Natural Remedies for Anxiety Sufferers: Amino Acids Reduce Symptoms

There are many alternative choices for anxiety relief.  In future articles we will discuss various herbal and homeopathic modalities.  Here, we will be focusing on what some studies have discovered about amino acid therapy for anxiety.  You can keep reading, or scroll to the the bottom for the TAKE ACTION points.

Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million American adults aged 18 and over, and one in every eight American children are diagnosed with anxiety.  It is likely that these numbers are actually higher if we consider that anxiety coexists with so many other mental health conditions such as behavior problems like ADHD or mood imbalance such as depression.  Of course, we should also consider the many people who suffer from anxiety and never seek help. Are you one of them? Or, perhaps you did seek help and have tried many prescription drugs to no avail. This article is for you.  

There are many alternative choices for anxiety relief.  In future articles we will discuss various herbal and homeopathic modalities.  Here, we will be focusing what some studies discovered about amino acid therapy for anxiety.

L-Theanine

There are many studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of L-Theanine for reduction or relief of anxiety symptoms.  One study of the electrical activity of the brain (via EEG) after giving participants only 50 mg of L-theanine and found:

“L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness.”


 Nobre, Rao, and Owen, 2008

Another study in which participants were given 250 mg L-theanine per day concluded “L-theanine administration is safe and has multiple beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbance and cognitive impairments in patients with major depressive disorder” – Hidese et al., Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 2017

My husband takes L-theanine with magnesium glycinate.  He no longer has trouble with night time anxiety. The addition of L-theanine has enabled him to fall asleep at night and prevents his mind from racing if he wakes up in the middle of the night, enabling him to fall back asleep with ease.  It also helps him cope calmly with daily stressors.

We use this L-theanine by Sports Research and the magnesium glycinate from Pure Encapsulations:

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

GABA is a primary inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitter in the brain.  Although the evidence is conflicted regarding whether or not GABA supplements cross the blood brain barrier, Alkemade et al (2015) postulate ingested GABA may be acting on the brain indirectly via the enteric nervous system (our gut).  Alkemade et al (2015) also discuss the possibility that the reason we are not able to establish GABA crossing the blood brain barrier is due to how quickly it is sent back out once it goes in. This idea is based on studies of mice. Mice do have a GABA transporter in their blood brain barrier, and in mice GABA has been shown to “go out” 17 times faster than it “goes in” (Alkemade et al., 2015).  Both ideas seem very logical, especially considering all we now know about the gut-brain connection.

“Dietary GABA supplement in clinical studies relieves anxiety and increases alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation” – Alramadhan et al., Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research, 2012

“GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within 1 hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety.”


Abdou, A. et al., BioFactors, 2006

In a study which focused on GABA for insomnia, Byun et al (2018) demonstrated that GABA at 300 mg daily produced an anxiolytic (relaxing) effect which resulted in improvement of sleep quality and anxiety/insomnia symptoms as reported by participants.

Dr. Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure, recommends the following dosage:

GABA 100 mg to 500 mg 1 to 3 times per day at or before high stress times.  She also recommends avoiding high dose GABA (750 mg) as this may actually worsen anxiety (Ross, 2011).

We love this sublingual lozenge by Source Naturals for quick anxiety relief.

And we have also used this one:

Also, there are some really great choices that combine these relaxing aminos, like this one by Jarrow that combines theanine, GABA, and ashwaganda (a powerful adaptogen herb that also reduces anxiety and helps regulate hormones systemically).:

Anxiety can be truly debilitating.  I have cared for many people who needed to take prescribed anxiety medication three to four times per day just to function somewhat normally.  Such medications are not without unwanted side effects including drowsiness and poor sleep quality. These studies we have discussed demonstrate a good safety profile for both L-Theanine and GABA.  Perhaps many people with anxiety simply have deficiency of these amino acids.

TAKE ACTION points

L-Theanine: In the studies discussed, dosages for participants were:L-Theanine: 50 mg to 250 mg per day

GABA: 100 mg to 500 mg 1 to 3 times per day at or before high stress times or to help with sleep (Ross, 2011).  

Make sure that you are getting enough vitamin B6 because vitamin B6 is essential for proper neurotransmitter function in the brain. We like this one because it is the fully active form of B6 called P5P.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Abdou, A., Hatta, H., Horie, K., Higashiguchi, S., Yokogoshi, H. (2006). Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16971751

Alkemade, A., Boonstra, E., Colzato, L., Forstmann, B., Kleijn, R., Nieuwenhuis, S. (2015). Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594160/

Alramadhan, E., Avila, S., Goldstein, T., Hanna, M., Hanna, M., Weeks, B. (2012). Dietary and botanical anxiolytics. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3560823/

Byun, J., Chung, S., Shin, W., Shin, Y. (2018). Safety and efficacy of gamma-aminobutyric acid from fermented rice germ in patients with insomnia symptoms: A randomized, double-blind trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6031986/

Hidese, S., Kunugi, H., Noda, T., Okubo, T., Ota, M., Ozawa, H., & Wakabayashi, C. (2017). Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27396868

Nobra, A., Owen, G., & Rao, A. (2008). L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328

Ross, J. (2011). Eliminating the top causes of insomnia. Retrieved from https://www.juliarosscures.com/eliminating-the-top-causes-of-insomnia/

4 PROVEN Ways to Get Rid of COLD SORES for Good

So you have a cold sore. What does that mean? How do you make it go away? More importantly, how can you make them stay away? Let’s find out. (OR you can skip the read and scroll down to the end of this article for the TAKE ACTION points.)

Cold sores (also known as fever blisters) are unsightly blisters that form on or around the mouth due to a viral infection: the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). Yes, this is similar to the herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) which causes genital herpes. It is extremely contagious, which is why 50 to 80 percent of Americans have oral herpes. If a person with oral herpes performs oral sex, it can result in genital herpes for the receiver. If a person without herpes gives someone with genital herpes oral sex, it can result in oral herpes for the giver. Oral herpes can be spread very easily through shared drinks, kissing, and by coming in contact with anything that was also in contact with a herpes blister. This virus can infect men, women, children, and elderly alike. It is more common than most people realize, so if you suffer from cold sores, you are certainly not alone.

There are many topical treatments available for cold sores once they have already presented. Some of these treatments focus on alleviating symptoms (burning, itching, tingling, oozing, crusting blisters), and some of them focus on reduction of healing time and preventing replication of the virus. There are also oral antivirals available by prescription, but unless your case is very severe, these probably aren’t necessary.

The Most POWERFUL topical treatment: OZONE

Ozone therapy has many useful applications. Lucky for you, killing the herpes virus and improving immune system action is one of them! A study conducted by Aravinda et al (2016) demonstrated a 100% resolution of herpes blisters with twice per day topical application of ozonated oil in only 2.2 days with no adverse reactions. (Typically, herpes blisters can last for up to two weeks.) Another study by Gao et al (2018) demonstrated that twice per day “topical ozone therapy in patients with herpes zoster is helpful in relieving pain, shortening the course as well as improving the clinical efficacy without obvious adverse reactions.” So, if you start to feel a tingle on your lip, put ozone oil on the spot immediately. If the sore has already erupted, make sure to apply ozone oil twice per day.  Although the study I mentioned uses ozone olive oil, the most powerful ozonated oils are PurO3 Ozonated Hemp Oil or PurO3 Ozonated Jojoba Oil

Now onto PREVENTION and CONTROL

Unfortunately, there is no cure. The virus lies dormant in nerves and waits until the immune system is down (for example, if a person gets sick, is more stressed out than usual, or hasn’t been sleeping well), and then it becomes activated and the blisters present.

So how can you prevent them from recurring so that you don’t have to feel ashamed of your face anymore?

L-Lysine

The amino acid L-Lysine has long been known to keep viral conditions such has herpes simplex under control (Chaitow, 1985). In the intestine, lysine competes with arginine being absorbed in the intestine, which works to limit the energy source the virus needs to replicate. It is also assumed that there are some other unknown mechanisms in which it inhibits viruses, and lysine is frequently given to people with other types of chronic viral infections.

Patients who showed improvement in the studies I have encountered were taking dosages of 300 mg to 1200 mg daily. A study conducted by Behforooz et al (1987) demonstrated significant improvement and reduction of recurrence with 1000 mg 3 times per day for six months.

Monolaurin and Lauric Acid

Monolaurin and lauric acid have powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. They are found in human breast milk, and (far more conveniently) in organic, virgin, unrefined coconut oil. Coconut oil has many other benefits as well. The Coconut Oil Miracle is an interesting read and will expose you to the history of coconut oil its multitude of health benefits.

If you can’t stand the taste of coconut oil, you can also find monolaurin in a pill form which is marketed as Lauricidin. One dose of Lauricidin is the equivalent of taking many tablespoons of coconut oil, and the typical dosage for herpes is about 1/2 to 1 scoop, one to three times per day (Weston A. Price Foundation, 2019).

So, if you are tired of trying to cover your cold sore, and you don’t want to answer the question “what’s that on your lip?” anymore, give one or all of these a try to keep the outbreaks under control.


TAKE ACTION points:

1. Topical ozone oil for active lesions: Rinse area with water and apply at least twice per day. Although the study I mentioned uses ozone olive oil, the most powerful ozonated oils are made with PurO3 Ozonated Hemp Oil
or PurO3 Ozonated Jojoba Oil

2. L-Lysine: 500 mg to 1000 mg three times per day
Pill form:Powder form:

3. Organic virgin unprocessed coconut oil (for its monolaurin and lauric acid content): at least 3 tbsp daily to experience health benefits (Fife, 2013).

The only brand I use in our home is this one:

4. Lauricidin: ½ to 1 scoop, one to three times per day


If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Aravinda, K., Arora, N., Dixit, A., Jatti, D., Kumar, T., & Puri, G. (2018). Efficacy of ozonized olive oil in the management of oral lesions and conditions: A clinical trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4792056/

Behforooz, A., Griffith, R., Myrmel, K., Thompson, R., & Walsh, D. (1987). Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3115841

Chaitow, L. (1985). Amino Acids in Therapy: A guide to the therapeutic application of protein constituents. Rochester, VT: Thorsons Publishers Limited.

Fife, B. (2013). The coconut oil miracle. New York, NY: Avery.

