Tag Archives: amino acid

Lysine Deficiency in Vegans and Vegetarian Diet

Lysine is an amino acid that is very often found in deficient levels within vegetarians, and especially vegans. Lysine is found in abundance within meats and other protein foods, such as beef, turkey, pork, lamb, chicken, as well as fish and eggs. Since vegans and vegetarians do not typically consume animals or their products, the levels of lysine are sometimes dangerously low. How can this be helped?

Vegetarian foods that are highest in lysine

Although meat contains all 22 common amino acids, including lysine, it is not a product that vegetarians—and especially vegans–consume, Below are some suggestions for a high-lysine diet and the kind of protein foods that can provide this important amino acid.

Lysine from protein foods should include eating 1.0 to 1.1 grams/kilogram of body weight daily (for adults). This is especially important if you are over the age of 60. Vegetarian sources of lysine-containing foods, for the vegetarian that allows no mammals, but do allow some animal products, include these…

Ovo-vegetarians can eat eggs, which have all 22 amino acids, including plenty of lysine.

Pescetarians eat fish, which is also an excellent source, plus have heart-healthy oils for cardiovascular health.

Lacto-vegetarians eat milk / dairy products, which contain lesser amounts of this amino acid, but definitely more than vegetable sources.

Vegan foods high in lysine

There are definitely some high-lysine vegan foods that are available for people who do not eat any animal products whatsoever. Vegetable sources for lysine, which should be eaten daily, include:


Legumes include soybeans, and products of soybeans (such as tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy protein, etc.), and beans (garbanzo, pinto, black beans, and other dry beans) and their products (refried beans, hummus, falafel), and peas (split, green peas, black-eyed, etc.).

Nine essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body, so must be taken in via food or through supplementation. Legumes and seitan—per serving—have the highest amount of lysine. In fact, the highest vegan foods also include tempeh, tofu, soy meats, lentils, and seitan.

Lysine is also found in fairly decent quantities within quinoa and pistachios.

The US RDA recommendation for lysine from proteins is about 1g/kg protein for children, and .8g/kg for people aged 18-59, and up to 1.3g/kg protein for people over 60.

Lysine, since it is an amino acid, can also be taken as a dietary supplement from the health food store or drug stores. Overall, there is no reason why one has to give up their vegan or vegetarian lifestyle just because they are deficient in this aminio acid. There are ample ways to include it via foods or supplementation into your daily regimen.



Part 1: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels

The amino acids cysteine and glutathione play a role, it seems, in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s. Evidently, according to a study by SS Karuppagounder, JT Pinto, et al., in their study on “Dietary supplementation with resveratrol reduces plaque pathology in a transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease” from the Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, at the Burke Medical Research Institute, in White Plains, New York, the amino acid levels of cysteine and glutathione are affected in Alzheimer’s patients by the same types of chemopreventive agents (cancer-preventing foods) that cancer patients would eat to help prevent cancer.

One food constituent in particular was studied by the researchers—Resveratrol. Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is found in peanuts, pomegranates, soybeans, and especially red wine. People have heard for years about resveratrol being good for the heart, but evidently it is good for the brain as well, including other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though resveratrol was fed to the hosts for forty-five days, it was not detectable in the brain, yet plaque formation in the regions of the brain were diminished. The majority of the diminished brain-plaques were “observed in medial cortex (-48%), striatum (-89%) and hypothalamus (-90%). … However, brain glutathione declined 21% and brain cysteine increased 54%.”

Cysteine and Glutathione’s role in chemopreventive agents

There is a list of foods, called chemopreventive agents, which help prevent cancer, that also may help with oxidative stress, destroying free radicals that also cause DNA damage, or help prevent plaques in the brain of people who may otherwise be developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). I will cover some of these agents first:

According to one source, there are two such agents that have carcinogen-detoxifying activity that “might be achieved by combination of an agent such as N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), which provides substrate for glutathione (GSH) synthesis, with agents such as oltipraz or garlic/onion disulfides, which enhance GSH S-transferases (GST).”

The food constituents will be listed further in our next section…

CONTINUE TO Part 2: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels 






Glutamate and GABA and How They Relate to Seizures

What do Glutamate, GABA, and Glutamine have in common? The former two amino acid have antiseizure properties, but although L-glutamine is an amino acid, it is sometimes confused with glutamate. What is the difference and how do these relate to seizures?

