Amino Acids to Improve Your Health – Podcast #145

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand talk about the importance of amino acids in promoting optimal health. Listen to them as they discuss how these amino acids actually play an essential role in our body's neurotransmitters and  hormones which in turn, affects our mood and energy profoundly.

Learn about the various forms of amino acids, as well as their benefits to one's health. Know about the different causes of amino acid deficiency and gain an understanding on different ways to prevent such deficiency.

In this episode, we will cover:Amino Acid

01:40   Stress and Amino Acids

04:22   Factors Affecting Kids and Their Drive and Attention

06:58   What Causes the Deficiency of Amino Acids

30:22   Ways to Prevent Polypharmacy Cycle

40:06   Pottenger Cat Example







Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan, it’s Dr. J. How are we doing today, man?

Evan Brand:  Happy Monday. I’m doing good.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Happy Monday. It’s a great day out here in Austin, Texas. Enjoying the wonderful weekend, ready to get back to work, and get back in the grind. How are you doing?

Evan Brand:  Basically, if I’m off for too long, I start to feel like I’m losing my purpose. It’s like, man, I need to get back to the hustle here.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know. I get another hour planned after this podcast, I’m gonna need crushing out some YouTube videos. So, really excited for that. As a couple we talked about last week that I didn’t get a chance to do. We’re gonna hit those up. And today’s gonna be a great little podcast on Amino acids, which is such a great topic. And, we’re gonna keep the podcast more focused on the mood and energy component of Amino acids today. So, really excited to hit that topic up.

Evan Brand:  Yes. Amino acids have changed my life for the better, without a doubt for sure. I first came across Tritryptophan, was probably the first amino acid that– that I discovered and– and got into. You know, I was dealing with depression in College in Course Conventional Medicine or Conventional Psychiatry. They’re just gonna put people on anti-depressant drugs. We could look up some statistics if we wanted to, but I guarantee everyone listening uh– has a friend or relative that’s taking some type of medication, like a Prozac. And it could work and maybe it’s necessary in some cases, but as we always discuss, it’s not getting to the root cause. And so, this antidepressant, you know, it’s not benign, definitely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. I’m actually gonna be taking some amino acids here, right now, as we– as we go. Huge fan of amino acids. The more stressed you are, the more you burn through your amino acids. Right? Very important. Now, we run a lot of organic acid testing in our practice. One of the things we look at is we look at the metabolites of neurotransmitters. We’ll look at things like 5-Hydroxyindoleacetate. That gives us a window into Serotonin. We’ll look at things like Homovanillate, [pauses] right. That gives us a window into Dopamine levels. Right? So, really, really important, important uh– compounds– uhm– they give us a window in how our body’s utilizing Dopamine, utilizing adrenaline. Vanilmandelates, another one that we look at for adrenaline. Right? So, these are really important. Adrenaline’s obviously energy in regulating our fight-or-flight response. Dopamine’s gonna be our– our “I love you” neurotransmitter. Also helps with focus and ADD. Serotonin’s gonna be really important. It’s gonna help with mood. It’s gonna also help us sleep ‘cause Serotonin’s an important precursor to Melatonin, which is a sleep hormone. So, these amino acids have profound effects on our mood, on our energy, on our focus. And a lot of people actually reached to a list of drugs: Cocaine, Meth, even Marijuana, things that aren’t as bad, to actually artificially boost some of these compounds. Even sugar. Sugar’s probably one of the worst known offenders, ‘cause sugar actually increases Dopamine.

Evan Brand: How about Caffeine?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Lots of studies on this, where people that, you know, go on these MRIs and such, and they look at what parts of the brain light up when these drugs are in the body. And, they find that– you now, sugar increases the same Dopamine receptors that uh– Heroin does. They did this famous rat study where they feed these rats Oreo Cookies, and they find the– the same receptors to the brain, same parts of the brain lined up for the Oreo cookies compared to, I think, the Cocaine. I think it was even worse. The Oreo cookies caused that part of the brain to light up even more than the drugs did.

Evan Brand:  It did, which is crazy. And uh – sugar, I would say, probably the number one most abused drug in the US, for sure, but probably most of the developed world. Something that’s interesting, which you kind of hit on already is most people were always modifying all neurotransmitters, so, our brain chemicals. So, this is your Dopamine, this is your GABA, this is your Serotonin, your Adrenaline, your Noradrenaline, a lot of us modify our neurotransmitters by ourselves, like we’re trying to sell treat. Even though we’re not realizing what we’re doing by eating sugar or we’re using social media.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep.

Evan Brand:  Excessive Facebookers, other type of social medias, alcohol, caffeine…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep.

