenosine, dopamine, and neurotransmissions, theacrine has displayed the ability to lower levels of anxiety and stress in participants under scientific study.
Caffeine, while effective, has built a reputation for its increased feelings of anxiety and a ‘jitteriness’ when consumed in high doses. In contrast, theacrine has been suggested to supply the opposite effect and could actually reduce those feelings and decrease stress.
Theacrine is one of many supplements which has proven advantages for mood and anxiety related feelings, however, if you would prefer a more natural pick-me-up, read OriGym's list of the best natural mood boosters that you can do now.
In addition to its anxiety related advantages, a study that saw researchers supply mice with between 0 - 30mg of theacrine per kg of bodyweight for seven consecutive days, researchers reported a breakthrough that could suggest theacrine also offers an aid for depression.
The results indicated that theacrine powder and supplements exhibit certain antidepressant properties by reducing depression-like activity. However, findings are minimal at the present time, therefore we can neither confirm or deny.
#6 Reduced Fatigue
Similar to increased feelings of energy, reduced fatigue can help in a variety of situations, be it a long day at work or a gruelling physical work out. The ability to keep going without hitting a wall, or even the ability to push through that wall is key to a popular stimulant.
In a 2015 study which saw subjects receive dosages of 200mg of theacrine, the results reported significant reduced feelings of fatigue following exercise, therefore suggesting that the supplement could be used as a performance enhancer during physical activity, though careful to not overdo it - be sure to educate yourself on the importance of rest days and how many you need, otherwise you may run out of so much fuel that theacrine can't support!
In further studies into its effect on fatigue, results have presented themselves in equal measurements regardless of dose, though this has been conflicted in other studies which have confidently stated a dose dependent response.
Though these findings point towards positive applications for theacrine, they may be subjective and have unpredictable quality. Consequently, further research is needed to confidently understand the complex nature of theacrine’s impact on the body.
Additionally, supplement brands and researchers frequently encourage combining theacrine with caffeine to achieve long-lasting energy that will see you push further in training sessions, while also combatting a caffeine crash, feelings of fatigue, or burning out.
At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of theacrine dosage.
As with all supplements, dosages can vary from one product to the next, and when referring to theacrine, a number of variables play a role in deciphering the correct dosage, including: age, gender, physical size, existing medical conditions and overall general health.
For reference, available supplements on the market (e.g. Mind Nutrition and Amazon’s N.A Supplements products) usually suggest 200mg dosages, which can be achieved through one tablespoon or ⅔ of a scoop of powder per day. This is preferably consumed 30-45 mins before training.
Always introduce new things to your system in small doses to establish your level of tolerance and slowly build up if needed.
Theacrine Side Effects
We have positive news for anyone wanting to supplement with theacrine, as studies into the clinical safety of theacrine have reported that it is considered safe to consume orally at levels up to 300mg per day.
It is also safe to consume in conjunction with caffeine at similar levels, with no notable side effects.
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Theacrine has an LD50 (the median lethal dose) of 810mg/kg of body weight. This means that consumed at this dosage, it can result in death. However, it is worth noting that all substances have a LD50, so do not allow this to scare you.
Theacrine for Pregnancy
As with most supplements, there is little to no evidence on the long-term effects on pregnancy or foetal development, so avoid taking theacrine if you are pregnant or currently breastfeeding.
Theacrine and Health Issues
Moreover, if you are currently taking any medication, have had recent surgeries or major health issues, or are at all unsure about supplements, always contact your GP or a medical professional before supplementing anything, theacrine included.
Theacrine as a Potential Sedative
Taken in notably low doses, theacrine could potentially carry a sedative effect on a human body. This is also a notable side effect of caffeine, which has also been suggested to sedate people when consumed in a very small dosage.
While a usual concern when supplementing is taking too much of a product, theacrine providers advise being careful in consuming too little, particularly if you're wanting to use theacrine to boost energy levels prior to a workout.
Theacrine With Other Medications
Some substances react very differently when combined. Taking certain medications together can be more beneficial, it can also be fatal. Even some foods can interact with medications, vitamin K often interacting negatively with blood pressure medication.
Interactions between supplements can be used to great advantage if done appropriately but should be approached with caution and not experimented with yourself, let the scientists do the risky stuff first!
Theacrine with Caffeine
When looking at the effects of theacrine, studies have been conducted using it as a stand-alone supplement as well as when it is administered in a combination of supplements with known effects.
