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Sunday, April 11, 2010

L-Tyrosine –Natural Cures for Depression

What is l-tyrosine?  Rose knows that it is an amino acid which is one of the building blocks of protein that play an important part in regulating emotions by producing neurotransmitters.  Our body naturally makes l-tyrosine from another amino acid, phenylalanine.  Many high protein foods contain l-tyrosine such as; soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, lima beans (gotta love those lima beans), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and wheat and oats.  

Another benefit of l-tyrosine is it helps produce adequate amounts of the neurotransmitters L-dopa, dopamine, nor-epinephrine and epinephrine that are needed to regulate emotion.  If these levels are depleted you will feel sad, anxious, irritable, frustrated and depressed.  In addition, dopamine can help suppress your appetite and reduce body fat, so if you lack these neurotransmitters you may find it easy to gain weight and/or struggle to lose it.  If you are chronically stressed you might have depleted levels of l-tyrosine which converts thyroid hormones to adrenaline. 

You can reduce the depletion of l-tyrosine by limiting your caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake.  Some medications can also interfere with l-tyrosine production.  Some people find it beneficial to take an l-tyrosine supplement to replenish l-tyrosine.  A study reports that taking l-tyrosine supplements are useful during conditions of stress, cold, fatigue, loss of a loved one, prolonged work situations and sleep deprivation with reduction of stress hormones and improvements in cognitive and physical performance.  It calms the body, increases energy and enhances libido. It helps those that suffer from Parkinson’s, mood disorders, Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADD, depression, ADHD, narcolepsy, chronic fatigue, alcohol and cocaine withdrawal, heart disease and stroke, ED and schizophrenia.  Some people take it in a cream form as an anti-wrinkle cream.  L-tyrosine also is an appetite suppressant and can convert the skin pigment melanin that protects the skin from harmful UV light rays. 

Although l-tyrosine is not necessary for most people, but for those that have conditions related to the deficiencies the average dosage is 100 mg per 2.2 lbs of body weight.  Known side effects include; nausea, headache, fatigue, heartburn and joint pain.  There have been no known side effects for people that use l-tyrosine for a limited time period.  If you take it in large amounts and/or over a long period of time and experience the above side effects contact your physician.  He/she may recommend an alternative method of treatment.  As with any supplement it is advisable to talk to your doctor especially if you are taking any other medications or have medical conditions.

Special Warnings: Those that are pregnant and breast feeding shouldn’t take l-tyrosine as there is not enough data to support the safety of using this supplement.  It is better to be safe and avoid use. If you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism or Graves disease taking too much l-tyrosine may increase thyroxine levels too much making hyperthyuroidism and Graves disease worsen. 

If you suffer from depression talk to your doctor about taking a test to see you have low levels of l-tyrosine.   This article is for information only and not intended to provide medical advice, which should be obtained from a medical professional and has not been approved by the U.S. FDA.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Rose knows that without your body’s ability to produce gamma-aminobutyric acid your muscles would be constantly tense, your mind would never stop racing and your overall ability to function would be impaired.  Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA is an important chemical that is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that regulates the firing of neurons which maintain the balance between the body and the state of excitation.  GABA supplements can increase this valuable resource in your body and increase the level of HGH or Human Growth Hormones, help you to relax and sleep, reduce muscle tension along with stress, anxiety and depression to promote an overall well being.  GABA supplements also relieve other disorders such as ADHD, hypertension, obesity, insomnia and alcoholism just to name a few.  GABA also aids athletes and bodybuilders as it enhances the body’s muscle mass as well as facilitate fat and weight loss.

People that are GABA deficient are known to experience anxiety symptoms, irritability, headaches, hypertension, heart palpitations, seizures, lower sex drive and disorders of the cardiovascular system. Many take prescription medications like Valium, Xanax or Ativan to stimulate GABA receptors in the brain but these drugs often have unwanted side effects. The safest way to naturally improve your brain chemistry is to eat foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates as they increase glutamine, an amino acid and precursor to create GABA.  GABA-friendly foods will benefit your diet as long as you avoid simple sugars, white flours and wheat products other than whole grains.  Here is a list of GABA-friendly foods:
  • Almonds, tree nuts
  • Bananas
  • Beef Liver
  • Broccoli
  • Brown Rice
  • Halibut
  • Lentils
  • Oats, whole grain
  • Oranges, citrus fruits
  • Rice bran
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Whole wheat, whole grains.
If you would rather take a GABA supplement to over your anxiety consider taking L-theanine which is a natural amino acid found in green tea which aides in the formation of GABA and has few, if any, side effects.  L-theanine can create a calming effect, increase mental clarity without feeling drowsy. L-theanine is available in your local health food store or pharmacy.  The dose and frequency varies according to your symptoms, but most people take 100 to 200mg 1 to 4 times daily.  It is recommended to consult with your physician before taking any supplement especially if you are on other medications or have other medical problems. 