Evan Brand:  …drugs. We’re trying to modify our brain chemistry all the time. And, we just don’t realize what we’re doing. So, some of the– the symptoms, like if you’ve got low Catechol. I mean, I’ll read these off here.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: Got depression, you’ve got apathy, you’ve got easily bored, a lack of energy of focus, a lack of drive, low motivation, uh– ADD, like you mentioned, Attention Deficit, procrastination, and indecisiveness; that’s a big one. And then craving carbs, alcohol, caffeine or drugs for energy. So, that’s all– that’s the Catecholamines, and if you have enough of those, you should be energized. You should be upbeat. You should be focused. You should have the ability to get stuff done. You know what comes to mind? I think of all the– the children that you and I have heard about with our, specially our– our female clients: our moms. We always here about their children and how they’re hooked on video games all the time. To me, sounds like video games are burning out the Catecholamines, and causing these kids to not be able to do anything else, like get a job, or not want to get a job, because they’d rather play games.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean, that’s one component, right? So, if we look at the neurotransmitters, there’s two sides we’re gonna hit it on, right. There’s the – the burning-up side. What are the stressors that are causing you to burn them up? And then number two, what are things that we can do to actually replete and help support and heal, because right now, I think, some research out there, over 20 percent of fifth graders are on some kind of antidepressant. Some kind of SSRI or SSNRI, these are basically drugs that modulate the amount of neurotransmitters that are in the brain, and it does it by blocking these reuptake ports. So how that works is, here’s your presynaptic neuron, here’s your post-synaptic neuron, okay. In between is what’s called the synaptic cleft, the sewer of a lot of the neurochemicals. The Serotonin, the Dopamine, they all live right here. And basically, these chemicals get reabsorbed back into presynaptic neuron over time. And basically, the drugs block that reuptake ports so these neurotransmitters don’t go back. They hang in the space. They hang in the synaptic cleft area longer. So, then you start getting more of them in that area. Now, that can change the mood. It can change a lot of different things. The problem is, the longer those neurochemicals hang outside of that synaptic– outside of that presynaptic neuron. So, when the more these neurotransmitters stay here and don’t go back up to that presynaptic neuron, the faster they get recycled. So, that tends to be one of the reasons why if you’re on one of these medications long-term, the dose tends to have to go up, unless you’re making other changes that we’ll talk about in a bit. So, that just kind of gives you some of the mechanism how these things work. That’s one potential uh– mechanism of how these medications work.

Evan Brand: Yeah. So, let’s chat about, like you mentioned, the first section: what causes the deficiency of amino acids. So, you hit on stress. You said that we’re gonna burn up amino acids when we’re stressed. Same thing with Vitamin C too. A lot of times, you and I will see that Vitamin C is very low. We’ll see that neurotransmitters are low. We could see all the amino acid metabolites are low. Across the board, stress, eating while stressed, you know, in a fight-or-flight mode, not chewing your food, low stomach acid levels, uhm– we could hit on the infection piece. If someone’s eating a good diet, let’s say, they’re listening and they’re eating a Primal Paleo whole foods diet. But if they got parasites or bacterial bugs, or yeast, which is something you and I deal with all the time, you’re getting your nutrient stolen. And so…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: …it’s not really what you– people say, “You are what you eat,” but really, it’s “You are what you digest.” And if you got bugs stealing your nutrients, then, you’re gonna be – you’re gonna be at a deficient state.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent. So, we kind of go back, right. One of the underlying stressors that drive a lot of these things of– when we’d say stress, people tend to associate stress as emotional stress, which is fine. So, emotional stress is gonna be family issues, finance issues, it could be relationship issues, problems with your kids, you know, that’s of the loved one.  Though any of those things can be, you know, a big, I should say, uhm– a hole in that emotional pipe here, where a lot of those nutrients and a lot of those neurochemicals will flow down the more stressed you are. It’s gonna increase the burning rate. Just like driving your car faster and harder on the highway, is gonna go through more gas. You’ll also go through more neurotransmitters with those stressors. So, keep that in the back of your mind. So, some people don’t have the ability to change that. They may be in the middle of a stressful situation where that’s just it has to kind of play out. Right? So, we have to at least work on the back side of it. what’s the back side? Well, you can at least make sure your diet’s really good. Right? What does that mean? A Paleo template’s always a great place to start, healthy servings of animal protein in every meal, uh– lots of vegetables, more green vegetables than starch and fruit. And if you’re gonna do starch, try to keep it to uh– you know, dialed-in to the amount that you can handle based on exercise, and keep the fruit on the lower sugar side. And it’s all based upon your level of activity, and kind of, your body fat, and your exercise level. Is that right? More active you are, you could probably handle more carb. The more muscle you have, the more carbs. The less muscle and the less active you have, probably the less carbs. So, you can kind of keep that dialed-in. So, stress side, we may not able to change it, so we have to really make sure that the food side is dialed-in. That’s number one. Number two, we have to make sure the sleep side is dialed-in, between 2AM and 6AM’s where a lot of we– a lot of the neurotransmitters get uh– restored and recycled. So, getting to bed closer to 10:00 to 11:00 will adequate restoration of those neurotransmitters when it comes to sleep. And then number three is not excessively exercising. People will use excessive exercise, like CrossFit to really up the their– Dopamine, or Serotonin, or Adrenaline, artificially, by creating a stress response. And, nothing wrong with that. The problem is if we’re catabolic and we’re breaking down, we may not be able to recover the next day from that stress response. So, that will create more fatigue, and more adrenal, and more hormonal issues down the road.

