Category Archives: Anxiety

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

Is Taurine in Energy Drinks Safe? Maybe…

There is a lot of energy in the media and within consumers about the health benefits as well as dangers of energy beverages, including some warnings about the amino acid taurine in energy drinks, but is taurine safe? How much is okay versus too much? Are there any health implications or hidden issues with the taurine in energy drinks?

According to Dr. Oz, says the Herald Tribune, the number of visits to the emergency room have doubled in the last four years, and hit more than 20,000 in the year 2011. But are these super-charger energy drinks really to blame for some of the cardiac issues that some people have or are claiming? Is the taurine in energy drinks, or the caffeine, or sugar, or other supplements added to these beverages the cause of these heart issues?

How taurine in energy drinks affects your heart

In one study mentioned by the article mentioned above, which measured how 18 peoples’ (15 men, 3 women, around age 27) hearts reacted about an hour after consuming taurine in energy drinks (16 oz), the MRI showed a “significantly increased peak systolic strain” in the left ventricle of the heart.

Although black coffee or even caffeinated water was suggested (one might also consider green tea or white tea due to the enormous health benefits, since it also contains caffeine); however, real energy can come from 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten raw, steamed, or even made into smoothies. Plus raw foods are packed with enzymes, anti-oxidants, and other vitamins and minerals.

Do we really need taurine in energy drinks?

If the amino acid taurine in energy drinks may keep your left heart ventricle contracting too severely, sometimes causing palpitations, anxiety attacks, or other cardiac related issues, then is it really wise to consume them? Energy drinks may only say they have “amino acids” but they also may have creatine, lecithin, phenylalanine, tyrosine, choline, citicoline, plus taurine, of course.

Additionally, some of the main ingredients in energy or power drinks include: caffeine, glucuronolactone, guarana, B vitamins, ginseng, l-carnitine, ginkgo biloba, sugars, antioxidants, as well as trace minerals. According to one study even coaches have to advise their athletes about taking energy drinks because of the effects and risks associated with consuming them, even after exercise.

Overall the ingredients may be natural, or commonly found in food (amino acids, for instance, are in protein foods such as meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc.), eggs, and fish. However, a combined effect of all of these ingredients may have some serious health consequences if consumed regularly, or especially in excess.

Adverse effects of taurine in energy drinks or their other ingredients can include: restlessness, heart palpitations, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, dehydration, and increase blood pressure. Long term effects have not been established. Those with heart disease or cardiac issues, or children, should probably avoid taurine in energy drinks, or power beverages in general.

Positive information on taurine

Taurine, in and of itself, is an amino acid that the body needs for neurological development, and for regulating water levels and mineral salts within the blood. Taurine also has antioxidants, is found in breast milk, and can be purchased as a dietary supplement.

People with congestive heart failure who took taurine supplements 3x/day (for two weeks) did show an improvement in their capacity to exercise. Up to 3,000 mg of taurine per day is considered safe. Of course, these people were taking supplements, not drinking energy beverages.

Most people can consume up to 16 oz. (500 milliliters) in energy drinks per day and still feel good, although the sugars are high and so these things need to be weighed out in terms of what is actually healthy for the human body.

References:

http://health.heraldtribune.com/2014/01/07/dr-oz-avoid-energy-drinks-with-amino-acids-on-the-label/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2966367/
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/taurine/faq-20058177

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

GABA Stops or Prevents Seizures

GABA, also referred to a gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and serve different functions in the body. Historically this amino has been used as a natural sedative, to help with relaxation and sleep since it is acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. However, it also has anti-anxiety and anti-seizure properties, and is an anti-convulsant.

GABA is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that the body produces it (you can also get it from protein foods or take a supplement) but sometimes it is still deficient depending on what is happening in the body.

According to studies, this amino acid can aid with sleep, inhibition, calming the nerves, drug dependency (including alcoholism), is used in antiepileptic drugs (epilepsy), and according to a study entitled ‘Molecular mechanisms of antiseizure drug activity at GABAA receptors’ by L John Greenfield Jr, is used to prevent seizures.

GABAA receptor (GABAR) helps prevent seizures

GABAA receptor (GABAAR) is, says the researcher, a “major target of antiseizure drugs (ASD’s).” There are actually a number of different agents that act at GABARs’ distinct receptor sites that can eliminate or prevent seizures.

Some of these agents include: loreclezole, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates, in which the GABARs are the only known substance used due to its antiseizure ability.

However, this is only one of a few possible antiseizure mechanisms in these agents: topiramate, losigamone, retigabine, felbamate, and stiripentol.

Other agents, which affect GABAergic “’tone’ by regulating the synthesis, transport or breakdown of GABA” also exist. The development of ganaxolone was a response to the neurosteroid allopregnanolone (a progesterone metabolite, which intensifies GABAR function).

This amino is an intrinsic component to epileptic patients. The efficacy of GABAR function can change when someone develops or has chronic epilepsy, so Greenfield says that it “may provide an additional target for ‘GABAergic; ASDs.”

The conclusion was that targeting the altered receptors may “provide a novel approach for seizure prevention.”

Reference:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1059131113001143

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Nutrition and Depression: Amino Acids Can Improve Mood

We all know the importance of eating well. The link between an unhealthy diet and obesity, heart disease, and diabetes has led to bookshelves groaning with diet and nutrition books. But nutrition also affects our mental wellbeing. Are we getting enough amino acids to maintain our mental health?

A good diet is our best weapon in the war on disease. A healthy, well-balanced diet will also help our immune systems if we do become ill. This healthy diet will help combat some mental illnesses, too.

T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, et al, explained the link between nutrition and depression in an article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. They found that the diets of many people suffering from mental disorders are deficient in essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Supplements containing amino acids have been found to reduce symptoms of depression. Some amino acids control our moods—they cross the blood-brain barrier, carrying the chemical signals in our brains. But if we are not getting the right amount, our moods are affected.

Amino acid supplements treat mood disorders

The major symptoms of depression include increased sadness and anxiety, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. Deficiencies in neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and the amino acid GABA are often present patients with depression.

The amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine are often helpful in treating mood disorders. Indeed, tryptophan is converted to serotonin–the chemical which controls happiness.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means we must get it from our food. But people with poor diets do not get enough tryptophan.

Antidepressants and other drugs are very successful at treating depression. The researchers hope that nutritional supplements containing amino acids will work with these drugs, possibly leading to lower doses, and fewer side effects. They suggest daily supplements of amino acids to help achieve an antidepressant effect.

Nutritional neuroscience gives us our best shot of preventing and treating some mental illnesses.

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/

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.

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