The PAGG / Insomnia Controversy

Can decaffeinated green tea, an integral component of the PAGG stack cause insomnia?

Recently some people using home-brewed PAGG stacks have been noting online that they are experiencing insomnia. Even Tim Ferriss weighed in last night to note that it’s possible for green tea extract to cause insomnia in some people. However, decaffeinated green tea is often touted as a cure for insomnia by many health researchers. Who is right? Pareto Nutrition’s mission is to help people achieve their health and fitness goals with as little effort as possible; therefore, we see it as our job to sort through the research and boil it down for our customers so they can get on with their goals, and get results. Let’s take a look at the science, shall we?

Caffeine, L-theanine, EGCG 

The three most studied components of green tea are caffeine, theanine, and EGCG. Let’s investigate these one-by-one and review what the literature has to say about their effects on sleep.

It’s no surprise to anyone that caffeine is a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep. Most people will have a hard time falling asleep if they take caffeine in the evening, although some people who are very sensitive have to avoid coffee or tea completely. Historically, fat loss supplements have included large amounts of caffeine, usually as a guarana or green tea extract. It’s a common practice in the industry as it gives people something to ‘feel’ so they ‘know the supplement is working’. In fact it would be very easy for an inexperienced chemist to try to put together a cheap PAGG supplement that contained as much caffeine per dose as a cup of coffee!

Even worse, supplement manufacturers are not required to list the amount of caffeine in their herbal preparations, so you never know what you’re getting with most green tea extracts.

Pareto Nutriton’s PAGG stack contains green tea extract that is decaffeinated so only trace amounts remain. We think it’s more important to focus on the power of the ingredients to promote fat loss than to get people hooked on mega doses of caffeine. If you can handle caffeine and want to consume it, we recommend you get it from your diet.

L-theanine is one of the most interesting ingredients of green tea. In addition to boosting immune system activity, this amino acid has been sold separately as an aid in relaxation. Studies have shown that it increases alpha brain wave activity, which are an indicator of a relaxed mental state[i]. It has also been shown to raise dopamine levels[ii] and have positive effects on mood and stress levels[iii]. This is why many people find green tea a nice alternative to coffee. The energy boost of tea is milder and it doesn’t create the jittery feeling that you get with a shot of espresso.

PAGG is not intended to be a relaxation supplement, so we didn’t use a high theanine extract in our formula. However, because our extract is so low in caffeine and plant material, there is a measurable dose of theanine.

EGCG is the most commonly referenced ingredient in green tea extract, and the one most touted for its fat burning properties. One reason why it’s so strongly associated with green tea is that when green tea is processed into black tea the EGCG is lost. The effects of this molecule are impressive and wide-ranging. It’s been shown to increase fat oxidation (the breakdown of fat cells)[iv], increase metabolism through thermogenesis[v], reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke[vi], lower cancer risk[vii][viii][ix], reduce the chance of developing kidney stones[x], and enhance general immune function.

There is also a growing body of research that showed straight EGCG reducing anxiety and EEG levels and partially reversing the anxiety inducing effects of caffeine[xi]. This research is suggesting that the famously relaxing effect of green tea might not just be from the L-theanine, but also the EGCG[xii].

So is it possible for a decaffeinated green tea extract to cause insomnia? In rare cases, it can. Those suffering from autoimmune disorders can be particularly susceptible since green tea and EGCG have such a strong stimulatory effect on immune system activity. (autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system attacks itself). For instance, individuals suffering from hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s disease have been observed to experience anxiety and insomnia from taking green tea supplements. The immune system boost that is so healthy for most of us can have negative effects in these rare conditions.

If you do suffer unusual levels of anxiety on any supplement we recommend you talk to a physician as it may indicate an underlying undiscovered condition.

110% money back guarantee

Pareto Nutrition’s decaffeinated PAGG product is designed to stimulate your body’s fat loss machinery without relying on stimulants in traditional fat-loss supplements such as caffeine or ephedrine. The science suggests that a properly decaffeinated green tea extract may actually help reduce anxiety, and aid relaxation, which is a recipe for a good night’s sleep.

If, while taking PAGG, you do notice increased anxiety that interferes with sleep, we recommend getting checked out by a physician and if everything’s ok, consider skipping your final dose of AGG. You’ll still get the benefits of alpha-lipoic acid (which are largely realized by dosing prior to meals), enjoy increased levels of allicin in your bloodstream from taking garlic throughout the day, and experience the cholesterol modifying effects of Policosanol overnight when it matters most.

If PAGG just isn’t compatible with your biochemistry (we won’t be offended, we’re all individuals here), you can return the unused portion to us for a 110% refund. We go beyond the old-fashioned 100% refund so the shipping fees don’t discourage you from being reimbursed.

[i]Gomez-Ramirez M; Higgins, BA; Rycroft, JA; Owen, GN; Mahoney, J; Shpaner, M; Foxe, JJ. "The Deployment of Intersensory Selective Attention: A High-density Electrical Mapping Study of the Effects of Theanine". Clin Neuropharmacol 30 (1): 25–38.

[ii] Yokogoshi H, Kobayashi M, Mochizuki M, Terashima T (1998). "Effect of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on brain monoamines and striatal dopamine release in conscious rats". Neurochem Res 23 (5): 667–73.

[iii]Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja L, Ohira H. "L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses". Biol Psychol 74(1): 39–45.

[iv]Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, Mensi N, Fathi M, Chantre P, Vandermander J. “Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans.” Am J Clin Nutr 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5.

[v]Dulloo AG, Seydoux J, Girardier L, Chantre P, Vandermander J. “Green tea and thermogenesis: interactions between catechin-polyphenols, caffeine and sympathetic activity.” Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000 Feb;24(2):252-8.

[vi]Nakagawa K, Ninomiya M, Okubo T, Aoi N, Juneja LR, Kim M, Yamanaka K, Miyazawa T. “Tea catechin supplementation increases antioxidant capacity and prevents phospholipid hydroperoxidation in plasma of humans.” J Agric Food Chem 1999 Oct;47(10):3967-73.

[vii]Das A, Banik NL, Ray SK "Flavonoids activated caspases for apoptosis in human glioblastoma T98G and U87MG cells but not in human normal astrocytes". Cancer 2009 Nov; 116(1): NA

[viii] Bettuzzi S, Brausi M, Rizzi F, Peracchia G, Corti A. "Chemoprevention of Human Prostate Cancer by Oral Administration of green Tea Catechins in Volunteers with High-Grade Prostate Intraepithelial Neoplasia: A Preliminary Report from a One-Year Proof-of-Principle Study". American Association for Cancer Research 66: 1234–1240.

[ix]Qiao Y, Cao J, Xie L, Shi X. "Cell growth inhibition and gene expression regulation by (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate in human cervical cancer cells". Archives of Pharmacal Research 32 (9): 1309–15.

[x]Curhan GC, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Stampfer MJ,. “Beverage use and risk for kidney stones in women.” Ann Intern Med 1998 Apr 1; Vol. 128(7), 534-40.

[xi]Vignes M, Maurice T, Lanté F, Nedjar M, Thethi K, Guiramand J, Récasens M. Anxiolytic properties of green tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).Brain Res. 2006 Sep 19;1110(1):102-15. Epub 2006 Jul 21.

[xii]Park KS et al, “(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-0-gallate (EGCG) reverses caffeine-induced anxiogenic-like effects”, Neuroscience Letters (September 2010) 

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