Evan Brand: Good. So, yeah. We would say, 24-48 hours before uh– you hit the gym again. So, if you do a hard workout, you may not need to go five-six days a week. You know, we’ve seen people that they have too much of a good thing. Now, a lot of people they’re at the– the bottom end of the spectrum. They’re not getting enough exercise. They’re not getting enough movement. Stimulation, light exposure, walking; they’re not doing any of it. But then you’ve got these other uh– crazy athletes on the opposite end where they’re doing five-six days a week, and they’re starting to lose muscle mass. So, yes. You definitely can’t have too much of a good thing uh– with exercise. Give yourself 24-48 hours. Do you need protein powders? do you need amino acids? They could help. I don’t know if I would consider them, foundationally. Could that means you can still get results without them. But if you’re somebody who– you’re at uh– an underweight situation, you’re concerned you’re getting too thin, you know, that’s definitely where Justin and I are gonna look at– giving you like uh– Hydrolyzed Collagen, or a beef protein, or a grass-fed way or organic pea protein. And you can supplement with those, but you still got to focus on the food too. You know, we’ve talked with people who – they’ll do a protein shake instead of a meal, which is fine in– in– in a pinch, but if you’re skipping meals, like your after-workout meal is just a protein shake as opposed to you sitting down and having an actual post-workout meal. You know, we much prefer real food over powders when possible.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. I think combining the amino acid supplements with the real food’s the best way to go. What you get with the amino acids is you get amino acids in your bloodstream very, very fast very easily. The thermic effect of food is basically how much energy your body depletes itself of by metabolizing the protein and digesting it. So, about 30 to 40 percent of the energy you get from the protein goes into actually breaking it down and metabolizing it. That’s important. So, you know, closed to two-third – closed to over a third to half of all that energy goes into just breaking itself down. So, that’s not the best if you’re trying to get those nutrients in fast and easy and not put a lot of stress on your system. A good amino acid supplement, it does help with that. So, it gets the amino acids in there fast. It’s in the bloodstream so the body can utilize it for energy and nutrition right away. But number two, it’s gonna put a lot of stress in your digestive system. So, you don’t have to think two to three hours ahead of time what should I eat? You can kind of just, let’s say, wake up and you can have a nice little shake, and get amino acid there. And you can also use it to replete itself post-workout. Good studies I know, wheat protein– their studies 20 to 30 minutes post workout, you know, doing 20 to 30 grams of protein can increase growth hormone post workout. And that was wheat protein, and I imagine that’s gonna be similar with other amino acid profiles. You can probably find something similar with Collagen and probably even similar with pea protein as well.

Evan Brand: Yep. Well, can you chat about vegetarians and Vegans for a bit? Cause we’ve seen that some Vegans that come to us, they could have more issues with mood issues, anxiety, depression, irritability, rage, IBS issues. We see that a lot more in Vegans versus people that are eating animal proteins.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, again, a lot of Vegans and vegetarians, you can do it right, but it takes planning, alright? So number one, like, where do you get your proteins when you’re a Vegan vegetarian? Now, again, there’ll be some proteins in plants, but not a lot. I mean, if you look at the amount of proteins in plants, there’s not a lot. And plus, there aren’t a lot of calories in plants. So, there’s good micronutrients, right? No one’s saying like a bunch of Kale doesn’t have. You know, a whole bunch of macronutrient– micronutrients in that right, Vitamins, minerals, those kinds of things, Potassium, those things, but if you look at the macronutrients, right, obviously they’re gonna be non-starchy carbohydrates but there’s not a lot of calories. I mean, if you look at – we can just go to We can plug in calories in – in a cup of Kale. I’ll do it right now. [crosstalk] You’re probably gonna find [inaudible]

Evan Brand: I’m gonna guess. It’s only gonna be to 40 calories.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You’re probably gonna find maybe 20 grams or 20 calories in there maybe, and then maybe one gram of protein. Yes. So, one cup of Kale, is 33 calories, alright. Now, there’s [crosstalk] 2.9…

Evan Brand: [inaudible] is what you’re saying?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and there’s 2.9 grams of protein. So, you know, what’s a good serving of Kale per meal? Let’s say, someone really goes out and does two cups. That’s a– that’s a lot of Kale per meal, would you agree?

Evan Brand: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey, you just got five grams of protein.

Evan Brand: [smiles]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s just– that’s inadequate, and you got 60 calories. Like it’s just not enough, right? So, again, vegetarians have to get their protein by combining either, you know, rice and legumes. Because a lot of vegetarian proteins are insufficient in Methionine and Lysine, so they have to work on this food combining thing, or they supplement amino acids. The ones that you see like– that are like, hey look at this guy, he’s a Vegan vegetarian, body builder. He’s this. Yeah, of course. He’s using a whole bunch of rice protein and pea protein. Like, that’s the only way you can really do it, and get the, the right amount of protein requirements, without all carbs. Uhm– there’s been studies out there. People have looked at, you know, creating a meal plan for vegetarians, Vegans. And you know, you’ve got to get three to four hundred grams of carbohydrates minimum to get that adequate amount of protein. And adequate amount, let’s say, half your gra– half your body weight and grams. So, I’m two hundred and ten pounds, for me to get a hundred and ten grams of protein, I’d have to do rice and beans or just lentils, and I’d had to really pound the lentils up. And lentils are two-thirds carbohydrate starch to one-third protein. So, do the math. I’m at a hundred grams of protein and then I’m already at three hundred plus grams of carbohydrate. So– And then you also have the digestive component where you may be using a whole bunch of bean now or enzymes because you may not have the ability to break down a lot of those uhm – beans ‘cause of the phytates and the lectins, some of the gut irritating compounds.