Gao, L., Huang, J., Lu, J., Pan, Y., & Xiang, Y. (2018). Topical ozone therapy: An innovative solution to patients with herpes zoster. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29559601

Lucas, K. & Tomblin, F. (2001). Lysine for management of herpes labialis. Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/406943_5

Weston A. Price Foundation. (2019). Herpes. Retrieved from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/ask-the-doctor/herpes/

Natural Treatments for Eczema: Amino Acids

Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a very common autoimmune disorder (presenting on the skin) that affects more than 3 million people per year and is often seen in children and adolescents  Most treatments are topical and are only palliative–they treat the symptoms, not the cause. The skin our largest organ, and whatever presents on the skin is usually due to a systemic problem. People with eczema are experiencing an immune response to systemic inflammation, which can be caused by diet and some individual specific triggers.  As always, I recommend a paleo diet; the elimination of all wheat, grains, processed foods and sugars; and the addition of anti-inflammatory foods and/or supplements as the most important interventions to ameliorate systemic inflammation. Repairing the gut microbiome is essential, and can be done with proper diet and the addition of a quality probiotic.  

Here, we will discuss a recent discovery in genetics and how it relates to eczema, followed by how studies demonstrate that amino acid supplementation can treat and prevent eczema.  

Does eczema run in your family?

It is well known that eczema is more common in people who have a family history of the condition–but why?  Finally, we have some answers. For some patients, there could be a genetic explanation. A team of scientists studied a group of people with severe eczema/atopic dermatitis, and discovered that mutations of a gene called CARD11 appear to be involved its development (National Institutes of Health [NIH], 2017).  They then confirmed that family members of the participants also had the mutations, and also had eczema.  

What does a CARD11 do?

CARD11 gives instructions to a protein (also called CARD11) that stimulates cells of the immune system called T cells by activating the protein complexes NF-κB and mTORC1.  You don’t need to fully understand NF-κB and mTORC1 for our purposes.  You don’t even need to know what the the acronyms mean.  Here is what you do need to know:

Mutations in the CARD11 gene interfere with the proper activation of NF-κB and mTORC1.  In particular, mTORC1 helps transport the essential amino acid L-glutamine into cells, and plays a major role in the normal building of proteins.  Another amino acid that promotes normal mTORC1 functioning is L-Leucine.  

NF-κB plays a role in determining a cells response to stimuli such as stress, free radicals, toxins, oxidation, bacteria or viruses.  It is well understood that abnormal regulation of NF-κB (remember: CARD11 mutations clearly cause this abnormal regulation) leads to autoimmune diseases (like eczema) and other immune system malfunctions.  

Do you have a CARD11 mutation?

Well, if other people in your family have eczema, it is probably safe to assume that you do.  At the very least, you can assume that there is most likely some genetic explanation. If you are reading this and are feeling worried about it being in your genes, it is important to realize that something being “in your genes” does not mean there is nothing you can do about it.  I am a firm believer in the saying: “Genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”  

You can change your fate by providing your body with what it needs to overcome this genetic defect.  The findings of the CARD11 study suggest that:

“Supplements of the amino acids glutamine and leucine might help reverse the defects caused by these mutations.” National Institutes of Health, 2017

Interestingly, the evidence that supports the efficacy of amino acid supplementation for eczema is not dependant on whether or not you have a CARD11 mutation.  It appears that specific amino acids help eczema sufferers anyway.  So, if you are the only person in your family with eczema, don’t worry.  These same amino acids can help you just the same! It seems that regardless of the presence of genetic mutation, the same amino acids support the systems that are failing all eczema sufferers.  Which brings me to our discussion of those amino acids…

L-Glutamine:

L-glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid.  In addition to the study we have already discussed, many other studies demonstrate L-glutamine is effective for eczema.  One study discusses the role of cytoplasmic phospholipase (an enzyme responsible for signaling an inflammatory response) in atopic dermatitis, and how L-glutamine can inhibit that enzyme (Cho et al., 2012).  Inhibition of cytoplasmic phospholipase via L-glutamine supplementation seems to suppress inflammation, itching, and dermatitis (Cho et al., 2012). Although the inflammatory response in this study was induced artificially, the actions of L-glutamine were impressive.  L-glutamine also plays a significant role in maintaining the skin barrier by generating natural moisturizing factors and combining with other amino acids to protect the skin against staph infections (Aoki et al., 2016). Other amino acids that play a role in maintaining the skin barrier include L-histidine and L-arginine (Aoki et al., 2016).    

L-Leucine:

“Leucine is an important component in the process of tissue regeneration and development. Therefore, it can aid improvement of skin lesions and modification of skin barrier function.” – Choopani et al., 2017, Journal of Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

In addition, some animal studies have demonstrated that L-leucine supplementation improves skin elasticity, moisture, and wound healing (Hwang et al, 2017; Chinkes et al., 2004).

L-Histidine:

L-histidine is an essential amino acid, which means we must obtain this amino acid from food.  A study conducted by Brown et al. (2017) demonstrated that L-histidine could be a “safe, convenient, nonsteroidal intervention suitable for long-term use in the management of eczema, particularly in children.”  There is not a lot of additional evidence that supports this specifically, but we do know that L-histidine has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory abilities, and and is required for the production of histamine (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2018).

One more thing . . .

One important cofactor for these amino acids is Vitamin B6.  Vitamin B-6 is a water-soluble vitamin first discovered as a factor that was able to cure dermatitis in rats (Field & Stover, 2015).  This is likely because B6 is a cofactor necessary for more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body (NIH, 2018). Vitamin B3 is important for L-Leucine as well.  Are all the B vitamins in your multivitamin? If not, you might consider taking a B complex. I like this strawberry flavored one by EZ Melts because it contains methylated folate and B12.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Aoki, V., Orfali, R., Samorano, L., & Zaniboni, M. (2016). Skin barrier in atopic dermatitis: beyond filaggrin. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4999106/

Brown, S., Gibbs, N., Griffiths, C., Tan, S., & Weller, R. (2017). Feeding filaggrin: effects of l-histidine supplementation in atopic dermatitis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634381/

Chinkes, D., Wolfe, R., & Zhang, X. (2004). Leucine supplementation has an anabolic effect on proteins in rabbit skin wound and muscle. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15570031

Cho, B., Im, S., Jin, Z., Jung, S., Kim, H., Lee, C., Lee, H., & Shin, S. (2012). Glutamine suppresses dinitrophenol fluorobenzene-induced allergic contact dermatitis and itching: inhibition of contact dermatitis by glutamine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22727501

Choopani, R., Fekri, A., & Mehrbani, M. (2017). Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis From the Perspective of Traditional Persian Medicine: Presentation of a Novel Therapeutic Approach. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871194/

Field, M. & Stover, P. (2015). Vitamin B6. Retireved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4288272/

Hwang, J., Lee, J., Lee, W., Park, J., Shin, H., & Song, S. (2017). Oral Administration of Glycine and Leucine Dipeptides Improves Skin Hydration and Elasticity in UVB-Irradiated Hairless Mice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590797/

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2018). Histidine. Retrived from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/L-histidine

National Institutes of Health. (2017). Gene mutations suggest potential treatment strategy for severe eczema. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/gene-mutations-suggest-potential-treatment-strategy-severe-eczema

National Institutes of Health. (2018). Vitamin B6. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

Chronic Stress? Reverse the Damage with NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine)

Stress is a part of life.  Everyone experiences “routine” stress related to regular aspects of life.  For example, school, family, and daily responsibilities can all be a source of “routine” stress, which comes and goes.  Stress can be good or bad. For instance, graduating, getting married, or having a new baby are all “good,” but they still cause stress.  Our bodies do not know the difference between good stress and bad stress. The hormones that are released and the other physiologic responses to stress are the same no matter what the cause of the stress.  So, if we all experience stress, when does stress become a problem?

“Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided [such as with PTSD]. With chronic stress, those same life-saving responses in your body can suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.”  National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], (2018)

If stress is never relieved, and the body never gets the message that it is safe to return to normal functioning, health will deteriorate.  Serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and other illnesses (including cancer), as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety will eventually come to visit (NIMH, 2018).  If major life changes are not made, these unwelcome visitors may never leave, or they may take you with them when they do.

I am not going into detail on the stress response here, but if you are interested in learning more about it, I highly recommend the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert M. Sapolsky.  Sapolsky discusses stress and the impact it has on human health delivered in a fun and understandable way.  Here, what we are focusing on is that the majority of illnesses and disease caused by stress are actually due to oxidative damage; and chronic stress exposure promotes oxidative damage (Aschbacher et al., 2013).  

Psychological stress causes oxidative stress; oxidative stress causes oxidative damage; oxidative damage causes disease, illness, and death.  Chronic stress is not the only way we suffer oxidative damage. To name a few, oxidative damage can also result from:

  • Exposures to toxic chemicals
  • Exposures to environmental pollutants (like pesticides and herbicides)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking tobacco
  • High carbohydrate diet
  • Drug abuse
  • Chronic pain
  • Excessive exercise / overtraining
  • Consistent exposure to blue light at night
  • Sleep disruption or deprivation

Often, people turn to carbohydrates (sugars), tobacco, drugs, or alcohol to cope with their chronic stress.  Needless to say, the health effects are compounding.

“Oxidative stress is a known feature of numerous central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Thus, clear evidence of the involvement of increased brain oxidative damage in the development of CNS pathologies has been reported for neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), cerebrovascular disorders, demyelinating diseases, and psychiatric disorders” – Jaquet et al., 2013

“Oxidative stress consists of an imbalance between the amount of [reactive oxidants] and the capacity of antioxidant systems to neutralize them.” Jaquet et al., 2013

Do you have chronic stress?

Some people are at higher risk for chronic stress.  Those with financial problems that don’t seem to ever find resolution, people in high stress professions, people who are exposed to traumatic, unpredictable stress on the regular basis; and people who experience sleep deprivation are some examples of people at high risk for chronic stress.  Antioxidant capacity is strongly decreased in the sleep-deprived (Jaquet et al., 2013).

Stress management techniques (e.g. deep breathing, meditation, yoga) are certainly beneficial, and undoubtedly essential to a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but many people find it very challenging to incorporate them into their lives.  Further, some people simply cannot eliminate or reduce their stressors. My husband, for instance, is a firefighter/paramedic. Stress, exposure to traumatic events, and sleep deprivation are part of his life; and unless he quits his job, those chronic stress contributors are not going anywhere.  So what can we do?

There is something you can easily do today that will increase your body’s ability to cope with chronic stress.

Studies show a supplement called NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) can reduce and reverse the damaging effects of chronic stress.

Oxidative stress and damage occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of reactive oxidants (the bad guys) and the capacity of antioxidant systems to neutralize them (the good guys).  I am sure you have heard the term “antioxidant” before. Maybe you have heard about antioxidants being in red wine, some fruits and veggies, and even dark chocolate. And you are right, those things do have some antioxidative properties.  The antioxidants found in those items are called “non-enzymatic” and they interrupt the processes involved in making free radicals in the body. They are good, but they are not our body’s primary defense against free radical oxidation.