Remember GABA controls the brain’s rhythmic theta waves so you feel more physically and mentally balanced as too much excitation can lead to restlessness, insomnia and even seizures.  GABA is able to induce relaxation, analgesia and sleep all the while overcoming anxiety.  GABA is also involved with the production of endorphins the brains chemical of well-being also known as the runners high.  Endorphins are produced in the brain when the body is being physical such as stretching or even sexual intercourse.  Once the endorphins are released you will feel a sense of calm which is referred to as the “Endorphin Effect”.

Anxiety is common but chronic anxiety is not as it can lower your quality of life and impact your immune system.  If you are suffering from chronic anxiety talk to your doctor as he may recommend a test either by urine or saliva that will determine your neurotransmitter levels.  Hormones and neurotransmitters are interrelated in how they can affect mood regulation.  Try to avoid taking prescription anti-anxiety medications as they have side effects and they are habit-forming.  A GABA supplement to overcome anxiety is a safe and natural alternative. 

Important information about Valium

You should not use Valium if you are allergic to diazepam, or if you have myasthenia gravis, severe liver disease, narrow-angle glaucoma, a severe breathing problem, or sleep apnea. This medication can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use Valium if you are pregnant.

Before taking Valium, tell your doctor if you have glaucoma, asthma or other breathing problems, kidney or liver disease, seizures, or a history of drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Do not drink alcohol while taking Valium. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.
Never take more of this medication than your doctor has prescribed. An overdose of Valium can be fatal.
Valium may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Thus medicine should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Valium?

Valium may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Valium should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it. You should not use Valium if you are allergic to diazepam, or if you have:
·         myasthenia gravis (a muscle weakness disorder);
·         severe liver disease;
·         narrow-angle glaucoma;
·         a severe breathing problem; or
·         Obstructive sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep).

If you have certain conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take Valium. Before taking diazepam, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
·         glaucoma;
·         asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, COPD, or other breathing problems;
·         kidney or liver disease;
·         epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
·         a history of mental illness, depression, or suicidal thoughts or behavior; or
·         A history of drug or alcohol addiction.

FDA pregnancy category D. Valium can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use this medicine while you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Use an effective form of birth control while you are using this medication. Diazepam can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Side Effects

Check with your doctor if any of these most common side effects persist or become bothersome: blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, incoordination, short-term memory loss, weakness. Seek medical attention right away if any of these severe side effects occur: severe allergic reactions (rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); anxiety, chest pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty sleeping, difficulty speaking, hallucinations, inability to control urination, increased muscle spasms, interrupted breathing, involuntary eye movement, sleep disturbances, stimulation, sudden rage, yellowing of the skin or eyes. Symptoms may include clumsiness, coma, confusion, deep sleep, loss of consciousness, slow reflexes. If you suspect an overdose of Valium, seek medical attention immediately.

In conclusion researchers find L-theanine contradictory that green tea with its high caffeine content would produce a calming effect.  Scientist are researching L-theanine as an alternative to Ritalin for children and adults that have ADHA, treat women for PMS, controlling high blood pressure, sharpening the minds ability to concentrate, and an anti-cancer agent. L-theanine is also known to reduce the negative side effects of caffeine bought on by over consumption of caffeinated beverages. 

If you decide to try L-theanine you can purchase it as a supplement in capsule form or in green tea.  Note: UCLA Center for Human Nutrition found that decaffeinated tea contains only a third of the catechins found in regular tea. Regular tea contains 21 to 103 milligrams of catechins per gram. Decaf contains only 5 to 50 milligrams.

Another separate study by the US Department of Agriculture reported similar findings. According to this study, decaffeinated green tea contains only 56 milligrams of catechins per gram, less than half of the catechins found in a regular tea.

