Category Archives: Mental Health

Antiaging Treatments – GABA Amino Acid, Lifestyle, or Ikaria?

Antiaging treatments have included creams and lotions, or even food and potions. People and even experts say things like… drink this, eat that, live here, go there, exercise more, eat less, eat healthier, live in the Andes mountains, take this supplement (like GABA amino acid), take that supplement (like Reishi medicinal mushrooms). 

Antiaging may even include a move to Ikaria (known as Icaria, a Greek island) like Stamatis Moraitis did, according to the New York Times article entitled: The Island Where People Forget to Die, discussing how he overcame cancer merely by choosing to move back home and altering his lifestyle. Stamatis Moraitis is a centenarian, meaning he is over one hundred years old, and still alive and well, sharp as a tack, and happy and healthy.

Anti-aging techniques and treatments for some people may or may not include GABA amino acid supplements, or a lot of small changes in lifestyle (or major ones, depending), but one thing is for sure… it is not usually just one thing, but a combination of many. Longevity can include heredity/genetics as well as environmental factors.

Longevity and aging gracefully may include supplements like GABA amino acid

Aging is associated with the body’s cells breaking down over time and not functioning at the levels that they used to when people were younger. Cells die and are not regenerated the same way. To overcome physical or biological entropy it is often recommended that not just living somewhere or eating a certain way is key (although both can promote health benefits, depending on the person), but sometimes changing all the “little things” in life so that they add up to become the “big things” all by themselves.

Little things can include dietary changes, exercise regimens, breathing techniques and yoga, distressing, skipping fast food and eating fresh fruit instead, and even taking GABA amino acid supplements.

What can GABA amino acid supplements do for you?

According to a demographic study by SV Ukraintseva, KG Arbeev, et al., on antiaging treatments, many of them legally prescribed for thirty years, more or less, some of the “most common of the relevant medicines are nootropic piracetam, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), selegiline, Ginkgo biloba, pentoxifylline, cerebrolysin, solcoseryl, ergoloid, vinpocetin, sertraline, and estrogens, among others.” GABA amino acid is one of these popular items used for supplementation and antiaging.

GABA amino acid can have a variety of effects on your body, mind, and health. A general overview is covered in the article What Can GABA Amino Acid Do For Me?

GABA amino acid is also used to feel better, especially when one is in pain. Kill the Pain with Amino Acid GABA – Gamma-aminobutyric acid: Nature’s Pain Killer is an article on this very topic. Isn’t part of growing old feeling good and not being subject constantly to joints and inflammation, aches, and pains?

Additionally, protecting your brain and stimulating your senses and memory are key factors. Learning a language, or even knowing what GABA amino acid supplements can do to help your brain and memory or cognition can be read about here in Amino Acid GABA Vital For Normal Brain Activity And Memory. Memory is often a problem with dementia and Alzheimer’s as one gets older.

Although GABA amino acid is not the cure-all for all ailments, it is one of the many “little things” one can do to reduce pain, combat aging and restore a sense of youthfulness, health and wellness, and memory abilities. Perhaps it could still be included in many peoples’ little box of secret weapons against aging.


Does L-tryptophan Affect Women More Than Men?

An interesting study from Europe has found that depletion of the amino acid L-tryptophan affects emotional processing, specifically how we recognize fear. But are women affected more than men?

L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means we must obtain it from our diet, or in supplements. L-tryptophan found in many animal and plant proteins. It has numerous functions, and has been the subject of several clinical studies for its role as producing the crucial neurotransmitter serotonin.

Serotonin is primarily found in the central nervous system, where it performs important functions. Serotonin affects memory, learning, and emotional response.

Serotonin levels are directly related to L-tryptophan intake. This means lack of L-tryptophan results in low serotonin levels, which could lead to insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Low levels of serotonin also affect mood.

L-tryptophan depletion: fear recognition different in men and women

Researchers (C Harmer, R Rogers, et al) from the University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK, selected healthy male and female volunteers to examine their responses to emotional expression, particularly fear, if their serotonin levels were low.

