It would be very convenient if one could simply correct neurotransmitter imbalances with specific dietary changes. Unfortunately, even though many foods contain amino acids, it is not possible to design a diet where a person can obtain enough amino acids in the correct proportions to significantly increase specific neurotransmitter levels over time. Believe me, we’ve tried.
Why Diet Isn’t Enough
Diet alone can’t make up for specific neurotransmitter imbalances because the uptake of amino acids by the body is not selective: foods contain an array of amino acids and no food contains just the precursors needed to specifically affect only serotonin and/or dopamine. Therefore, when you eat food, your body takes up many different amino acids at random, making it impossible to target just the neurotransmitters we are trying to affect. This is where supplementation can play a pivotal role.
Amino Acid Therapy Can Help Drugs Work Better
Amino acid precursors of serotonin and dopamine have two primary applications. First, proper use of amino acid precursors will keep drugs that work with neurotransmitters from depleting neurotransmitters, thus allowing the drugs to keep functioning as intended. This is the situation when someone is taking a reuptake inhibitor that ‘stops working’. When we provide such a person with balanced amino acid therapy, we give the body what it needs to make the necessary neurotransmitters, which increases neurotransmitter levels. Drugs that work by shuffling around neurotransmitters (such as SSRI, SNRI and other medications) have more neurotransmitter to work with under this scenario so they can appear to start ‘working’ again. In this way, a person can continue to use the medication without fear of further neurotransmitter depletion due to the drug. In this case using amino acid therapy helps the drug do its job more effectively and efficiently.
Amino Acid Therapy Can Be Used to Eliminate the Need For Certain Medications
Second, proper use of amino acids can also serve as a stand-alone method to manage disorders related to neurotransmitter imbalance. Many people, for one reason or another cannot or will not take certain medications. Most disorders are not due to a drug deficiency; they are due to a nutrient deficiency or improper neurotransmitter function. By supplying the body the nutrients it needs to produce the correct balance of neurotransmitters, we can often restore proper function without the need for medication. In this case, amino acid therapy can provide a viable option to restore optimal neurotransmitter function, effectively eliminating symptoms without the need for medication.