This is bad news. Catechins are the most active antioxidants in green tea. They contribute greatly to its flavors. No wonder many complain that decaf tastes awful. Where have the catechins gone? The answers lie in the processing. Decaffeinated green tea is usually made using two chemical solvents: ethyl acetate (causes liver problems) and carbon dioxide (expensive to process and hard to find).

So for those that like a cup of tea before bed to calm your nerves try green tea straight up (fully caffeinated) but limit it to one cup as too much tea as with any liquid will only wake you up during the night to go to the bathroom. 

The information in this article is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained from a medical professional, and has not been approved by the U.S. FDA.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sleeping Too Much

Napping … Is it Good for You?

Rose knows that the National Foundation of Sleep has reported that taking naps in the afternoon will interrupt the recommended 7-8 hours of nighttime sleep.  Sleeping too much in the afternoon can keep us up later at night and over time we lose the quality of nighttime sleep. Also as we age we naturally lose the quality of nighttime sleep and in the November 2009 issue of the Harvard Health Letter gave an account that taking a nap during the day is a way to catch up on our sleep.  Your desire or need for sleep in the afternoon usually hits you around the same time every day. 

Your biological clock regulates your body temperature, blood pressure, secretion of digestive juices and your sleep/wake cycle.  This sleep/wake cycle also known as your circadian schedule oftentimes controls your hormones that wake you in the morning and help you fall asleep at night.  Sometimes you experience mid-afternoon sleepiness as part of your circadian schedule.  Disrupting your natural circadian schedule by working the night shift or jet lag can contribute to your inability to fall asleep at night, which can cause you to feel tired in the late afternoon. 

Napping….is it good for you?  How long should a nap be to help us reenergize and not affect our sleep schedule?  Does the time of day we nap matter?  What is a power nap?

While some of us can nap for short periods of time others require longer naps.  A power nap of six minutes can help with retention and memorization for those that work in an office; others might require at least 40 minutes improving alertness and performance such as those that work with high stress jobs such as air traffic controllers, firemen/EMS workers and night shift employees.  (Some experts a nap should be limited to 30 minutes)

Taking a nap after lunch in other countries like Spain, Italy, the Middle East, North Africa and many Latin American countries find it commonplace and encouraged.  Some offices in Japan have a ‘napping room’ or allow a pillow at the employee’s desks for a nap during office hours.  Studies have proven that a nap just like exercise help lower cardiovascular conditions and stroke.  Other studies show that people who nap often at least 30 minutes three times a week have a lower risk for heart attacks, especially among men.  Even if you nap occasionally you will have a 12% lower coronary mortality than those that don’t nap at all.

How to get the most out of your nap?  The ideal amount of time to nap is 30 minutes to reenergize and feel rested, set your alarm so you won’t sleep longer.  Longer naps will put you into a deeper sleep or REM sleep which will make it harder for you to concentrate once awakened.  Try to sleep where it’s dark, noise free and cool.  If you don’t have control over external distractions you can use ear plugs, listen to sleep music and wear an eye mask to help you to fall asleep faster. Listen to your biological clock it will tell you when you need to nap and if you schedule your nap around the same time every day your body will adjust to this routine.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention more than 1 out of 10 people are sleep-deprived.  Other statistics show that Hispanics sleep better than whites and blacks and men better than women.

Like a nap time routine you should also keep the same bedtime schedule.  Sticking to a bedtime routine like; taking a warm bath, reading a book, writing in your journal, doing yoga stretches, listening to self-hypnotic CDs or meditate and going to bed at the same time every night tells your brain and body it’s time to retire. Don’t drink or eat too much prior to bedtime as eating can cause indigestion and acid reflux, drinking will only wake you up during the night to go to the bathroom.  Drinking alcohol might make you go to sleep, but is known to wake people up during the night. Alcohol also causes sleep apnea.  Smoking and caffeinated beverages increase your heart rate and it will take longer for your body to regulate your system before you can sleep.  If you like to drink a tea sleep aide prior to bed make sure that it is decaffeinated. Remember your bedroom is a safe peaceful place where you leave your stress about work and family at the door.  Make your bed as comfortable as possible with a mattress that fits your needs.  If you bed is uncomfortable but you can’t afford a new mattress, try a memory foam mattress pad topper.  Oh and keep the kid and pets out, if possible. 

If you find you can’t get to sleep at night because you are sleeping too much during the day, cut back on your naps until you figure out the perfect nap-time schedule that is right for you.
Good Day
Rose Sheepskill