Amino acids can help brain chemistry, depression and anxiety problems


Amino Acids Twenty percent of the human body is made up of protein. Protein plays a crucial role in almost all biological processes and amino acids are the building blocks of it.

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Hey there, it’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani and today’s video is gonna be on amino acids and brain chemistry.  Again I had a podcast recently over at Beyond Wellness Radio. Check out Beyond Wellness Radio for a little bit more in-depth discussion. I’m gonna go into some different nuances we didn’t really cover in that podcast.  I’m gonna break it down on how amino acids can make a difference and we’re gonna compare just the conventional and the natural treatment options and how we’re trying to get to the root cause without all the side effects.


Proteins, Amino Acids and Neurotransmitters

So again really quickly, amino acids are the breakdown of proteins.  So imagine protein is like the pearl necklace, if you will.  So here’s our necklace like so and again you can see when the necklace is complete like so, this is–this is your protein.  And the amino acids are nothing more than one link–one link in that necklace.  So you can see the protein is like the necklace.  The protein has to get broken down into the amino acids and then the amino acids can get converted into the neurotransmitters, NT.  So protein to am–to aminos to neurotransmitters.  And there’s a lot that happens to get this broken down into this.  And when we’re under stress, we can take a lot of this and we can shoot it downstream to glucose.  You’re gonna see here, we can take a lot of our amino acids even dopamine and we can even shuttle it downstream into adrenalin.  So we have to be a careful with that because we can easily burn through our amino acids just like that.

So on that note, let’s dig in.  Let’s roll up our sleeves.  So off the bat, we have tyrosine or L-tyrosine, which can get–get converted into Dopa.  Alright, Dopa is the intermediary between L-tyrosine and dopamine.  And you can see the enzymes and the nutrients that are involved in this conversion are essential.  So if you’re anemic, if you have an iron-based anemia, right?  So let’s go back to your blood chemistry, maybe you have a low red blood cell count, a low hematocrit, a low hemoglobin, maybe your ferritin is low, maybe your TIBC and UIBC are high and your ion sat is low, maybe your ferritin is below 30.  Again any of these signs could be an iron-based anemia so don’t get tripped up and doing all this fancy brain chemistry work if you have an anemia.  You have to get that looked at and treated and diagnosed first.

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So this conversion L-tyrosine to Dopa.  Dopa then gets converted to dopamine.  Now when we’re supporting someone in their brain chemistry, we’ll use the amino acid L-tyrosine by itself and we will also use the extra Dopa support via mucuna pruriens or velvet bean extract.  So we can use pure Dopa via these herbs and we can even use the upstream compounds with the L-tyrosine.  Same thing with tryptophan.  We have tryptophan down here.  So you can see tryptophan gets converted to 5-HTP.  5-HTP is the intermediary in between tryptophan and serotonin and you can see both of these require certain nutrients.  So we have iron for tyrosine to Dopa and we have B6 in both intermediary conversion.  So when we’re at Dopa or 5-HTP, we need B6 to make that conversion from 5-HTP to serotonin.  We need B6 to make the conversion from Dopa to dopamine.  Very important, these nutrients can easily get burnt out via stress.  Also you can see the iron nutrients here, too.  They’re involved.  And again, we both have TH enzymes that are involved in the conversion of tyrosine to Dopa, that’s the intermediary for dopamine, and also L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, which is the intermediary for serotonin.  Again, the TH–TH enzyme down here stands for tryptophan hydroxylase, where up here, it’s actually tyrosine hydroxylase.  So 2 different enzymes, the abbreviations look the same so don’t get confused on that.

So you can see when we get here, this is where it gets a little–a little fuzzy.  This enzyme right here is called the amino acid decarboxylase enzyme and you can see that it’s the same enzyme for each one.  So these abbreviations look the same but they’re actually different enzymes.  These enzymes right here–the exactly the same.  So here’s where it gets a little–a little fuzzy.  If we give–if we give, let’s say here, let me give you an example.  If we give a whole bunch of L-tyrosine, right?  Let’s say we give a whole bunch of L-tyrosine and we don’t give a whole bunch of tryptophan, well, what happens is this.  We’re gonna create tryptophan or a serotonin deficiency because we’re upregulating this enzyme.  This enzyme up here is upregulated which is fine because we have more tyrosine coming in. but it’s also up regulating down here.  So it’s causing us to burn through more of our serotonin, so what actually starts to happen is we start creating a problem like this.  We start having more dopamine and we create less serotonin, and this is a long run.  I mean, if you’re using, let’s say you’re using a little bit of L-tyrosine by itself, not a big deal.  But again, if you’re gonna be on amino acids for your brain long-term, you wanna be on a combination of L-tyrosine and 5-HTP or the intermediary, maybe even Dopa and 5-HTP.

Again, Dr. Marty Hinz did some research finding that he could prevent serotonin deficiency when he’s working with his Parkinson patients giving 24,000 milligrams of L-tyrosine.  We could prevent the dopamine–or I should say, we could prevent the serotonin deficiency by just giving small amount, 50 milligrams of 5-HTP was enough to prevent the serotonin deficiency when giving these real, real high amounts of L-tyrosine-dopamine support.