Evan Brand: Right. So then you run to that issue. Now, you’re running around you’re gassy ‘cause you’re trying to eat uh– beans and other types of veggies to get the protein, but it’d be much easier if you just look at some good quality. And you don’t have to go crazy. Like you said, even just a palm-sized portion of animal protein’s plenty. We’re not saying overeat protein ‘cause you’ve got the mTOR pathway, which is definitely going to shorten lifespan. You don’t really want to over activate mTOR but it’s a switch. You want to throttle it up and throttle it down, and so there’s gonna be days where– on workout days, you are gonna do some good animal proteins. Maybe you go a bit lighter on the protein on days when you’re not working out.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. So, the benefit you get from animal protein– and again, we’ll put it like a little cut of qualifying thing in here. Of course, when we talk about animal proteins, we’re talking about grass-fed, pasture-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic, right? Animals fed appropriate feed. We’re kind of encompassing all that in there. A lot of vegetarians and Vegans don’t ever put that statement regarding on their vegetables. Like, when they talk about, like, a carrot for instance, right? You know, an organic carrot isn’t the same thing as the carrot that maybe you genetically modified and sprayed pounds and pounds of herbicides or xenocides, fungicides, genetically modified uhm– pesticides in there, right? So, again, a carrot on this side that I just depicted full of all those toxins isn’t the same as an organic carrot, for instance. Same thing with the meat. So, we can qualify the plants. A lot of Vegans, vegetarians, don’t do that. Right? You see what the health that move you on that flex, we’ll have to do a review of that soon. Right? It’s kind of like, you know, here are your plants. We don’t really have to qualify plants as much, but we’ll throw all the meat over here as being in this really really bad thing full of chemicals, where there are ways you can get healthy sources of meat which we support here on the show. So, again, the benefits of the meat, why it’s so great, you don’t have to get a whole bunch of carbohydrate. That’s nice ‘cause a lot of people are Insulin-resistant. Their metabolism may not be able to handle that kind of carbohydrate. Some may, some may not. the vegans, the vegetarians that you hear that do so well. The reason that they do so well is they have good carbohydrate-handling mechanisms. They can get that three to four hundred grams and they can do okay. That’s the problem, but the issue is, you have a lot of people that are Insulin-resistant. I go as far as to say as to three quarters of the population are. And that’s why you have so many people that don’t do well with that kind of diet.

Evan Brand: Yep. Well said. So we hit the diet piece. That’s important. We had to spend time there ‘cause it’s just – it’s so under appreciated. The role of amino acid…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Evan Brand: … just from your good quality proteins. Let’s talk about supplements a bit. So, you said you were gonna take some. What are you taking, amino acid-wise?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So, you have amino acids for performance, right, from maybe cognitive performance. These are gonna be things like Serotonin precursors and Dopamine and adrenaline precursors. So, our Serotonin precursors are gonna be 5-HTP, alright. You can also go upstream one and do Tryptophan. Tryptophan has to go through this uhm – kind of governor enzyme here that has an effect on how that gets converted down. You might think it’s uhm – 5-Hydroxylase is the enzyme, and that enzyme has a governor to it. So, it’s kind of like, someone puts a governor on your car, where you could only go 65 in the highway. You can’t go any higher. No matter how deep that gas pedal is. Same thing. So, we like to do 5-HTP ‘cause we can bypass that governor. And we’ll always want to give it with B6, ‘cause B6 and B Vitamins are, one, they get depleted with stress, and number two, they get depleted with excess carbohydrate. So, by getting extra good B Vitamins in there, that’s essential. So, B6, right, Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, B9, which is gonna be Folate, not Folic acid but Folate or Calcium folinate. We have B12, of course. Ideally, you know, Methyl hydroxy ordynaxole cobalamin. Of course, we have B1, which is gonna be your– your Thiamine, B2, which is your Riboflavin, B3, which is your Niacin. I think B7 is uh – I think it’s Biotin, right. So, you have all these really good B Vitamins that will get depleted with stress. The big one’s for neurotransmitters though, are gonna be B6, Folate, which is technically B9, and then we have B12, which is your Methylated B12. So, those are really, really important for the neurotransmitters. We want to make sure that those are dialed-in with it. Now, what I just took was– I just took uhm– my brand, Replete. So, as a combo of 5-HTP and L-tyrosine or Dopamine precursors with the extra B Vitamins. So, I do that, and that’s specific for me ‘cause my organic acid test tends to show the 5-hydroxyindole acetate, the vanilmandelate, and the homovanillate a little off-kilter. And that’s just probably ‘cause it’s stressed. So, I just really support that, to make sure I have those building blocks, and of course, you know, my diet’s rock solid, but for me, I noticed the cognitive benefit and performance benefit, so I continue to take those. As long as my test continue to show, I need to continue to take those for me.