The most powerful antioxidant in the human body is made in the liver, and used everywhere else (including your brain).  It is found in every single cell of the human body. It is our primary antioxidant and it is required for the balance of oxidation within each and every cell of our body  That antioxidant is called glutathione.  

Key point: Chronic stress drastically depletes your glutathione levels!  Your body is working very hard to prevent the oxidation that chronic stress causes, and it is using up all of your precious glutathione.  By taking NAC you provide your body with what it needs to make more glutathione, and helping your body cope with chronic stress levels.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione, which is made out of three amino acids: L-Cysteine, L-glutamate, and L-Glycine.

Glutathione is an “enzymatic antioxidant” and free radical scavenger.  It hunts down free radicals, then it breaks them down and eliminates them.  It also “recycles” all of the other antioxidants including vitamins C, E, CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid, and various others from your diet.  

“It is hard to overstate the importance of glutathione.” Pizzorno, Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 2014

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) at a dosage of 1000 mg per day is effective at substantially raising levels of glutathione at in virtually all people (Pizzorno, 2014).  

NAC has been proven beneficial in treating many diseases that are associated with or caused by oxidative stress and/or inflammation.  Take a look at some of those results:

“The current data provide encouraging preliminary support for combining NAC and cognitive-behavioral therapy to reduce PTSD symptoms, craving, and depression over 8 weeks.”  -Back et al., Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2017 (People in this study were given 1200 mg twice per day or a placebo).

“A review on NAC literature shows that this agent is a safe and well-tolerated supplementary drug without any considerable side effects.” Afsharian et al., Cell Journal, 2017

“NAC plays a role in the regulation of the glutamatergic system (i.e., the regulation of reward, reinforcement, and relapse) … NAC may be a useful monotherapy or augmentation strategy for psychiatric disorders related to oxidative stress (e.g., schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and/or psychiatric syndromes characterized by impulsive/compulsive symptoms (e.g., trichotillomania, nail biting, pathological hair pulling, substance misuse, and gambling).” Sansone & Sansone, Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 2011

“NAC has a broad spectrum of actions and possible applications across multiple conditions and systems.” Brain and Behavior, 2014

Some other supplements that support your antioxidant capacity include vitamin C (buffered), vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols or Vitamin E succinate), alpha-lipoic acid, and selenium.  The brands we use in our home are below. Jarrow brand does make a sustained release version, but we don’t use it. Some people seem to like it, but none of the studies mentioned here have used a sustained release version, and it just isn’t necessary to pay more for it.  Lastly, this article focuses on how NAC can help people suffering from chronic stress, but the beneficial uses of NAC are very broad. If you do not suffer from chronic stress, but you are suffering from anything else, look into whether or not NAC may help you.

Supplements mentioned:

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You could change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Afsharian, P., Kalantar, S., Mokhtari, V., Moini, A., & Shahhoseini, M. (2017). A Review on Various Uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241507/

Alexandrov, A., Harrigan, M., & Shahripour, R. (2014). N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in neurological disorders: mechanisms of action and therapeutic opportunities. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967529/

Aschbacher, K., Dhabhar, F., Epel, E., O’Donovan, A., & Wolkowitz, O. (2013). Good stress, bad stress and oxidative stress: insights from anticipatory cortisol reactivity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23490070

Back, S., Brady, K., DeSantis, S., Gray, K., Gros, D., Hamner, M., … McCauley, J. (2017). A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of N-Acetylcysteine in Veterans with PTSD and Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5226873/

Pizzorno, J. (2014). Glutathione! Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684116/#b2-8-12

Jaquet, V., Krause, K., Schiavone, S., & Trabace, L. (2013). Severe Life Stress and Oxidative Stress in the Brain: From Animal Models to Human Pathology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603496/

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

Sansone, L & Sansone, R. (2011). Getting a Knack for NAC. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036554/

8 Amino Acids for ADHD

In a review of natural product-derived treatments for ADHD, Ahn et al. (2016) explain how the amino acids glycine, L-theanine, L-tyrosine, taurine, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), GABA, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), are all considered potential complementary ADHD interventions.  The authors’ review was thorough, but since we don’t take anything at face value, let’s take a deeper look at each one of these amino acids, how they might help, and studies that have demonstrated their efficacy.

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, each individual with ADHD is unique.  This means that what works for one may not work for all, because individual causes for ADHD will vary. You know your child best, and you know yourself best. That being said, considering the dangers of stimulant medications, I believe natural therapies are certainly worth trying under the supervision of your health care provider.  Consistency is key. Some may experience immediate results, but some may need to be consistent and give the body time to adjust. Let us begin.

L-Glycine

Glycine is an inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitter and it plays a role in regulating the motor and sensory information that permits movement, vision, and hearing.  It modulates excitatory neurotransmission by increasing the effect of glutamate (the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain) and also plays a role in transporting GABA (our primary inhibitory neurotransmitter) between neurons.  In essence, L-Glycine is essential for proper brain balance of GABA and glutamate. A disruption of this balance has been implicated as a potential cause for ADHD, and drugs that promote that balance are being researched (Malapati et al., 2015). In fact, stimulant medications greatly increase the amount of glutamate in the brains of healthy people, and may be part of the reason that they work for children with ADHD (Brown University, 2018).  It is logical to supplement with a calming amino acid that supports this balance.

Glycine is one of the three amino acid precursors of the most powerful antioxidant  glutathione (produced by the liver).  According to Aksoy et al. (2016),  there is significantly increased oxidative stress in children with ADHD.  Supporting their ability to combat that oxidative stress by supplying adequate glutathione precursors is essential.  The other two glutathione precursors are L-cysteine and L-glutamate.

“Balance between excitatory glutamate and inhibitory GABA neurotransmitter is essential and critical for proper development and functioning of brain.” – Current Medicinal Chemistry, Malapati et al., 2015

I know you may want to rush out and buy some glutathione, but the body does not utilize glutathione well if taken directly.  It is better to support the body’s ability to synthesis it.  NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) is another powerful supplement that supports glutathione production in the liver.  I will be posting more about glutathione in the future.

GABA Precursors

GABA is an amino acid and a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the brain.  Crocetti et al (2012) studied brain scans and found children with ADHD have reduced concentrations of GABA. So why not take GABA?  It appears GABA supplements do not cross the blood brain barrier very effectively in ADHD.  It is better to take the GABA precursors L-Theanine, L-Glutamine, and Vitamin B6 in its activated form P5P.  Taking the precursors gives the brain what it needs to make adequate GABA.  

L-Theanine

One study in which boys age 8 to 12 years old were given 400mg L-theanine daily demonstrated that L-Theanine may represent a safe and important adjunctive therapy in ADHD (Juneja et al, 2011).  Theanine is able to cross the blood brain barrier and has been proven to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and improve ADHD symptoms by helping to regulate dopamine and serotonin as well as increase the production of inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitters (Lardner, 2014; Ahn et al., 2016).  L-Theanine has been proven to improve cognitive function including learning, attention, and memory (Lardner, 2014).

L-Tryptophan

One theory for the cause of ADHD is rather than an issue with the quantity of available dopamine and norepinephrine, there is some kind of disturbance in the blood brain barrier that does not allow enough of the amino acid tryptophan to be transported across it (Ahlin et al., 2011).  Tryptophan deficiency within the brain would not necessarily appear in typical blood work.  To clarify, a person may have plenty of tryptophan circulating in their blood, but if the blood brain barrier won’t let enough of it in, there is a brain deficiency (and there is not currently an easy, available, and safe way to study brain deficiencies).  And if there is a brain deficiency of tryptophan it can be assumed that there is also a serotonin deficiency since the brain utilizes tryptophan to create serotonin. This would disturb the serotonin-dopamine balance, which plays a role in ADHD symptoms.

It seems reasonable that supplementing with L-tryptophan would increase the available circulating tryptophan, and potentially allow more of it to cross the blood brain barrier.

To read more on L-Tryptophan and the serotonin-dopamine balance in ADHD read my previous post L-Tryptophan for ADHD: Amino Acids Reduce Symptoms

OR this maple flavored chewable version:

Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid made in the liver from cysteine that is known to play a role in the brain by eliciting a calming effect.” Lakhan & Vieira, Nutrition Journal, 2008

In an animal study, taurine reduced hyperactivity symptoms so significantly that it was proposed as an alternative treatment for ADHD (Chen et al., 2017).

Ripps and Shen (2012) emphasize the importance of taurine in their article “Review: Taurine: A “very essential” amino acid.”  The authors explain that taurine is vital for normal brain development, for the protection of neurons and cells from toxic agents, for modulation of brain activity, and for modulation of intracellular calcium (Ripps & Shen, 2012).  It also meets many criteria for consideration as a neurotransmitter, although a specific receptor site for taurine has yet to be found (Ripps & Shen, 2012). Kim and Schaffer (2018) further confirm the importance of taurine in their article “Effects and Mechanisms of Taurine as a Therapeutic Agent.”  They explain that taurine is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, lowers cholesterol, helps to treat cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, regulates energy metabolism, regulates gene expression, and even inhibits brain injury in stroke and Alzheimer’s disease (Kim & Schaffer, 2018). I was unable to find any studies that specifically focused on taurine for ADHD, however studies and reviews do demonstrate that it is a GABA and L-glycine agonist (we have already discussed the research on GABA and L-Glycine for ADHD above).  It is clearly vital for brain and overall health. I expect to see research on taurine and ADHD in the future.

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC)

ALC and L-Carnitine are used to transport fatty acids into cell mitochondria.  The body can change ALC into L-carnitine as needed, and visa versa (it can also change L-carnitine into ALC).  The importance of essential fatty acids for overall health (especially brain and heart health) has been well established.  Indeed, essential fatty acid (EFA) supplementation is also extremely beneficial for ADHD (stay tuned for future post on EFAs).  Here we are focusing on how ALC helps us properly utilize those healthy fats.

“Treatment with carnitine significantly decreased the attention problems and aggressive behavior in boys with ADHD.” Van Oudheusden & Scholte, PLEFA Journal, 2002

Another study found that in Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) children with ADHD, treatment with ALC at doses of 20-50 mg/kg/day was very effective and considered a safe alternative to the use of stimulant drugs for the treatment of ADHD in FXS children (Calvani et al., 2008).

In a study on boys and girls ages 5 through 12, Amato et al. (2007) found that Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplementation at weight-based doses from 500 to 1500 mg twice per day was more effective for inattentiveness than for hyperactivity.