Data from combination studies shows that the coadministration of caffeine and theacrine produces a significant pharmacokinetic interaction, resulting in enhanced theacrine exposure.
This means that the effects of theacrine are more apparent and exaggerated when it is administered in conjunction with caffeine.
Studies which reported increased feelings of energy, concentration and focus with reduced levels of fatigue overwhelmingly agreed that the effects were most prominent when a combination of supplements was taken, with the presence of theacrine further advancing the proven clinical effects of caffeine administered in isolation.
The increase in reaction when theacrine is co-administered with caffeine is likely due to enhanced oral bioavailability. Simply put, caffeine allows the body to absorb more of the theacrine than it otherwise could.
Due to the limited studies into theacrine, caution is advised if you are currently taking any medication or on a clinically prescribed diet then you should consult a medical professional before consuming theacrine. For alternative options, you may want to check out the products on our best natural energy drinks list here.
When To Take Theacrine?
After thorough research, it has been confirmed that the positive effects commonly associated with supplementing theacrine are maximal four hours after consumption.
Therefore if you are wanting to reap the benefits for your training session, then it would be most effective to take Theacrine supplements 3-4 hours before your workout.
Though the effects may be at their peak after four hours, the progression is not linear and you can achieve 80% of the benefits after just one hour of consumption.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of the tachyphylactic effects which are typical of neuroactive substances. This means that there is no rapid, short-term onset of tolerance to theacrine like there is with caffeine and other supplements.
This means that there is no need to increase doses to achieve the same results that you have been getting. This is often the case with caffeine-based stimulants, starting with the recommended dose and before you know it, you’ve tripled the dose and aren’t feeling a thing, apart from a throbbing headache and feelings of paranoia.
Fitness Goals Assisted By Theacrine
Early research suggests that taking a single dose of a specific theacrine product (TeaCrine; Compound Solutions, Inc. ) increases energy and reduces fatigue in healthy people. Taking this same product for 7 days might also improve energy and fatigue measurements in some people.
As we have highlighted within this article, the enhanced energy boost and anti-inflammatory properties that theacrine offers could provide a number of benefits which will in turn positively impact a number of fitness goals that people most commonly aim to achieve.
- Weight Loss
- Weight Maintenance
- Improving Fitness Endurance
- Preserves Muscles
The ways in which theacrine impacts these weight goals is through a combination of the following benefits:
- Could provide an energy boost - Theacrine acts as a stimulant, therefore provides users with an overall sense of increased vitality and energy following consumption, resulting in longer and more effective training sessions.
- Improving mental performance - Just like caffeine, it has been suggested that theacrine increases the alertness of users, leading to increased concentration and a sense of wakefulness which are beneficial factors for optimising workout results.
- Enhance physical performance - theacrine may supply an increased level of physical energy expenditure, as well as decreasing usce fatigue which effectively results to longer endurance and overall improved physical performance.
- Pain reduction - By reducing the pain and soreness that follows after a strenuous workout, it has a direct effect on reducing the recovery time a person needs to rest their joints and muscles, allowing them to require fewer recovery days and bring a consistent level of high energy and power to each session.
Overall, fitness moguls, such as american bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman, have hailed theacrine’s benefits for bodybuilding thanks to the aforementioned benefits.
Theacrine Foods and Sources
The body does not produce theacrine itself, therefore if you are considering increasing your intake of the natural compound, there are a couple of notable sources, as well as enhanced supplements where you can acquire it from. Here are a few to think about:
- CapuaÇu: Fruit of the tree Theobroma grandiflorum. This fruit grows in the Amazon Rainforest and is typically harvested once it naturally falls to the ground. It is described as having a flavour similar to banana, melon or pear but with a scent reminiscent of chocolate and pineapple. This fruit is a natural source of theacrine and is traditionally used in deserts, it can even be used to make chocolate.
- Coffea: Some coffees are a natural source of theacrine. Coffea species are native to southern Africa and tropical Asia. Its seeds are used to flavour a variety of beverages and food products. If you think this is the one for you, try substituting your regular coffee for coffea versions rather than simply adding them into your diet.
- Camellia assamica: This plant is native to southern china and is used to make a variety of teas. A source of theacrine and easily consumed as a tea drink or added to food products for flavouring. Tea is low in calories and can be high in antioxidants, protecting against heart disease stroke and cancer. As well as these varieties offering the added benefits of theacrine.
- Teacrine: one of the supplemental versions of refined theacrine, it can be consumed as capsule or as a powder mixed with food or drink. These supplements offer 125mg per capsule or equivalent serving.
