Correct your proteins and amino acids

Nutrition_blue_small

As seen here, absorbing the right amounts of proteins and amino acids is crucial for mental health, as they are the building blocks for our neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, and impact our hormones and blood sugar, which all play an important role in mental health.

Protein should be consumed especially in the morning and at lunch, so that you have a steady supply of protein during the day when most active Greenblatt, J. (2016). Breakthrough Depression Solution. 2nd ed. Forest Lake: Sunrise River Press, pp. 207-213.. If you do eat protein for dinner, make sure to include or prioritise complex carbohydrates, as these are helpful in calming your nervous system, and can help you sleep Christianson, A. (2014). The Adrenal Reset Diet. New York: Harmony, pp. 51-3..

Types of protein for mental health: animal vs plant proteins

Whether you eat meat, or are vegan or vegetarian, it is important to get enough protein to help build the neurotransmitters you need for optimal mental health. Generally, animal protein has some substantial benefits for mental health, however if you choose to be vegan or vegetarian you simply need to be aware of the need to obtain certain nutrients from other sources for optimal mental health.

  • The high levels of EFAs, especially omega 3s which are present in meat, fish and eggs, are important for mental health
  • It is easier to get all 8 essential amino acids from animal protein and diets excluding all animal products can cause low amino acid levels, which can impact negatively on neurotransmitter levels
  • Animal proteins are rich in key nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12, which are important for mental health and can be low in vegetarians and vegans
  • If you eat poultry and meat, make sure that they are free range, pasture fed or wild, and ideally organic
    •  Animals from factory farms don’t have a nutritional status appropriate for humans
      • For example, eating factory-farmed pigs won’t give you the necessary levels of Vitamin D because animals only metabolize vitamin D by having sunshine hit their skin
      • Low Vitamin D has been linked to depression Scott, T. and Keith, L. (May 2015). Anxiety, Depression and the Vegetarian Diet. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.
      • Free-range meat has been shown to have a higher polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-6/omega-3 ratio Funaro, A. Cardenia, V., Petracci, M., Rimini, S., Rodriguez-Estrada, M. T. and Cavani, C. (2014). Comparison of meat quality characteristics and oxidative stability between conventional and free-range chickens. [online] Poultry Science, 93 (6), pp. 1511-22. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24879701 [accessed 6 Sept. 2017].
      • Non-organic and non-free ranges meats and poultry often contain antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides
    • Opt for game such as buffalo, venison, pheasant, grouse or ostrich, which are more lean (however no more than twice a week, as game has high levels of uric acid which can cause gout) Sam, S. E., Thomas, T. E. and Abraham, E. (2016). A Review on Gout. [online] World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 5 (6), pp. 634-47. Available at: www.wjpr.net/download/article/1464659290.pdf [accessed 6 Sept. 2017].
  • Offal (calf and chicken livers for instance) is also good for hormone balance due to high levels of vitamin A (essential for estrogen and adrenal hormones), vitamin D and iron, although try to make sure it’s organic and/or free range/grass fed offal as it can contain concentrated levels of toxins
  • Other good sources of protein come from seafood, sardines, anchovies and pilchards, smaller fish which are lower down the food chain as large ocean fish such as tuna and swordfish can contain high levels of mercury (include their tiny bones to get their best nutrients)
    • These are particularly high in omega 3s
  • Can tip the balance in favour of acidity, when alkaline is healthier
  • Increased dietary protein consumption is associated with increased urinary excretion of acid and formation of kidney stones Pearle, M. S., Goldfarb, D. S., Assimos, D. G., Curhan, G., Denu-Ciocca, C. J., Matlaga, B. R., Monga, M., Penniston, K. L., Preminger, G. M., Turk, T. M. T. and White, J. R. (2014). Medical management of kidney stones: AUA guideline. [online] The Journal of Urology, 192 (2), pp. 316-24. Available at: http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(14)03532-0/abstract [accessed 6 Sept. 2017]. 
  • Has been linked to increased risk of disease such as cancer and heart disease Campbell, C. T. and Campbell, T. M. (2005). The China Study. Dallas, Tex.: BenBella Books.

You have to choose whether you feel better on a diet containing animal protein, or being vegan or vegetarian. Each person is different, and responds differently.

