Category Archives: Addictions

L-tyrosine for Treating Depression Symptoms

Alleviating depression can sometimes be daunting, even with pharmaceutical antidepressants prescribed by your doctor. But there are some natural things you can do to help with depression, too, says researchers. Tyrosine, also known as L-tyrosine, is a viable option as a natural-source antidepressant.

In fact, amino acids help play a role in many diseases, and can be used as a tool to predict such diseases since the biological compounds involved in the normal functioning of humans can be involved in the pathogenesis of these same diseases.

W Krzysciak at the Department of Medical Diagnostics at the Jagiellonian University in Poland, talks about aromatic amino acids like tyrosine, and that some of the diseases that are tied to amino acids include the diagnosing and treating of “social disorders, such as cancers; psychiatric disorders: depression, anxiety states, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorders; neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular diseases; chronic kidney insufficiency or diabetes.”

L-Tyrosine for Depression

There are three aromatic amino acids commonly used to treat or diagnose disorders: tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine. Where phenylalanine is a pain reliever, and tryptophan promotes sleep, it is tyrosine that acts as an antidepressant.

Dr. Greene (at DC Nutrition) also has information about L-tyrosine, and explains how this aromatic amino acid works to treat depression, saying, “Tyrosine is an essential amino acid that readily passes the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, it is a precursor for the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, better known as adrenalin. These neurotransmitters are an important part of the body’s sympathetic nervous system.”

L-tyrosine also relieves pain—both emotional pain and physical pain.

Dr. Greene says, “Tyrosine therapy is very useful in a variety of clinical situations. … An average human dose equivalent of 500 mg of tyrosine given intravenously reduces susceptibility to life-threatening ventricular fibrillation in experimental animals. More tyrosine is needed under stress, and tyrosine supplements prevent the stress-induced depletion of norepinephrine and can cure biochemical depression.” The exceptions would include psychosis (since antipsychotic drugs work by inhibiting L-tyrosine metabolism).

Larger doses of L-tyrosine may help reduce hunger as well as alleviate depression symptoms in obese patients. Low doses actually stimulate the appetite, however.

Dr. Greene says that even physicians at Harvard Medical School have used between 1-6 grams of tyrosine to effectively treat depression that was medication-resistant, saying, “The minimum daily requirement for adults of tyrosine and its precursor, phenylalanine, is 16 mg/kg a day or about 1000 mg total. Hence, 6 g is at least six times the minimum daily requirement.”

Please have a discussion with your doctor or naturopath to see if L-tyrosine might be able to help with depression.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22175049

http://www.dcnutrition.com/AminoAcids/Detail.CFM?RecordNumber=129

Diazepam Alternative? – Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid

Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) is a natural sedative, sometimes referred to as natural valium. It may also serve as an alternative to those who cannot take drugs like Diazepam. In fact, Diazepam works by increasing the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid, so taking GABA as a supplement can help accomplish a similar effect without the same side effects of Diazepam.

What is Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)?

GABA is a non-essential amino acid, which acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It works by soaking up extra adrenaline, plus brings relaxation as well as smoothes out activity in the brain.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid has GABAergic effects and the GABA receptor (GABAR) involvement is why anti-anxiety and anti-seizure drugs work, although scientists still don’t understand all the reasons why, but its connection to the suppressing the functions and nerves is well known.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid can be purchased as GABA supplements in most health food or supplement stores; however, doses may vary for use in medical situations and anyone attempting to use it for more than as a sleep aid should consult their physician first.

What is Diazepam?

The common or generic name for Diazepam is Valium. Diazepam is often used to treat acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, and seizures or muscle spasms.

Diazepam belongs to the drug class of benzodiazephines, which affect the brain and central nervous system, so has a calming effect.

Diazepam works by enhancing the natural GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) chemical in the body.

Connection between GABAARs and Diazepam-like drugs

According to a study by Andrea N Beltran Gonzales, Pablo E Pomata, et al., titled Benzodiazepine modulation of homomeric GABAAρ1 receptors: Differential effects of diazepam and 4´-chlorodiazepam the “GABAA receptors (GABAARs) are ligand-gated ion channels that mediate inhibitory neurotransmission in the central nervous system … Many GABAARs receptor subtypes are allosterically modulated by benzodiazepines (BDZs), which are drugs extensively used as anxiolytics, sedative-hypnotics and anticonvulsants.”

