I see massive shifts in my clients too. But, there seemed to be a missing link, a physiological issue pulling them at times, to go back to their old ways and sometimes, its irresistible, and its frustrating for them and they get sucked back into a binge or eating foods that no longer serve them and keep them stuck right where they don't want to be.
This left me scratching my head for answers. I had read The Diet Cure a while back but the information seemed confusing. I recently got a book by the same author, Julia Ross, called The Mood Cure. I then purchased her program on healing addictions and I am becoming more and more convinced that amino acids can make a huge difference in the ability to make lasting changes. I've been experimenting with them with my clients and am seeing amazing things happen.
According to Ross, the first important thing to ask yourself is what is your substance of choice doing for you? Is it calming? Is it numbing your emotional pain? Do you use it to de-stress? To escape? Is it an upper? A Downer? How is it that you feel while thinking about, partaking in and after using this substance?
And next, what substances do you turn to for reasons other than physical hunger? Coffee, chocolate, processed carbohydrates, salty foods, sweet foods, starchy foods, fatty foods, artificially sweetened products. What mood states are you looking for these substances to give you?
The fact is that you use (these substances) to feel better, not to wreck your life or anyone else's. Don't let shame keep you from exploring why you use them... It doesn't matter, at first, which specific mood-coping substance is your problem. What matter is how that substance changes your mood chemistry. Does it give you a lift, an energy surge? Does it give you confidence or a sense of humor? Does it relax you, take the edge off,, or allow you to go to sleep?
Following are Ross's findings and can be found in both of her books I've mentioned. I highly recommend both if you struggle with cravings.
If you overeat to help you cope, you might benefit from taking D-Phenylalanine (DPA) or, if you need energy, DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) along with L-Glutamine. If you still need more energy, add L-Tyrosine. Adding 5-HTP can be helpful as well for PM cravings. With amino acids, you start with a lower dose. If you don't notice immediate differences in levels of cravings and desire to binge, you can begin to increase your dose.
You can take 500 - 1500 mg of L-Glutamine 3x per day to stop sweet, starch and alcohol cravings. You can also take this when you notice a craving, to stop it. If this is the case, simply open the capsule and dump the contents into your mouth.
Amino acids should be taken 1/2 hour before or an hour and a half, after meals to be the most effective. Take this upon arising in the morning, between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner or at time of craving.
500 mg of DPA or DLPA can be taken at the same time as the L-Glutamine to give you a sense of comfort and pleasure.
5-HTP, 50 mg especially if sleep is an issue, can be taken between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner and at bedtime. If you still can't fall asleep within 15 minutes, take another.
Also, brain chemistry is very important to consider. If you use substances to relieve depression, you may be low in serotonin. Symptoms might include: negativity, depression with dark thoughts, worried, anxious, shy, low self-esteem, obsessive thoughts, obsessive behaviors, SAD, PMS moodiness, irritable, impatient, angry, panic/anxiety, PTSD, phobias, hate hot weather, night owl, insomnia, find relief through exercise, fibromyalgia, TMJ, suicidal thoughts/plans. If you tend to relieve these symptoms through sweets, starches, fatty foods, chocolate, alcohol, marijuana, tobacco or Ecstasy than you might benefit from taking 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan.
If you have the kind of depression that you might describe as the "blahs," you might be low in catecholemines. The symptoms might include lack of physical or mental energy, lack of drive, enthusiasm, difficulty focusing/concentrating, need a lot of sleep, slow to wake up, easily chilled, cold hands or feet, tend to put on weight easily. And the substances that tend to feel helpful are sugar, chocolate, caffeine, aspartame, alcohol, cocaine, other uppers, marijuana, tobacco, and opiates. If this is you, you might benefit from trying L-Tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, Omega 3 fatty acids and SAM-e.
If you use addictive substances to calm down or relieve stress, you may be GABA deficient. The symptoms may include feeling driven, overworked, pressured, too many deadlines, have trouble relaxing or loosening up, tend to be stiff, uptight, tense, easily upset or frustrated, snappy, easily overwhelmed, just can't get it all done, weak, shaky, sensitive to bright light, noise, and/or odors, use smoking, drinking, eating, or drugs to relax, calm down, worse if you skip meals or go too long without eating. And the substances you tend to use might include sweets, starches, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, painkillers, tranquilizers. You might benefit from GABA, taurine, glycine, glutamine, chromium, and adrenal support.