If you choose to be vegan or vegetarian, make sure to get protein at every meal, and make sure to get a broad variety of vegetable proteins from legumes, whole grains, nuts, sprouts, hemp, vegetables, dairy (unless you are intolerant or vegan) and organic soy products. Also consider supplementing with protein powder or free-form amino acid blends Talbott, S. (2007). The Cortisol Connection. 2nd ed. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, p. 17.

If you are a vegetarian, the most complete forms of protein is found in eggs.

  • Organic and/or free-range eggs

If you are vegan, you can get protein from

  • Quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, mycoprotein (quorn)
  • Rice and beans/lentils/chickpeas
  • Spirulina
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, hazel nuts, pecans)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, sesame, chia, hemp,etc.)
  • Vegetables such a spinach and broccoli

You can also get complete protein from soy however it should be consumed with caution:

  • The best forms of soy to consume are tempeh and natto
  • However when we eat soy, our estrogen is fooled by the presence of phytoestrogen in the soy, and the receptor site for estrogen becomes full of phytoestrogen
  • In young girls, this can produce premature puberty which is very difficult to deal with psychologically, and can lead to anxiety Scott, T. and Keith, L. (May 2015). Anxiety, Depression and the Vegetarian Diet. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.
  • Soy is particularly high in phytates, which can grab onto minerals in the digestive tract and excrete them from the body
  • Soy also contains trypsin inhibitors, trypsin being an enzyme that’s made by our pancreas and is crucial to digestion
  • Over time, soy can even damage our pancreas’ ability to produce trypsin

Supplementing protein

Certain factors can prevent you from getting enough protein, or the right amount of key amino acids to make healthy neurotransmitters and neurons, and for optimal hormone balance:

  • Being vegan or vegetarian
  • Poor quality of protein
  • Compromised digestion and absorption

You can supplement with high quality protein powder or loose-form amino acids. Amino acids are best absorbed when consumed alone, on an empty stomach Sathyanarayana Rao, T., Asha, M., Ramesh, B. and Jagannatha Rao, K. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. [online] Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50 (2), pp. 77-82. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/ [accessed 24 Aug. 2017]..or with a light carbohydrate rich snack such as a piece of fruit.

Be careful when supplementing with amino acids, however, because taking too many amino acids can have physical side effects.

  • High protein diets particularly those high in sulfur containing amino acids, increase acid production causing an increase in ammonia excretion
    • Acidity in the blood, which the body neutralises by leaching calcium from the bones, can lead to osteoporosis
    • A by-product of amino-acid metabolism is ammonia, which can be toxic to the kidneys in high doses
  • As protein-rich foods are a major source of waste products excreted by the kidney, chronic kidney disease is thought of as a disease of protein-intolerance, and restricting protein in the diet of kidney failure patients improves kidney function Weiner, I. D., Mitch, W. E. and Sands, J. M. (2015). Urea and ammonia metabolism and the control of renal nitrogen excretion. [online] Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 10 (8), pp. 1444-58. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4527031/ [accessed 6 Sept. 2017].

Individual amino acids

See below for a list of amino acids with which you can supplement.

L-carnitine is an essential nutrient in mammals. It exists as either free carnitine or as acylcarnitines Kocsis, K., Knapp, L., Gellért, L., Oláh, G., Kis, Z., Takakuwa, H., Iwamori, N., Ono, E., Toldi, J. and Farkas, T. (2014). Acetyl-L-carnitine normalizes the impaired long-term potentiation and spine density in a rat model of global ischemia. [online] Neuroscience, 269, pp. 265-72. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24704513 [accessed 6 Sept. 2017]..

Carnitine is important for energy production in the mitochondria, the powerhouses in our cells, and has been shown to aid with fat metabolism, testosterone production and stress hormone balance, as well as with cognition, memory, depression, low mood, and exhaustion Lake, J. (2009). Integrative Mental Health Care. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., p. 240., Greenblatt, J. (2011). The Breakthrough Depression Solution. North Branch, MN: Sunrise River Press, pp. 159-173..

Food sources

  • Red meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy products

Ko, E. Y. and Sabanegh, E. S. (2014). The role of nutraceuticals in male fertility. [online] Urologic Clinics of North America, 41 (1), pp. 181-93. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259002006_The_Role_of_Nutraceuticals_in_Male_Fertility [accessed 6 Sept. 2017].

Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the fluid surrounding the brain. It can enhance mood, mental performance, reduce cravings and be calming due to its effect on GABA, it is also helpful in supporting leaky gut as it is considered food food the cells lining out gut

Food sources

Glutamine can be found in bone broth Scott, T. and Daniel, K. (May 2015). Real food for Anxiety: Butter, Broth and Beyond. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/..

 

Supplementing

  • Supplement 5-10g a day Holford, P. (2004). Patrick Holford’s New Optimum Nutrition Bible. London: Piatkus, p. 136.
  • For insomnia, try to take 1/2 to a whole teaspoon of glutamine before bedtime, and see if it helps

Precautions

Glutamine may cause mental changes in people who have mania, in which case avoid use.

Glycine is considered a non-essential amino acid, but most of us are deficient in it if we are under stress. It can help with anxiety, sleep and memory Scott, T. and Daniel, K. (May 2015). Real food for Anxiety: Butter, Broth and Beyond. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/..

Furthermore, if we’re exposed to pesticides and industrial chemicals, we may need more glycine in our diet to support detoxification.

Food sources

Plant-based sources include:

  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Pumpkin
  • Banana
  • Kiwi

Animal-based (complete-source proteins) sources include:

  • Bone broth
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Fish

https://draxe.com/glycine/

L-Lysine is an essential amino acid. It can help reduce cortisol and anxiety Gottfried, S. (2013). The Hormone Cure. New York, NY: Scribner, p. 104

Food sources

  • Eggs
  • Red meat
  • Fish
  • Pulses

L-theanine is a water-soluble amino acid, with a glutamine backbone. L-theanine is important in reducing anxiety and increasing focus and creativity. It reduces the heart rate, improves focus and concentration and can help the body cope with stress Gottfried, S. (2013). The Hormone Cure. New York, NY: Scribner, p. 104.Abdou, A. M., Higashiguchi, S., Horie, K., Kim, M., Hatta, H. and Yokogoshi, H. (2006). Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. [online] Biofactors, 26 (3), pp. 201-8. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16971751 [accessed 29 Aug. 2017]., Lake, J. (2009). Integrative Mental Health Care. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., p. 173., Jamwal, S. and Kumar, P. (2017). L-theanine, a Component of Green Tea Prevents 3-Nitropropionic Acid (3-NP)-Induced Striatal Toxicity by Modulating Nitric Oxide Pathway. [online] Molecular Neurobiology, 54 (3), pp. 2327-37. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26957301 [accessed 6 Sept. 2017]..

Food Sources

  • Green tea

Supplementing

  • 250mg to 400mg per day Gottfried, S. (2013). The Hormone Cure. New York, NY: Scribner, p. 104.

Pyroglutamate shows an association with Alzheimer’s disease in that it affects the amyloid deposits seen in Alzheimer’s. It helps to enhance memory and alertness Hook, G., Yu, J., Toneff, T., Kindy, M. and Hook, V. (2014). Brain pyroglutamate amyloid-β is produced by cathepsin B and is reduced by the cysteine protease inhibitor E64d, representing a potential Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic. [online] Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 41 (1), pp. 129-49. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24595198 [accessed 29 Aug. 2017]..

Supplementing

  • If you already take glutamine your body is probably already producing enough
  • Otherwise, supplement 400mg-5000mg a day Holford, P. (2004). Patrick Holford’s New Optimum Nutrition Bible. London: Piatkus, p.99-104

Phenylalanine is involved in motivation and drive and is essential to making adrenaline and dopamine Holford, P. (2004). Patrick Holford’s New Optimum Nutrition Bible. London: Piatkus, p. 13.

Supplementing:

  • 500mg of free form L-Phenylalalnine  to 3 x a day

 

Part of a group of amino acids called “aromatic amino acids”, which includes phenylalanine, Tyrosine is a key building block for dopamine especially, but also for adrenaline and noradrenaline. It helps with motivation, drive, mood, and the production of energy.

Food sources:

Tyrosine can be found in:

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Almonds
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Yogurt
  • Watermelon
  • Green tea
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Seeds

Supplementing:

  • 500mg of free form L-Tyrosine daily

GABA is an amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It can also be taken as a supplement, and can help with anxiety, mood, focus and creativity Abdou, A. M., Higashiguchi, S., Horie, K., Kim, M., Hatta, H. and Yokogoshi, H. (2006). Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. [online] Biofactors, 26 (3), pp. 201-8. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16971751 [accessed 29 Aug. 2017]., Lake, J. (2009). Integrative Mental Health Care. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., p. 173., Jamwal, S. and Kumar, P. (2017). L-theanine, a Component of Green Tea Prevents 3-Nitropropionic Acid (3-NP)-Induced Striatal Toxicity by Modulating Nitric Oxide Pathway. [online] Molecular Neurobiology, 54 (3), pp. 2327-37. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26957301 [accessed 29 Aug. 2017]..

