Tag Archives: L-tryptophan

Anorexia Patients’ Serotonin Levels Helped by Amino Acid Tryptophan

Serotonin is the feel-good chemical that the human brain produces in the body. People with higher serotonin levels generally are more resistant to depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions. People with adequate levels of serotonin also feel better about life, themselves, and their place in the world. Anorexic patients, suffering from the eating disorder called Anorexia nervosa, have mental and emotional as well as physical issues surrounding this disorder, and consequently can have too-low serotonin levels. Raising serotonin can be done by natural means, such as taking the amino acid L-tryptophan. Tryptophan is a neurotransmitter in the brain, which can help raise serotonin levels.

 Tryptophan is used by the body and produces serotonin in the brain, which is severely lacking in those with anorexia. This eating disorder is associated with an obsession of being overweight, so they eat very little, and sometimes nothing at all, which leads to emaciation. Body image issues are at the forefront, self-worth is low, causing a spiraling effect since anorexics think they are too fat even if they are skin and bones. Very low food intake (and therefore low in tryptophan) depletes the serotonin in the brain, since it is tryptophan dependent.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that comes from protein foods, like meats (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc.), as well as fish and eggs. A diet deficient in meats is also deficient in not just tryptophan, but also the rest of the common 22 amino acids that make a body healthy and resistant to disease and other health issues.

Study using tryptophan for serotonin levels in anorexic patients

A study by DJ Haleem from the Neuroscience Research Laboratory at the University of Karachi in Pakistan was done regarding anorexia patients and tryptophan. Haleem said “Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) show extreme dieting weight loss, hyperactivity, depression/anxiety, self-control, and behavioral impulsivity. Tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin and an essential amino acid, is only available in the diet. It is therefore likely that excessive diet restriction and malnutrition decrease brain serotonin stores.”

When serotonin is low, then the availability of tryptophan “decreases serotonin neurotransmission at postsynaptic sites, leading to hyperactivity, depression, and behavioral impulsivity,” said Haleem. He suggested that tryptophan “supplementation may improve pharmacotherapy in AN.”

The effectiveness of tryptophan on serotonin levels for anorexia has not yet been evaluated, but the fact that higher serotonin levels make us feel better is well documented. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is easily bought over the counter at health food stores for supplementing the diet.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22854305

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anorexia/DS00606

Tryptophan In Antidepressants to Cure Major Depressive Disorder?

Dr. AA Badway, from Cardiff Metropolitan University (Wales, UK), published an article which points to the essential amino acid tryptophan as a possible key to developing new antidepressant serotonin-boosting drugs to treat Major Depressive Disorder.

The article, published in July 2013, focused on Major Depressive Disorder, which is also known as clinical depression, unipolar depression, or recurrent depression. This mental disorder causes pervasive, persistent low moods, where the patient can no longer experience pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. It is usually also accompanied by low self-esteem.

Major Depressive Disorder is an extremely debilitating condition which greatly impacts quality of life. Major Depressive Disorder affects private and work life, impacting eating habits, sleeping habits, and general overall health. In some cases, the disorder has led to suicide.

Serotonin deficiency is one of the causes of Major Depressive Disorder. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger that transmits signals between the brain and the body. Serotonin has many effects, including the regulation of moods.

Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder includes antidepressant medications which cause the synthesis of serotonin, and thus these medications have a mood stabilizing effect.

Serotonin is synthesized in the body by the amino acid tryptophan.

Tryptophan’s role in serotonin synthesis

Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids, which means we must obtain it from our food. Tryptophan is widely available in most proteins, like eggs, fish, meat, soybeans, and sesame seeds.

There are several factors which cause decreased levels of tryptophan, and which result in the serotonin deficiencies which could cause Major Depressive Disorder. One factor, accelerated degradation of tryptophan in the liver, is one of the factors which must be addressed when developing new antidepressants.

The article concluded that enhancing the availability of tryptophan to the brain will result in normalized levels of serotonin synthesis, and could form the basis for new antidepressant drugs.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23904410

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.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12677354

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!