Evan Brand: Yep. Good. And we see that a lot, whether it’s uh– athlete’s or from a physical perspective, burning through aminos, whether it’s engineers or people like you that are just– your brain is just, “Go! Go! Go! Go!” all day. You’re burning through those. So that’s good. Let me just give a brief list here of some low Serotonin symptoms. I hit on the low Dopamine symptoms a bit, but Serotonin would be anxiety, panic attacks or phobias, worry, or being fearful, obsessive thoughts or behaviors, perfectionism, irritability, anxiety that can be worse in the winter, you’ve got winter blues, sometimes PMS with women…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep.

Evan Brand: …uhm– depression, and then at the extreme, would be, like, suicidal thoughts, with Serotonin. So, some people, they may not have all of these. They may just have a couple, like, sometimes digestive issues, so IBS. You know, there’s a couple different uh– Irritable Bowel Syndrome formulas that Justin and I used, and the 5-HTP actually helps to regulate the intestinal motility. So, if you’ve got Diarrhea, you know, the 5-HTP itself could help replenish Serotonin, therefore, fixing your gut. So, digestive issues, you got to look at amino acids too sometimes. Sometimes, just the diet doesn’t fix it. uh– sleep issues as well, and then cravings. So, any type of alcohol, sugar cravings, that could all be – those are all symptoms I’ve read off here of Serotonin. And uhm– you hit …

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: There’s a big overlap too. Like, if you look at Serotonin, right, you’re gonna see anxiety and potentially panic attacks there, but you’ll also see that with GABA as well.

Evan Brand: That’s true. Well, what you say GABA and Serotonin. You would say, most of the time GABA and uh – Serotonin are gonna be messed up together, so you probably are gonna supplement those together.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. The big thing is I very rarely supplement amino acids by themselves, so if we do it short term, like I will maybe do that with sleep, when we’ll do 5-HTP at around dinner and before bed, to help kind of improve Melatonin synthesis, but in general, if you’re doing amino acids long-term, you want to have them together. At least some level together, because the amino acid enzyme that gets increased when you take amino acids is the aromatic decarboxylase enzyme, which metabolizes these amino acids. And these enzymes metabolize, you know, relatively speaking, the Dopamine, the Serotonin, the adrenaline enzymes together. So, if you’re taking a whole bunch of Serotonin precursors, like 5-HTP, that enzyme’s more active. If that enzyme’s more active, guess what it’s gonna do to the Dopamine and adrenaline amino acids. It’s gonna metabolize it. But if there’s less coming in, ‘cause you’re not supplementing it, you can create deficiencies longer term. And of course, it’s gonna be amino acid dependent, right. The more amino acids you give, the more that enzyme will be active. That’s why for giving a whole bunch of Thyroxine long-term it’s good to give at least a little bit of Serotonin precursors. So, I take one ___[23:32] that has mucuna  in it, which is actually pure L-Dopa, based on my levels. And when you support Dopamine, you’re actually supporting adrenaline as well. And we put a little bit of Enisyl thyroxine. So, you have thyroxine in there. Thyroxine goes downstream to Dopamine, which is good. It also can go to adrenaline as well. So we support both the adrenaline pathways too, because typically, it goes like – It goes phenylalanine, thyroxine, L-Dopa, and then from L-Dopa, it can go to Dopamine, and then it can go down to Norepinephrine. So, that’s why the more stressed you are, you’ll pull from Dopamine to your Norepinephrine-Epinephrine. And, part of what happens in that metabolism, from Dopamine to Norepinephrine, you’ll actually deplete a lot of Sulphur amino acids. So, when you go on from Dopamine to your Catecholamines, you need a lot of Sulphur. So, that’s why it’s good to take Methionine, Cysteine, you know, a lot of your Glutathione precursors, Glutamine, Taurine, right. These are really important ‘cause they really helped with that Dopamine to Adrenaline pathway. So, longer term , we really want to make sure Sulphur amino acids are there to help with that conversion.