Supplementing

Adding supplements to your diet that contain these combinations can be very calming:

  • 100mg GABA at night

Scott, T. and Daniel, K. (May 2015). Real food for Anxiety: Butter, Broth and Beyond. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.Gluck, M. and Edgson, V. (2010). It Must Be My Hormones. London: Penguin, p. 79.

However, GABA supplements are not always well absorbed, due to the fact that they can have a hard time crossing the blood-brain-barrier. Schor, J. J. and Bloom, R. A. (2017). GABA: Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid. [online] Denver Naturopathic Clinic. Available at: http://www.denvernaturopathic.com/news/GABA.html [accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

Note on supplementing with GABA, tryptophan or 5-HTP

When you take GABA, tryptophan or 5-HTP capsules, open the capsule into a tablespoon of water, mix it up, and hold the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before swallowing it:

  • Taking the capsule like this speeds up its effect since it bypasses the digestive system, and the aminos will diffuse through the cheeks and through the two large blood vessels under the tongue into the bloodstream
  • The response to GABA when taken this way can be as little as 20 seconds, though five minutes is more typical for any of the other amino acids
  • You can also mix the capsule contents with inositol, as inositol helps with some of the obsessive thinking and obsessive behaviour
  • Some people mix the tryptophan and a little bit of applesauce or mashed banana, as carbohydrates aid in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin

Assess yourself frequently over time to ascertain whether you’re making progress, and work out whether you need to try a different kind of tablet.

There should be an improvement quite quickly. Once you’ve found the right quantity, you should continue to monitor, and eventually go down Scott, T. and Maree, K. (May 2015). Pyroluria, Amino Acids and Anxiety: Real Cases, Real Solutions. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.

Essential amino acid for making serotonin, the mood boosting neurotransmitter, and can help with depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. Holford, P. (2004). Patrick Holford’s New Optimum Nutrition Bible. London: Piatkus, p. 51..

Some plant foods contain significant amounts of serotonin, but serotonin cannot cross the blood brain barrier, so you need tryptophan, the building block of serotonin, which can cross the blood brain barrier, though it often gets crowded out by other proteins.

However eating tryptophan containing proteins with carbohydrates can increase tryptophan’s access to the brain.

Unlike 5-HTP, which is one step away from being converted to serotonin, tryptophan is two steps away, however it crosses over the blood-brain barrier more easily.

Vegetarians can often be deficient in serotonin because they may not be getting enough tryptophan Scott, T. and Keith, L. (May 2015). Anxiety, Depression and the Vegetarian Diet. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/..

Food sources

L-tryptophan is found in low concentrations in some foods. However, the amount of L-tryptophan in these foods is small compared to supplements:

  • Dairy (cottage cheese and milk)
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Red meat
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Bananas
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts, especially almonds
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Seeds
    • Seeds such as sesame, sunflower or pumpkin are good sources providing a high tryptophan: protein ratio

(2017). L-tryptophan. [online] WebMD. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/l-tryptophan-uses-and-risks [accessed 8 Sept. 2017].Greger, M. and Stone, G. (2016). How Not to Die. London: MacMillan, p. 204.Gluck, M. and Edgson, V. (2010). It Must Be My Hormones. London: Penguin, p. 77.

Supplementing

  • For those suffering with insomnia, anxiety and depression, you can take in a dose of 500-2000mg depending on the severity of your symptoms
  • Tryptophan combines well with zinc, which itself enhances the release of oxytocin and serotonin
  • Tryptophan also combines well with the B vitamins (riboflavin, miacin, niacinamide, vitamin B6)
  • Supplementing can help with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Lakhan, S. E. and Vieira, K. F. (2008). Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. [online] Nutrition Journal, 7, p. 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248201/ [accessed 6 Sept. 2017].

