L- Phenylalanine: Treat Chronic Pain, Multiple Sclerosis, and Depression.


I wrote an article on here a while back describing my adoration for L-Phenylalanine and the amazing benefits it has given me. I decided to write another article on it describing my recent use of it and also some more scientific research I have found on this amazing amino acid.

So I have been off L-Phenylalanine for a couple of months now but just two days ago I decided to start taking it again after stumbling upon an interesting article:

Low endorphins: Endorphin deficiency can be genetic. Chronic stress and physical pain can also deplete endorphins. If you’re low in these neurotransmitters, which inoculate us to emotional and physical pain, you may feel overly sensitive and have a hard time “getting over” life’s stressors. The amino acid phenylalanine stimulates the production of endorphins and can help you cultivate more emotional resiliency. Take 500 to 1,500 mg up to three times per day. As with tyrosine, be sure to finish your dosages by 3 p.m. to prevent interference with sleep (motherearthliving).

Take an L-Phenylalanine and your there nugget! 

The one reason I wanted to start a career in massage therapy is because I have had chronic back pain since I was fifteen years old. Massage has mostly been the only thing that has really helped me get rid of my pain but recently I have found out that L-Phenylalanine helps decrease the physical pain and gives me a little happy boost which I always love…and I would think every other spiffy nugget would as well. 🙂

To be more scientific on the whole L-phenylalanine is the bomb thing…I will insert scientific research to make myself sound more legit about my own opinion:

Phenylalanine occurs in two chemical forms: L-phenylalanine , a natural amino acid found in proteins; and its mirror image, D-phenylalanine , a form synthesized in a laboratory. Some research has involved the L-form, others the D-form, and still others a combination of the two known as DL-phenylalanine.

In the body, phenylalanine is converted into another amino acid called tyrosine . Tyrosine in turn is converted into L-dopa, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, three key neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells). Because some antidepressants work by raising levels of norepinephrine, various forms of phenylalanine have been tried as a possible treatment for depression (med.nyu). 

L-phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, meaning that we need it for life and our bodies can’t manufacture it from other chemicals. It is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and beans. Provided you eat enough protein, you are likely to get enough L-phenylalanine for your nutritional needs.

Here are the differences between DL-Phenylalanine, L-Phenylalanine, and D-Phenylalanine:

  • L-phenylalanine is the natural form found in proteins throughout the body.
  • D-phenylalanine is a mirror image of L-phenylalanine, and is synthesized in a laboratory.
  • DL-phenylalanine is a combination of the previous two forms.

In the book The Diet Cure by Julia Ross (which I very much want to read) says that DL-Phenylalanine or D-Phenylalanine is good when you crave the following substances:

  • sweets
  • starches
  • chocolate
  • alcohol
  • flour or milk products
  • fats
  • drugs like Oxycontin, marijuan, or heroin

She also lists the “deficiency symptoms” as:

  • Very sensitive to emotional pain
  • Tear up or cry easily
  • Crave treats for comfort, reward, or numbing
  • Get a “high” from the foods listed previously

Depression

A pair of double-blind comparative studies found that D- or DL-phenylalanine may be as effective as the antidepressant drug imipramine, and possibly work more quickly. The larger of the two studies compared the effectiveness of D-phenylalanine at 100 mg daily against the same daily dose of imipramine. 15 Sixty people with depression were randomly assigned to take either imipramine or D-phenylalanine for 30 days. The results in both groups were statistically equivalent, meaning that phenylalanine was about as effective as imipramine. D-phenylalanine worked more rapidly, however, producing significant improvement in only 15 days. Like most antidepressant drugs, imipramine required several weeks to take effect.

The other double-blind study followed 27 people, half of whom received DL-phenylalanine (150 to 200 mg daily) and the other half imipramine (100 to 150 mg daily). 16 When they were reevaluated after 30 days, both groups had improved by a statistically equal amount.

L-phenylalanine has also been tried as a treatment for depression, but not in studies that could provide a scientifically meaningful result. 17,18 

Unfortunately, there have not been any double-blind, placebo -controlled studies of phenylalanine for depression. This is too bad, since without such evidence we can’t be sure that the supplement is actually effective (med.nyu). 

Chronic Pain

The enzyme enkephalinase breaks down enkephalins, naturally occurring substances that reduce pain. D-phenylalanine (but not L-phenylalanine) is thought to block enkephalinase; this could lead to increased enkephalin levels, which in turn would tend to reduce pain. 21 On this basis, D-phenylalanine has been proposed as a pain-killing drug.

However, as yet there is no meaningful evidence that it really works in this way. A small double-blind, placebo-controlled study reported evidence for the effectiveness of D-phenylalanine in chronic pain, 21 but a careful re-examination of the math involved showed that it actually proved little. 22 Another small double-blind, placebo-controlled study failed to find any benefits at all. 23 Another study commonly described as showing D-phenylalanine effective suffered from many flaws (including the fact that it lacked a control group) and, therefore, can’t be trusted (nyu.med). 

While both of these studies put L-Phenylalaine slightly down. I say try it out for yourself and see if you like it or not. I love it so I’m going to keep using it but remember to be careful with interactions with other drugs.

If you are taking Antipsychotic medications : Do not use phenylalanine or Levodopa : Like other amino acids, phenylalanine might interfere with its action.

I use the supplement form of L-Phenylalanine from a brand called Now. I bought it from my local health food store.

I hope you enjoyed the article. Thanks for reading! 

Stay Rosy!

Sincerely,

Radial Rose

Resources:

http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21664

http://alvinalexander.com/personal/difference-dl-d-l-phenylalanine-the-diet-cure

http://www.motherearthliving.com/food-and-recipes/food-for-health/eat-your-way-to-happiness-zmoz15jfzhou.aspx?PageId=3

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