Amino acid therapy is the process of supplying each person the exact balance of amino acids and cofactors they need to reestablish proper neurotransmitter function. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that allow your nervous system to function properly by providing communication channels throughout the body. If you do not have an adequate amount of neurotransmitters and/or proper neurotransmitter function, communication throughout the body breaks down, which can result in any number of symptoms.
Damage to the nervous system has been shown to be cause by toxins, trauma, biological substances and genetic conditions. This damage can occur anywhere in the brain and it often surfaces in multiple areas. Exactly which symptoms of neurotransmitter dysfunction each person experiences depends largely on the location in the brain where the injury/insult has occurred.
The neurotransmitters associated with the vast majority of symptoms include serotonin and dopamine (as well as norepinephrine and epinephrine). These neurotransmitters are manufactured from amino acids which are normally available in sufficient quantities from the diet. L-tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin and L-tyrosine is the precursor of dopamine. If the diet cannot/does not supply the required amount of serotonin and/or dopamine to regulate your body appropriately, a relative nutritional deficiency will develop in which your stores of neurotransmitters become depleted and/or imbalanced, which can cause symptoms of neurotransmitter dysfunction.
L-tryptophan is converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) which is then made into serotonin. L-tyrosine is converted into L-dopa which is then made into dopamine. The goal of amino acid therapy is to determine the exact amount of supplemental 5-HTP, L-dopa and L-tyrosine is required by your body to eliminate the relative nutritional deficiency and restore proper neurotransmitter function.
Laboratory testing is used in order to determine the specific level of amino acid precursors that are needed by each person. The laboratory test is called Monoamine Transporter Optimization (MTO) or Organic Cation Transporter Assay Interpretation (OCT Assay). This urine test allows a practitioner to pinpoint the exact dose of amino acids each person needs in order to restore proper neurotransmitter function. This test measures serotonin and dopamine output in the urine against the known amount of amino acids that a person is taking. Adjustments can then be made to the amino acid dosing based upon the OCT Assay results.
Once the correct balance of amino acids is achieved and symptoms related to neurotransmitter dysfunction are optimized, amino acid therapy is typically continued for 6-9 months to eliminate any relative nutritional deficiency. At that time, amino acid dosing will be systematically reduced (and possibly eliminated) as needed.