Scott, T. and Bongiorno, P. (May 2015). Serotonin and Anxiety, Happiness, Digestion and our Hormones. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/., Scott, T. and D’Eramo, K. (May 2015). How to use MindBody Medicine to Reverse Anxiety in 3 Minutes or Less. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/., Scott, T. and Maree, K. (May 2015). Pyroluria, Amino Acids and Anxiety: Real Cases, Real Solutions. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.

  • Tryptophan can be made from the amino acid phenylalanine, therefore, supplements containing both amino acids lead to alertness Ormstad, H., Dahl, J., Verkerk, R., Andreassen, O. A. and Maes, M. (2016). Increased plasma levels of competing amino acids, rather than lowered plasma tryptophan levels, are associated with a non-response to treatment in major depression. [online] European Neuropsychopharmacology, 26 (8), pp. 1286-96. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27237997 [accessed 6 Sept. 2017]. 
  • If you have under-methylated depression you should avoid tryptophan Walsh, W. (2004). Nutrient Power. New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub., p. 74

In 1990 L-tryptophan was recalled from the US market because it was linked to eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a potentially fatal neurological condition with symptoms that include fatigue; intense muscle pain; nerve pain; and painful swollen joints, and various organs. However, about 95% of all these cases were traced to L-tryptophan produced by a single manufacturer in Japan, which suggested that some L-tryptophan products were contaminated.

Currently, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, L-tryptophan is available and marketed as a dietary supplement.

Note on supplementing with GABA, tryptophan or 5-HTP

When you take GABA, tryptophan or 5-HTP capsules, open the capsule into a tablespoon of water, mix it up, and hold the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before swallowing it:

  • Taking the capsule like this speeds up its effect since it bypasses the digestive system, and the aminos will diffuse through the cheeks and through the two large blood vessels under the tongue into the bloodstream
  • The response to GABA when taken this way can be as little as 20 seconds, though five minutes is more typical for any of the other amino acids
  • You can also mix the capsule contents with inositol, as inositol helps with some of the obsessive thinking and obsessive behaviour
  • Some people mix the tryptophan and a little bit of applesauce or mashed banana, as carbohydrates aid in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin

Assess yourself frequently over time to ascertain whether you’re making progress, and work out whether you need to try a different kind of tablet.

There should be an improvement quite quickly. Once you’ve found the right quantity, you should continue to monitor, and eventually go down Scott, T. and Maree, K. (May 2015). Pyroluria, Amino Acids and Anxiety: Real Cases, Real Solutions. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.

5-HTP is an amino acid, precursor to serotonin, also derived from the amino acid tryptophan.

5-HTP can help with depression, anxiety and insomnia Talbott, S. (2007). The Cortisol Connection. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, p. 238..

Supplementing

  • 5-HTP supplements are made from the seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia Talbott, S. (2007). The Cortisol Connection. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, p. 238.
  • Folate, vitamin B6 and zinc are also needed for the synthesis of serotonin, so you may want to supplement these too
  • 5-HTP can be really good for lowering daytime anxiety, as it has less of a sedative effect than tryptophan

Scott, T. and Bongiorno, P. (May 2015). Serotonin and Anxiety, Happiness, Digestion and our Hormones. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/., Scott, T. and D’Eramo, K. (May 2015). How to use MindBody Medicine to Reverse Anxiety in 3 Minutes or Less. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/., Scott, T. and Maree, K. (May 2015). Pyroluria, Amino Acids and Anxiety: Real Cases, Real Solutions. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.

For depression

  • 5-HTP supplementation for depression should start at 50mg a day 3 times per day
  • This can increase to 100mg 3 times a day after 2 weeks if needed Murray, M. T. (2000). 5-HTP. New York: Bantam Books, p. 177.
  • 100mg in the AM – but it may induce sleepiness, in which case have 200mg at night Gluck, M. and Edgson, V. (2010). It Must Be My Hormones. London: Penguin, p. 79.

For sleep

  • If you have trouble sleeping, then taking 5-HTP before bedtime can help to promote deeper, most restful sleep
  • If you are taking it for depression and sleep, take 50mg 3 times a day with the last dose 45 minutes before sleep
  • Take 100-300mg at bedtime Murray, M. T. (2000). 5-HTP. New York: Bantam Books, p. 177.
  • Take 100mg in the AM or 200mg at night to aid sleep Gluck, M. and Edgson, V. (2010). It Must Be My Hormones. London: Penguin, p. 79.

