Dr. Ali’s Guide To Amino Acids
Amino acids are used by our tissues in countless ways. Protein predigestion vastly improves their rate of absorption and facilitates their utilization in the tissues. The more predigested are the proteins in a given formula, the more hypoallergenic it is.
I begin with taurine, my favorite for many reasons. Taurine is a major antioxidant, and plays a critical role in preserving the integrity of plasma membrane, the true interface between internal order and external disorder for the cell.
Taurine helps in the maintenance of the membrane potential in the muscle and nerve cell, hence its role in regulation of heart rhythm, neurotransmitter functions and body temperature.
Taurine stabilizes calcium and potassium in cell membranes of heart and brain cells in stressful physiologic and pathologic states.
Taurine is structurally similar to both choline and GABA, and has been reported to be beneficial in both experimental and clinical epilepsy.
Taurine can be formed in gut by bacterial enzymes (bacterial enzymes also serve as life span enzymes for humans). J. Awapara wrote in Taurine “… taurine exists uncombined and distributed throughout the animal kingdom in a manner almost unparalleled by any other small organic molecule.” (page 19, Raven Press New York 1976).
Nature is not wasteful, and from a purely teleological standpoint, one can consider taurine distribution in tissues by itself a strong evidence for its functional universality. I use taurine as a nutrient supplement liberally for my patients with accelerated oxidative molecular injury who present with chronic fatigue and indolent immune disorders.
Some amino acids such as carnitine, ornithine and arginine are valuable for supporting muscle energy metabolism.
Carnitine completes one of the main steps in fat breakdown. Some studies show evidence that lack of carnitine can lead to excessive fat accumulation in tissues.
I find carnitine of considerable clinical value in people with low general energy level and those who suffer from chronic fatigue. As we grow old, the level of growth hormone in tissues decline. Lowered levels of growth hormone are considered to be related to aging changes seen in people.
Some studies show that arginine and ornithine can stimulate the production of growth hormone, and in this indirect way, serve as life span molecules. These amino acids also play key roles in detoxification processes in the liver.
Methionine, another important amino acid, serves as a major lipotropic factor and facilitates fat metabolism in the liver. It also serves as precursor of cystine and cysteine, and together these three amino acids serve as a major sulfur-containing (sulfhydryl) antioxidant system of the body.
Some amino acids such as tyrosine and tryptophan are very useful for improving neurotransmitter functions. It is most unfortunate that tryptophan has been taken off the market because some batches prepared by one manufacturer were contaminated with a toxin. Now tryptophan is unavailable to hundred of thousands of people with depression and anxiety who used to take tryptophan to ameliorate their suffering and avoid serious toxic effects of drugs which they are now forced to take. It is somewhat like government taking bananas off nation’s markets just because some shipments from one city in South America were contaminated. Such is the official wisdom! Such is the helplessness of those who suffer.
Histidine is converted into histamine which is an important mediator molecule of inflammatory response and repair reaction. I use it in my “nutrient anti-histaminic” formula. Glycine and amino-butyric acid are inhibitory neurotransmitter that prevent abnormal firing of nerve cells. Aspartic acid is involved in detoxification reactions in the liver, facilitates disposal of ammonia, and is of value in chronic fatigue and muscle pain. Alanine and proline are used in the body for synthesis of pantothenic acid and collagen respectively. Leucine, along with glutamine, is useful for stabilizing blood glucose levels. Glycine, glutamic acid and lysine (when used in combination with saw palmetto, zinc and manganese) is effective in up to two-thirds of people with enlarged prostate. Valine is some general stimulatory effects, but its effects have not been studied well. It is better not to use it as a single agent, especially for people with heart disease.
In May 1992, at the conference of the American College for Advancement in Medicine, I had the great honor of presenting the 1992 Achievement Award of the College to Linus Pauling. At the time, Pauling, the only living person to receive two unshared Nobel prizes, advised us to use lysine along with vitamin C for prevention and treatment of heart disease. His told us of his intuitive insight into the presence of lysine in certain molecules that normally preserve the health of connective tissue in arteries. Of course, we physicians in general detest such intuitive recommendations that have not been proven with our blessed double-blind cross-over research model. As for me, I treasure insights of my patients and all others who have notions of helping people live longer, healthier and happier. No one ranks higher than Linus Pauling when it comes to that. I am wary, I might add, of the great intuitive insights of physician-speakers on the payroll of our drug companies and who regularly extol the virtues of drugs made by their payors.
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