Category Archives: Stress

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

Connection between Folic Acid and Amino Acid Homocysteine

There is a connection between folic acid and amino acid homocysteine, but what is it? Folic acid and amino acid (homocysteine, one of the 22 amino acids) functions are quite different, but the former does affect the latter. In fact, blood levels of homocysteine in the body are lowered in the presence of folic acid.

Folic acid is also known as folate; however, folate is slightly different. Folate—a bioavailable and natural form of vitamin B9—comes from the word ‘foliage’ because it is found in leafy greens, such as spinach and other greens, but also from fortified/enriched cereals and animal foods like eggs or liver, as well as plant foods like broccoli, brussel sprouts, lentils, beans, asparagus, cantaloupe, and bananas. Folic acid is merely the synthetic form of folate, and is found in supplements.

Folic acid/folate (vitamin B9) helps the body produce energy, is needed for mental and emotional health, and helps prevent neural tube birth defects like spina bifida, which occurs during the first month of pregnancy, especially in high risk pregnancies. Folic acid deficiencies can occur in people due to alcoholism, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The terms (and products) folic acid and amino acid are two different things; where folic acid is vitamin B9, and amino acids like homocysteine, cysteine, leucine, lysine, carnitine, and so on, are simply the building blocks of proteins. All 22 common amino acids are found in protein foods such as meats (chicken, pork, beef, etc.) as well as fish and eggs. Eggs, then, are actually a good source of both folic acid and amino acid content.

So what is the connection between folic acid and amino acid homocysteine?

Although amino acids are necessary for health, sometimes it is not good to have too much of a good thing; homocysteine is one of these amino acids where elevated blood levels of the amino acid can actually cause health problems.

According to Dr. Weil, elevated homocysteine levels are “linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Elevated homocysteine levels are thought to contribute to plaque formation by damaging arterial walls. High levels may also act on blood platelets and increase the risks of clot formation; however, whether high levels of homocysteine actually cause cardiovascular disease has yet to be agreed upon. … In addition, some evidence suggests that people with elevated homocysteine levels have twice the normal risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

The folic acid and amino acid connection is affected by diet as well. People who eat a lot of meat in comparison to leafy greens (that have folate/folic acid) or fruits tend to be highest in homocysteine levels. B vitamins and folic acid help reduce homocysteine levels. Additionally, says Dr. Weil, “homocysteine is also produced in the body from another amino acid, methionine. One of methionine’s main functions is to provide methyl groups for cellular reactions. … Typically, homocysteine then receives another methyl group from either folic acid or vitamin B6 to regenerate methionine.”

Folic acid supplements usually come in .4 to .8 grams, but prescription strength is at 1 g/day, although older pregnant women or high risk moms can take up to 4+ g/day (doctor prescribed). If you are low in folic acid and amino acid levels supplements can be taken for either. High stress and increased coffee consumption can also raise homocysteine levels, however. Homocysteine levels can also be elevated due to psoriasis, kidney disease, or even low thyroid hormones.

Other than talking with your doctor, one of the best ways to deal with the folic acid and amino acid connection, especially if there is an issue, is to eat healthy, get enough exercise, and make sure your daily diet includes plenty of leafy greens and fresh fruits and vegetables and less meat and fried foods, which may also reduce cholesterol and aid cardiovascular health as an added bonus.

Sources:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03423/Elevated-Homocysteine.html

Improve Sleep for Insomnia via Amino Acids and Deep Breathing

1… 2… 3… 4… How many of us have tried counting sheep, or other things that never seem to work, just to get some sleep at night? Insomnia can strike a person for a good many reasons, including: worry or fretting, stress or anxiety, racing thoughts, sleep cycles being off kilter (light therapy can sometimes help), hormones or metabolic reasons, and even due to being overly tired, among other things. However, there are two natural things you can do to help you sleep… take certain amino acids, and perform certain breathing exercises.

Studies have shown that increasing oxygen levels through deep breathing exercises, contrary to popular belief, can actually help induce sleep rather than wake you up. This is due to the connection with CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels in the body, which I will go into later.

Interestingly, amino acids can also help relieve insomnia. Two of the common 22 amino acids, in particular, are able help calm the mind and induce rest in a weary but aggravated body.

