Tag Archives: parkinsons

Phenylalanine for Pain Relief and Other Health Benefits

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, in which “essential” means you must get it through your diet or supplementation since your body cannot produce it on its own. Phenylalanine also is known as nature’s pain reliever. 

Interestingly, Phenylalanine is used in psychotropic drugs such as morphine, codeine, papaverine, and even mescaline because it is such an effective pain reliever.

Phenylalanine: How is it used in the body as a pain reliever?

Phenylalanine is one of the three aromatic amino acids, which include the other two, Tyrosine and Tryptophan. Phenylalanine is also the precursor for Tyrosine, and like Tyrosine, Phenylalanine is the precursor in the human body of catecholamines, which include dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and tryamine.

Dr. Winston Greene at DC Nutrition explains what catecholamines are and why we need phenylalanine, and how much: “Phenylalanine is a precursor of the neurotransmitters called catecholamines, which are adrenalin-like substances. … is highly concentrated in the human brain and plasma. … and requires biopterin, iron, niacin, vitamin B6, copper and vitamin C. An average adult ingests 5 g of phenylalanine per day and may optimally need up to 8 g daily.”

Phenylalanine essential amino acid comes from food and levels affect pain relief

You can get Phenylalanine from protein foods such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, and wheat germ. Dr. Greene shows that not only is this amino acid good as a pain reliever, but also that it is low in people who ingest caffeine. Interestingly, depressed people often seek out stimulants like caffeine drinks as a “pick me up” but may be doing themselves further harm since Dr. Greene says they’d found that “about 10 percent of depressed patients have low plasma Phenylalanine, and phenylalanine is an effective treatment in these cases.”

When someone gets an infection, however, Phenylalanine levels increase in the body to help aid any pain that might be associated with it, again acting as nature’s pain reliever. This amino is used in “premenstrual syndrome and Parkinson’s may enhance the effects of acupuncture and electric transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS). Phenylalanine and tyrosine, like L-dopa, produce a catecholamine effect. Phenylalanine is better absorbed than tyrosine and may cause fewer headaches.”

The bottom line is that Phenylalanine can be a great natural source for pain relief for numerous problems from infection to PMS to diseases such as Parkinsons. The health benefits are numerous, but always be sure to check with your doctor prior to any supplementation or changes to your diet when working to include this amazing amino acid for pain relief.

Reference:

http://www.biology.arizona.edu/biochemistry/problem_sets/aa/aromatic.html

http://www.dcnutrition.com/AminoAcids/Detail.CFM?

L-Phenylalanine Benefts and Dangers

There is an old saying that nothing, in and of itself, is either good or bad. This is true also of the amino acid phenylalanine. What the pros or cons are of taking this amino acid depends on your situation. I will go over some of the dangers as well as the health benefits of this essential amino acid (amino acids are building blocks for protein). “Essential” means that you have to get this amino acid through your diet since your body cannot make it on its own.

Phenylalanine Dangers

The dangers of phenylalanine can include things like drinking sodas that contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) that contain phenylalanine, but only if you have PKU. PKU is the genetic disorder phenylketonuria, which can cause brain damage or mental retardation or even seizures or death. Phenylalanine is found in protein foods such as meat (beef, chicken, pork, turkey, etc.), fish, eggs, and dairy, and can also be purchased as supplements.

Phenylalanine is not a health concern for healthy people who do not have PKU. However, aspartame, according to the Mayo Clinic, can cause “a rapid increase in the brain levels of phenylalanine” in large doses. They advise to use aspartame-containing products cautiously if you take medications like neuroleptics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or medicines that contain levodopa; avoid phenylalanine also if you have tardive dyskinesia, have a sleep disorder, or other mental health condition, including anxiety disorder.

All of that said, what are the benefits of phenylalanine?

L-Phenylalanine Benefits

The different forms include D- phenylalanine, L- phenylalanine, and DL- phenylalanine (50/50) in the forms of phenylalanine supplementation. In fact, all 22 common amino acids are provided by protein foods.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says that the “body changes phenylalanine into tyrosine, another amino acid that’s needed to make proteins, brain chemicals, including L-dopa, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, and thyroid hormones.”

Norepinephrine also affects mood, so phenylalanine is used to help treat depression. People who are deficient in this amino can experience a lack of energy, confusion, memory issues, lack of appetite, decreased alertness, and depression.

The University of Michigan Health System says that the form L-phenylalanine (LPA) can be converted to L-tyrosine, but also into “ L-dopa, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. LPA can also be converted (through a separate pathway) to phenylethylamine, a substance that occurs naturally in the brain and appears to elevate mood.”

Other uses for phenylalanine include treating:

Alcohol withdrawal
Chronic pain
Depression
Lower back pain
Osteoarthritis
Parkinson’s disease
Rheumatoid arthritis
Vitiligo

Please check with your doctor before diagnosing or taking any phenylalanine supplements or making any serious changes to your lifestyle, including diet and protein foods that contain this amino acid.

