(Excerpted from ‘Rapid Recovery’ by Stephen P. King)

The following guide to amino acids and what they can do is taken from ‘Seven Weeks to Sobriety’: by Joan Mathews Larson and Keith W. Sehnert. New York, NY: Ballantine Wellspring. 1997.

Alanine – Converts quickly to usable glucose and prolongs stabilization of blood sugar (helpful for hypoglycemics). Reduces elevated triglycerides in diabetics; may be helpful in preventing seizures.

Arginine – Induces release of growth hormone from the pituitary; increases sperm count; detoxifies ammonia, which is helpful in cirrhosis of the liver; stimulates the immune response by enhancing production of T cells.

    Warning: Should be used carefully in schizophrenic conditions and may cause replication of herpes simplex virus; keep intake low in affected individuals.

Aspartic Acid (Asparagine) – Protects the liver; helps detoxify ammonia; promotes uptake of trace minerals in the intestinal tract.

Carnitine – Helps mobilize cellulite and other surface fats; helps combat fatigue and muscular weaknesses; helps provide energy for tissues by promoting oxidation of long-chain fatty acids; useful in clearing triglycerides from the blood.

Citruline – A precursor of the amino acids arginine and ornithine; plays a role in the detoxification of ammonia; stimulates growth hormone.

Cysteine – Helps repair tissues damaged by alcohol abuse, cigarette smoke, and air pollution through detoxification of acetaldehyde; helps maintain skin flexibility and texture; promotes red- and white-blood-cell reproduction and tissue restoration in lung diseases; promotes iron absorption; helps prevent formation of harmful peroxidized fats and free radicals; protects the lungs against damage from cigarette smoke; used in treatment of bronchial disease and asthma.

Fhreomine  – An immunostimulant that promotes thymus gland growth. Useful in treating spastic disorders. Deficiency, if severe, causes neurologic dysfunction.

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)  – Useful in inducing calm and tranquillity; may be useful in treatment of schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, high blood pressure, high-stress disorders, manic behaviour, and acute agitation.

In 1982 Sandy Shaw and Durk Pearson published Life Extension in which they qualified, that GABA can mimic the tranquilizing effect of Valium and Librium, but without the heavy sedation effect of these drugs. 

Glutamic Acid Precursor of GABA and glutamine. Taken by mouth, glutamic acid cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Do not substitute for glutamine.

Glutamine – Anti-stress effect; useful in treatment of alcoholism by reducing cravings for alcohol and sugar. Improves memory and dexterity. (note that Billie Sahley calls it the M and C amino – being good for both Memory and Concentration)

Glycine – Can be used as a beverage sweetener; decreases uric-acid levels to reverse gout; useful in epilepsy and other conditions characterized by abnormal nerve firings.

Histidine – Creates an anti-anxiety effect in the brain; promotes good hearing by stimulating auditory nerves; a promising answer for rheumatoid arthritis, releases histamines from body stores for sexual arousal.

Warnings; Use carefully in manic-depressive patients with elevated histamine levels. Take with vitamin C. 

Isoleucine and Leucine – Are involved in stress, energy, and muscle metabolism. Leucine stimulates insulin release and inhibits protein breakdown. Both are useful in stress states of surgery, trauma, cirrhosis, fever, and starvation.

Lysine  – Controls viral infections; inhibits growth and recurrence of herpes complex; stimulates secretion of gastric juices; controls muscle contractions, spastic disorders.

Methionine – Removes excess brain histamine that can cause depression and compulsive/obsessiveness; prevents deposits and cohesion of fats in the liver; acts as memory builder by synthesizing choline.

Warnings: Must be taken with vitamin B6. Avoid if you are manic-depressive or if you have low histamine levels.

Ornithine – May reduce fat and increase muscle mass by promoting fat metabolism and stimulating production of growth hormone; helps detoxify ammonia.

D-Phenylalanine – Controls pain; elevates moods by increasing endorphins.

Warning: Should not be taken by those with high blood pressure or anyone taking MAO inhibitors for depression.

L-Phenylalanine – Helps manage certain types of depression by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, a precursor of epinephrine (adrenaline); increases blood pressure in individuals with low blood pressure.

Warnings: Should not be used by anyone taking MAO inhibitors for depression. Do not take if you have high blood pressure.

Proline – Can help lower blood pressure; promotes wound healing.

Serine – A derivative of glycine; can cause psychotic reactions and elevated blood pressure. No role has yet been developed for this amino acid.

Taurine – Can help inhibit epileptic seizures; helps repair muscle and tendon damage; helps promote skin flexibility, stops alcohol-withdrawal tremors.

Tryptophan – Helps alleviate depression by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin; induces sleep, has an anti-anxiety effect; appears to aid in blood clotting. Deficiency causes insomnia, depression.

Should be taken with vitamin B6 and fruit juice to maximize uptake by the brain.

Tyrosine  – Useful in combatting depression because it is a precursor of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and adrenaline; is a precursor of thyroid hormone.

Warning: Should not be used by anyone taking a MAO inhibitor for depression or by those with malignant melanoma.

Valine – Promotes muscle coordination and proper functioning of the nervous system; promotes mental vigour. Low serum valine is consistently found in patients with anorexia nervosa.