L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine increases catecholamine production.  Ahn et al. (2016) explain that ADHD is associated with disruption in catecholaminergic function in the brain.  In fact, stimulant medications seem to mimic catecholamines as well as increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which seems to restore catecholamine balance.  The problem is that these medications are dangerous, damage the liver, and damage long term brain health. By contrast, L-tyrosine is an amino acid found in protein-rich foods that we eat every day.  L-tyrosine is the amino acid that is required for the production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Cofactors include B6 (P5P), vitamin C, iron, and copper.  Check your child’s multivitamin to be sure these cofactors are present, or be sure that your child is eating healthy foods that are rich in these nutrients.  If you are not sure how much B6 is safe for supplementation, here is the chart for established upper intakes according to the National Institutes of Health (2018):

b6 upper intakes

One retrospective study by Hinz et al. (2011) demonstrated that the use of a protocol including L-Tyrosine, 5-HTP and the necessary cofactors resulted in significant improvement of ADHD symptoms in 77% of study participants. They monitored neurotransmitter levels via urine testing during the stages of the study, and concluded that their results were actually superior to that of stimulant medication studies.  Hinz et al. (2011) emphasize:

“Even if the finding was that use of serotonin and dopamine amino acid precursors with OCT assay interpretation was equal to reported efficacy values found with atomoxetine and methylphenidate, it is asserted that this approach would be superior because it does not share the adverse reactions, potential depletion of neurotransmitters, and neurotoxicity concerns reported with the group of drugs prescribed for ADHD treatment.”

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid derived from the African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia.  It is able to cross the blood brain barrier, and it is a precursor to serotonin production (keep in mind that our bodies make melatonin from serotonin).  Serotonin also plays a role in regulating dopamine. Kennealy, Patrick, and Seo (2008) explain that serotonin deficit could lead to symptoms of dopamine excess, and visa versa.

Dr. Hinz and his colleagues propose that an imbalance between serotonin and dopamine is the cause for a variety of disorders, including ADHD.  They use urine testing to guide amino acid therapy and to evaluate if their amino acid protocol achieves the intended balance. As I mentioned above, the study demonstrates that balancing these neurotransmitters appears to significantly reduce or eliminate ADHD symptoms.  I strongly recommend that you work with your health care provider if you want to try the L-tyrosine/5-HTP amino acid therapy.  For information purposes, here is the Hinz protocol according to the 2011 study (link found in references).  Patients start with level one, if symptoms are relieved they do not advance to level 2.  If symptoms persist on level one dosing, the patient is advanced to level two dosing. If symptoms resolve, they do not advance.  You get the idea. If symptoms persist even after level three dosing, the patient is reevaluated. Important to mention is that supplementing with only one of these may result in further imbalance.

hinz protocol

OR this sweet tasting lozenge version:

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Related Posts

Top 6 ADHD Triggers To Nix: Stop Giving THESE to Your Child

L-Tryptophan for ADHD: Amino Acids Reduce Symptoms

Long Term Effects of ADHD Stimulant Medications

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Ahlin, A., Bejerkenstedt, L., Fernell, E., … (2011). Altered tryptophan and alanine transport in fibroblasts from boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): an in vitro study. Retrieved from https://behavioralandbrainfunctions.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1744-9081-7-40

Ahn, H., Ahn, J., Cheong, J., & Pena, I. (2016). Natural Product-Derived Treatments for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Safety, Efficacy, and Therapeutic Potential of Combination Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4757677/

Aksoy, N., Basmaci Kandemir, S., Bilinc, H., Kandemir, H., Kilicaslan, F., Savik, E., & Sezen, H. (2016). Increased oxidative stress in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26886057

Amato, A., Arnold, L., Bozzolo, H., Cook, A., Crowl, L., Hollway, J., . . . Zhang, D. (2007). Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a multi-site, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18315451

Brown University. (2018). ADHD drugs increase brain glutamate, predict positive emotion in healthy people. Retrieved from https://news.brown.edu/articles/2018/03/glutamate

Calvani, M., Chiurazzi, P., Cocchi, E., D’Iddio, S., Frontera, M., Garbarino, E., . . . & Vernacotola, S. (2008). A double-blind, parallel, multicenter comparison of L-acetylcarnitine with placebo on the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in fragile X syndrome boys. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18286595

Chen, L., Chen, V., Chou, H., Hsu, T., Tzang, B., & Weng, J. (2017). Effects of taurine on resting-state fMRI activity in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507323/

Crocetti, D., Edden, R., Gilbert, D., Mostofski, S., & Zhu, H. (2012). Reduced GABA concentration in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970207/

Hinz, M., Neff, R., Stein, A., Uncini, T., & Weinberg, R. (2011). Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with monoamine amino acid precursors and organic cation transporter assay interpretation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3035600/

Juneja, L., Kapoor, M., & Lyon, M. (2011). The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine) on objective sleep quality in boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Retrieved from http://archive.foundationalmedicinereview.com/publications/16/4/348.pdf

Kennealy, P., Patrick, C., & Seo, D. (2008). Role of Serotonin and Dopamine System Interactions in the Neurobiology of Impulsive Aggression and its Comorbidity with other Clinical Disorders.  Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2612120/

Kim, H. & Schaffer, S. (2018). Effects and Mechanisms of Taurine as a Therapeutic Agent. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5933890/

Lakhan, S. & Vieira, K. (2008). Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248201/

Lardner, A. (2014). Neurobiological effects of the green tea constituent theanine and its potential role in the treatment of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23883567/

Malapati, A., Purkayastha, P., Sriram, D., & Yogeeswari P. (2015). A Review on GABA/Glutamate Pathway for Therapeutic Intervention of ASD and ADHD. Retrieved from  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25666800

Ripps, H. & Shen, W. (2012). Review: Taurine: A “very essential” amino acid. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3501277/

Van Oudheusden, L. & Scholte, H. (2002). Efficacy of carnitine in the treatment of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved from https://www.plefa.com/article/S0952-3278(02)90378-9/pdf

How to Prevent Preeclampsia Part II: Magnesium Reduces Risks

 

Our bodies contain about 25 grams of magnesium, of which about 60% is in our bones, 39% is in our soft tissues, and only a mere 1% is in our blood (National Institutes of Health [NIH], 2018).  Put more simply, 99% of our magnesium is intracellular (inside of our cells). Therefore, it is impossible to identify if a magnesium deficiency exists with typical serum blood work (NIH, 2018).  Even if your magnesium level was normal in your last workup you could still be deficient within your cells and bones (NIH, 2018).  Often when is even more confusing to people is that the deficiency is usually subclinical (which means initially there are no obvious signs).  Magnesium is a vital cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body and it regulates a multitude of processes. Unfortunately, more than half of Americans do not even get the recommended daily amount in their diet.  

“Because of chronic diseases, medications, decreases in food crop magnesium contents, and the availability of refined and processed foods, the vast majority of people in modern societies are at risk for magnesium deficiency” – DiNicolantonio et al., Open Heart Journal, 2018

So how can supplementing with magnesium prevent preeclampsia?  We will be discussing each of these functions of magnesium and connecting them to preeclampsia.(source of list: NIH, 2018)

  1. It regulates blood pressure
  2. It plays a role in the transport of calcium and potassium across cells
  3. It contributes to the development of bones and teeth
  4. It is required for protein synthesis
  5. It is required for production of the antioxidant glutathione
  6. It is required for the breakdown of glucose

(1) Magnesium regulates blood pressure and (2) plays a role in the transport of calcium and potassium across cells

In my previous post, Preventing Preeclampsia Part I: Connecting the K2 Dots, we briefly discussed how there is a disturbance in calcium metabolism in preeclampsia.  Magnesium is vital to proper calcium metabolism because it aids the transport of calcium across cells. According to Rosenoff (2005), healthy blood pressure depends upon a balance of magnesium and calcium at the cellular and whole body levels which means adequate, long-term intakes of nutritional magnesium are required.  A total body magnesium deficiency will result in low blood levels of calcium even if you are consuming plenty of calcium.  

Remember we already know preeclamptic women (when compared to pregnant women without high blood pressure) have significantly lower serum calcium levels (Devi, 2014).  It is likely that low blood calcium levels (but high intracellular calcium levels) found in preeclamptic women are actually due to low magnesium levels, because magnesium is essential for keeping intracellular calcium low.  Indeed, there are a number of studies which demonstrate prenatal high blood pressure is directly related to lack of magnesium.  We must also take into account the high fetal demands for the very same nutrients a woman needs for herself.  If a magnesium deficiency exists, and the baby continues to “take what it needs,” we can reasonably assume that the mother’s deficiency will worsen. DiNicolantonio et al. (2018) corroborate this statement by stating pregnancy can cause magnesium deficiency, and seizures are a sign of severe deficiency.  

Some preeclamptic women will progress to eclampsia (preeclampsia becomes eclampsia when the woman develops seizures).  And what do we get when there is severe magnesium deficiency? Seizures. And what are those women given intravenously to prevent those seizures and maintain a stable blood pressure when in the hospital setting? Magnesium.

Here are the results of just a few studies and reviews which support the benefits of magnesium supplementation during pregnancy to prevent preeclampsia (and other pregnancy complications):

“Magnesium supplementation during pregnancy likely decreases probability of occurrence of many complications of pregnancy.  We believe that using the right dose of magnesium plays a crucial role in the treatment of unwanted pregnancy disorders as well as preventing of preterm birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia” – Tarjan & Zarean, Advanced Biomedical Research Journal, 2017

“Magnesium is involved in the regulation of blood pressure and that the increase in blood pressure in pregnancy could be due to a lack of magnesium.” – Bullardo et al., Gynecology and Obstetrics Journal, 2013

“In summary, four studies from four different countries demonstrate that the supplementation with magnesium during pregnancy reduces the risk of pregnancy induced high blood pressure.” – Rylander, AIMS Public Health Journal, 2015

Unrelated to preeclampsia specifically, but worth including:

“Oral magnesium supplementation seems to be a valuable therapeutic tool in the treatment of pregnancy-related leg cramps” – Berg et al., American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1995

There are many more; but it gets repetitive. Let’s move on.  

(3) Magnesium contributes to the development of bones and teeth (4) and is required for protein synthesis

Magnesium is vital to the development of bones and teeth.  Calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D3, K2, and A also play a role (as we discussed in Part I of this series), but here our focus is magnesium.  

Preeclampsia usually begins at 20 weeks gestation.  So what is the fetus doing at around 20 weeks gestation?  Building the bones and the proteins that comprise their bodies.  

