FAQs about Nutrient Therapy and Amino Acids

What is Nutritional Therapy?

When you become deficient in a nutrient because your diet is not supplying it and/or your need for it increases, or you can’t digest it; you can “treat” yourself by eating more food that contains it and by taking supplementary concentrates.

What are neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are specialized nerve cells (“neuro” means nerve) that transmit their messages in bursts of signaling that reach outward from neuron to neuron through your brain and nervous system, almost instantaneously. Four of them produce and relay signals we experience as optimal mood and healthy appetite if there are enough of them. If not, we feel negative and have cravings.

What are amino acids?

An amino acid is a protein. There are twenty of them. We get lots from high protein foods like steak and egg and some, but fewer from nuts, beans, and grains. Junk foods contain almost none. Amino acids are called “the building blocks of protein” because they are used alone or in hundreds of combinations, like multicolored bricks, to build every structure in the body, including the brain cells that control our appetites, mood, and sleep. None of our brain’s appetite-regulating cells can function well without a good supply of at least five of the twenty aminos. The better the amino supply, the more satisfied and happy we feel. The more depleted the amino supply, the more we crave and feel unhappy.

Why do we need amino acids?

THE BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS THAT CONTROL OUR APPETITE AND MOOD ARE MADE OUT OF AMINO ACIDS

  1. Endorphins: our naturally comforting pain killers
  2. Serotonin: our natural anti-depressant and sleep-promoter
  3. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric-acid): our natural tranquilizer
  4. Catecholamines: our natural energizer and mental focuser
  5. Glucose: the instant fuel for the neurotransmitters (needed constantly)

HOW AMINO ACIDS FEED YOUR BRAIN

The above key appetite-regulators are made out of very specific amino acids. This is a well-known biochemical fact. There are at least twenty types of amino acids contained in high protein foods such as fish, eggs, chicken, and beef, including the nine amino acids that are considered essential for adult humans. Other foods, such as grains and beans, have somewhat fewer aminos, so they need to be combined to provide a complete array (for example, brown rice with beans or nuts).  (Even then, these foods provide much less amino volume as their carb content is so much higher and they are typically harder to digest.)

If you are eating three meals a day, each meal including plenty of protein (most people with eating and weight problems are doing neither), your positive moods and freedom from cravings can be maintained. But many people need to kick-start a brains repair job, using particular, individual amino acids as supplements available in health stores, drug stores and supermarkets and online.  This allows us to quickly start enjoying protein and vegetables instead of cookies and ice cream. After a few months (three to twelve, typically), you will be getting all the aminos you need from your food alone and won’t need to take amino acids as supplements any longer.

IDENTIFY WHICH NEUROTRANSMITTERS YOU’RE LOW IN AND, WHICH AMINOS YOU’LL NEED

Start by filling out the questionnaires – which are really neurotransmitter deficiency symptom lists – in the books or on their websites:

REFUELING YOUR BRAIN WITH THE AMINO ACIDS THAT ELIMINATE FOOD CRAVINGS AND NEGATIVE MOODS

Restoring depleted brain chemistry sounds like a big job—but it isn’t. Three of the four crucial neurotransmitters are made from just a single amino acid each! Biochemists learned how to isolate, extract, and concentrate amino acids in the 1970s. They are now readily available in most health stores, pharmacies, supermarkets, and online. You can easily add the specific one(s) that you may be deficient in. These “free form” amino acids are concentrated and instantly bioavailable (in other words they are predigested) unlike protein powders made from foods like soy or milk, which are not concentrated and can be hard to absorb. Hundreds of research studies at Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere have confirmed the effectiveness of using just a few individual amino acid precursors to increase targeted neurotransmitters, thereby eliminating depression, anxiety, and cravings for food.

The Amino Acids You Might Need

  • 5HTP or/ Tryptophan to raise Serotonin levels
  • GABA or Theanine to raise GABA levels
  • Tyrosine or phenylalanine to raise levels of stimulating neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline
  • DLPA or D-phenylalanine to increase the availability of Endorphin
  • Glutamine to keep blood sugar levels stable and all the neurotransmitters firing strongly and in concert

AMINO ACID SUPPLEMENTS FOR POST-OPTIFASTERS

University of North Texas researcher Kenneth Blum and colleagues monitored two groups of dieters for two years after they had completed a medically monitored fast. The fasters had used the product Optifast, a powdered nutritional drink containing various vitamins and minerals, which dieters used to replace one, two, or even three meals a day. In Dr. Blum’s study, 247 Optifast graduates were divided into two equal groups. One group took three amino acids. The other group took no amino acids. As we know from Oprah Winfrey’s highly publicized experience with Optifast and from Senate investigation of Optifast and Nutrisystems, a quick regain of weight after a liquid fast is to be expected in more than 90 percent of cases. However, this did not happen to Dr. Blum’s amino acid-taking group.