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a non-essential amino acid used for aiding sleep and anti-anxiety or seizures.

Glutamate (glutamic acid) is a proteinogenic non-essential amino acid and is an important neurotransmitter and is connected to seizures. I will go into this more later.

Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid and also the most abundantly fee amino acid. Glutamine is often used for treating trauma, burns, and for wound healing, but not necessarily for seizures.

Now that we know what glutamine is, we will move on to GABA and glutamate and how they have the role of being antiseizure agents.

GABA and glutamate for treating seizures

According to Dr. J., glutamic acid (glutamate) is the principal neurotransmitter, but that “MSG (monosodium glutamate), whose parent protein is glutamic acid, is used as a flavor enhancer due to it neurostimulating effect on the taste buds. When it reaches the brain, it induces migraines, seizures, the ‘MSG rush’, and lowers the pain threshold (e.g. people with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain syndromes).”

In cases of epilepsy, Dr. J. reports that one woman stopped seizing once on The GARD (Glutamate & Aspartate Restricted Diet) only after she stopped eating cashews, which are known to be a source of glutamate. He says, “It is ‘interesting’ that some of the new anticonvulsants work by blocking glutamate.”

GABA is well known as the amino acid with GABAergic and GABA receptor properties and is consistently correlated with reduced functional responses, which is why it is used to help induce sleep, relaxation, is anti-anxiety and antiseizure in its effects.

In a study called “Associations of regional GABA and glutamate with intrinsic and extrinsic neural activity in humans—A review of multimodal imaging studies” the researchers Niall W. Duncan, Christine Wiebking, and Georg Northoff studied the modalities for multiple imaging of the human brain.

The researchers admit that the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate are particularly excellent amino acids for such studies because the transmitters exist throughout the brain’s cortex in the inhibition/excitation balance, but they say, “How these transmitters underly functional responses measured with techniques such as fMRI and EEG remains unclear.” Hence, the study.

They report that the literature available showed consistent negative correlations “between GABA concentrations and stimulus-induced activity” as well as “positive correlation between glutamate concentrations and inter-regional activity relationships, both during tasks and rest.”

The scientists concluded that both biochemical and functional imaging of human brains show a combining of information, which does “require a number of key methodological and interpretive issues be addressed before can meet its potential.”

Overall, both GABA and glutamate are correlated with suppression or elimination of seizures in epileptic and other patients, but more research is needed as to just how this works.





BCAA’s: Branched-Chain Amino Acids To Treat Muscle Control

Supplements containing branched-chain amino acids are taken to treat a wide variety of conditions. They are perhaps best known for their effect on muscle formation and control, but are also often taken to improve nutrition.

Amino acids are naturally occurring molecules which combine to create protein. Protein is an essential part of our nutrition: needed for our internal organs, our brains, our muscles, and also our immune system.

We get some amino acids—essential amino acids–from food, and others—non-essential amino acids–are synthesized in our bodies. A healthy diet must contain amino acids.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids. They are found in meat, dairy products, eggs, soy protein, and legumes. Vegans must therefore make sure they are getting enough BCAAs if their diets do not contain any animal proteins. BCAAs are also available as supplements.

BCAA supplements for muscle control

Athletes sometimes use branched-chain amino acids to improve performance, as the amino acids prevent muscle breakdown during intense exercise.

The muscle control properties of BCAAs mean that they are also used for people with advanced liver disease. Advanced liver disease can cause a reduction in muscle control. Similarly, some antipsychotic medications affect muscle control, and BCAAs may be taken by patients to reduce these unwanted muscle movements.

BCAAs are sometimes taken by people confined to bed, as BCAAs prevent muscle wasting.

Warnings for BCAA supplements

You should not take supplements without discussing them with you doctor, particularly if you are taking any medications. Some BCAAs could interact with your medications. For example, BCAAs could lower blood sugar, which could interact with diabetes medications.

Levodopa also interacts with BCAAs, so if you are taking this drug (for example, for Parkinson’s disease) you must consult with your doctor before taking BCAA supplements.

Sources: WebMD Branched-chain amino acids

Part 2: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels

CONTINUED FROM Part 1: Alzheimer’s Prevention? Special Foods and Cysteine and Glutathione Levels, where we covered the research done on Alzheimer’s patients that found Resveratrol affected cysteine and glutathione levels, raising the former, and reducing the latter, and their connection to reduced brain plaques. 