In their research they said that “human homomeric GABAAρ1 receptors were expressed in Xenopus oocytes and GABA-evoked responses electrophysiologically recorded in the presence or absence of BDZs. … Diazepam produced potentiating effects on GABA-evoked … currents and … diazepam induced biphasic effects depending on the GABA concentration.”

They concluded, “Our results suggest that GABAAρ1 receptor function can be selectively and differentially modulated by BDZs.”

GABA receptors and drugs like Diazepam work by enhancing the gamma-aminobutyric acid effects in the human brain.

Reference:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001429991400661X

http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6306/diazepam-oral/details

Food that Contain Cysteine and Methionine

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When we eat protein foods our bodies break down the proteins into their respective amino acids, and then builds them back up into new proteins that help build muscle and organs and help run other functions in the body. The amino acids cysteine and methionine are needed by the body as well, and can be gotten from certain foods.

Benefits of methionine amino acid

Methionine is a sulfur-containing and proteinogenic amino acid. It provides sulfur for the hair, skin, and nails plus lowers cholesterol and provides protection for the kidneys. It can also prevent liver damage from taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Methionine can increase acidity in the urine, improve wound healing, and treat various liver disorders. Other uses for methionine include treating copper poisoning, alcoholism, depression, allergies, asthma, side effects from radiation, drug withdrawal, schizophrenia, and even Parkinson’s disease.

Benefits of cysteine amino acid

Cysteine helps protect the liver against long-term effects of alcohol use, specifically from the poison acetaldehyde (a by-product of alcohol metabolism), although it does not reduce drunkenness. Cysteine is also an antioxidant and therefore fights free radicals in the body. It can help with treating diabetes, colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), plus may treat cardiovascular disease, angina, flu, chronic bronchitis, inflammation, and osteoarthritis.

This sulfur-containing amino acid is synthesized only when methionine is in the body, therefore it is connected to methionine in this way and is why both cysteine and methionine are usually taken together through dietary supplementation. This is why it is important to eat foods that contain both cysteine and methionine so that they can complement one another for proper health benefits.

Foods high in cysteine and methionine

Methionine and cysteine work in tandem in the body, with cysteine particularly being dependent upon the presence of methionine to be produced and work in the body.

Food sources for both methionine and cysteine…

Methionine Cysteine
nuts
eggs
spinach
mushrooms
broccoli
potatoes
fish/tuna
meats*
seeds
almonds
parmesan cheese
brazil nuts
wheat germ
peanuts
chickpea
corn
pintos
lentils
medium-grained brown rice
milk
eggs
red peppers
onions
broccoli
oats
whey protein
meats*
cottage cheese
yogurt
ricotta
garlic
brussels sprouts
granola
wheat germ
sprouted lentils

*chicken, pork, turkey, duck, cured/dried or ground beef, bacon, in particular

Be sure to talk to your doctor before making any extreme or unusual modifications to your diet.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-42-methionine.aspx?activeingredientid=42&activeingredientname=methionine

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/L-Cysteine.htm

http://nutrition.nutricia.com/conditions/sulphite-oxidase-deficiency

Anorexia Patients’ Serotonin Levels Helped by Amino Acid Tryptophan

Serotonin is the feel-good chemical that the human brain produces in the body. People with higher serotonin levels generally are more resistant to depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions. People with adequate levels of serotonin also feel better about life, themselves, and their place in the world. Anorexic patients, suffering from the eating disorder called Anorexia nervosa, have mental and emotional as well as physical issues surrounding this disorder, and consequently can have too-low serotonin levels. Raising serotonin can be done by natural means, such as taking the amino acid L-tryptophan. Tryptophan is a neurotransmitter in the brain, which can help raise serotonin levels.

 Tryptophan is used by the body and produces serotonin in the brain, which is severely lacking in those with anorexia. This eating disorder is associated with an obsession of being overweight, so they eat very little, and sometimes nothing at all, which leads to emaciation. Body image issues are at the forefront, self-worth is low, causing a spiraling effect since anorexics think they are too fat even if they are skin and bones. Very low food intake (and therefore low in tryptophan) depletes the serotonin in the brain, since it is tryptophan dependent.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that comes from protein foods, like meats (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc.), as well as fish and eggs. A diet deficient in meats is also deficient in not just tryptophan, but also the rest of the common 22 amino acids that make a body healthy and resistant to disease and other health issues.