At the end of two years, the amino acid takers showed:

  •  a twofold decrease in percent overweight for both males and females;
  • a 70 percent decrease in craving for females and a 63 percent decrease for males;
  • a 66 percent decrease in binge eating for females and a 41 percent decrease for males;
  • the experimental group regained only 14.7 percent of the weight they lost during fasting while the control group regained 41.7 percent of their lost weight.

The Amino Acids Provided were glutamine, 5HTP, and DLPA

Are aminos safe to take?

Amino Acids: Wonderful for Most, Trouble for Some.

Julia Ross’ clinic staff has successfully used “Amino Therapy” to help thousands of individuals since 1986. Her readers have been raving about the aminos since the first edition of her first book, The Diet Cure, came out in 1999. All the aminos Julia recommends have been researched since the 1970s and are FDA-designated as generally safe to take. However, as is the case with most nutrient supplements, their effects have not been specifically evaluated by the FDA.

Everybody’s body is different. Over the past 30 years, Julia and her staff have learned which aminos do not tend to be beneficial for which people. To avoid problems, try only the aminos that your Craving Cure Type Questionnaire or your Mood Type Questionnaire indicates you could benefit from. Please also take the time to review the amino acid contraindications summary that follow before taking any of the aminos. This is what Julia’s clinic nutritionists do before recommending any aminos. That’s why they so seldom see any adverse reactions! (See Chapters 11 and 12 in The Craving Cure for full details.)

Amino Acids: General Contraindications 

Check with an expert health practitioner before trialing any aminos if:

  • If you are taking any medications regularly, to rule out any adverse interaction possibilities. (If you are on antidepressants, see The Mood Cure’s chapter on alternatives to antidepressants.)
  • If you have any serious physical illness. (*See examples in box below.)
  • If you have severe liver or kidney problems (e.g. lupus, hepatitis)
  • If you have an ulcer (amino acids are slightly acidic).
  • If you are pregnant or nursing, individual amino acids are not recommended, but a total “free-form” amino blend may be used. (Our clients’ O.B.s love Total Amino Solution by Genesa.) Exceptions: If your tested levels of plasma aminos and plasma or platelet neurotransmitters are low, your neurotransmitter deficiency symptoms are severe, and your OB agrees (see Tracking Tools in The Craving Cure for testing details).
  • If you have schizophrenia or other mental illness, especially if it is not stabilized with medication. (See details on bipolar spectrum disorder on chart below.)

The Most Serious Amino Contraindication

* Do NOT take any: tyrosine, phenylalanine, or DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) without expert medical advice if you have or have had

  • An overactive thyroid (Grave’s Disease)
  • PKU (Phenylketonuria)
  • Melanoma,
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure

This applies mostly to Craving Type 5s and Mood Type 2s, who might otherwise be expected to benefit from these aminos.

Specific Amino Contraindications

Avoid or be cautious about trying these supplements if you Tyrosine or Phenylalanine Tryptophan or 5-HTP GABA DLPA Glutamine Melatonin
have high blood pressure X X
have low blood pressure X
get migraine headaches X X
have manic depression or bipolar spectrum tendencies X X See *1 below
have severe depression 5-HTP only X
have asthma X X
have a carcinoid tumor X
have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis X X
have excessively high adrenal cortisol output X 5-HTP only
are diabetic, check your glucose levels after taking See *2 below

*Re Glutamine contraindications
1. In approximately 50% of bi-polar cases glutamine can trigger mild to severe mania. Note: Low doses can sometimes relieve bi-polar depression without triggering mania. (SAM-E, St. John’s Wort, bright therapeutic lamps, and too much fish or flax oil may also trigger mania.)

2. In rare cases, glutamine might raise blood sugar in diabetics.

Too Many Aminos?
Amino acids are rarely needed long term (three to twelve months is typical). Occasionally Julia’s clients find that they have taken them for too long and experience a return of their original negative symptoms briefly. If any of the neurotransmitter deficiency symptoms you checked off on your original Craving Type or Mood Type Questionnaire return, stop taking the amino indicated for that Type. The negative reaction will stop. This just means that you have received maximum benefit early and you don’t need that amino anymore.

Even if your doctor agrees that you can try amino acids (or any other nutrients), if you experience discomfort of any kind after taking them, stop taking them. The above chart of contraindication is helpful, but, to avoid unpleasant surprises, trial aminos as Julia recommends in her books, starting one dose before going higher. That way any negative reaction will be very mild. 1,000 mg of Vitamin C powder (e.g. open a capsule and stir in a cup of water) typically washes out any problem reaction in minutes.

