mood and neuro-transmitter support

In my posts of the 4 key happiness chemicals and 7 brain molecules that make you feel great describe behaviours and lifestyle choices you can choose to hack happiness. And in my posts on brain health and mood food I’ve outlined the core of what we need from our diets.

Yet, there are times when we need a quick hack to happiness, or a solution to break a pattern of a persistent low mood or low energy state. A solution to this that I am experimenting with is targeted amino acid support. In this post I share core ideas for this from Julia Ross’s excellent book The Mood CureThe quantities listed are guidelines – not prescriptions. Effects meanwhile can be fast!

Amount AM B MM L MA D BT
Catecholamines and being motivated and focused
L-tyrosine / N-Acetyl Tyrosine 500mg 1=>4 1=>4 1=>4
L-phenylalanine 200 to 500mg 1=>4 1=>4 1=>3
SAM-e 400mg 2 2
Serotonin and being flexible, warm and happy
5-HTP 50mg 1=>3 1=>3
Tryptophan 500mg 1=>3 1=>3
St John’s Wort 300mg 1=>3 1=>3 1
SAM-e 400mg 2 2
Melatonin 1=>6mg 1
Endorphin boosting aminos
D and L Phenylalanine 500 to 1000mg 1=>3 1=>3 1=>3
Soothing aminos
L-tyrosine / N-Acetyl Tyrosine 500 to 1000mg 1 1 1
Taurine and Glycine
5-HTP, Tryptophan, St John’s Wort Varies (1) 1 1

 Catecholamines and being motivated and focused

  • L-tyrosine 500mg x 1 to 4 per dose, early morning, mid morning, mid afternoon (limit 2 in pm)
  • Also L-phenylalanine 200 to 500mg x 1 to 4 at same times as above (limit 3 in pm)
  • SAM-e 400mg x 2 mid morning and mid afternoon: SAM-e has antidepressant action and aids joints and liver

Accompanying supplements

  • L-theanine – extract from black and green and mushrooms that promotes a relaxed alertness as well as a focused and motivated state

Additional resources: see my post on Dopamine

Serotonin and being flexible, warm and happy

  • 5-HTTP: effective in curing depression – 50mg x 1 to 3, mid PM and bed time (BT)
  • Tryptophan: can be more effective than 5-HTP but more expensive – 500mg x 1 to 3, mid PM and BT
  • St John’s Wort: 300mg 1 to 3, lunch, dinner and BT (x1)
  • SAM-e:
    • treats depression, arthritis and liver damage and needed for production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters
    • low in depressed people; vit B12 and Folic acid required for production; alcohol and stimulant drugs deplete levels
    • 400mg x 2, breakfast and lunch
  • Melatonin: for sleep – 1 to 6mg BT

Additional resources: see my post on serotonin

Endorphin boosting aminos

DLPA: D and L Phenylalanine: 500 to 1000mg 3x per day between meals (early and mid morning and mid afternoon)

  • L form enhances pleasure and forms endorphins and enkephalins (powerful painkillers); raises energy and decreases depression; forms PEA (phenylethylamine) that is found in chocolate and induces euphoria and energy
  • D form more potent and acts by inhibiting enzymes (endorphinase and enkephalase) that destroy endorphins and enkephalins; should only be used when deficiency in endorphins present as enzyme action needed to stop damage from excess endorphins
  • Stimulating L form may be needed in depression whilst D form alone (250 mg 3x daily) may be needed when excess stimulation causes burnout (and use of numbing drugs) or when jittery, hyper, have headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, melanoma

Accompanying supplements

  • Serotonin support(eg 5-HTP) stimulates endorphin levels; serotonin support combined with endorphin support prompts synergistic result that can address both endorphin and serotonin deficiency symptoms more effectively and faster
  • Multimineral and vitamin – due to depletion of B-vitamins, Magnesium and Vit C which are needed for pain relieving body processes
  • Omega 3 – to block inflammation (with assistance from vit D, E, B complex and Zinc)

Soothing nutrients

  • Aminos tyrosine (500 to 1000 mg in morning and afternoon before 3pm) and phenylalanine restore adrenal and endorphins better than excess caffeine to cope with stress demands that deplete vitality, stamina and concentration
  • Aminos Taurine and Glycine aid in muscle relaxation
  • Serotonin support with 5-HTP (50 to 150 mg) or tryptophan (500 to 1500 mg) mid afternoon and at bedtime, or St John’s Wort (300 mg 3 times a day with meals)

Accompanying aminos and botanicals

  • Valerian root and L-theanine both help to reduce anxiety and promote sleep
  • Kava Kava – mild sedative that reduces anxiety and induces a relaxed state of goodwill as well as relaxed muscles

Additional resources: see my post on Gaba

Adapted from:

Ross, J. (2002). The Mood Cure. New York, N.Y.: Penguin

Excellent article about Valerian

Psychology today article on L-theanine

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