Theacrine vs Caffeine
When looking into the debate between theacrine vs caffeine, it is important to note that the benefits of theacrine reported are similar to those of caffeine, one of the most commonly supplemented substances in the world; increasing energy, alertness and physical performance.
However, positively, theacrine has no association to the negative and hampering side effects which often come with caffeine and other stimulants, possibly due to its slightly different receptor binding mechanics resulting from slight differences in its chemical blueprints.
There has been no evidence to suggest that theacrine induces feelings of anxiety or stress in the same way that caffeine and other stimulants do. There has even been some evidence supporting the idea that it actively reduces anxiety and stress, a rare and impressive trait to find in a stimulant.
If you regularly consume caffeine you may have experienced the feelings of slight paranoia and worry which arise after the stimulating effects have worn off. Being able to obtain the stimulating properties of caffeine without the invasive after-effects is a huge tick for theacrine in our book.
Additionally, unlike caffeine, theacrine does not seem to affect blood pressure. Theacrine might also lessen liver damage caused by stress and reduce pain and swelling. You may find these are also benefits of many of the foods on our best super fruits list, too!
In general, when compared to other stimulants, theacrine consistently results in less “come down” effects, such as post consumption feelings of grogginess, lethargy, and mood swings. These are all commonly reported in greater extents in caffeine and other stimulants.
This could be because of the interaction theacrine has with dopamine and various neurotransmitters, further research into the chemical actions it has within your body to offer more concrete reasoning.
Not only has theacrine presented some beneficial potential stimulant properties, such as increased energy, it has also displayed calming attributes, including reduced anxiety, making it a remarkably interesting possibility for the future of stimulant supplementation.
This all looks exceptionally good, benefits with no negatives linked to other common stimulating supps, however, theacrine is still relatively new in terms of scientific study and evidence. More research needs to be conducted into the true effects and dose effects.
Where To Buy Theacrine?
Unlike with other supplements, one of the primary disadvantages to theacrine is its current lack of presence on the UK market. This is potentially as a result of the little research and background studies confirming both the effectiveness and risks of using it as a supplement.
However, for those actively searching you will be able to find theacrine supplements available at selected health and nutrition stores in both a powdered and capsule form, as well as global retail giant Amazon, where you can buy it in its purest form as a powder supplement.
It is worth noting you will likely have more success obtaining theacrine supplements in the forms previously mentioned within the food and alternative sources section above. Most accessible and vastly popular is Teacrine, which you can find at numerous supplement brands, such as Vitamins UK and Mind Nutrition.
As it currently stands, while we can see the potential theacrine benefits that the supplement could offer, to warrant the addition of supplements to your diet more research needs to be done on larger population samples and with stricter measurement criteria.
Though the reported theacrine side effects are limited and it does seem to offer a plethora of benefits, most of these benefits can be achieved through maintaining a balanced healthy diet and increasing your physical activity without the need for supplements.
With that being said, if you are someone who lives on caffeine and you’re starting to see some negative effects, then it may be worth switching to theacrine based teas or coffees instead.
You should introduce theacrine into your diet in manageable and small increments, as over consumption of anything is not good for you so try substituting it in for a comparable part of your existing diet, such as your regular tea, coffee or chocolate.
Before you head off, if you’re interested in fulfilling a career in the health and fitness sector and want to know more about how you can do this with a leading course provider, take a look at OriGym’s personal trainer courses and packages.
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- Wang Y, Yang X, Zheng X, Li J, Ye C, Song X. Theacrine, a purine alkaloid with anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. Fitoterapia. 2010 Sep;81(6):627-31. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2010.03.008. Epub 2010 Mar 20. PMID: 20227468.
- Clewell A, Hirka G, Glávits R, et al. A 90-Day Oral Toxicological Evaluation of the Methylurate Purine Alkaloid Theacrine. J Toxicol. 2016;2016:6206859. doi:10.1155/2016/6206859
- Kuhman DJ, Joyner KJ, Bloomer RJ. Cognitive Performance and Mood Following Ingestion of a Theacrine-Containing Dietary Supplement, Caffeine, or Placebo by Young Men and Women. Nutrients. 2015;7(11):9618-9632. Published 2015 Nov 19. doi:10.3390/nu7115484
- Bello, M.L., Walker, A.J., McFadden, B.A. et al. The effects of TeaCrine® and caffeine on endurance and cognitive performance during a simulated match in high-level soccer players. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 16, 20 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-019-0287-6