“Quite simply the widespread introduction of amino acids in the form of powders, pills, or capsules is the most exciting advance in health and nutrition in 25 years,” Dr. James Greenblatt said in Psychology Today, quoting from The Amino Revolution, a book by Robert Erdmann, published in 1987.
This is why aminoacid therapy works so well. Neurotransmitters in the brain are composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Alcohol and drugs rewire the brain to crave synthetic chemicals. These chemicals cripple key neurotransmitters and cause the brain to become imbalanced in an unhealthy way. Amino acids rebuild the neurotransmitters damaged by alcohol or drugs and naturally balance the chemical composition of the brain.
Dr. Hyla Cass is a psychiatrist and alternative medicine specialist at the International Sportscience Institute in West Los Angeles. She and her colleagues have had tremendous success using intravenous aminoacid therapy for addiction.
“Brain cells send signals to one another using a variety of chemicals called neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine,” Dr. Cass told Recovery View. “A neurotransmitter emitted by one cell is picked up by specialized receptors on neighboring cells. Alcohol and mood-altering drugs (prescription or illegal) work by either mimicking the action of neurotransmitters or artificially stimulating or repressing them. The reason drugs and alcohol so easily alter the brain is that it is not designed for this type of prolonged or heavy chemical exposure. The body does not always have adequate quantities of protein available to repair this type of damage.”
Aminoacid therapy is most often administered in the form of a powered drink or a slow drip IV. The best results occur with intravenous delivery. This allows the aminoacid solution to bypass the patient’s digestive system, which may have been damaged or destroyed by alcohol or drugs.
Eric Lapp, CEO of The Raleigh House treatment center in Denver, was addicted to meth, cocaine, alcohol, and OxyContin for years. He had been in and out of fourteen drug treatment facilities before he tried aminoacid therapy.
“My withdrawal was reduced 80-90%,” Lapp told Valerie Tejeda for The Fix. “That was the turning point for me. I finally felt good – without drugs – and have been sober ever since.”
If you work out and drink a protein shake afterwards or if you’re vegan/vegetarian and drink protein shakes to supplement your daily diet, you know there are over twenty amino acids in protein. However, only a specific number of amino acids are used in the treatment of addiction.
“Developed during more than 20 years of research with hundreds of patients, these intravenous formulas combine specific amino acids and vitamins that assist the brain’s natural healing process,” Dr. Cass told Recovery View. “Even with the person stopping alcohol and current drugs often abruptly, the formulas bring about rapid restoration of brain functions with minimal withdrawal symptoms, all in a 7- to 10-day period that otherwise would take months to years to occur, if at all. The particular formula the doctor chooses for a patient and how many days of treatment will be required depend on their substance use and history as well as lab tests.”
The amino acids most commonly used to treat addiction are:
- 5-HTP (regulates serotonin levels in the brain)
- GABA (anti-stress)
- DLPA (fights depression)
- L-Tyrosine (building block for neurotransmitters)
- L-Glutamine (nourishes brain cells)
“This program involves 3 to 10 days of daily intravenous treatment, usually without interruption,” Dr. Cass told Recovery View. “The IV is given as a slow drip, requiring about eight hours each day for the first few days and fewer hours as treatment progresses. They (patients) find that the major negative effects of drug and alcohol use, such as cravings and anxiety, are gone by the fourth to sixth day of treatment. The second phase of restoration takes over at this point – getting back their enthusiasm, memory, mental clarity, sleep quality, and energy.”
This seems to be what many rehabs using aminoacid therapy are discovering. Detox, which can take up to a month or longer, now only takes a week or so. Patients recover with brains that have been healed naturally and are no longer addicted to drugs or alcohol. Cravings have been eliminated or reduced considerably.
Could aminoacid therapy be the answer the recovery community has been searching for, a way to finally end the frequency of relapse? I don’t know. But I think the results are encouraging and definitely worth further study.
“We use targeted amino acids,” Lapp of The Raleigh House told The Fix. “We are seeing people on day three and four of withdrawal feeling great! Using aminoacid therapy to treat addiction, in my opinion, is the closest thing to a cure for addiction. It makes everything else fall into place a little bit easier.”