Insomniacs need oxygen, and amino acids for serotonin

Adults with insomnia were studied and given relaxation techniques, including deep breathing exercises (do not forget about bedtime yoga!) as part of information included in complementary and alternative medicine or naturopathic medicine techniques. These insomniacs, after being informed of these easy activities at bedtime, had higher rates of continued use.

Deep breathing exercises aside, it is not just increasing oxygen levels alone that help you relax and slumber, but reducing CO2 levels in the body. Amino acids actually play a vital role in this process.

In a fascinating cross-species study that compared plants, insects, animals, and humans, the levels of CO2 and anxiety were investigated. Anyone who has woken up in the night due to a panic attack knows what I am speaking about here. CO2 levels are higher in correspondence with anxiety or negative emotions.

There is a neurological ‘fear circuit’ that is not entirely understood, but evidence reviewed on the amino acid GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) may help modulate anxiety that is CO2 induced. That is, if you take the GABA amino acid, it could help calm the mind, anxiety, and troubling thoughts so you can sleep.

Another amino acid that is known to be a natural sedative is tryptophan (like what makes you tired from turkey meat), plus serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter) and melatonin also help you induce sleep.

GABA and tryptophan are commonly available as supplements at health food stores and drug stores as a sleep aid. So breathe deeply and reduce the amount of CO2 in your body, plus take amino acid GABA and/or tryptophan to complement this for a good night’s rest.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23243402

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18485466

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22652369

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22365651

Taurine for CHF – Congestive Heart Failure

Evidence is showing that taurine may help congestive heart failure (CHF). Taurine, a sulphur-containing amino acid is found in the tissues of mammals. Although the body can synthesize taurine, most often it is obtained through diet; in particular, protein foods such as meats, eggs, and fish. It is known to act as an antioxidant, helps lower blood pressure, and may help with cardiovascular health problems like: congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetic cardiomyopathy. Although double-blind long-term trials are not commonly found, it is often recommended as a treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Taurine can be synthesized from cysteine and methionine amino acids when in the presence of vitamin B6, but also is obtained through the diet. Taurine is found in high concentrations in the retina as well as the heart. This could be one of the reasons why taurine can help with congestive heart failure (CHF), due to its role within the heart muscle itself.

Congestive heart failure

For the age group of 60+ CHF is the leading cause of both hospitalization and death. Sudden death can occur due to irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrhythmia in over fifty percent of people with CHF. Congestive heart failure is not like a heart attack (sudden tissue death) since CHF is a progressive disease. It can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, increased nighttime urination, and progress to a worsening stage over time.

Left-sided failure of the heart is most common in those with CHF. It leads to limited oxygen to the bloodstream and therefore the body (pulmonary edema). For right-sided failure of the heart it causes increased pressure within the veins, retention of water and sodium, and leads to accumulation of fluid as well as swelling of the liver, abdomen, and legs. Sometimes both left-and-right-sided failure happens together.

So how does taurine affect CHF in a positive way?

Taurine and CHF

Taurine supplements can often be taken as a medicine because of its beneficial health effects in treating congestive heart failure (CHF), as well as liver disease, to help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and cystic fibrosis, among other health issues. Because it is an antioxidant it also protects cells from damage due to oxidation (chemical reactions with oxygen). Excess taurine is usually excreted by the kidneys.

Scientists are still not sure why taurine helps CHF entirely, but some evidence suggests that it improves functioning within the left ventricle (chamber) of the heart. Taurine may also improve circumstances in a heart failure situation since it helps lower blood pressure, plus calms the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system can often be overactive in people who have CHF and high blood pressure. The sympathetic nervous system responds to the stress and is responsible for the flight-or-fight response and stimulating other bodily activities in times of stress. Both the sympathetic nervous system (flight-or-fight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest) and the enteric system (gastrointestinal) are the three parts of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

Taurine may help with the calming of stress-related activities of the sympathetic nervous system, lower blood pressure, and help improve heart functioning in patients with congestive heart failure. Please check with your doctor as to any taurine supplements and the dosage that you can take if you have CHF.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586397/

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/conditions_treatments/conditions/congestive_heart_failure.html

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1024-TAURINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=1024&activeIngredientName=TAURINE

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.