Evan Brand: Perfect. Well said. Uhm– like you mentioned, you really using them by themselves, there’s practitioners out there, that’s all they do, is amino acid therapy. They just pi– look at symptoms. They look at charts. Okay, you have these symptom, I’m gonna guess and check. Uh– you hit on organic acids testing, so that’s something we’re definitely gonna look at is figuring out what the levels are on a piece of paper. That way we can track them. Could you look at symptoms and just try to guess and check and self-treat yourself? You definitely could but I would give the disclaimer that amino acids can be as powerful if not more powerful than pharmaceutical drugs. So, just ‘cause it’s something you could go by the Health Food Store, like amino acids on Amazon, that doesn’t mean that it’s uhm– any less impactful. Doesn’t mean it cannot affect you. It certainly can change things very, very quickly, and I’ve heard of people you and I both got videos on this on YouTube as well. I’ve heard of people saying, “Hey, look. I tried this and that and that and then I had anxiety, or I tried this and that and I couldn’t sleep. So, that’s why, it’s definitely helpful to work with the practitioner who’s worked on this, and definitely someone like us, who can test you because if you just go and you look at the symptom list and you guess, “I think it’s this? But I don’t know.” And then you start taking a bunch of Thyroxine. The last thing you want to do is have an anxiety or panic attack, and then you’ve got three or four, five or six hours, where you’ve got to wait for that supplement to wear off. That’s not fun to do.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and a lot of these compounds, like uhm – Serotonin, Dopamine, that cannot, that doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. What will cross is the precursors. So, giving a lot of the precursor nutrients is essential, and then it will cross the blood-brain barrier and convert in the brain. So, that’s– that’s one component that’s really important. I think the most underrated supplement for dealing with mood and amino acids is gonna be your hydrochloric acid and your enzymes. ‘Cause if we can’t metabolize that healthy protein, right. Let’s start with that palm-sized of protein, three to four ounces, that’s gonna be about 25-30 grams of protein. That– that’s– you know, if you can’t break that down, right, protein is the pearl necklace, the amino acids are the individual pearls. So, think of ripping that necklace apart, that’s the digestive process that happens. So, if we can’t make that process happen, we’re not gonna be able to process those individual pearls in that necklace. So, I’d say, the digestive component’s really important in that. And I think a lot of people that have mood issues too, I know uhm – our friend there, a mind of her own – she wrote the book, “A Mind of Her Own,” uh – Dr. Kelly. She uhm– talks about the inflammation component when it comes to moods. So, she kind of doesn’t put as much on the amino acids. She does, but she puts it more on the gut and the inflammation with the brain component. So, that’s part of why the diet is so important ‘cause that’s probably one of the biggest vectors to inflammation outside of having infections in your gut tract along with leaky gut.

Evan Brand:  Yep. Well said. So, we can spot treat amino acids for sure, but like how you always go back to the gut. So definitely, Epocrates and you are aligned. All disease starts in the gut. So, when we’re talking about brain issues…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [inaudible] life and death starts in the colon.

Evan Brand: Yeah. That too. So, we got to go with the gut. Make sure you’re free and clear of infections. So, once again, we hit on this every single week probably but you got to circle back. Make sure you’re free of infections, no– no yeast, no parasites, no fungus, no bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. That’s gonna inflame the gut. You’re gonna see Calprotectin go up on your stool test. You’re inflamed. You’re not digesting well. You’re stressed. Maybe you’re not chewing. Maybe you’re rushing. Maybe you’re scrolling on Instagram while you should be just eating your meal in peace. You know, these aare all habits that that really build up, so always go back to the gut and– yeah. You can– you can spot treat with these but we always like to go back to root cause. So, if you go to a practitioner that just does amino acids, and that’s all they do is mix and match, I think you’re results are gonna be limited.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, absolutely. And it gets a lot of side effects with these antidepressants too. Uhm– yeah, it would – Dr. Kelly Brogan. She was on the Joe Rogan Show last month too. She did a really nice thing about, you know, talking about antidepressants. And again, it’s kind of uh – you know, people use them quite frequently as a coping mechanism, and they really don’t want to get to the root cause. I mean, they just think, “Oh, there’s a chemical imbalance in my brain that’s why I need this.” But why? Why is there a chemical imbalance? Is it ‘cause your diet’s crap? Is it because you sleep five hours a night? Is it ‘cause you can’t digest protein? Is it because you’re on a low-fat diet? Why? Because the antidepressants not getting to the root cause. Now, antidepressants may be great in the short run if you’re preventing– if someone just have a travesty happen in their life, and they’re trying to get stabilized because they may kill themselves, or you know, their lives, you know, absolutely in turmoil, just to kind of get stable. And then, once they’re stable, they can then reach out and grab the right things and incorporate the right approaches to heal. Short run, it’s great. The problem is lots of research is showing that these things are not great in the long run. And they have a lot of side effects: nausea, increased appetite, loss of sexual– basically, low libido, right, low sex drive, fatigue, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, weight gain. So, there’s a lot of side effects that happened from these medications, and the problem with it is, you get this Polypharmacy vicious cycle, where you start having one or two of these side effects, and then you’re on other medications to treat those side effects. And that can spiral out of control pretty fast.