In this double-blind trial, the volunteers were randomly given either an amino acid drink specifically lacking in L-tryptophan, or a control drink containing a balanced mixture of amino acids. The acute L-tryptophan depletion reduced their serotonin functions.

The volunteers were given a facial expression recognition test five hours after the drink was administered. Six basic emotions were used: fear, anger, disgust, surprise, sadness, and happiness.

Results were interesting, with a distinct difference between male and female response for fear recognition only.

L-tryptophan depletion significantly impaired the women’s ability to recognize fear as a facial expression. The male volunteers were not affected, and recognized fear even if their serotonin levels were low.

Recognition of all the other basic emotions was comparable in the two groups.

The researchers concluded that acute L-tryptophan depletion does affect emotional response, and that this effect is greater in women, compared to men.


The Importance of GABA Amino Acid for the Central Nervous System

The human central nervous system is controlled by the brain. The brain’s neurotransmitters and receptor sites are affected either by how inhibited or excited the amino acids GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate (glutamic acid) are. Of all the neurotransmitters within the central nervous system, amino acids are considered some of the most plenteous.

Steven M Paul write about “GABA and Glycine” and their role in the central nervous system. Amino acids have been shown in studies, he says, to “support current dogma that the majority of neurons in the mammalian brain utilize either glutamate or g-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as their primary neurotransmitters. [And] … GABA and glutamate serve to regulate the excitability of virtually all neurons in brain and, not surprisingly, therefore have been implicated as important mediators of many critical physiological as well as pathophysiological events that underlie brain function and/or dysfunction.”

There are studies in pharmacology on utilizing drugs that either block or enhance what GABA or glutamate, which according to Steven M Paul, supports that these neurotransmitters “by virtue of their often opposing excitatory and inhibitory actions, control, to a large degree, the overall excitability” of the central nervous system.

What this means, is that drugs (such as for schizophrenia, neurological diseases, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) that inhibit what GABA does may decrease what glutamate may excite, or vice versa. This means there needs to be a balance between inhibition and excitation in the “drugs which are known to alter GABAergic or glutamatergic neurotransmission).”

GABA amino acid is important to the central nervous system and spinal column

In a study done by J Yowtak, J Wang, et al., at the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Texas, the neuropathic pain model in mice was studied regarding the antioxidant treatment on GABA neurons in the spinal column. The researchers suggested “that oxidative stress impaired some spinal GABA neuron activity in the neuropathic pain condition. Together the data suggest that neuropathic pain, at least partially, is attributed to oxidative stress which induces both a GABA neuron loss and dysfunction of surviving GABA neurons.”

Between the study above and the one spoken of by Steven M Paul, it is likely that all of the updated information on GABA, glutamate, or glycine will hopefully, as Paul states, “result in an even better understanding of their potential role(s) in various neuropsychiatric disorders and in the discovery even more of effective therapeutic agents.”

Certainly our central nervous system is dependent upon GABA and these other amino acids. It is no wonder that they are used in pharmaceutical drugs to enhance and inhibit certain neurotransmitters to help the body function properly.


Can L-Lysine Help Treat Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder that is estimated to affect 300,000 Canadians, and the American numbers are staggering. Can the amino acid L-lysine help? 

Globally, up to 0.7 per cent of the population is diagnosed with the mental disorder. Characterized by impairment in an individual’s ability to think clearly and manage emotions, symptoms of schizophrenia can include delusions, paranoia, disorganized speech and thought processes, and auditory hallucinations. Individuals living with the disorder may encounter significant social or occupational obstacles.

Because both environmental and genetic factors contribute to the development of schizophrenia, researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto examined if L-lysine could be an effective adjunctive treatment for the disorder.

Previous studies suggest that the brain’s nitric oxide signalling system can be a contributing factor in developing schizophrenia. Since L-lysine is an amino acid that interferes with nitric oxide production, researchers Caroline Wass et al. hypothesized that adjunctive L-lysine treatment would alleviate the severity of symptoms and improve cognition in persons living with schizophrenia.

Lysine is an amino acid that can be readily absorbed from the intestine and has high brain penetration. Previous research have tested lysine as treatment for osteoporosis and recurrent herpes infection.