Using amino acids (the building blocks of life) that are delivered to the fetus via the placenta and umbilical cord, the fetus is building itself out of proteins at an incredibly rapid rate.  “To meet the needs of rapid fetal protein synthesis, particularly in skeletal muscle, liver, and gut, amino acids must be supplied at a rate estimated to be between 10 and 60 grams per day per kg fetus”  (Powell et al., 2017). So if the fetus is 6 pounds (2.72 kg), there could be a requirement of 163 grams of amino acids per day. One egg has less than 20 total grams of amino acids (note: grams of amino acids are not the same as grams of protein).  And lets not forget that the mother still must also supply herself with what her own body needs.

The next article in this series will go into amino acid-preeclampsia connection in depth, but for now we simply need to understand that magnesium is required for protein synthesis.  Therefore, a magnesium deficiency can result in a disruption of this process. The fetus will take what it needs even if deficiency exists in the mother, but if deficiency is severe enough, the fetus will be deficient too.  Depletion of maternal magnesium increases her chances of developing preeclampsia or other pregnancy complications.

During fetal development the placenta actively transports calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium (Kovacs, 2011).  Fetal calcium levels suggest that ionized calcium is transferred from the mother to the fetus at a rate of 50 mg per day at 20 weeks of gestation to a maximum of 330 mg per day at 35 weeks of gestation (Institute of Medicine, 1990).  We can assume there is a correlating demand for magnesium since magnesium is required for bone formation. Preeclampsia presents around the same time (20 weeks) that fetal demands for calcium and magnesium increase. Often, the blood pressure continues to rise as the pregnancy progresses (as fetal demands increase) and the woman needs to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous magnesium therapy.  The connection is obvious.

(5) Magnesium is required for production of the antioxidant glutathione and reduces inflammation

Oxidative stress and inflammation of the blood vessels plays a significant role in preeclampsia.  

Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant (antioxidants counteract oxidative stress) and detoxifier in our body.  The body makes glutathione using amino acids (from proteins that we eat) aided by magnesium. I will be writing a different post specifically about glutathione, but for our purposes know this: studies show that preeclamptic women have low glutathione levels (Chu et al., 2016).  Magnesium deficiency will result in lower than normal glutathione levels, because our bodies need magnesium to make it.

Considering magnesium’s actions on calcium, the widespread inadequate intakes of magnesium, and the large number of reports associating magnesium deficiency with inflammatory and oxidative stress, the role of magnesium as an anti-inflammatory is far reaching (Neilson, 2018).

(6) Magnesium is required for the breakdown of glucose

Recall that one of the risk factors for preeclampsia is diabetes (type 2) or insulin resistance.  In patients who are at risk for diabetes and patients who already have diabetes, magnesium supplementation has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity (Barbagallo et al., 2016).  Perhaps magnesium deficiency plays a role in insulin resistance making insulin resistance a risk factor for preeclampsia when in fact magnesium deficiency is at the root of the issue.   

Also, recall from Part I of this series that inflammation and vascular damage play a role in preeclampsia.  Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) is a major cause of vascular damage. Magnesium helps to prevent high blood sugar levels, and also helps to prevent inflammation.  By doing this, it reduces risk factors for developing preeclampsia.

How much magnesium should you take?

magnesium chart

Chart Source: (NIH, 2018).  

There is no upper limit established for the magnesium obtained from foods.  However there is an established upper limit for magnesium that is obtained from supplements:

mag upper chart

Chart Source: (NIH, 2018)

Most studies on oral magnesium supplementation for pregnant women safely used doses in the range of 100 mg per day to 300 mg per day.  

However, Carolyn Dean, MD/ND and author of the excellent book The Magnesium Miracle disagrees with those recommendations and limits.  She explains that magnesium is very safe so long as there is no medical history that would create a contraindication including kidney failure, myasthenia gravis, bowel obstruction, or an excessively slow heart rate.  She states that if magnesium deficiency exists (as it does for most of us) much higher doses are required (sometimes triple the recommendation).  I personally took 1 gram of magnesium glycinate for about 8 weeks before lowering my dose to a maintenance dose of 200 mg per day, which I still take now.  There are many forms of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate does not cause any gastrointestinal symptoms and is highly bioavailable, so that is my personal preference.

In my opinion . . .

All pregnant women or women who are planning for pregnancy should be supplementing with magnesium, vitamin D3, vitamin A (from cod liver oil), and vitamin K2.  If you are at risk for preeclampsia, or if you have preeclampsia, supplementing these is even more crucial. These nutrients will improve your pregnancy outcomes, improve your overall health, and dramatically reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease in the future.  Unless you eat organ meats on the regular basis, you are likely not getting enough Vitamin A. Unless you get at least 20 minutes of sunshine on your totally naked body sans sunscreen (and then do not shower or jump in the pool right afterward), you are likely not getting enough vitamin D.  Unless you eat natto (a disgusting Japanese food with the texture of boogers) or strictly eat only grass fed meat and butter, you are likely not getting enough K2. And even if you are eating lots of dark leafy greens, the magnesium content of our soil is so depleted that you still may not be getting enough magnesium to support your pregnancy.  Eating organic is ideal, but let’s be honest: eating organic is expensive and most of us simply cannot afford it.

The brands I trust for magnesium glycinate are Pure Encapsulations or Dr’s. Best.  The Pure Encapsulations brand pills are easier to swallow.  For my children I use Kal’s Chewable Magnesium Glycinate.  They are orange flavored and my kids love them.  There are many other brands available, but be sure to check into where they are made, if they are tested for purity, or if they contain too many fillers.  

Supplements mentioned in this article:

Magnesium can also be absorbed very well through the skin. Magnesium baths and magnesium sprays are convenient delivery methods. We use these two products in our home. The bulk bag of epsom salt (magnesium salts) goes very quickly and is the best deal I have found.

This post will be updated as I learn new information.

Go ahead and subscribe to stay updated and follow this series, and to get notified of any new articles.  Next we will discuss the supporting evidence for either Vitamin D or amino acid therapy for preeclampsia prevention and treatment.  I haven’t decided which one yet, so it will be a surprise!

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Berg., G., Dahle, L., Hammer, M., Hurtig, M., & Larsson, L. (1995). The effect of oral magnesium substitution on pregnancy-induced leg cramps. Retrieved from https://www.ajog.org/article/0002-9378(95)90186-8/pdf

Bullardo, M., Kolisek, M., Nestler, A., Nielsen, T., Odman, N., Rylander, R., & Vormann, J. (2013). Magnesium supplementation to prevent high blood pressure in pregnancy: a randomised placebo control trial. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00404-013-2900-2

Chu, K., Huang, Z., Jia, X., Jing, Z., Li, J., Li, X. . . . Wang, J. (2016). Evaluation of glutathione peroxidase 4 role in preeclampsia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027559/

DiNicolantonio, J., O’Keefe, J., & Wilson, W. (2018). Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis.  Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5786912/

Institute of Medicine. (1990). Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235246/

Kovacs, C. Bone development in the fetus and neonate: role of the calciotropic hormones. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21904825

National Institutes of Health. (2018). Magnesium. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/

Nielsen, F. (2018). Magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation: current perspectives. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783146/

Powell, T., Jansson, T., Vaughan, O., Rosario, F. (2017). Chapter Eight – Regulation of Placental Amino Acid Transport and Fetal Growth. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877117316301132

Tarjan, A., Zarean, E. (2017). Effect of Magnesium Supplement on Pregnancy Outcomes: A Randomized Control Trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590399/

Rosenoff, A. (2005). Magnesium and hypertension. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15692166

Rylander, (2015). Treatment with Magnesium in Pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5690444/

How to Prevent Preeclampsia Part I: Connecting the K2 Dots

We don’t know the exact cause of preeclampsia or eclampsia, and current treatments are only moderately effective. Many women who develop it will deliver preterm. Since is a severe progression of preeclampsia which involves seizures, we will only be using the term “preeclampsia.” Converging evidence suggests that supplementation with certain vitamins, micronutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids could prevent or possibly treat preeclampsia and eclampsia. We will be discussing the evidence that supports each, and make a case for the theory that nutritional deficiencies are the cause, therefore nutritional therapy is the treatment. This post is about Vitamin K2, and future posts will cover the other nutritional therapies.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 (also known as MK-7 and menaquinone) is a little understood and little known vitamin and cofactor. It plays a major role the proper absorption of calcium, the prevention of atherosclerosis, suppressing inflammation caused by oxidative stress, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, increasing insulin sensitivity, and many other processes which we are still uncovering. Right now there isn’t even a test that is used as the “gold standard” method for assessing total Vitamin K status. What we do know, is that most people are not getting enough of it from the foods here in America.
Let us take a look at some of the risk factors and lab values associated with preeclampsia and eclampsia (according to WebMD, 2018) and connect them to K2 deficiency.

Risk Factor #1: Preexisting Protein C or Protein S deficiency

Protein C and Protein S are both Vitamin K dependent proteins. This means that the body requires Vitamin K to be able to activate Protein C and Protein S. Protein C is made primarily in the liver, but 50% of protein S is made in the endothelial cells of the vascular walls (Frannsen et al., 2017). Vitamin K1 activates coagulation factors in the liver, but vitamin K2 activates the vitamin K dependent proteins that exist extrahepatically (outside the liver) (Frannsen et al., 2017). If a vitamin K deficiency exists, than Protein C or Protein S deficiency will also exist. If protein C or protein S deficiency is a risk factor for eclampsia, it is certainly possible then that the root cause is actually vitamin K2 deficiency. 

I was diagnosed with “mild” protien S deficiency after having three miscarriages.  I did not know then what I know now.  I had to take aspirin to be able to maintain the pregnancy.  If I had known better, I would have replenished my K2 before trying again.  I was never tested for K2 deficiency and did not even know it could be a possible cause at the time.  I will be writing about recurrent miscarriage in the near future and will certainly discuss this further.

Another K dependent protein: Matrix Gla Protein

Another vitamin K dependent protein is Matrix Gla Protein (MGP). Vitamin K2 activates MGP, and vitamin K2 deficiency leads to circulation of unactivated MGP. There is clear evidence that it plays a role in calcium balance and the calcification of arteries, which means it inevitably plays a role in the development of high blood pressure. MGP research is still in its infancy, and it seems most of the research being done in the field of cardiology or nephrology. I was unable to find any research on dephospho-uncarboxylated (inactive) MGP levels in preeclamptic women. However, an interesting study conducted just months ago discovered that MGP exists in uterine smooth muscle tissue. In comparison to non-pregnant women, there is more MGP in the uterine tissue of pregnant women (Ackerman et al., 2018). Since uterine contractions utilize calcium, and MGP plays a role in calcium metabolism and is found in uterine tissue, perhaps deficiency in K2 resulting in deficiency of the active form of MGP plays a larger role in preeclampsia or preterm labor? As studies unfold, we shall see.