Chemopreventive agents that help cancer patients may also help Alzheimer’s patients…

Chemopreventive agents (food constituents), cysteine, and glutathione

Food-derived chemopreventive agents may help when used by normal-risk populations with long-term use. According to a study by GJ Kelloff, JA Crowell, et al., and their assessment, there are 40 promising agents and food combinations “being evaluated clinically as chemopreventive agents for major cancer targets including breast, prostate, colon and lung. Examples include green and black tea polyphenols, soy isoflavones, Bowman-Birk soy protease inhibitor, curcumin, phenethyl isothiocyanate, sulforaphane, lycopene, indole-3-carbinol, perillyl alcohol, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium and calcium.” Many of these agents are available to purchase online from supplement vendors such as: GNC.com and Vitaminshoppe.com

Additionally, some natural sources that have anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-tumor, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral constituents includes a huge variety of medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake, cordyceps, shiitake, and so on. Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), in particular, boasts boosting of cognitive function, memory, and learning in those who take them regularly, as well as immune-enhancing health benefits.

Many amino acids are also known to be brain food. Cysteine and glutathione were the aminos that were implicated in the first study mentioned above, although it was the higher levels of cysteine and lowered glutathione that helped the plaque in Alzheimer’s patients.

Cysteine is a semi-essential (normally listed as a non-essential) amino acid. When it is used as a food additive, it has the E number “E920”. In rare cases this amino acid may be important for infants or the elderly, or for people with malabsorption syndromes or metabolic disease. As long as enough methionine is available, cysteine can usually be synthesized by the body.

Cysteine is found in protein foods like: beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy, and in lesser amounts in plant sources such as garlic, onions, broccoli, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, granola/oats, wheat germ, or lentils.

The non-essential amino acid glutathione works as an important antioxidant in animals and plants, fungi and some bacteria, as well as archaea, preventing free radicals and peroxides damage. However, glutathione is not considered an essential nutrient since it can be produced by the body (outside of food) from the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, as well as glycine.

Interestingly, the sulfhydryl (thiol) group of the amino acid cysteine is actually the amino acid responsible for glutathione’s activity in the body. This is why they are connected. Cysteine limits glutathione synthesis in cells since glutathione is rare in foodstuffs.

Remember that in the original study on Alzheimer’s patients and reduced brain plaque formation, it was the connection of increased cysteine and decreased glutathione that may be the link. That study, according to the researchers, “supports the concept that onset of neurodegenerative disease may be delayed or mitigated with use of dietary chemo-preventive agents that protect against beta-amyloid plaque formation and oxidative stress.”

With this in mind, be aware of the fact that chemopreventive foods like Resveratrol in red wine, or garlic, not only may help prevent cancer or improve cardiovascular health, but also are connected to a reduction in Alzheimer’s disease rates due to how it affects amino acids cysteine and glutathione levels. Please check with your doctor before altering your diet.






Part 1: Aspartic Acid and Phenylalanine in Aspartame

What are aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and what are their roles as ingredients in the manmade product called aspartame? Is aspartame dangerous or linked to cancer? Many claims exist, but here are some facts and information on the subject, which you might want to consider.

First of all, aspartame is an artificial sweetener; it is known as NutraSweet® and Equal® as well as Spoonful, and Equal-Measure, and is claimed to be up to 200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame was, in 1981, approved for use in dry goods, and later in 1983 approved for carbonated beverages. Aspartame basically has three main ingredients: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.

I will go briefly over these three ingredients below and then discuss their use in aspartame…

Aspartic acid

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and aspartic acid, also known as asparaginic acid, is a non-essential amino acid. “Non-essential” means that it is not necessary to get this amino acid from food or supplements since the human body makes it on its own. Our bodies need and use aspartic acid within cells to help the body work, especially regarding nervous system functioning, and hormone production/release.


Phenylalanine is also an amino acid, but an essential amino acid, which means it can only be gotten from food (our body does not make it on its own). Phenylalanine is the precursor for the amino acid tyrosine, which acts as a neurotransmitter in our brain for signaling dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), epinephrine (adrenaline), and melanin (skin pigment).