The effect of L-lysine on the symptoms of schizophrenia

For the single-blinded, crossover study ten patients with schizophrenia were used. Six grams of L-lysine or a placebo was administered daily to the participants as an add-on to their usual antipsychotic medication. The treatment took the form of L-lysine dissolved into a soft drink, or only the soft drink alone for the placebo group.

The experimental trial continued over a period of four weeks and then treatment crossed over for another four weeks. Clinical assessments of symptom severity and functional outcome were made at baseline, after four weeks and at the end of the trial after eight weeks. Blood samples and cognitive performance tests were also taken.

After evaluating the data, researchers Wass et al. found that L-lysine treatments significantly increased the concentration of the amino acid in the blood without causing adverse side effects. There was significant decrease in the measure for psychosis severity, especially the symptoms of delusion and paranoia. Problem solving abilities and cognitive flexibility were also significantly improved after L-lysine treatment.

Based on these results, the researchers believe that L-lysine can have valuable potential as treatment for schizophrenia.


L-Phenylalanine Benefts and Dangers

There is an old saying that nothing, in and of itself, is either good or bad. This is true also of the amino acid phenylalanine. What the pros or cons are of taking this amino acid depends on your situation. I will go over some of the dangers as well as the health benefits of this essential amino acid (amino acids are building blocks for protein). “Essential” means that you have to get this amino acid through your diet since your body cannot make it on its own.

Phenylalanine Dangers

The dangers of phenylalanine can include things like drinking sodas that contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) that contain phenylalanine, but only if you have PKU. PKU is the genetic disorder phenylketonuria, which can cause brain damage or mental retardation or even seizures or death. Phenylalanine is found in protein foods such as meat (beef, chicken, pork, turkey, etc.), fish, eggs, and dairy, and can also be purchased as supplements.

Phenylalanine is not a health concern for healthy people who do not have PKU. However, aspartame, according to the Mayo Clinic, can cause “a rapid increase in the brain levels of phenylalanine” in large doses. They advise to use aspartame-containing products cautiously if you take medications like neuroleptics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or medicines that contain levodopa; avoid phenylalanine also if you have tardive dyskinesia, have a sleep disorder, or other mental health condition, including anxiety disorder.

All of that said, what are the benefits of phenylalanine?

L-Phenylalanine Benefits

The different forms include D- phenylalanine, L- phenylalanine, and DL- phenylalanine (50/50) in the forms of phenylalanine supplementation. In fact, all 22 common amino acids are provided by protein foods.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says that the “body changes phenylalanine into tyrosine, another amino acid that’s needed to make proteins, brain chemicals, including L-dopa, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, and thyroid hormones.”

Norepinephrine also affects mood, so phenylalanine is used to help treat depression. People who are deficient in this amino can experience a lack of energy, confusion, memory issues, lack of appetite, decreased alertness, and depression.

The University of Michigan Health System says that the form L-phenylalanine (LPA) can be converted to L-tyrosine, but also into “ L-dopa, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. LPA can also be converted (through a separate pathway) to phenylethylamine, a substance that occurs naturally in the brain and appears to elevate mood.”

Other uses for phenylalanine include treating:

Alcohol withdrawal
Chronic pain
Lower back pain
Parkinson’s disease
Rheumatoid arthritis

Please check with your doctor before diagnosing or taking any phenylalanine supplements or making any serious changes to your lifestyle, including diet and protein foods that contain this amino acid.


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
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
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.


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.

Can Autistic Children Benefit From Glutathione Supplements?

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by failure to relate to others, impairment in communication, intolerance of change, and repetitive and ritualistic behaviour. Some studies have shown that individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder also have comparatively lower glutathione levels than the average developing child — about 20 to 40% lower. Also, their levels of oxidized glutathione are higher.

In a study conducted by Genetic Consultants of Dallas in Texas, researchers Janet Kern, David Geier, James Adams, Carolyn Garver, Tapan Audhya and Mark Geier tested whether glutathione supplements would benefit transsulfuration metabolites in autistic children.

Studies have shown that children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder have irregularities in transsulfuration metabolites, which affects the production of glutathione. The researchers hope that by examining the effects of two commonly used supplements for autism, transdermal glutathione and oral glutathione,that their results would lead to a better comprehension of treatment in increasing glutathione levels.