Risk Factor #2: Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes

According to Chen et al., (2018), vitamin K2 supplementation substantially reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. K2 supplementation increases insulin sensitivity, improves insulin resistance, and reduces inflammation which are all characteristic in Type 2 Diabetes (Chen et al., 2018). Of course, a high carbohydrate diet is the number one contributor to the development of diabetes (Type 2 and gestational), but if K2 supplementation reduces risk, it certainly stands to reason that K2 deficiency would contribute to diabetes development as well.

Risk Factors #3 – #6 Obesity, Advanced Maternal Age, Non-White Race, Chronic Hypertension

Additional risk factors for preeclampsia include obesity(3), advanced maternal age(4), non-white race(5), chronic hypertension(6); all of which are also associated with insulin resistance (Mudd & Weissgerber, 2015). Compared to women who have normal blood pressure during pregnancy, women who develop preeclampsia are more insulin resistant prior to pregnancy, in the first and second pregnancy trimesters, and for years after pregnancy. Since K2 is known to reduce insulin resistance, women who are planning for pregnancy could supplement with K2 to improve insulin sensitivity and thus reduce preeclampsia risk–especially those with a personal or family history of preeclampsia (Mudd & Weissbgerber, 2015).

Vitamin D3 and Calcium levels

According to Devi et al., (2014) the modification of calcium metabolism during pregnancy could be a potential cause of pre-eclampsia. Devi et al. (2017) also state that magnesium metabolism could play a role as well (and I believe it plays a major role) but magnesium will be covered in a later post. Malas (2001) explained that low calcium levels during pregnancy are widely documented and there is a relationship between low calcium levels and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Malas also proposes that calcium supplementation could be used as prophylaxis or treatment for high blood pressure during pregnancy. I disagree. I believe most people do get plenty of calcium in their diets.
I have read quite a lot of conflicting information pertaining to the idea that vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk (and even treats) preeclampsia. I am not convinced that Vitamin D supplementation alone can do this for all preeclamptic women if there is a disturbance in calcium metabolism.

According to Dwarkanath et al. (2017), while there is a correlation between low vitamin D levels and preeclampsia, clinical trials to date have been unable to show an independent effect of vitamin D supplementation in preventing PE. Vitamin D supplementation alone reduces preeclampsia some of the time, but not all of the time.

I am not saying that women with a Vitamin D deficiency should not supplement vitamin D3, I am saying that it is more complicated than that. Without concurrent supplementation of K2, vitamin D does something very scary. It removes circulating calcium and deposits it into the arteries which hardens them and narrows their opening. The hardening of the arteries does not allow for full expansion of those vessels when blood pressure rises, which leads to what we know as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

To be clear, if there is a deficiency in the other fat soluble vitamins A and K2, vitamin D won’t be able to do it’s job. Vitamins A, D, and K work synergistically. In fact, taking only vitamin D increases the body’s demand for both A and K2; and if deficiency in K2 exists then the higher level of Vitamin D accelerates the calcification of the arteries as seen in people with K2 deficiencies. (Rheame-Bleue, 2012).

Further, magnesium activates vitamin D, so if magnesium deficiency exists, that would essentially nullify vitamin D supplementation resulting in higher levels of only the inactive form that does nothing to improve calcium balance or prevent high blood pressure. Remember that I said half of your K2 exists in the vasculature. Vascular K2 holds calcium’s hand and delivers it to where it belongs (mostly the bones), thus preventing calcium from staying in the arteries where vitamin D left it. From there, activated vitamin D will promote proper calcium absorption.

Why does this matter in preeclampsia?

It is important to realize that calcium plays a direct role in vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure), though we won’t get into the specific mechanisms here.

In a study on calcium and essential hypertension (high blood pressure in people without a known cause for it), Arifuddin et al. (2012) points out many studies have found significantly elevated intracellular calcium levels in people with high blood pressure, but low serum blood levels. Similarly, preeclamptic women (when compared to pregnant women without high blood pressure) also have significantly low serum calcium levels (Devi, 2014); and not surprisingly, they also have significantly elevated intracellular calcium (Barenbrock, 2000). Coincidence? I think not.

There is clearly a disruption in proper metabolism of calcium, not a calcium deficiency. Bild et al. (1997) confirmed this in a study that concluded “calcium supplementation during pregnancy did not prevent preeclampsia [or] pregnancy-associated hypertension.”

Perhaps K2, vitamin A, and magnesium are indeed the missing links between why vitamin D works sometimes but not all the time to prevent or reduce preeclampsia.

Also concerning is that perhaps for preeclamptic women, vitamin D supplementation without K2 supplementation is contributing to their higher chances of developing cardiovascular disease years later. Again, although some of this data seems to shine a negative light on vitamin D, Vitamin D is not the enemy here. With proper intake of magnesium and A and K2, Vitamin D supplementation is beneficial. I will post more on the benefits of vitamin D (especially the kind we get from sun exposure) for preeclamptic women at a later date.

Placental calcification and uteroplacental arterial blood flow in preeclampsia

At this point you understand that K2 prevents calcification of the vasculature through its actions on calcium itself as well as on vitamin K dependent proteins such as MGP. And we also know that MGP exists in uterine tissue. We have also noted that women with preeclampsia are at significantly increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease in the future. I propose that preeclampsia does not cause cardiovascular disease, but the mechanisms involved in cardiovascular disease could very well cause preeclampsia. Placental calcification, tissue death, and reduced uteroplacental blood flow are characteristic of preeclampsia. Benson et al. (2018) confirms: “The placenta is a highly vascularized organ, and it is likely that other mechanisms common to vascular calcification [like in atherosclerosis] are involved.”  Is placental calcification similar if not the same as the calcification of cardiovascular arteries?  Yes.  A placental infarct an area of dead tissue due to blocked circulation in the area.  That sounds nearly identical to the definition of a heart attack.  Is a placental infarct like a heart attack for the placenta? It certainly seems that way to me.

“The hallmark placental lesion in preeclampsia is acute atherosclerosis of the decidual arteries.” – Coppage & Sibai, The Global Library of Women’s Medicine, 2008

(Decidual arteries supply blood to the uterus.)

“Atherosclerosis” is a term more commonly heard when talking about heart disease.  Usually we think about atherosclerosis as something that takes a long time to set in.  However, considering the rapid life cycle of the placenta (it grows and dies extremely rapidly through pregnancy then after birth), it is completely logical to suspect that a vitamin K2 deficiency also contributes to the calcification of the placental vasculature (blood vessels) be it placental, the blood flow from the mother to the placenta, or the blood flow from the fetus to the placenta. In fact, in the article titled Placental Vascular Calcification and Cardiovascular Health: It Is Time to Determine How Much of Maternal and Offspring Health Is Written in Stone, Benson et al. (2018) demonstrate the evidence suggests that placental calcification may be linked to inflammation and gestational cardiovascular symptoms; and they emphasize “further investigation is needed to delineate associations between preeclampsia, placental calcification, and vascular calcification in order to evaluate the potential diagnostic value of placental calcification in both acute and long-term cardiovascular health.” I couldn’t agree more. And one strongly supported association that must be investigated is the role of Vitamin K2 in preeclampsia.

Systemic inflammation in preeclamptic women

There are many inflammatory markers, but for the sake of being brief lets just discuss one: Interleukin-6. Don’t let the science sounding name scare you. Put simply, it is a small protein that stimulates an immune response, and the immune response is inflammatory.
According to Basar et al., (2008) “numerous reports indicate that the plasma of preeclamptic patients contains elevated levels of interleukin-6.” A study conducted by Chen, et al. (2012) in which preeclamptic women and healthy women in matching gestational periods revealed:

The levels of interleukin-6 in blood were significantly increased in women with preeclampsia in early onset and late onset preeclampsia compared to healthy pregnant women. In addition, the levels of interleukin-6 were significantly increased in women with severe preeclampsia, but not with mild preeclampsia compared to healthy pregnant women matched for gestational period.

Vitamin K2 plays a role in inhibiting interleukin-6. If vitamin K2 deficiency exists, then the preeclamptic woman is missing an important modulator of her immune system that plays a role in controlling systemic inflammation.

Do you have a K2 deficiency?

But how do you know if you have a K2 deficiency? Right now, there is no one specific K2 test, but high “undercarboxylated calcium” is a biomarker for K2 deficiency. I have never tested myself. In my opinion, since K2 has such an excellent safety profile and has so many benefits, I take it regardless because I know I am not getting enough from my diet. However, if you have a history of preeclampsia, have been recently diagnosed with preeclampsia, or have a family history and are planning a pregnancy, it might be a good idea to check it just for peace of mind.

The best food source for vitamin K that works for me is ghee (clarified butter). The more yellow the butter, the more K2 it contains. It must be from pasture raised/grass fed cows that feed on fast growing grass at peak season. The brand I use after much trial and error is this one: Pure Indian Foods Organic Ghee. You can also buy it from their website: www.pureindianfoods.com.

I could not find any studies that evaluated levels of undercarboxylated osteocalcin (a marker for K2 deficiency) in preeclamptic women. This surprised me, because it seems so obvious that it needs to be investigated. Perhaps no such study has been done? If any of my readers find one or know of one, please email it to me directly.

Finally . . .

Could it be this simple? Could one simple and highly safe vitamin supplement really prevent preeclampsia and save thousands of lives? Could this have been right under our noses all this time? Could vitamin K2 be the one common denominator (the root cause, if you will) among the majority of preeclampsia risk factors? Sure it could. I believe existing studies are demonstrating all the right answers; perhaps they’re just not asking the right question.

An excellent book to read more about K2 is Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life.

Also worth mentioning is that a prenatal vitamin that contains K2 is hard to find. Even the popular Garden of Life and New Chapter brands do not have it. I personally used Garden of Life for both of my pregnancies (unfortunately both were before I knew about the benefits of K2). After an extensive search I found one brand that does include it: Naturelo Prenatal Whole Food Multivitamin. I believe all pregnant women should supplement K2.  Off topic, but I also like that Naturelo’s prenatal has folate from food sources rather than the synthetic form of folic acid. The Vitamin K2 supplement that I personally use is made by YounGlo Research: they are 100 mcg K2 per capsule and I take at minimum two per day. Since K2 is fat soluble, I like that this brand uses coconut oil as a carrier oil. They also smell really good (though I’m not sure why) and are inexpensive compared to other brands. If you get them, you will see what I mean. I also give them to my children at a lower dose to help improve their dental health and overall bone development.  Another product that I use for my daughter who cannot swallow pills yet is Go Nutrients D3/K2 drops.

