Amino acids are some of the building blocks of all life. While amino acids have been known to be an important part of a healthy individual, only recently has Amino Acid Replacement Therapy been introduced into the realm of addiction treatment. At Coastal Detox, we are on the cutting edge of amino acid therapy. Whether through pills, topicals, or injections, at Coastal Detox we can help you make the most of this exciting and effective new therapeutic technique.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are a naturally occurring building block of life that are essential to human function. Amino acid chains form the foundation for proteins and proteins make up approximately 20% of our body. Our tissues and cells are all made up of amino acids that help give the cell structure and transport nutrients (such as carbohydrates and fats) that are essential for life.
Amino acids are also important for healing wounds and repairing bone and muscle tissue. They also facilitate waste removal and transport from cells and keep our metabolism going. There are over 200 types of amino acids occurring naturally in our body. The most important faction of these is called proteinogenic amino acids. This group is essential to proper body chemistry and is generally supplied through our diet. Without a properly regulated intake, protein deficiency can occur.
Amino acid supplements have become more necessary today, for a variety of reasons. Pollution in the air, water, and food has made it more difficult for human bodies to ingest and process amino acids. These pollutions clog our skin and cells, making our bodies waste precious amino acids. Supplements can ensure that we maintain healthy levels of these valuable nutrients.
Types of Amino Acids
As mentioned above, there are over 200 types of amino acids. However, not all are equally important, especially when it comes to utilizing them for addiction therapy. Below we will highlight some of the most important amino acids as it relates to addiction therapy.
L-Tryptophan: This is an essential amino acid with the primary goal of producing serotonin. Serotonin is an extremely important hormone because it regulates mood. Depletion of serotonin can potentially lead to depression or other mood disorders. Extreme deficiencies can lead to suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, sleep disorders, and compulsive behaviors. Regulating L-Tryptophan through amino acid supplements can help manage harmful cravings such as nicotine and alcohol.
GABA: Studies show that GABA supplementation can have a calming effect and help boost mood-regulating hormones such as serotonin.
DLPA D-Phenylalanine: This amino acid has been proven to help extend the flow of endorphins, which are naturally occurring substances that help relieve pain and anxiety. Often, opioid abusers lack proper endorphin levels. Deficiencies in this amino acid can lead to extreme mood swings or increased pain sensitivity.
L-Tyrosine: This is an amino acid used in the production of catecholamines, which are important neurotransmitters our body requires to function. Some examples of essential catecholamines are norepinephrine, dopamine, and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters aid in alertness, energy, and focus. Supplementing with L-Tyrosine can help patients in areas of motivation, increased energy, and increased focus. This amino acid is used in the production of catecholamines. Generally, patients who struggle with an addiction to stimulants may experience a deficiency in L-Tyrosine.
L-Glutamine: Called a “brain balancer,” L-Glutamine for its ability to maintain and regulate blood sugar levels. Healthy blood sugar levels are important for maintaining energy, clarity, and motivation. Supplementing L-Glutamine is helpful in times of stress and when beginning a journey to sobriety.
As you can see, subsidizing these particular amino acids can prove very beneficial on an addiction treatment journey. Supplementing these amino acids, when done correctly, can limit phycological and physical withdrawal symptoms associated with detox and substance abuse treatment.
Amino Acids and Addiction
At the most basic level, happiness comes from neurotransmitters firing in our brain. These neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, can greatly affect our mood. Natural processes, such as laughing, exercising, or eating, can produce these neurotransmitters.
Production of neurotransmitters is our body’s way of “positive reinforcement” in that doing things we like and eating healthy things make us feel good-in turn spurring us to do more of those things. Drugs (both legal and illegal) replicate the production of neurotransmitters that occur naturally in our bodies. While anti-depressants, such as Zoloft, can help with the production of serotonin, using alcohol or opioids can reduce the amount of serotonin in our bloodstream.
Chronic drug use can cause amino acids, and the neurotransmitters they help facilitate, to deplete to dangerous levels. Tolerance occurs when more of a substance is needed to produce the same euphoric effect, or high. This cycle can continue until either begins treatment or succumb to addiction. Because chronic drug users are using these neurotransmitters more often and at a greater amount, they deplete quicker. Over time, more of the drug is needed to feel the same effects.
Amino acid therapy can be an important part of any treatment journey. As the body gets more and more starved for harmful chemicals, amino acids can help produce the neurotransmitters that will allow a patient to overcome these addictions.
What is Amino Acid Replacement Therapy?
Addiction, by its nature, does not prioritize holistic health. While a person may feel great in the short term, the long-term effects are very dangerous. Often, at the beginning of addiction treatment, patients have extremely low levels of dopamine and serotonin. Amino acid therapy is a targeted dose of amino acid supplements geared towards helping addicts ease into recovery. These supplementations can replenish depleted neurotransmitters and help patients feel healthier mentally and physically.
The primary purpose of amino acids is to help a patient’s “reward center” return to homeostasis. This means helping someone regulate their serotonin and dopamine levels back into a normal range so that the body can feel pain, pleasure, and motivation properly. Drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, cause the body to seek pleasure only from those substances, thus throwing our priorities out of order.
While it is a relatively young therapeutic modality, many people who participate in amino acid replacement therapy report increases in energy level, increased motivation, and great success in overcoming addiction.
Choosing and Managing Amino Acid Replacements
Evolution, occurring on both the macro (large) and micro (small) levels is a fact of life. Evolution at the micro-level is often referred to as a mutation. These mutations can occur on several levels, such as by directly modifying genetic code, and can have a trickle-down effect at the amino acid level.
Evidence suggests that mutating proteins are very tolerant of amino acid replacements. This is known as a “neutral” amino acid replacement. Thus your body can replace lost dopamine, etc, without making significant changes to cell structure.
It is important to note that it is essential to have a trained professional overseeing this therapy. While amino acid therapy has proven safe and effective, attempting it without supervision can lead to some of the same side-effects of the original addiction.
Amino Acid Replacements and Covid-19
In this time of global uncertainty, patients need to understand the potential links between amino acid deficiency and Covid-19 vulnerability. Like any essential substance, amino acid health can be a buoy against infection and can significantly boost the immune system. Viruses, like all living things, are made of amino acids at their core. Amino acid supplementation can not only help patients overcome addiction, but it can also help their bodies fight off dangerous invaders, such as Covid-19.
Get Started with Amino Acid Replacement Therapy
Perhaps you had never heard of amino acid replacement therapy before reading this article. Or perhaps you have been taking amino acid supplements for a long time. Regardless of your knowledge base, it is important to understand how essential amino acid supplementation is to our overall health and the recovery journey.
At Coastal Detox, we have licensed nutritionists who will work alongside you to tailor a program that fits your budget, lifestyle, and health needs. There is little doubt that a successful amino acid replacement plan can help spur you or your loved one towards your recovery goals. If you think amino acid therapy might be for you, give us a call today to get started. At Coastal Detox, this is just one of the many tools we use to attack addiction. Let us help you add another weapon to your arsenal today.