Glutathione is a tripeptide that is made up of amino acids glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid. A few of its many functions is DNA and protein synthesis and repair, transport of amino acids, and enzyme regulation. Because of it’s antioxidant properties, glutathione can prevent peroxides and free radicals from damaging important cells, making it important for immune functioning.

The Effects of Glutathione Supplements on Transsulfuration Metabolites

For the experiment, the researchers used 26 children with autism and divided them into two groups. One group would receive transdermal glutathione while the other group would receive oral glutathione. The treatment lasted over a period of eight weeks.  The researchers monitored side-effects and levels of glutathione, oxidized glutathione, taurine, sulfate, and cysteine.

At the end of the trial, Kern, et al., found that the oral glutathione group exhibited significant increases in plasma reduced glutathione. Both treatment groups also demonstrated significant increases in levels of plasma sulfate, cysteine and taurine. Oxidized glutathione showed little change in the groups.

Based on these results, the researchers believe that both forms of glutathione supplements, oral and transdermal, can benefit children with autism by increasing transsulfuration metabolites. They suggest additional studies be done in order to investigate the potential of glutathione supplements for management of autism symptoms.


19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety – Including L-Theanine

The following article first appeared at and was written by Robert Barnett.  We have included the section here that discusses the amino acid L-Theanine, but please read the whole story to discover the other 18 natural remedies for anxiety.

You’re anxious, worried, freaked. You’re upset about (pick one): money, health, work, family, love. Your heart is beating fast, your breathing is shallow and rapid, your mind is imagining doom, and you wish you could just relax…now! Whether you have a full-blown anxiety disorder or are just freaking out, you may not want to try medication—at least not yet.

There are many safe nondrug remedies for anxiety, from mind-body techniques to supplements to calming teas. Some start working right away, while others may help lessen anxiety over time.

L-theanine (or green tea)

They say Japanese Buddhist monks could meditate for hours, both alert and relaxed. One reason may have been an amino acid in their green tea called L-theanine, says Mark Blumenthal, of the American Botanical Council.

Research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure, and a few small human studies have found that it reduces anxiety. In one study, anxiety-prone subjects were calmer and more focused during a test if they took 200 milligrams of L-theanine beforehand.

You can get that much L-theanine from green tea, but you’ll have to drink many cups—as few as five, as many as 20.

Lysine and Stress

An interesting study concludes that foods fortified with Lysine can reduce anxiety and stress in people whose diets are Lysine-deficient. This reflects the importance of the relationship between amino acid nutrition and mental health and more specifically, Lysine and stress.

The amino acid Lysine is a vital building block for all protein in the body. Lysine plays a major role in calcium absorption; building muscle protein; recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

This important amino acid is found in many foods, and is easily consumed as part of a balanced diet. High protein foods such as such as eggs, meat (specifically red meat, lamb, pork, and poultry), soy, cheese (particularly Parmesan), and certain fish (such as cod and sardines) contain Lysine.

However, Lysine deficiencies can be found in communities consuming wheat as a staple food. Lysine is the limiting amino acid (the essential amino acid found in the smallest quantity in the particular foodstuff) in most cereal grains.

Lysine and stress  — reduction through fortification

As part of a three-month wheat fortification trial, dietary data were collected on five impoverished communities in northwest Syria, who depended mainly on wheat for their dietary supply of protein.

The study, reported by Nevin Scrimshaw, Miro Smriga, Shibani Ghosh, et al, from the Food and Nutrition Program, United Nations University, hypothesized that fortifying a lysine-deficient diet in poor communities would reduce anxiety and stress, and improve the quality of life. In other words, they believed that there was a genuine connection between Lysine and stress.

The study found that people on the lysine fortification diet reported significantly reduced chronic anxiety. Results indicate that not only long-term anxiety but also acute stress response is lessened by lysine fortification.

It is hoped that stress-related problems, which range from high anxiety to infectious diseases, will be solved by offering lysine fortified foods to other impoverished populations with no other source of dietary protein.

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