Study using tryptophan for serotonin levels in anorexic patients

A study by DJ Haleem from the Neuroscience Research Laboratory at the University of Karachi in Pakistan was done regarding anorexia patients and tryptophan. Haleem said “Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) show extreme dieting weight loss, hyperactivity, depression/anxiety, self-control, and behavioral impulsivity. Tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin and an essential amino acid, is only available in the diet. It is therefore likely that excessive diet restriction and malnutrition decrease brain serotonin stores.”

When serotonin is low, then the availability of tryptophan “decreases serotonin neurotransmission at postsynaptic sites, leading to hyperactivity, depression, and behavioral impulsivity,” said Haleem. He suggested that tryptophan “supplementation may improve pharmacotherapy in AN.”

The effectiveness of tryptophan on serotonin levels for anorexia has not yet been evaluated, but the fact that higher serotonin levels make us feel better is well documented. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is easily bought over the counter at health food stores for supplementing the diet.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22854305

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anorexia/DS00606

Amino Acid Supplements for Addiction Recovery

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and so they come from protein foods; however, some people do not produce or assimilate amino acids as well as others, and so amino acid supplements can be utilized, especially in cases where addiction is an issue. Addiction recovery is commonly found in products that are taken internally in some way (consumption, inhalation, etc.). Amino acid supplements may help.

Food, drugs, and alcohol, are common addictions in society today. The “white foods” like sugar, white flour, white rice, and white potatoes, can act as addictive foods to someone who is prediabetic or diabetic, similarly to how alcohol or marijuana, caffeine, speed, or cocaine, can act as an addiction to someone else.

Amino acid supplements can help curb these appetites for unhealthy habits, and aid in bringing back a sense of control because they activate the neurotransmitters in the brain that affect these issues.

Amino acid supplements for addictions

Consider these addictions:

FOODS/DRINKS: Sweets, starches, chocolate, caffeine, aspartame, alcohol, etc.

DRUGS: Heroin, alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, speed, cocaine, ecstasy, valium, etc.

These items may be as much of an emotional addiction as they can be a physical addiction, depending. Be sure to ask your physician before trying to treat addictions or go through addiction recovery by supplementing with amino acids.

Amino acid supplements chart for addiction recovery

Treating or reducing symptoms to help smooth out the process of recovery may be aided by taking essential or non-essential amino acid supplements.

Here is a chart showing amino acid supplements for addictions from the Addiction Recovery Guide folks, reprinted from: Blum K, Ross J, Reuben C, Gastelu D, Miller DK.  “Nutritional Gene Therapy: Natural Healing in Recovery.  Counselor Magazine, January/February, 2001

Supplemental Ingredient

Restored Brain Chemical

Addictive Substance   Abuse

Amino Acid Deficiency   Symptoms

Expected Behavior   Change

D-Phenylalanine or DL-Phenylalanine Enkephalins
Endorphins
Heroin, Alcohol, Marijuana, Sweets, Starches, Chocolate,   Tobacco Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions sensitive to   physical or emotional pain. Crave comfort and pleasure. Desire certain food   or drugs. Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Mild anti-depression. Mild   improved energy and focus. D-Phenylalanine promotes pain relief, increases   pleasure.
L-Phenylalanine or L-Tyrosine Norepinephrine
Dopamine
Caffeine, Speed, Cocaine, Marijuana, Aspartame, Chocolate,   Alcohol, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions. Depression,   low energy. Lack of focus and concentration. Attention-deficit disorder. Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Increased   energy. Improved mental focus.
L-Tryptophan or 5 hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) Serotonin Sweets, Alcohol, Starch, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Chocolate,   Tobacco Low self-esteem. Obsessive/compulsive behaviors. Irritability   or rage. Sleep problems. Afternoon or evening cravings. Negativity. Heat   intolerance. Fibromyalgia, SAD (winter blues). Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Anti-insomnia. Improved   appetite control. Improvement in all mood and other serotonin deficiency   symptoms.
GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid) GABA Valium, Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches Feeling of being stressed-out. Nervous. Tense muscles. Trouble   relaxing. Promotes calmness. Promotes relaxation.
L-Glutamine GABA (mild enhancement)
Fuel source for entire brain
Sweets, Starches, Alcohol Stress. Mood swings. Hypoglycemia. Anti-craving, anti-stress. Levels blood sugar and mood. GABA   (mild enhancement). Fuel source for entire brain.