Precaution

  • 5-HTP supplements should not be taken with antidepressants or other serotonin stimulating herbs such as St. John’s Worth, or the amino acid Tryptophan, unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner due to the risk of serotonin syndrome, though there are no reports of serotonin syndrome when 5-HTP is combined with a SSRI antidepressant Lake, J. (2009). Integrative Mental Health Care. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., pp. 104-105.Talbott, S. (2007). The Cortisol Connection. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, p. 238.
  • Serotonin syndrome refers to a cluster of dose-related adverse effects caused by increased levels of serotonin in the brain
    • It is also called serotonin toxicity as the severity shows a spectrum, depending on the concentration of serotonin
    • Severe toxicity usually only occurs with a combination of 2 or more serotonergic drugs, even when given at the correct dose, while moderate toxicity can result from the overdose with 1 drug
    • Severe toxicity results in high temperature, rigidity
    • Severe toxicity requires treatment in intensive care, while mild to moderate toxicity is treated by stopping the drug
    • Excessive serotonin can cause mild gastrointestinal effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, or serotonin syndrome in the nervous system, or cardiac fibrosis in the cardiovascular system
  • If you have under-methylated depression you should also avoid 5-HTP Walsh, W. (2004). Nutrient Power. New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub., p. 74

Note on supplementing with GABA, tryptophan or 5-HTP

When you take GABA, tryptophan or 5-HTP capsules, open the capsule into a tablespoon of water, mix it up, and hold the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before swallowing it:

  • Taking the capsule like this speeds up its effect since it bypasses the digestive system, and the aminos will diffuse through the cheeks and through the two large blood vessels under the tongue into the bloodstream
  • The response to GABA when taken this way can be as little as 20 seconds, though five minutes is more typical for any of the other amino acids
  • You can also mix the capsule contents with inositol, as inositol helps with some of the obsessive thinking and obsessive behaviour
  • Some people mix the tryptophan and a little bit of applesauce or mashed banana, as carbohydrates aid in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin

Assess yourself frequently over time to ascertain whether you’re making progress, and work out whether you need to try a different kind of tablet.

There should be an improvement quite quickly. Once you’ve found the right quantity, you should continue to monitor, and eventually go down Scott, T. and Maree, K. (May 2015). Pyroluria, Amino Acids and Anxiety: Real Cases, Real Solutions. [online] The Anxiety Summit, Season 3. Available at: http://season3.theanxietysummit.com/.

The amino acid L-methionine and ATP are needed for the body to manufacture SAMe (s-adenosyl methionine), a naturally occurring substance present in all the cells of our body, which aids the synthesis of key mental health neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine as well as certain proteins and hormones.

Supplementing

SAMe can be used by people with mild depression who want to avoid taking a pharmaceutical product. A study has shown that people improve within a few days of starting to take SAMe Holt, S. and MacDonald, I. (2011). Depression: Natural Remedies That Really Work. N.Z:Wairau Press, p. 152..

SAMe is not available in health food stores in the EU, and is very expensive Galizia, I., Oldani, L., Macritchie, K., Amari, E., Dougall, D., Jones, T. N., Lam, R. W., Massei, G. J., Yatham, L. N. and Young, A. H. (2016). S‐adenosyl methionine (SAM‐e) for depression in adults. [online] The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 10. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27727432 [accessed 7 Sept. 2017]..

  • Supplement 200-1200mg a day divided in 2 to 3 doses for mood benefits Talbott, S. (2007). The Cortisol Connection. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, p. 240.Gluck, M. and Edgson, V. (2010). It Must Be My Hormones. London: Penguin, p. 79.
  • Once a balanced mood is attained, cut back gradually to a maintenance dose, though the longer it is used the more beneficial the results Gluck, M. and Edgson, V. (2010). It Must Be My Hormones. London: Penguin, p. 79.
  • Should be taken with 50mg of B6 and B12 and 200mg of folic acid

Precautions

  • Take it under supervision, as there is a risk of serotonin syndrome
  • Do not take it if you are bipolar, or take it only under medical supervision, as it can exacerbate mania (2017, 11 Jan.) S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): In Depth. [online] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Available at: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/supplements/SAMe [accessed 7 Sept. 2017].
  • Do not take it before bedtime as many people find it has a stimulating effect, and ideally take it on an empty stomach