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Johns Hopkins University Published Research with Amino Acid (Neurotransmitter) Therapy

Food and Nutrients in Disease Management: Depression
Ingrid Kohlstadt, MD, Johns Hopkins University; Marty Hinz, MD, University of Minnesota;
Chapter in I. Kohlstadt (ed.), CRC Press, 2009.

Chapter Introduction

Since amino acids obtained from dietary sources are the precursors of mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, amino acids are considered to hold potential in combating depression. Neurotransmitter precursors are of research interest and ideally more research funding should be directed to this field. So why is this topic relevant to primary care medicine? Patients have taken matters into their own hands!

Patients are self-combating their depression with amino acid supplements and appear to be motivated by a perceived benefit in their mood and overall health. The amino acid precursors tryptophan, tyrosine, 5-hydroxytryptophan, and L-dopa are readily available as supplements at doses which exceed feasible dietary intake. Amino acid supplements have less potential for harm and larger therapeutic effect when their use is physician-guided.

This chapter presents the “Bundle Damage Theory” of depression to probe the biologic basis of amino acid therapy. It offers primary care physicians a program protocol which implements laboratory testing to guide dosing; explains the potential side-effects and how these can be minimized; offers quality regulation in product selection; and presents a protocol for simultaneous use of medication and nutrients in the program of clinical depression.