Tag Archives: muscle wasting

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

Amino Acid Glycine Protects Muscles From Cancer Cachexia

Can the non-essential amino acid glycine become part of a treatment to improve quality of life for cancer patients? An animal study from Australia found some promising results.

Cachexia is a wasting syndrome, characterized by loss of weight, muscle atrophy, and loss of body mass which cannot be reversed by simply consuming more nutrition. This loss of body mass is often caused by cancer, often end-stage or advanced cancer. Cancer cachexia greatly affects quality of life, and can often hasten the patient towards their death. Cachexia is probably responsible for about 20 per cent of cancer deaths.

Cancer cachexia is caused by inflammation, the body’s complex response to harmful stimuli, such as cancer, as the body tries to destroy the cancer cells. Inflammation causes pain, and often swelling and loss of function. New treatments to reduce inflammation, which would also improve cancer therapies, are being researched globally.

D Ham, K Murphy, et al, researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia, developed an animal trial to see if the amino acid glycine could become part of a safe, non-toxic treatment for cancer-induced muscle wastage.

Glycine is not an essential part of the human diet, as we synthetize it in our bodies from the amino acid serine. It is a neurotransmitter, but has other important effects too. It plays a role in detoxification, and could be an effective anti-inflammatory agent. It is glycine’s anti-inflammatory qualities that the researchers wanted to test.

Glycine protects muscle wastage – may be used for cachexia in cancer patients

Cachexia was induced in mice, which were then injected with glycine, alanine, or citrulline every day for 21 days. After this, selected muscles, tumors, and fat tissues were studied.

The glycine had impressive results. The mice given glycine had much less fat and muscle wastage, and less inflammation. Oxidative stress was also reduced.

The researchers concluded that glycine protected skeletal muscle from wastage and loss of function caused by cancer. They hope that in future, safe, non-toxic glycine treatments to protect against cancer cachexia will be developed.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23835111