Are aminos safe to take?

Amino Acids: Wonderful for Most, Trouble for Some.

Julia Ross’ clinic staff has successfully used “Amino Therapy” to help thousands of individuals since 1986. Her readers have been raving about the aminos since the first edition of her first book, The Diet Cure, came out in 1999. All the aminos Julia recommends have been researched since the 1970s and are FDA-designated as generally safe to take. However, as is the case with most nutrient supplements, their effects have not been specifically evaluated by the FDA.

Everybody’s body is different. Over the past 30 years, Julia and her staff have learned which aminos do not tend to be beneficial for which people. To avoid problems, try only the aminos that your Craving Cure Type Questionnaire or your Mood Type Questionnaire indicates you could benefit from. Please also take the time to review the amino acid contraindications summary that follow before taking any of the aminos. This is what Julia’s clinic nutritionists do before recommending any aminos. That’s why they so seldom see any adverse reactions! (See Chapters 11 and 12 in The Craving Cure for full details.)

Amino Acids: General Contraindications 

Check with an expert health practitioner before trialing any aminos if:

  • If you are taking any medications regularly, to rule out any adverse interaction possibilities. (If you are on antidepressants, see The Mood Cure’s chapter on alternatives to antidepressants.)
  • If you have any serious physical illness. (*See examples in box below.)
  • If you have severe liver or kidney problems (e.g. lupus, hepatitis)
  • If you have an ulcer (amino acids are slightly acidic).
  • If you are pregnant or nursing, individual amino acids are not recommended, but a total “free-form” amino blend may be used. (Our clients’ O.B.s love Total Amino Solution by Genesa.) Exceptions: If your tested levels of plasma aminos and plasma or platelet neurotransmitters are low, your neurotransmitter deficiency symptoms are severe, and your OB agrees (see Tracking Tools in The Craving Cure for testing details).
  • If you have schizophrenia or other mental illness, especially if it is not stabilized with medication. (See details on bipolar spectrum disorder on chart below.)

The Most Serious Amino Contraindication

* Do NOT take any: tyrosine, phenylalanine, or DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) without expert medical advice if you have or have had

  • An overactive thyroid (Grave’s Disease)
  • PKU (Phenylketonuria)
  • Melanoma,
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure

This applies mostly to Craving Type 5s and Mood Type 2s, who might otherwise be expected to benefit from these aminos.

Specific Amino Contraindications

Avoid or be cautious about trying these supplements if you . . .
have high blood pressure
DLPA
have low blood pressure
GABA
get migraine headaches
Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, DLPA
have manic depression or bipolar spectrum tendencies
Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, DLPA, Glutamine (see *1 below)
have severe depression
5-HTP, Melatonin
have asthma
Tryptophan or 5-HTP, Melatonin
have a carcinoid tumor
Tryptophan or 5-HTP
have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Tryptophan or 5-HTP, DLPA
have excessively high adrenal cortisol output
Tyrosine or Phenylalanine, 5-HTP
are diabetic, check your glucose levels after taking
Glutamine (see *2 below)

*Re Glutamine contraindications
1. In approximately 50% of bi-polar cases glutamine can trigger mild to severe mania. Note: Low doses can sometimes relieve bi-polar depression without triggering mania. (SAM-E, St. John’s Wort, bright therapeutic lamps, and too much fish or flax oil may also trigger mania.)

2. In rare cases, glutamine might raise blood sugar in diabetics.

Too Many Aminos?
Amino acids are rarely needed long term (three to twelve months is typical). Occasionally Julia’s clients find that they have taken them for too long and experience a return of their original negative symptoms briefly. If any of the neurotransmitter deficiency symptoms you checked off on your original Craving Type or Mood Type Questionnaire return, stop taking the amino indicated for that Type. The negative reaction will stop. This just means that you have received maximum benefit early and you don’t need that amino anymore.

Even if your doctor agrees that you can try amino acids (or any other nutrients), if you experience discomfort of any kind after taking them, stop taking them. The above chart of contraindication is helpful, but, to avoid unpleasant surprises, trial aminos as Julia recommends in her books, starting one dose before going higher. That way any negative reaction will be very mild. 1,000 mg of Vitamin C powder (e.g. open a capsule and stir in a cup of water) typically washes out any problem reaction in minutes.

Where can I find the supplements mentioned in Julia’s books?

See the “shop” here for the exact supplements we use at my clinic. Some, like The Trialing Kit, can only be found there. Others can be found in stores and online.

Can I receive help from Julia personally?

Julia is not available to help virtual clinic clients directly but she supervises the nutritionists when questions or problems arise.