Vitamins cannot function without the assistance of the minerals, which work together as a group and in conjunction with hormones, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates and fats, as well as vitamins. They assist in the body’s overall mental and physical functioning as well as helping to maintain its structure. (pps. 170-174)

The importance of Potassium and Sodium balance is recognised and some minerals, such as sulfur, chlorine and fluorine are essential but of less importance than the following;

Calcium – The most abundant mineral to be found in the body. While 99% of the calcium is found in bones and teeth, the other one per cent is in the soft tissues and blood; this one per cent has great effect on the nerves. A double-blind study with anxiety-prone patients and normal patients showed strong similarities between the symptoms of an anxiety attack and the mental effects of calcium deficiency, thus giving further evidence of the importance of calcium in mental health.

Iron – This is an important mineral since over half of the body’s iron is found in the red blood cells as part of the hemoglobin, and hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen to the body tissues. The amino acids in protein, vitamin C, and copper, all enhance the absorption of iron.

Magnesium – It is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Magnesium is required for protein and for carbohydrate metabolism. Signs of magnesium deficiency are similar to common hangover symptoms: sensitivity to noise, tremors, twitching, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, aching muscles, fatigue, depression, and irritability. Magnesium has been used in treating anxiety, depression and insomnia. Magnesium is the only electrolyte which has a higher level in the brain fluid than in the blood plasma.

Manganese  – This is especially found in the liver, skin, bones and muscles and is necessary for the proper digestion and utilization of food; manganese is important for normal central nervous system function. It helps eliminate fatigue and reduces nervous irritability.

Phosphorus  – It is necessary for normal bone and teeth structure and for the transmission of nerve impulses. Phosphorus aids in body repairs, and is helpful in the metabolization of fats and starches.

Zinc  – Involved in many enzyme systems with a wide scope of actions, zinc and vitamin A work as a pair- vitamin A is mobilized from the liver by zinc. After the ingestion of alcohol or large amounts of drugs, zinc is excreted in the urine in large amounts; many alcoholics are zinc deficient. This deficiency actually increases the alcoholic’s tolerance to liquor, for there is a strong reaction to alcohol when the body contains adequate quantities of zinc. Other signs of zinc deficiency include oily skin, hair loss, lack of appetite, loss of taste, apathy and lethargy. (Sahley 1994, pps. 60-61)

Vital amines or vitamins fall into two categories: fat-soluble, such as A, D, E and K, and water-soluble, such as B and C for the physically active. Supplementation with water-soluble vitamins may be needed due to sweating and urination.

Some of the vitamin functions include assisting essential chemical reactions, regulation of metabolism, converting fats and carbohydrates to energy, forming bones and tissues, preventing deficiency diseases, and providing antioxidant protection against free-radical damage and environmental toxins.

The roles of some of the vitamins:

A – Strengthens the immune system and protects mucosal tissues. Together with beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor) prevents stress-induced thymus atrophy and can actually promote thymus growth and maintain soft, smooth skin.

B1 (Thiamine) – Important in maintaining mental wellbeing and is essential in carbohydrate metabolism and in the synthesis of acetylcholine, which is the nerve hormone that makes muscle move. Thiamine can be destroyed by alcohol, caffeine, chlorinated water, and sulphites. A deficiency of thiamine is especially common with alcoholics.

Folic Acid – Needed for healthy red blood cells and for the brain and nervous system function. There is often a major deficiency of folic acid in alcoholics and both this and thiamine should be a part of nutritional recovery for those in addictions treatment centres.

B2 (Riboflavin) – Crucial for energy production and is involved in the regeneration of glutathione – one of the main cellular protectors against damage.

B3 (Niacin or Niacinamide) – Plays an important role in energy production and helps to metabolize fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates, as well as manufacturing body compounds such as adrenal hormones. Plays a role in the glycogen energy cycle. (*Read ‘Orthomolecular Psychiatry’ by David Hawkins & Linus Pauling. W. H. Freeman & Co.: San Francisco. 1973)

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – Supports the adrenal glands. It is necessary for converting fats and carbohydrates into energy, and for the manufacture of steroid hormones and brain neurotransmitters.

B6 (Pyridoxine) – Crucial for maintenance of hormonal balance and a strong immune system. It is active in blood production, central nervous system metabolism and amino acid metabolism. Necessary as controls all the amino acid metabolisms and transformations in the body.

B12 (Cobalamin) – Helps in the formation and regeneration of red blood cells, helps to prevent pernicious anemia, helps with depression, decreased energy and tiredness.

C – An anti-oxidant whose effect is improved when combined with vitamin E. Manufactures collagen, an important protein for connective tissue, cartilage and tendons. Provides protection against free-radical damage caused by pollution. Is antiviral and antibacterial, and boosts the immune system.

E – An important anti-oxidant, needed for healthy heart and blood vessels, important to circulation, and needed for production of hormones. (Winterdyk/Jensen pps. 183-188)

Sahley, Billie Jay. The Anxiety Epidemic. San Antonio, TX: Pain & Stress Therapy Center                                                     

            Publication, 1994.

Winterdyk, John, & Jensen, Karen. The Complete Athlete: Integrating Fitness, Nutrition and

            Natural Health. Burnaby, B.C.: Alive Books. 1997.

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