Phenylalanine is also found in breast milk and is a necessary nutrient for newborn babies, which is why it is added to baby formulas. Phenylalanine is a nutritional supplement in food and drink products and is known for its antidepressant and analgesic effects.

All 22 common amino acids, including aspartic acid and phenylalanine, can be gotten from protein foods such as meats, fish, and eggs, and smaller amounts from dairy, legumes, nuts, and vegetables.


Where aspartic acid and phenylalanine are natural substances, and needed for proper bodily functioning, methanol is toxic to the human body. Methanol is known as wood alcohol, methyl alcohol, wood naphtha, or wood spirits and is a chemical produced mostly as a byproduct of the destructive distillation of wood. Modern methanol is produced industrially from hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Methanol is simple as alcohols go, flammable, volatile, colorless, and sweeter than ethanol (drinking alcohol). Methanol is used for producing biodiesel, as a fuel, denaturant for ethanol, and is a greenhouse gas.

Ingesting large quantities of methanol causes it to be metabolized to formate salts and formic acid. These may cause coma, blindness, or even death, because they are poison to the central nervous system. Special emphasis on “large quantities.” Why? Keep reading…

CONTINUE TO Part 2: Aspartic Acid and Phenylalanine in Aspartame






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.




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.



Vegan Sources of Lysine Amino Acid

It is well established that vegetarians and vegans are often deficient in the amino acid lysine, which can lead to diminished health. Lysine typically comes from protein foods like meats (beef, pork, turkey, chicken, etc.), eggs, fish, and even dairy. However, since vegans do not eat animals or their products of any kind, the deficiencies are worse than for vegans than pescetarian vegetarians (who eat fish), lacto-vegetarians (who consume dairy), or ovo-vegetarians (who eat eggs).

Making sure you have adequate protein intake is the key to getting enough lysine, but are nuts and legumes (including soybeans) enough to provide lysine to a vegan diet? What if you are allergic to nuts? What if legumes do not agree with your system? What other choices are there, and which sources of vegetables or fruits or other vegan foods are highest in lysine?

Vegan foods high in protein

According to a Vegan registered dietitian (RD) a man was thinking about eating eggs again to ensure he had enough protein (including lysine) and fat in his diet, and admitting that he may have been nutrient-deficient, it was suggested that he could get equivalent amounts of protein and fat from vegan sources. For instance, a large egg has about 5 g of fat and 6 g of protein, but so does eating a 1/2 C of beans (topped with 2 Tbsp avocado) OR 1 C quinoa (topped with 1 Tbsp chopped nuts), along with 1/4 C tempeh.

This same vegan RD suggest that vegans can get enough protein (and therefore lysine) by eating a minimum of 3 servings/day of legumes. Servings means 1/2 C of beans or soyfood, or 1 C soymilk; this amount is generous.

There’s no need to be obsessive about lysine, as long as you get enough protein. Your daily regimen should include legumes and soyfoods to ensure your lysine intake.

Protein requirements for adequate lysine intake

Protein requirements and lysine requirements are figured differently. You pounds when doing the figuring below…

Protein requirements:

Multiply your (ideal) weight by 0.45

Lysine requirements:

Multiply your (ideal) weight by 2.5

Lead body mass is what protein needs are based on, so using your ideal weight (rather than actual weight) help calculate the proper requirements. For example, a person who should weight about 140 lbs should need approximately 3010 mg of lysine and 63 g of protein.

1/2 C cooked legumes/beans = 485-625 mg lysine / 7-8 g protein

1/2 C soybeans = 575 mg lysine / 14 g protein

1/2 C firm tofu = 582 mg lysine / 10-20 g protein

1 oz veggie meats = (varies) mg lysine / 6-18 g protein
1 C soymilk = 439 mg lysine / 5-10 g protein
1/4 C peanuts = 310 mg lysine / 8 g protein
1/4 C other nuts* = 80-280 mg lysine / 2-6 g protein
1/2 C grains** = 55-85 mg lysine / 2-3 g protein
1/2 vegetables = 60-165 mg lysine / 0.5-2.5 g protein
* Note that 1/4 C pistachios have 365 mg lysine and 6.5 g protein
** Note that quinoa is higher compared to other grains, with 220 mg lysine and 4 g protein
As you can see, it is not all that hard to find lysine in protein foods as long as you maintain an adequate amount of servings and protein grams each day.



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.