Whether you have mental health or emotional health issues, chemical dependency, food related issues such as diabetes, weight gain/weight loss problems, or other health problems, please discuss taking any amino acid supplements with your doctor before attempting addiction recovery.

References:

http://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/holistic/nutrition

http://www.medhelp.org/tags/health_page/45/Addiction/Amino-Acid-Protocol?hp_id=15

Valium (Diazepam) or GABA supplement?

Valium, also sold under a Diazepam brand name, is a a benzodiazepine drug. But would GABA amino acid supplement be as effective or even more potent than Diazepam?

According to Wikipedia, it is commonly used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, seizures, spasms, restless legs syndrome    and  alcohol withdrawal.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is called your brain’s natural Valium.  In fact, Valium or Diazepam was designed to mimic and enhance GABA’s calming impact.

GABA is both an amino acid and a potent mood enhancer and an inhibitory neurotransmitter which reduces the impact of other brain reactions such as the production of chemicals like adrenaline, the levels of which increase when you are under distress.  These reactions are called “excitatory”.

What happens when you take GABA amino acid?

When you take a GABA supplement, it may fully turn off your stress reaction to an external effect, enabling you to deal with a potential upset, and not become stressed at all.

On the other hand, if you are already stressed, taking GABA supplements can restore your calmness and getting rid of stress within minutes.

Some people can notice a difference already after 100 milligrams.  Personally, I do not feel any measurable effect until I increase the dose 15-fold.  This is one of the challenges with many dietary supplements including GABA and its stress reducing effect. You see, many supplement include various inactive ingredients that are used as lubricants in the production process.  They reduce the absorption rate. Secondly, the recommended daily dosage, if it exists, is a ‘one shoe size fits all’ -type of dosage.  With many natural compounds and dietary supplements including GABA, studies suggest that the response is dose-dependent.  In other words, a small girl might require 100 milligrams but a dramatically obese person with higher tolerance might require a much higher dosage.

Many supplement specialists recommend a maximum of 500 mg of GABA for stress and anxiety relief. They also recommend experimenting with the smallest amount to see how they respond.  My optimal level seems to be three times higher than the recommended 500 mg level.

Please note also that a smaller amount of GABA is intended to relax you, whereas a larger dose of GABA is intended to make you tired.

Pay attention to your reaction.  If you have an addiction, you are going through alcohol withdrawals and any other more serious issues for which your physician has prescribed you Valium or Diazepam or any other ‘benzo’ such Lorazepam, do not simply replace your prescription medicine with GABA dietary supplement. Discuss it first with your doctor.

Buy GABA Online:

GABA is available to purchase online here. You can also find GABA at retailers such as GNC and Amazon.

Amino Acids – Natural Cure For Alcoholism?

Could amino acids become a natural cure for alcoholism?  Based on the information in two great books by Julia Ross – “The Diet Cure” and “The Mood Cure”, this could certainly be the case.

According to Ross, overeating or drinking alcohol is actually a form of using food or alcohol as self-medication.  It is not about having poor willpower… it is because you are low on certain brain chemicals that make you emotionally strong.

Ross claims that if you are using alcohol to feel good – and the same applies to sugar and carbohydrate addictions – it is because something is interfering with your body’s ability to produce its own natural brain drugs.  What does this mean?  For example, a continuous stress lowers your natural sedative, stimulant and pain reliever reserves.  When you run out of them, your body wants to feel good and basically tells you to eat foods or drink alcohol – do anything that would fix the problem and make you feel good again.

Regular use of sugars, alcohol or drugs (even pharmaceutical drugs) can teach your brain not to produce those brain chemicals.  “Hey, why should I produce these neurotransmitters, when you are feeding me alcohol, doing the job for me,” your brain asks.  The more you condition your body with alcohol, the fewer neurotransmitters it produces.