So key takeaways here.  Let’s break it down one more time.  Deep breath.  L-tyrosine gets broken into Dopa.  Now when we work with patients, we’ll give a combination of L-tyrosine and Dopa because we want the building blocks, but sometimes we wanna be able to override the capacitor, right?  So you can see this enzyme here and here, they act like a capacitor.  So if I give L-tyrosine, only so much can get converted downstream to dopamine.  It’s–it bottlenecks so it’s like a governor or a capacitor on an engine when you can only go so fast when you floor the pedal.  So this TH enzyme that has the same effect here is a capacitor on tyrosine converted to dopamine, and this enzyme over here is a capacitor on the tryptophan converting to serotonin.  So we actually will bypass some of that by giving the straight 5-HTP and giving the straight L-Dopa with the L-tyrosine and we’ll be able to bypass that.

So going back, L-tyrosine gets converted to Dopa.  Again, we only can have so much convert here, so we wanna make sure these nutrients are present, right?  And then in the intermediary here, if we give extra, we have to make sure we have B6.  B6 is a nutrient across the board.  We need in both reactions and B6, you’re gonna look at just the–the main nutrients that have B6 in it from the food standpoint, nuts and seeds, and 4-5 out of the top 10 are gonna be meats.  Your chicken, your fish, your turkey, right?  Everyone knows that tryptophan getting tired after a Thanksgiving Day meal, right?  That’s the tryptophan in the turkey.  So same thing, 4-5 are gonna be meats so gotta make sure we’re eating good quality meats, nuts and seeds, avocado.  Things like that are gonna be really awesome for your B6 levels.  My patients that have brain issues are gonna need anywhere between a hundred milligrams to 300 milligrams, if you’re at the Parkinson’s spectrum of extra P5P or activated B6, pyridoxal-5-phosphate.  So you can see here, tyrosine we support both the beginning and intermediary nutrients to help dopamine get converted.  And again we can stress out our dopamine because it can go to adrenaline.

Reasons that Drive Neurochemicals Out of Balance

So when we see these problems, you know, all these issues can be genetically based.  They can be nutrient based from a poor diet.  They can be autoimmune.  They can be from stress or burning up our nutrients and it can also be from leaky gut or malabsorption due to SIBO or multiple infections and low stomach acid.  So your big 5 reasons are gonna be driving a lot of these neurochemicals out of balance.  And same with tryptophan.  We get tryptophan in turkeys, as the most common, but it gets converted to 5-HTP, we still need this the corresponding nutrients, B6, and then we have the corresponding conversion to our active brain chemicals.  So dopamine really goes up when we eat a lot of sugar.  So a lot of people artificially stimulate and burn out their dopamine through sugar.  Dopamine is also the focus and the I-love-you neurochemical and serotonin is your mood, as you’re happy neurochemical.  We need serotonin to feel happy, to feel fulfilled, and typically we need a combination of them together and they function and dysfunction together.  They’re like brother and sister.  It’s very rare that we just only treat dopamine or only treat for serotonin because of the fact that this enzyme here can create deficiencies.  So we’ll usually–we’ll usually use them together as a team.  Now you can see down here we have this quinolinate pathway here.  Without enough B6, we’re gonna convert a lot of our tryptophan into quinolinate, which is inflammatory.  This is inflammatory.  Now if we have enough B6, we can actually block this pathway from even happening.  We can block it and we can make tryptophan go more this way, but we can also bypass that by giving 5-HTP.

amino-acids-neuronSome Precautions

So if you’re inflamed, be careful of taking tryptophan by itself because you can actually drive this quin–quinolinate pathway which is more inflammatory.  So we wanna get 5-HTP and if we give tryptophan, we wanna give B6 with it and we always wanna give B6 together in any brain program.  Again if you’re just doing the aminos and you’re not getting the B6, then you’re really missing the boat on that.

So again walk away here, big take-home feedback is amino acids are super powerful.  Most drugs are just preventing the reuptake.  So if here’s your presynaptic neuron, okay?  This is your pre and here’s your postsynaptic neuron.  This is your post–our neurochemicals all live in between.  So for instance with serotonin, let’s just draw some S’s, here are some S’s–what happens is this.  We have these reuptake ports on the side where again the longer our neurochemicals live in between here.  This is the synaptic cleft.  This is the synaptic cleft–SC and you can see these S’s–the longer they live out, the more they get broken down, right?  So most medications are actually blocking the reuptake because our body naturally recycles these S’s, so we can bring them back in so we can have a longer shelf life.  Now most medications actually come in there like so and they actually block the reuptake and then that allows more S’s to accumulate between the synapse while the same time the longer they’re there, the body starts to actually break them down and recycle them faster.  So again what we do is we trade a short-term increase in serotonin or dopamine for a long-term deficiency.  That’s why most people on these medications actually have to increase the drug dosage to keep the effect the same.  Almost anyone you’ll talk to has had that experience and having to increase the dosage or even change medications as well.  So if you have any brain issues or any digestion issues that are potentially driving the brain, because remember all of these things come from protein like we talked about, all protein has to be digested and broken down into amino acids first–if you’re having any gut issues and mood issues and you’re thinking maybe they’re related, you’re probably right.  Click on screen and get more info if you want me to help kinda dig in, roll up my sleeves to figure out what the underlying driving factor is.

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Hope you enjoyed this video.  Again a lot of biochemistry in this one.  Check out the podcast over at  I hope you enjoyed it and just realize there are natural solutions that are out there to get control of your mood and your focus and your memory and your brain issues.  Again, this is Dr. J signing off.  Have a great one!

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