Evan Brand: Oh, well said. Yeah. I mean I’ve had people where they all say, they get on an antidepressant, but then that their mood starts to fluctuate. So, then they get put on like a bipolar med on top of the antidepressant or some type of antipsychotic, or they get anxiety so then they get put on Lorazepam or Xanax ‘cause then they can’t sleep. And then, like you mentioned, three, four, five, six pharmaceuticals later, you’ve got a really, really toxic potion that you’re having to put in the body but you still don’t feel well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. So, a couple of options here. Number one– if you’re on an antidepressant and you get off, number one, don’t ever pull yourself off. Okay? Don’t ever go back to the prescribing physician and you need to have be tapered off. And it depends, right. Some people are on these medications, ‘cause they felt a little bit off. And they’re on them. But they weren’t on them for a major reason. And some people will put on them because they– they’re– they had some serious issues, and then you need to get stability back in. So, typically, the more you are on them, to really kind of stabilize your life, because your symptoms are out of control. The longer that taper has to be off. So, according to some psychiatrist, one to two years taper, for some. I’ve seen some that said, “I’m gonna just come off right away,” and I’m like, “Don’t do that. Go back to the prescribing doctor,” but some said, “Nope,” and they were fine. Right? Because they made a lot of changes. So, we always advocate the more conservative approach. Go back to the prescribing physician ‘cause they know your situation better, and tell them that, where you’re at, that you’re making a lot of these diet and lifestyle changes that you want to try start to slowly taper off those medications. That’s number one. Number two, if you’re still having issues and side effects, and you want to use some of these amino acids with us. Typically, what we’ll do is we’ll work on the amino acids first cause the amino acids will actually make the medication work better. Right? ‘Cause if the amino acids are part of the building blocks that are getting reorganized from the reuptake portals being inhibited. Then you’re gonna have uhm– basically, the– the meds work better. Right? Cause if you’re– Remember, here’s your presynaptic neuron; here’s your postsynaptic neuron. All the neurotransmitters are here, but they’re– they’re– the number of them are going down, because of the reuptake uhm– because of the recycling of those amino acids is greater, right? The longer these amino acids live outside of the presynaptic neuron, the more they get – and more of them there, the number of them goes up. So, the more they can affect neurotransmission across the synaptic cleft there. So, the – the more the meds will work better, work like they should have worked when the neurotransmitter levels were higher. So, you may start to have side effects of the antidepressant as those neurotransmitter levels go up, so be very mindful of that if you start having side effects of the medication, there’s two choices. You can decrease the neurotransmitter levels by decreasing the amino acids, or you can decrease the medication. Yeah, right. So, typically, what I always recommend is once you kind of have those side effects, you can go back to that – the physician that prescribed it. And you can start to slowly taper that down. So, I tend to get people stable first, and the I make moves by referring back to the prescribing physician. I don’t ever want to move the medication around first, because that’s creating unstable environment, especially those meds. So, we get stabilized, and then we refer back to the prescribing doctor for them to adjust and modify according to what they think is correct based on that patient’s needs.

Evan Brand: Well said. Especially if they’ve been on it 10 – 20 years, I mean…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: …who knows.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. So, it creates lots of other symptoms. So, you got to be careful that– So, regarding couple other components, diet plays a big component. So, adequate protein, I’d say at least a palm’s worth of protein per meal. And again, you know, I’m 6’2’’, 210 pounds, and my palm’s bigger than, you know, someone that’s five feet a hundred pounds. So, that tends to be a pretty good rule of thumb. And to be more exact, I would say half your body weight in grams, so 200 pounds, hundred grams of protein. You’re a hundred and twenty pounds, 60 grams of proteins. A pretty good rule of thumb, regarding how much to do if you add– if you exercise more and you’re do– more active and I’d go do a full hand versus a palm. And if you’re like a Vegan vegetarian, and you’re trying to maybe add in some protein, I would just start with a quarter to half a palm to start. And, I’d make sure the – there’s adequate enzymes and HCL, because more than likely, unless you’re going to– to be a Vegan vegetarian because of environmental reasons. Then, typically, you’re– you’re there because you feel better off meat. And if you feel better off meat, it’s ‘cause your digestion’s in the tank, and you’re not able to digest it and break it down. So, you’re getting a lot of putrefaction and resinification of proteins, so it’s just rotting in your stomach. So, you’re feeling the rot and saying, “Oh. Animal protein’s bad.” No. It’s you’re not digesting it well. And if we could go all into the environmental implications of meats, it really not– isn’t what it is, if you’re eating organic and local. It’s more of the factory farm CAFO kind of feedlot models  that really create uh – the environmental issues.

Evan Brand: Oh yeah. We’re fine, and the pasteurized animals actually helped with re– you know, uh– recirculation of nutrients back into the soil. I mean, the top soil’s been so degraded we’ve lost a lot of minerals over the past 50 years and vitamins in the soil, and pasteurized animals. We’ve had this cycle where the hooves are putting the poop back into the dirt, and kind of start all over. And we’ve mess that up with raising cows on concrete, feeding them corns. So, uh– yeah. Still, unfortunately, animals get lumped into the animal category, and that’s it. There really need to be more distinction, for sure.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I mean, people talk about, you know, the excessive methane produced by these animals. That’s because they’re fake corn and grains. You cut out the corns and grains, the methane’s an on issue. Also, it’s a closed loop, if you feed them grass and what they’re supposed to be – supposed to consume because if you feed them corn and grains, you actually have to start hauling away the manure afterwards because it becomes E. coli, you know, rich. So, you have to start hauling away all of the manure afterwards first, if you have a closed system. Meaning, eat the grass, the poop goes on the ground, and the poop goes into the ground and actually creates fertilizer. But you know, the hooves and other things, feed off for that. And then, if you have a closed cycle then, the grobs come in from the manure, and then you bring the chickens out, and the chickens eat the grobs. And it’s a beautiful closed cycle. Uh – Joel Salatin talks about this uh – in his farm, The Polyface Farm. He’s got a couple of books on this idea of uhm– you know, permaculture in this kind of, you know, closed or open loop– I should– closed loop, right? Everything’s at [stuttering] complete cycle of how everything works in the uhm– in farming.

