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The following is adapted from The Search for the Perfect Protein.
At our clinic, the LifeWorks Wellness Center, we have many clients—male and female—who have problems with low energy, depression, and insomnia. With these patients, we’ll measure neurotransmitter levels, which include serotonin, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. The results tell the same story:
Symptomatic patients have neurotransmitter levels far below the optimal standards.
Even when patients have been given prescription psych medications by their doctor, their levels remain low because the drugs do not correct the underlying cause.
What is the underlying cause, and why are the typically-prescribed medications so ineffective? That’s what we’ll explore in this article. My hope is that you’ll come away with a better understanding of why you might be suffering and what to do about it.
To understand why people suffer from low energy, insomnia, and depression, you first have to start by understanding the brain and the nervous system. You see, the vast majority of molecules in the brain and nervous system are made from amino acids.
Growth hormone, dopamine, and the aforementioned neurotransmitters are all amino acid based. If there are amino acid deficiencies in the brain, there can’t be adequate production of these protein molecules. That’s not the only issue, though.
If you add in mold, environmental toxins, or infections such as Lyme, mycoplasma, and other bugs, the brain can’t operate normally. People suffer from all sorts of maladies like anxiety and depression, balance issues and vertigo, and poor sleep.
Contrary to popular belief, most of these conditions are medical or nutritional, not psychological. That’s why psychiatry has such dismal success: it assumes everyone has a drug deficiency and does not take into account external emotional factors or physical illnesses. Their misguided solutions don’t address what is truly wrong.
It’s important to understand that when people don’t “feel right,” their neurotransmitters are out of whack, and it’s most likely because their intestinal flora is out of balance, and they are deficient in key nutrients like essential amino acids.
Instead of seeing a psychiatrist, they should get help from a nutritional practitioner who is knowledgeable in such matters. You must find and treat the root cause of the problem. A combination of correct nutritional therapy and effective practical help can alleviate the condition or challenge instead of numbing it with psych medication.
Speaking of psych medications, let’s look at how they often do more harm than good.
As an example, let’s look at the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like Prozac, that artificially increase levels of serotonin. Normally, when one nerve communicates with another, it shoots a serotonin molecule across a synapse. The molecule then hits the second nerve, and it reacts. The original nerve then uses suction to reel the serotonin back in. SSRIs like Prozac essentially poison the suction of the first nerve, so it can’t reuptake the serotonin—it sits in the synapse and bombards the second nerve cell membrane until it loses sensitivity.
The nerve cell membrane is overwhelmed and damaged—the structure changes over time, and it becomes numb. Subsequently, the symptoms are suppressed, but the underlying problem—which often times is nutritional—is never truly addressed.
These drugs are dangerous because they can randomly affect many nerve cells, and severe side effects have been reported including suicide, mania, and psychotic homicidal behavior. Sometimes psychiatric medications send people over the edge.
They become violent and kill someone, or they commit suicide. In fact, many of the mass murderers of the past thirty years had been under psychiatric care, and had SSRIs or other psych drugs in their bloodstreams at the time of their rampages.
In patients with low neurotransmitter levels, we don’t bombard their bodies with harmful medications. We begin by repairing the inflamed intestines (where 90% of serotonin is made) through dietary changes, removal of toxic yeast, bacteria and parasites, and targeted nutrition including essential amino acids to heal the membrane.
To show you how this works, here’s a story from a few years ago at our practice.
I observed a group of women who all suffered from depression, fatigue, and sleeplessness. Each of them had been on medication long term to block the production of stomach acid, like Nexium, Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac, or others. I discovered that each woman’s blood level of the essential amino acid, tryptophan, was very low.
The usual medical approach to treat these conditions is with Ambien, Trazodone, or Xanax for sleep; Prozac or another SSRI for the depression; and Adderall or another amphetamine for fatigue. Then you have to factor in the acid blocker, as well.
So, what exactly was going on with these women? Here’s what we discovered:
Stomach acid-blocking medications blocked the digestion of dietary proteins and the absorption of minerals, like magnesium. Dietary proteins are the source of tryptophan, but since digestion was compromised, tryptophan and other amino acids were not well absorbed. Their blood levels of tryptophan were low, leading to low levels in the cells.
Magnesium and vitamin B6 are needed to make tryptophan into proteins, but they also require stomach acid. Blocking the acid further compromised protein synthesis.
Tryptophan is the parent molecule for niacin. Inadequate tryptophan means inadequate niacin, so the cells couldn’t make energy. This led to the women having fatigue.
Tryptophan is also the parent molecule for melatonin.
Since there was inadequate melatonin in their bodies, they couldn’t sleep well. Tryptophan is also the parent molecule for serotonin. Low serotonin meant that the ladies were apt to suffer from depression and other mood problems.
These women were fatigued, sleepless, and depressed due to the long-term use of drugs that blocked stomach acid. This was not entirely their own doing—their doctors had renewed prescriptions for drugs that were for short term use only.
This observation led to a very simple solution: We gave them stomach acid supplements containing pancreatic enzymes so they could digest proteins, weaned them off their acid blockers, and gave them essential amino acids with extra tryptophan, B6, B complex, and magnesium. Their fatigue, depression, and sleeplessness all resolved within a few months’ time. Good detective work combined with nutritional medicine can solve health problems—it’s modern medicine at its best!
For more advice on treating the root cause of conditions like fatigue, depression, and insomnia, you can find The Search for the Perfect Protein on Amazon.
For the #1 Essential Amino Acid supplement that 99% utilized by the body to create new protein look HERE.
Dr. David Minkoff is board certified in pediatrics and served as codirector of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Palomar Medical Center in San Diego, California. With his wife, Sue, he cofounded LifeWorks Wellness Center in 1997, and in 2000, he cofounded BodyHealth, a nutrition company that offers a unique range of dietary supplements to the public and medical practitioners. A forty-two-time IRONMAN finisher, Dr. Minkoff is passionate about fitness and continues to train on a regular basis. He and his wife reside in Clearwater, Florida.
One of the more popular recent voices on the subject promotes a plant-based diet in a big way: The Game Changers. This Netflix special proposes eliminating meat from your diet and replacing it with plant-based sources of protein and nutrition.
Having spent years as a vegan and understanding the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, I couldn’t help but agree with many of the points brought to light in the film.
As a medical doctor, I saw a fundamental flaw in his information: plant-based proteins do not contain enough of each essential amino acid for most of to provide their bodies the wherewithall to optimize body protein synthesis. This is a fact observed through my own experience, through the experience of my patients, and backed by scientific research.
You know that the cardiovascular system is responsible for pumping blood and oxygen throughout your system, right? And that the endocrine system manages hormones? And that your nervous system relays messages throughout your body?
Well, underlying all these systems is an astoundingly complex electrical system.
This electrical system is busy sending an almost uncountable number of messages to the muscles, bones, brain, and the cells. The human brain is the home to approximately 100 billion neurons, each firing about 200 times every second.
Sometimes it feels like there are more types and brands of water than drops in the ocean. You go to the grocery store and discover a huge shelf packed with different brands of water that all claim to be health-beneficial. Add in the hundreds of in-house water purifiers, and it can seem like a “sea” of confusing options (cue the pun).
Thankfully, your choice doesn’t have to be that complicated.