Again, Vitamin K2 is certainly not the only supplement that could prevent preeclampsia. Please subscribe for free to this blog and stay tuned for my next post, which will be discussing the link between magnesium deficiency and preeclampsia/eclampsia. This is going to be a multi-post series focusing on preeclampsia prevention.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

This article will be updated as I learn new information.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Ackerman, W., Buhimschi, C., Buhimschi I., Kellert, B., Stetson, B., & Summerfield, T. (2018). Decreased myometrial expression of matrix-Gla protein (MGP) is associated with preterm and term laboring state. Retrieved from https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(17)31915-4/fulltext

Arifuddin, M., Hazari, M., Muzzakar, S., Reddy, V. (2012). Serum calcium level in hypertension. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3503375/

Barenbrock, M., Hausberg, M., Louwen, F., Kisters, K., Kosch, M., & Rahn, K. (2000). Membrane, intracellular, and plasma magnesium and calcium concentrations in preeclampsia. Retrieved from https://watermark.silverchair.com/

Benson, C., Chavkin, N., Chin, M., Frasch, M., & Wallingford, M. (2018). Placental Vascular Calcification and Cardiovascular Health: It Is Time to Determine How Much of Maternal and Offspring Health Is Written in Stone. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6090024/

Bild, D., Catalano, P., Clemens, J., Curet, L., DerSimonian, R., Esterlitz, J. . . . Raymond, E. (1997). Trial of calcium to prevent preeclampsia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9211675

Basar, M., Buhimschi, C., Buhimschi, I., Huang, J., Kayisli, U., Krikun, G. . . . Yen, C. (2008). Preeclampsia-Related Inflammatory Cytokines Regulate Interleukin-6 Expression in Human Decidual Cells. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408417/

Chen, J., Duan, L., Li, S., & Li, Y. Retrieved from https://www.diabetesresearchclinicalpractice.com/article/S0168-8227(17)31256-1/fulltext

Chen, Q., Gao, Y., Lau, S., Shen, F., Yin, Y., & Xiao, J. (2012). The increased maternal serum levels of IL-6 are associated with the severity and onset of preeclampsia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22921280

Coppage, K, Sibai, B. (2008). Preeclampsia and eclampsia. Retrieved from https://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Preeclampsia%20and%20Eclampsia/item/158

Devi, U., Kanagal, D., Kumari, S., Shetty, H., Shetty, P., & Rajesh, A. (2014). Levels of Serum Calcium and Magnesium in Pre-eclamptic and Normal Pregnancy: A Study from Coastal India. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4149110/

Dwarkanath, P., Gala, P., Kurpad, A., Larkin, H., Mehta, S., & Purswani, J. (2017). The role of vitamin D in pre-eclampsia: a systematic review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513133/

Frannsen, F., Janssens, W., Janssen, R., Piscaer, I., Vermeer, C., & Wouters, E. (2017) Vitamin K deficiency: the linking pin between COPD and cardiovascular diseases? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5683584/

Harris, M., Henderson, B., Hodges, S., Hopper, P., Meghji, S., Poole, S., & Reddi, K. (1995). Interleukin 6 production by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated human fibroblasts is potently inhibited by naphthoquinone (vitamin K) compounds. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7640347

Malas, M., Shurideh, Z. (2001). Does serum calcium in pre-eclampsia and normal pregnancy differ? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11744944

Mudd, L., & Weissgerber, T. (2015). Preeclampsia and diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4317712/

Rheaume-Bleue, K. (2012). Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. New York City, NY: Harper

WebMD. (2018). Eclampsia. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/253960-overview#a15

Top 6 ADHD Triggers To Nix: Stop Giving THESE to Your Child

1. Artificial Food Coloring: Lay off the Fruit Loops

Artificial Food Coloring that is found in many foods marketed to children and adolescents are known to contribute significantly to ADHD and in some cases may push a child over the diagnostic threshold (Arnold, 2012). Artificial food coloring has been proven to interfere significantly with the absorption of zinc, which is essential for normal brain function. According to Aizenman et al. (2011), zinc is “intimately linked to the balance excitation and inhibition in the brain.” Given this, it is reasonable to assume that eliminating food coloring may reduce your child’s ADHD symptoms so significantly that they will no longer qualify for the diagnosis of ADHD.

2. Screen Time: Get Their Face Off The Phone/Tablet

A recent study found that there was a significant association between higher frequency of digital media use and subsequent symptoms of ADHD over a two year follow-up (Cho, Stone, & Ra, 2018). This research poses the question: could the use of digital media such as video games or even “educational” games on a tablet lead to the development of ADHD? It seems obvious that if screen time can potentially cause ADHD symptoms, it would make symptoms worse when ADHD already exists. More research is needed, but the association is clear.

3. Video Games: Winning at a Cost

Video are known to reduce the number of dopamine receptors and transporters, change brain function, create abnormalities in gray and white brain matter, and cause decreased neural connectivity (Sigman, 2014).. Remember, video games are not just the ones with remote controls. The games children and adolescents play on their tablets and phones (yes, even if they are deemed educational) are still video games. All the distractions online make it even more difficult for people with ADHD to focus (Understood.org, 2018).

4. Sodas: Kick the Coke

Soft drinks contain a preservative called sodium benzoate. A scientific literature review asserted that sodium benzoate intake contributes significantly to ADHD symptoms (Anjum et al., 2018). Ingestion of sodium benzoate leads to a rise in anthranilic acid and acetylglycine (Clish, et al., 2014). Anthranilic acid is involved in tryptophan metabolism in both humans and bacteria, and therefore it likely has a negative impact on tryptophan metabolism. In some studies tryptophan supplementation has been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms, so it seems logical to avoid anything that might disrupt its utilization. Anthranilic acid is also found in corn, and corn is everywhere. Sodium benzoate has many other adverse health effects worth knowing about since it exists in so many foods.

5. Sedentary Lifestyle: Get off Your . . .

I’m sure you have read that exercise helps ADHD somewhere. I have ready many lists that include exercise but none of them explain why exercise helps ADHD. Regular physical exercise is especially beneficial for children with ADHD, because cardio exercise increases specific catecholamines and proteins/enzymes that are typically reduced in ADHD such as dopamine, tyrosine hydroxylase and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Fuermaier et al., 2016). “Existing studies reveal that high levels of sedentary behavior are associated with more inattention and hyperactivity problems” (Hanewinkel et al., 2017). So do yourself and your children a favor and get off your . . .

6. Inflammatory Foods: Flames from French Fries?

Simple sugars, a high carbohydrate diet, and foods high in omega 6 are inflammatory. Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and other vegetable fats are inflammatory because the body metabolizes them into arachidonic acid. We only use ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil in our home. Drisko et al (2014) assert that many children and teens with ADHD have high levels of inflammatory markers, potentially due to imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats and not enough polyunsaturated fatty acids. Avoiding inflammatory foods and eating anti-inflammatory healthy foods and fats is integral to our health. Warning: Most store bought mayonnaise and salad dressings are made with canola or soybean oil, and those same inflammatory oils are used to make fried foods. Check your labels!

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Related posts

Long Term Effects of ADHD Stimulant Medications

L-Tryptophan for ADHD: Amino Acids Reduce Symptoms

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Aizenman, E., Bush, A., Paoletti, P., Hershfinkel, M., Koh, J., & Sensi, S. (2011). The neurophysiology and pathology of brain zinc. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3223736/

Anjum, I., Armghan, H., Fayyaz, M., Jaffery, S., & Wajid, A. (2018). Sugar beverages and dietary sodas impact on brain health: A mini literature review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6080735/

Arnold, L., Hurt, E., & Lofthouse, N. (2012). Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: Conclusions to dye for. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/

Cho, J., Stone, M., & Ra, C. (2018). Association of digital media use with subsequent symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among adolescents. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2687861

Clish, C., Deik, A., Delaney, N., Lennerz, B., Ludwig, D., Mootha, V., Pierce, K., & Vafai, S. (2014). Effects of sodium benzoate, a widely used food preservative, on glucose homeostasis and metabolic profiles in humans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289147/

Drisko, J., Esparham, A., Evans, R., & Wagner, L. (2014). Pediatric Integrative Medicine Approaches to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4928725/

Fuermaier, A., Groen, Y., Den Heijer, A., Lange, K., Koerts, J., Thome, J., & Tucha, O. (2016). Sweat it out? The effects of physical exercise on cognition and behavior in children and adults with ADHD: a systematic literature review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5281644/

Hanewinkel R., Pedersen, A., Isensee, B., & Suchert, V. (2017). Relationship between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and sedentary behavior in adolescence: a cross-sectional study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28378132

Sigman, A. (2014). Virtually addicted: why general practice must now confront screen dependency. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4240116/

Natural Treatment for Chronic Pain: A Supplement Stronger than Morphine?

“5.3 million adults (11.2 percent) experience chronic pain—that is, they had pain every day for the preceding 3 months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain.”  – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015

Those numbers are horrific, and they are most likely a gross underestimation.  Chronic pain can be debilitating, and is the leading cause of disability in America.  If you are reading this and sitting there in pain, hang in there. Keep reading.

Before we get into the amino acids, I am going to mention that it is monumentally important that chronic pain sufferers make sure they are eating a healthy diet filled with nutrient rich and anti-inflammatory foods — and not just on Sundays.  Garbage in isn’t garbage out, garbage in is inflammation, illness and pain. Start there. I personally do my best to maintain a cross between paleo and ketogenic dietary lifestyle. It has worked well my family.

So, what the heck is enkephalinase?  You could skip this entire paragraph, but I am a huge proponent of people understanding how something works before they decide to take it, so I encourage you to do your best with this complicated information.  You will need to understand this first to understand how and why the amino acid d-phenylalanine works to alleviate chronic pain.

Enkephalinases are enzymes that break down our endogenous enkephalin opioid peptides.  Huh? Ok, let’s break it down a bit. Enkephalins are essentially one of the natural opioids found in the human body, and their receptor sites are opioid receptors. Opioid peptides are short chains of amino acids that actually bind to those opioid receptors on the sensory nerve endings, thereby inhibiting painful sensations.  This means that enkephalins are your natural morphine, except better.  They have an affinity for two (out of the three) main opioid receptors: the mu-opioid receptors (MORs) and the delta-opioid receptors (DORs). 

This is important because the affinity (definition of affinity here is the enkephalin’s ability to bind to the intended target site)  of enkephalins for MORs is nearly identical to morphine, whereas their affinity for DORs is about ten times higher (Fournié-Zaluski, Roques, & Wurm (2012).

That’s right, I said TEN TIMES HIGHER than morphine.  So basically, enkephalinases are the enzymes that break down enkephalins, preventing the human body from benefiting from one of its primary internal pain relief systems that are potentially stronger than drugs like morphine (which of course has many undesirable side effects, as do other narcotics).  