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/phenylalanine/faq-20058361

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/phenylalanine

http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2895002#hn-2895002-uses

L-Carnosine Benefits: Can L-carnosine Become the Next Wonder Drug?

Found in abundance in muscles and the brain, the dipeptide L-carnosine is an organic compound comprised of the amino acids histidine and beta-alanine. Because of the various ways L-carnosine can benefit cellular activity, such as slowing down the growth of cataracts and certain tumour cells, researchers at Aston University in Birmingham decided to study the mechanisms behind how L-carnosine works.

In doing so, they believe that it could lead to breakthroughs in L-carnosine helping treat and prevent age-related ailments such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Study for L-carnosine for health benefits, numerous diseases, even anti-aging

Scientists Alan Hipkiss, Stephanie Cartwright, Clare Bromley, Stephane Gross and Roslyn Bill believe that L-carnosine slows down age-related biological disturbances through energy metabolism or proteostasis, which is a type of protein stabilization process. Since L-carnosine also acts as an antioxidant, it has the potential to be used as a drug that can target multiple diseases.

They report that L-carnosine can act as a compound to combine the heavy metal that causes cell damage in the system. In doing so, L-carnosine will effective prevent lipids, proteins and DNA from undergoing age-related damage (antiaging properties).

The researchers recall another recent study that supports the theory that L-carnosine can improve cognition in people living with schizophrenia.

For Alzheimer’s disease, L-carnosine can act as a neuroprotective agent and has been shown to inhibit problems in the mitochondria. The dipeptide can also eliminate mutated polypeptides and stimulate the production of stress proteins that will further work to rebalance the system.

Overall, the researchers are very hopeful that the antioxidant and anti-senescence qualities of L-carnosine can greatly help cell deterioration due to old age. They reviewed studies that show L-carnosine can help slow cells that cause cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and alleviate symptoms of diabetes.

More comprehensive studies will have to be completed but the outlook is promising that L-carnosine can be an effective form of treatment for a variety of health problems.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23442334

Cysteine – Anti-Aging Amino Acid?

Cysteine often called an anti-aging amino acid.  It appears to have many qualities that prevent or reverse aging. In fact, it has been said that aging may actually be a deficiency in cysteine.  

Cysteine is an anti-aging supporting anti-oxidant that protects cells by scavenging free radicals and chelating with heavy metals in order to keep the body clean of these ‘criminal’ elements that cause aging.

In fact, if you are into scientifically specific material, I highly suggest that you read Wulf Dröge’s article “Oxidative stress and aging: is aging a cysteine deficiency syndrome on the Royal Society Publishing website.

Cysteine – an anti-aging machine?

Cysteine, and its N-Acetyl Cysteine form, is also a precursor that provides another important anti-oxidant: glutathione. Glutathione is seen to be depleted in people who have many of the diseases frequently associated with old age. Cysteine provides a boost in glutathione levels even where it has been seen to be low in people with ailments such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Cysteine is one of the anti-aging supporting building blocks required along with glutamine and glycine to make glutathione.   In fact, article the Washington Times called glutathione an anti-aging machine!

Cysteine and N-Acetyl-Cysteine are powerful detoxifiers – leading to a potential anti-aging effect

In a young, healthy system, cysteine is recirculated and works to remove toxins every day, bringing natural anti-aging health benefits on a daily basis.  It is when the system gets overloaded with heavy metals, poisons, radiation and free radicals of every kind that cysteine levels are seen to fall and gradually the body loses the ability to restock its storehouse of cysteine in order to prevent these toxins from causing aging.  Cysteine deficiency is a symptom of aging that can be rectified and the effects of aging and disease stopped through proper diet and the use of supplements.

N-Acetyl Cysteine form of cysteine is often used in emergency rooms to detoxify the liver if a patient has overdosed on Tylenol (acetaminophen) and is experiencing a liver failure. Obviously, there are numerous anti-aging effects of cysteine and its other forms.

Cysteine is absorbed through diet as well as the body’s anti-aging functions being able to make much of its own cysteine.  It is found in foods like poultry, eggs yolks, red peppers, garlic, onions and brussel sprouts. These are all known to be natural anti-aging type foods—and they all have cysteine! It is also easy to take through supplements.  If you are interested in anti-aging, maybe you should look into cysteine supplements to see if they might work for you!

The author of this story, Michelle Carraway, is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, which include Medicinal Mushroom Information Center, Amino Acid Information Center, Vancouver Health News and Today’s Word of Wisdom.  The opinions are the writer’s own and the owner and publisher of the site assume no responsibility for the accuracy of the content. Our articles are for informational, educational and entertainment purposes only. Please do your own due diligence, verify any health claims by doing additional research and consult your doctor before starting any supplementation program or making any lifestyle changes, including changes to your medication and supplementation.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC436956/

http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/360/1464/2355.long