Tag Archives: L-Taurine

Amino Acids: Taurine Essential For Brain Development

An interesting study of human brain cells highlights the crucial role the amino acid taurine has on the development of our brains. This amino acid is vital for optimal development of newborn and infant brains.

Taurine is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s essential for our cardiovascular function, and the development and function of our central nervous system. Every human needs taurine, adults and babies. Adults metabolize taurine from cysteine, using vitamin B6. High levels of B6 are found in shellfish, such as oysters and clams. It’s also present in meat and fish proteins.

Newborns get their taurine from breast milk, and taurine has been added to many infant formulas.

The role of taurine for optimal brain development has been studied in animal trials. Taurine increases the proliferation of neural stem cells in embryonic and adult rodent brains. But what about humans?

Researchers Hernández-Benítez R, Vangipuram SD, et al, from the Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico, developed a study of taurine’s effect on cell numbers in human neural precursor cells, which are stem cells.

Neural precursor cells can become neurons (nerve cells), and can also become the two other main cell types in the nervous system. They can also be cultured in the laboratory, so have great potential for a variety of transplant treatments.

Effect of Taurine on human brain development

The researchers in this human cell study used neural precursor cells from three fetal brains (14-15 weeks of gestation). The cells were cultured, and then tested with taurine. After four days of culture, taurine induced an impressive increase of neural precursor cells: an increase of up to 188%. Taurine also dramatically increased the percentage of neurons formed: up to 480% in the best case.

These results show the positive effect taurine has on the formation and development of the brain.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466467

Taurine Supplements Prevent Diabetes In Animal Study

An animal study into taurine supplementation found that the amino acid delayed the onset of autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Could this result in preventive treatments for humans?

Autoimmune diabetes is slow-onset Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an immune system malfunction, where the autoimmune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Insulin is a hormone which regulates blood sugar. If the pancreas no longer produces insulin, blood sugar will spike. If untreated, this Type 1 Diabetes is fatal. However, the disease is controllable with insulin injections, or an insulin pump. In some cases, a pancreas transplant is possible.

A Canadian study, developed by researchers E Arany, B Strutt, et al, from Lawson Health Research Institute, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, Ontario, investigated whether supplements of the amino acid taurine would inhibit the development of diabetes in the offspring of diabetic mice.

Taurine and the pancreas

Taurine is vital to the development of the pancreas, which in turn leads to the production of insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Taurine is produced in our bodies from cysteine and vitamin B6. We can also get taurine from our food, particularly seafood and meat, though we probably don’t need to unless we are deficient in cysteine or B6. Newborns, however, do not produce taurine and must get it from breast milk, or infant formula.

The results of the study on taurine

Two groups of pregnant, diabetic mice were tested in the Canadian study. Their offspring would naturally be diabetic, too. The mice were given taurine supplements throughout their pregnancy, and until the offspring were weaned. A control group was given no taurine. The animals were monitored until they became diabetic.

Taurine supplements reduced the onset of diabetes in the mice, delaying the onset of the disease. The onset was delayed from 18 to 30 weeks, with 20% of taurine-treated mice remaining diabetes free after an entire year.

This animal study concluded that taurine supplements in early life effectively delayed the onset of diabetes.

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Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15502919

Can Taurine Protect The Liver From Environmental Damage And Disease?

A Japanese study has shown that treatment with taurine can protect against xenobiotics-induced liver damages. Could this lead to a new treatment for cirrhosis and other forms of liver disease?

There are over 100 forms of liver disease, some of which lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis, a condition where the liver is permanently damaged by scarring, is the end form of many liver diseases.  The damaged cirrhotic liver can’t remove toxins, which accumulate in the blood and can lead to death. The overall mortality rate for drug-induced liver injury is about 5%.

Some liver diseases, including cirrhosis, are caused by xenobiotics, which are drugs and environmental chemicals. Such drugs can include acetaminophen, a very common pain reliever found in paracetamol. The risk is much higher in illegal drugs synthesized from bromobenzene, such as PCP.

The liver is particularly prone to xenobiotics-induced injury because of its role in filtering and removing toxins.

Can the liver be protected by taurine?

A study by T Miyazaki and Y Matsuzaki, from Tokyo Medical University, Japan, investigated the protective effects of the amino acid taurine.

Taurine has many functions, and is present in most of our tissues. It’s found throughout our bodies, particularly in our central nervous system, skeletal muscle, heart, and liver.

We produce taurine from food, especially foods high in B6, such as seafood. Taurine is biosynthesized in the liver. It has even been shown to prevent liver disease and cirrhosis in rats.

Taurine affects human livers, too. People with liver disease often have low levels of taurine in their hepatic system. And serious liver damages were observed in the pericentral region of the liver in patients with severely depleted liver taurine levels.

The study showed that taurine treatment was a useful agent for xenobiotics-induced liver damages.

The risk for developing xenobiotics-induced injury will be greatly reduced if people ensure they follow all directions on packages, follow guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, and avoid illegal drugs.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22918604

Amino Acids – Natural Cure For Alcoholism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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