If you use substances to relieve emotional and/or physical pain, you might be low in endorphins. Symptoms might include: being very sensitive to emotional or physical pain, tear up or cry easily, avoid dealing with painful issues, find it hard to get over losses or get through grieving, crave pleasure, comfort, reward, enjoyment or numbing. The substances you use may include: sweets, starches, chocolate, alcohol or tobacco, heroin, or marijuana. You may benefit from using DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA), D-Phenylalanine (DPA), B Vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, and 5-HTP.
In addition, its important to support your body nutritionally. You can do this by taking a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for my recommendations on brand. Calcium 250 - 500 mg/day, Magnesium 200 - 400 mg/day, Vitamin D, 400 IU minimum/day, B Complex 10 - 25 mm, Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (1,000mg Vitamin C and 300 - 500 mg bioflavonoids) and fish oil.
For many addicts, sugar/processed carbs, especially, you probably are low in all of these brain chemicals and will benefit from taking all of them. On page 127, in The Diet Cure, Ross recommends the following dosages:
To stop sweet cravings, and enhance relaxation:
L-Glutamine, 500mg - 1500mg upon arising, between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner.
To destress and relax muscles:
GABA, 100 - 500 mg or GABA with taurine and glycine, 100 - 300 mg between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner and at bedtime.
To energize and focus:
L-Tyrosine, 500 - 2,000mg upon arising, between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner.
To enhance feelings of comfort and pleasure and to reduce pain:
DLPA or DPA 500 - 1000 mg upon arising, between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner.
To improve mood, sleep and PM Cravings:
5-HTP, 50 - 100 mg or L-Tryptophan, 500 - 1000 mg (if one doesn't work, try the other) between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner and at bedtime.
800 mg of SAM-e can be taken upon arising and between breakfast and lunch.
Ross list the precautions for taking amino acids as follows:
If you have high blood pressure, consult a physician before taking tyrosine, DL-phenylalanine, or L-phenylalanine.
If you take MAO inhibitors, consult a physician before taking tyrosine, DL-phenylalanine, or L-phenylalanine.
If you take MAO inhibitors for depression, consult a physician before taking L-tryptophan, or 5-HTP.
If you have an overactive thyroid, consult a physician before taking tyrosine, DL-phenylalanine or L-phenylalanine.
If you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis, consult a physician before taking tyrosine, DL-phenylalanine, or L-phenylalanine.
If you have PKU, consult a physician before taking tyrosine, DL-phenylalanine, or L-phenylalanine.
If you get migraine headaches, consult a physician before taking tyrosine, DL-phenylalanine, or L-phenylalanine or 5-HTP.
If you have melanoma, consult a physician before taking tyrosine.
If you take SSRIs, consult a physician before taking L-tryptophan or 5-HTP.
If you have manic depression (bipolar), consult a physician before taking L-glutamine as it can lift depression, but trigger mania.
If you have low blood pressure, consult a physician before taking GABA, taurine or niacin.
Amino acids do not need to be taken long term. If you begin to get symptoms such as headache, jittery, etc... discontinue use. If symptoms return, add one amino acid back in at a time to see which one is giving you symptoms. After one month, try going skipping a dose and going off one amino at a time to see how you feel. If not, no need to keep taking them. Do the same at two and three months. Amino acids are foods and not medication. They are safe! But, everyone can react to anything, so just see how your body reacts. Once you go off of them, keep them around for short-term use when needed.
As always, start slow. Take 1,000 mg Vit. C such as Emergen C right away if you have a negative reaction. Discontinue use if you experience discomfort. If you have serious illness or are on medications, consult your physician before taking amino acids. And, to be on the safe side, run you plan by your doctor before you begin any new program, including adding amino acids into your regimen!
It's important to eat plenty of high quality protein, fats and vegetables while taking your amino acids. Always accompany amino acids with a good multivitamin and mineral supplement as well as a B complex.
If you do not get significant relief from amino acid supplementation, you may want to have your adrenals and thyroid tested. Another consideration might be candida and gut disbiosis. And something to test for if you are an alcoholic or sugar addict is a condition called pyroluria. It is common among folks with mood problems, and alcoholism/sugar addiction. Excess pyrrols deplete levels of zinc, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid and manganese.
You can contact me for more information about this condition and to be tested for it. You can also find all of the information in The Mood Cure on page 303. If you are sugar addicted, it is highly recommended you find out if pyroluria is the cause. The test is inexpensive and the condition is curable. This condition will prevent full response to nutrient intervention. email@example.com
Maria Rippo is a Transformational Healing & Wellness practitioner with an online as well as a local practice in Bothell, WA. She is an Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Coach, but mostly, she is a human figuring out how to navigate this thing called life. This article Copyright 2016 by Maria Rippo, all right reserved. To replicate or use any portion of this article, please do so in its entirety including this text or contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.