Can Amino Acids Help Boost Your Mood?

If there is one negative adjective that all of those close to me would use to describe me, it would have to be irritable. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. Stress, pain, poor sleep quality, anxiety, and fatigue can all contribute to poor mood and irritability. Many doctors prescribe drugs such as Prozac and other SSRIs. However, many supplements, such as amino acids, offer a safer alternative.


Serotonin, our natural antidepressant, is an important brain chemical involved in mood, appetite, and impulse control. 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)converts to serotonin and can be beneficial to those who experience irritability, anxiety, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, racing thoughts, migraines, fibromyalgia, and/or cravings for starches, sweets, or alcohol.Avoid or be cautious about using 5-HTP if you have asthma, a carcinoid tumor, or excessive cortisol output.


GABA, the body’s natural tranquilizer, is an amino acid produced in the brain. Usually, the brain produces all the GABA we need, however, poor diet, environmental toxins, or other factors, may deplete GABA levels. Too little GABA may result in anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and depression. GABA promotes relaxation and restful sleep and may help relieve chronic pain. You may benefit from a GABA supplement if you feel over-stressed, have muscle tension, and/or difficulty relaxing. Avoid or be cautious about using GABA if you have very low blood pressure.


DLPA, our natural pain reliever, may be ideal for those suffering from chronic pain as well as depression. The pain reliever DLPA (D, L-phenylalanine) contains two forms of the amino acid phenylalanine. The “L” form is a natural substance is believed to bolster mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. The “D” form of phenylalanine is made synthetically in a laboratory and appears to block a nervous system enzyme that amplifies pain signals. DLPA can increase energy, mental alertness, concentration and may be beneficial to those suffering from PMS, physical or emotional pain, and/or crave sweets, starches, chocolate, bread, or cheese. Avoid or be cautious about using DLPA if you have high blood pressure, migraines, bi-polar disorder, overactive thyroid, or melanoma.


L-Tyrosine, a natural stimulant, is converted into epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine is also needed to produce a number of important hormones including thyroxin, which has an important role in regulating the metabolism, skin health, mental health, and human growth rate. L-Tyrosine helps reduce stress, improves mental alertness and mood, acts as a natural appetite suppressant and improves sex drive.Stress, age, and fatigue deplete the body of L-Tyrosine. You may benefit from L-Tyrosine if you experience depression, low energy, poor concentration, and/or depend on sweets, chocolate, caffeine or other stimulants for a lift.Avoid or be cautious about using DLPA if you have high blood pressure, migraines, bi-polar disorder, overactive thyroid, or melanoma.

All of these amino acids are available over the counter. You should first consult your doctor, preferably a holistic one, before introducing these supplements into your diet, especially if you have unusual symptoms, a serious physical or mental illness, are taking MAO inhibitors or SSRIs, or are pregnant or nursing.


Ross, Julia. The Diet Cure: the 8-step Program to Rebalance Your Body Chemistry and End Food Cravings, Weight Problems, and Mood Swings–now. New York, NY: Viking, 1999. Print.

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