What does this have to do with amino acids?  Everything!  Your brain relies on proteins, which are the only source for amino acids, and amino acids are what your body uses to make all of its mood-enhancing chemicals.  If you aren’t getting enough protein, or if you have conditioned your brain to interfere with the ‘conversion’ process, you start getting cravings.  This leads to an interesting conclusion: consuming amino acid supplements could become a natural cure for alcoholism and other sugar cravings.

Natural cure for alcoholism – false hope or a viable option?

In order to understand how you could use amino acid supplements to eliminate or reduce alcohol cravings and therefore gradually cure your alcoholism, it’s important to understand the role of various brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that impact our mood.  They are a) dopamine/norepinephrine (improves mental focus and energizes you naturally), b) GABA (a Valium/Diazepam like natural sedative and relaxant), c) endorphin (a natural painkiller) and serotonin (helps you sleep and keeps you ‘happy’).

If you have plenty of all four, you are living a balanced life.  But when your reserves get depleted, you may resort to overeating and alcohol consumption.

If you want to learn the intricacies of exactly how amino acids work, we highly suggest that you read Julia Ross’s two great books.  However, if you have mood related issues, here is a list of amino acids that convert into proper brain chemicals, balancing your mood and potentially eliminating the need to use other substances, such as alcohol, carbohydrates or sugar.

The first brain chemical on our list, dopamine/norepinephrine increases your energy level.  The corresponding amino acid that produces the same effect is L-Tyrosine.  L-Tyrosine typically works fast and provides you with additional energy.

Some people eat chocolate or drink alcohol because they are tired and want that initial energy boost that comes from consuming those products.  If low energy level is your one of your problem areas, try L-Tyrosine and see if it could become part of your natural cure for alcoholism.

Then again, some people drink to relax.  GABA is often called natural valium (valium is also known as diazepam), which is used to relieve anxiety and other side effects associated with alcohol withdrawal, and L-Taurine can relieve tension as well.  L-theanine helps you reduce stress and relax as well. In other words, add these three amino acids for your natural cure for alcoholism toolkit!

Then there are those people who drink to get rid of emotional pain, the source of which they may not even remember anymore. There are two powerful amino acids that are used to alleviate emotional pain: L-glutamine and DLPA or DL-Phenylalanine. L-Glutamine is the second best choice for your body to fuel your brain.  Sugar – or glucose – is the primary option.  This makes it easy to understand why sugary products, carbohydrates or alcohol, which convert to glucose, are an easy way to stop a craving.  However, L-Glutamine amino acid reaches the brain within minutes.

The last amino acid, L-Tryptophan, is sometimes called “a natural Prozac”.  When a series of contaminated batches of L-Tryptophan came from Japan to the U.S. in the late 1980’s, the Food and Drug Administration banned it.  It is again available and is a very powerful product.  It plays an important role for the synthesis of melatonin and serotonin – hormones that regulate mood and stress response. L-Tryptophan helps support relaxation, sleep, positive mood and immune function. L-Tryptophan is the precursor to Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which is deficient in people who have depression.

A ‘watered-down’ version, 5-HTP, is widely available in most health food stores.

I want a natural cure for alcoholism but I have no idea what to do next?

How much of each one of these amino acids should you take to address your emotional issues, cravings or even create a natural cure for alcoholism?  This is a difficult question to answer. Julia Ross provides detailed instructions in her books, including the dosage, what time of the day you should take each supplement and which one of these supplements should never be taken together – after all, why take energizing and relaxing supplements at the same time?

If you do not decide to read the works of Julia Ross or Dr. Joan Mathews Larson, who is often considered to be the inventor of this amino acid therapy to cure alcoholism naturally, then you will need to make your own educated decision on which supplements to use and determine the proper dosage.

While supplement bottles typically post a recommended dosage, please remember that certain inactive ingredients in supplements (used as lubricants in the manufacturing process) reduce the absorption of the product’s active ingredients.  If you follow dosage recommendations, and do not get the results you are after, get a copy of The Diet Cure and see the dose ranges that Dr. Ross presents.

Are amino acid therapies a natural cure for alcoholism? According to Dr. Larson, her detox center’s long-term success rates quadrupled from 20% to 80%, utilizing the strategies explained in this article.  If you are suffering from any addictions, including alcoholism, amino acids might be a long-sought after solution for you!