Evan Brand:  Wow, I didn’t realize that about the poop of corn-fed animals. They have to haul it out. That makes total sense.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. If you watched the movie Food, Inc., they’d detailed it pretty well in that.

Evan Brand: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Jules Olsen’s got a good book called uh – “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.” I would encourage people to read that. And in for amino acid books, you could check out Julia Ross, “The Mood Cure,” “The Diet Cure.” Uh – I’ve interviewed her a couple times on the podcast. She’s got some really cool experience there, so check – check out those resources. And then, if you want a schedule with Justin or myself, visit our websites:– You can schedule. And also, I think you’ve done some YouTube videos on it, and I’ve done some YouTube videos on aminos too. So, if you’re wanting like a more short, condensed version of this, if it went over your head a bit, or you just got a bit daydreamy on us, then go to the YouTube. Look up Just in Health, or look up Evan Brand. We’ve got videos that are probably less than ten minutes. That will, that will detail kind of the, symptoms. And then, we’ll do a part II – part III on this too.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely, and again, the big take-home is– we’ll have a part two, like you said, but the big take-home is diet is dialed-in, figure out the macronutrients that you need, don’t skip meals, especially if you have health issues ‘cause blood sugar fluctuations can create adrenaline stressors that cause you to burn to the adrenaline more. Also, the more sugar fluctuation you have, the more you’re gonna burn through B Vitamins, ‘cause part of B Vitamins is basically generating a fuel from glucose. So, if you’re causing your blood sugar system to fluctuate, the more you’re gonna burn the B Vitamins, especially B6, which is really, really, really important for uhm – carrying the signal from one nerve to the other. B6 is really important. It’s also important for the synthesis of these neurochemicals. Uhm – make sure you’re digesting the protein you’re eating. If you’re having– getting gassy, you’re bloaty or constipated, or diarrhea after the meals, there may be some digestive issues from an infection standpoint or food allergen standpoint, or a uhm– enzyme HCL standpoint.

Evan Brand: Yep.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And so, B Vitamins. And also, having a really good multivitamin just there in the background’s important. Vitamin C and extra minerals, like Magnesium and B12. There’s other things that are there. It’s important to have, I’d say, just a good B-complex there, and/or good multi in the background when doing all this. Just to make sure the other nutrients are there as well.

Evan Brand: Well said.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, any other comments, Evan, you want to put out there that we didn’t quite emphasize?

Evan Brand: No, I think – if I have more, I’ll– I’ll put them on– on next episode.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Just disclaimer, if you’re on these medications and you’re like really excited, you want to make some changes, number one: work with the practitioner; number two: don’t ever go off your medications, cold turkey; three: get stabilized before you make changes, and go back to the prescribing physician. Tell them what you’re doing, what your goals are. And that – ask them to create a taper plan, specific to where they’re at. Some – I’ve seen some doctors that are just like, “Come off.” And I’m like, “Hey. If you’re gonna do that with your medical license, okay, that’s fine.” Some will say, “Hey. We need a one-year taper.” Again, they know the patient better. They know what their rationale for prescribing the medications well, so always go back to that prescribing physician. Tell them kind of where you’re at. So then, they can kind of create a plan for you.

Evan Brand: Perfect. Well said. Nice job, man.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, and then also real quick too. You outlined it earlier about, like this issue with kids and antidepressants. We had a major epidemic with kids on these drugs. And, a lot of it just comes down to their diet, just being crap. Foodized chemicals, sugar– so if you have kids with these issues too– Again, we’re starting at the same place – the diet. And again, I know it’s hard for parents ‘cause parents project what they want, what their needs are on to the child. They see their kid and they all like, “Aww. You know what, I had fun memories eating this junkfood when I was a kid, therefore, I want to – I want my kid to have that same experience, so too speak. And uhm– again, the Pottenger Cats example, right. Each generation gets a little more nutrient-deficient as the food quality goes down. So, the type of food that we had access to, 20 to 30 years ago, isn’t even the same quality of food we have access to today. So, remember, your kids may have a weaker constitution, and also maybe even gluten-sensitive, too. So, you got to keep that in mind when your kids have health issues. You really want to dial up the food quality as much as possible. And the first place you start is: set the example and have at least one to two family meals together, is ideal.

Evan Brand: Yeah. Well said. I got to run.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan, great chat with you, my man. You have [crosstalk] an awesome day.

Evan Brand: Take care.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright, brother. Take care. Bye.



“A Mind of Her Own” by Dr. Kelly Brogan

“The Polyface Farms” by Joel Salatin

“Food, Inc.” by filmmaker, Robert Kenner

“Folks, This Ain’t Normal” by Jules Olsen

“The Mood Cure” and “The Diet Cure” by Julia Ross

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