If you need further explanation, feel free to comment below and I will do my best to clarify for you. I try to do my best to be a good science communicator. It’s not easy, but sometimes having the right question helps me provide a clear answer, so feel free to help me out.

Now that we understand enkephalinases, we can look further into how d-phenylalanine works.  D-phenylalanine is an enkephalinase enzyme inhibitor.  Therefore, it helps you to KEEP your enkephalins (those feel-good natural opioids) working in your brain and spinal cord where those pesky pain impulses are transmitted.  You might be concerned that enkephalinase inhibitors might cause all the same side effects of exogenous opioids like morphine, but studies show that their major advantage is that they deliver pain relief that is better than morphine, but without any of the opioid side effects (Ghosh, R., Kadum, V., & Thanawala, V., 2008).  

There are many drugs being developed by pharmaceutical companies that are enkephalinase inhibitors as well that are being termed “DENKIs.” For example, in a study on mice, the enkephalinase inhibitor drug PL265 was highly effective for cancer related bone pain (they also studied its use in combination with drugs that act on cannabinoid receptors and found that the results were even better) (Baamonde et al., 2017).  You can follow more here: http://www.pharmaleads.com/latest-publication/.  

As a nurse, I am deeply concerned about the current opioid epidemic.  I have high hopes for the development of these drugs and the role they will play in helping people who are suffering from chronic pain that led to opioid dependence.

The bottom line is that enkephalinase inhibitors work so well that it is only a matter of time before the painkiller industry capitalizes on it.  After all, about $300 billion per year is spent on painkillers, and that’s just here in America.

Now, obviously, chronic pain comes in all shapes and sizes.  There are different types of pain. No one person’s pain experience is the same as another’s.  And chronic pain can be caused by a variety of issues. Further, chronic pain leads to a multitude of other issues affecting both mental and physical health.  Even if d-phenylalanine works for you, it is essential not to ignore other problems that may have resulted from suffering for so long. And of course there is the possibility that it will not work for you at all.  There could be issues with absorption, other hormone issues, contraindicative medical history, medication interactions, etc. For instance, people who have been diagnosed with Phenylketonuria (PKU) should never, ever take d-phenylalanine.  That is why I always advise people to speak with their health care provider before taking any supplement or adding any form of therapy into their health regimen. There are many brands of d-phenylalanine (DPA) available for purchase online.  One brand I generally trust is Doctor’s Best. We use many of their supplements in our home.

You can also take DL-Phenylalanine, which is both the D form and the L form of the amino acid phenylalanine.  I will go into more detail on this in the future, but to be brief: L-phenylalanine improves mood, and D-phenylalanine alleviates pain.  Many people experience great benefits with DLPA because chronic pain and depression often go hand in hand.  We like the DLPA made by Life Extension.

I hope this article helped you.  If DPA does not work for you, keep your eyes open for the advancements in other enkephalinase inhibitor drugs.   

Another option for natural pain relief is CBD oil. I will be posting on the use of CBD oil for the treatment of chronic pain in the future.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below.  I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You might change their life.

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Baamonde, A., González-Rodríguez, S., Fournié-Zaluski, M., Lastraa, A., Menéndez, L., Ouimet, T., Poras, H., & Roques, B. (2017). Synergistic combinations of the dual enkephalinase inhibitor PL265 given orally with various analgesic compounds acting on different targets, in a murine model of cancer-induced bone pain. Scandinavian Journal of Pain. Retrieved from https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/sjpain.2017.14.issue-1/j.sjpain.2016.09.011/j.sjpain.2016.09.011.pdf

Fournié-Zaluski, M., Roques, B., & Wurm, M. (2012). Inhibiting the breakdown of endogenous opioids and cannabinoids to alleviate pain. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 11, 292-310. Retrieved from https://public.weconext.eu/speed-sciences-2014/fragment_003/NRDD_2012.pdf

Ghosh, R., Kadum, V., & Thanawala, V. (2008).
Enkephalinase inhibitors: potential agents for the management of pain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18855623

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). NIH Analysis Shows Americans are in Pain.  Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/news/press/08112015

L-Tryptophan for ADHD: Amino Acids Reduce Symptoms

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is considered a neurodevelopmental disorder. Currently, the treatment for this disorder is primarily with various forms of the central nervous system stimulants methylphenidate and amphetamine. There is very little research on the long term effects of these drugs, and what we know from the research that does exist is not encouraging.

For instance, we know that long-term use of stimulants, even as prescribed by a physician, can lead to tolerance and the need for higher and more frequent doses to get the desired effect (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018).

There are some nonstimulants that were approved for use with children who do not respond well to stimulants (FDA, 2017). The nonstimulants include Strattera (atomoxetine), Intuniv (guanfacine), and Kapvay (clonidine).  These were approved for this use quite recently, so the effects of long term use has yet to be determined (FDA, 2017). Atomoxetine was approved in 2003; Guanfacine was approved in 2009; and Clonidine was approved only in 2010.

Unfortunately, people are needing to choose between the ADHD symptoms and the often equally cumbersome side effects of nonstimulants. The use of nonstimulants is not nearly as common as the use of stimulants, so this post is going to be focusing on stimulant use. The amino acid we will be focusing on here is L-Tryptophan. L-tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, which means it is nutritionally essential for the production of serotonin.

There are various studies underway which are trying to determine the “cause” of ADHD. I personally don’t believe there is one specific cause for all who are diagnosed with ADHD, and it is also widely accepted that regardless of the diagnosis, there are many factors that may exacerbate ADHD symptoms (diet, environmental exposures, etc). The very fact that stimulants work for many children but not ALL of them is at least one good indicator that the root cause of ADHD may not always be exactly the same from one child to the next. We are all unique individuals, after all.

Okay so you may be asking, “How does a stimulant work to help calm down and focussomeone? A stimulant should stimulate right?.” Well, yes and no.

It should be noted that the mode of action of stimulants in ADHD is not well understood. Just as there are various theories for the cause of ADHD, there are also various theories on how drugs work to affect ADHD. This means that stimulants are given to ADHD patients, and they work, but we don’t exactly know how they work. One theory is that they prevent the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, which increases the activity of those neurotransmitters in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for impulse control, decision making, moderating the way we behave in social situations, and complex planning. Another theory that I find interesting is the hypothesis that rather than an issue with the quantity of available dopamine and norepinephrine, there is some kind of disturbance in the blood brain barrier that does not allow enough of the amino acid tryptophan to be transported across it (Ahlin et al., 2011).  Tryptophan deficiency within the brain would not necessarily appear in typical blood work.  To clarify, a person may have plenty of tryptophan circulating in their blood, but if the blood brain barrier won’t let enough of it in, there is a brain deficiency (and there is not really a safe way to study brain deficiencies). And if there is a brain deficiency of tryptophan it can be assumed that there is also a serotonin deficiency since the brain utilizes tryptophan to create serotonin.

Wait, weren’t we talking about dopamine? Yes, indeed we were. Hang with me here. Serotonin and dopamine essentially work together–in a way, they are constantly balancing each other out.

The serotonergic system directly influences the dopamine system, and a chronic deficiency of serotonin at the point where brain neurotransmitters allow communication between two neurons (called a synapse) is known to trigger symptoms of ADHD (Banerjee & Nandagopal, 2015).

So a serotonin deficiency could negatively impact dopamine levels and activity in the brain. This may be why L-tryptophan supplementation significantly alleviates ADHD symptoms (Banerjee & Nandagopal, 2015). To me, it makes sense that increasing the available circulating tryptophan via supplementation or diet would help more of it move across the blood brain barrier.

This is further supported by the prevalence of ADHD among alcoholics, as the consumption of alcohol increases brain concentrations of serotonin (WebMD, 2018).

Perhaps ADHD patients are more prone to alcoholism partly because they are deficient in serotonin.  There is a lot of literature (in books, journals, and online medical resources) that suggests supplementation with tryptophan helps to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.  I have also read many anecdotal stories from adults diagnosed with ADHD and from parents with children who have ADHD who found that tryptophan or 5HTP supplementation helped tremendously. 5HTP is known to increase serotonin levels and is commonly used in combination with other amino acids for various health issues.

Finally, L-tryptophan may not work for everyone with ADHD.  Remember, each individual in unique.  There are many other alternative approaches, and I encourage you to do your research before any final decisions are made.

If you do decide to give your child a tryptophan supplement (which is found in animal and plant proteins that we eat every day), or if you decide to take it yourself, it should be under the care and supervision of your physician.

There is a brand called Lidtke that makes a chewable tryptophan tablet. I have tasted it, and can tell you that it smells like pancakes and tastes like maple syrup.  In general, it is best to take a pure form of L-tryptophan such as this powder version from NutraBio. Pure L-tryptophan doesn’t taste wonderful, but its not terrible either. It is also available in pill form but I always try to take the powdered form of amino acids because I don’t necessarily want to ingest any unnecessary additives or the capsule itself.  If you are supplementing with L-Tryptophan it is essential to also supplement with Vitamin B6 (as P5P, which is the activated form of B6) because B6 is necessary for L-tryptophan to make its necessary conversions.  Here is a chewable B6 made by EZ Melts, and here is a pill form by Pure Encapsulations.  B6 also supports healthy metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Another amino acid that may help with ADHD is L-Tyrosine, especially when used in combination with the 5HTP (from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia) but that requires a different post for more detailed information (which I will be writing soon enough).  Please subscribe to get notified of new posts.  (To the right on your desktop and at the bottom of the screen on your cell phone).

If you have any questions or comments, or if you feel it is necessary to correct something that you read here, feel free to do so below. I appreciate any and all of your contributions. If you think this post could help a friend, share it. You just might change their life.

Related posts

Long Term Effects of ADHD Stimulant Medications

Top 6 ADHD Triggers To Nix: Stop Giving THESE to Your Child

8 Amino Acids for ADHD

Top 10 Natural Therapies for ADHD (Coming soon)

Cannabidiol (CBD Oil) for ADHD (Coming soon)

Legal Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, website links and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, as well as share personal opinions and experiences. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

References

Ahlin, A., Bejerkenstedt, L., Fernell, E., … (2011). Altered tryptophan and alanine transport in fibroblasts from boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): an in vitro study. Retrieved from https://behavioralandbrainfunctions.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1744-9081-7-40

Banjeree, E. and Nandagopal, K. (2015). Does serotonin deficit mediate susceptibility to ADHD? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25684070

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription Stimulants. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017). Dealing with ADHD: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm269188.htm

WebMD. (2018). ADHD and Substance Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adhd-and-substance-abuse-is-there-a-link#1