Amino Acids and Diet in Chronic Pain Management

Amino Acids and Diet in Chronic Pain Management

Pain management can be significantly assisted by the optimization of the body’s own analgesic system. The body’s three primary pain modulators appear to be the neurotransmitters endorphin, serotonin, and GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). Each of these potent pain fighters is produced from very specific nutrients called amino acids. These amino acids are derived from high protein foods.

Research and practice have found that increased intake of the amino acid substrates of the three key pain modulating neurotransmitters can often provide noticeable benefits within a few days.

Chemically speaking, an amino acid is a nitrogen molecule attached to hydrogen. The body utilizes about 20 different amino acids. Nine are classified as “essential” since they can be metabolized into all of the others with the possible exception of carnitine

endorphin, serotonin, and GABA—our primary pain modulating neurotransmitters—are produced almost exclusively by specific amino acids.

Endorphins and ACTH Chains of Amino Acids

The production of one molecule of endorphin requires up to 20 amino acids.

The Protein Requirements of a Pain Management Diet

Not only do amino acids produce critical pain modulating neurochemicals and hormones, they are essential for muscle, bone, and soft tissue building and maintenance.

By conservative estimate, postoperative and chronic pain patients can only prevent significant muscle-wasting and neurotransmitter level depletion by consuming 90-100 grams of protein per day.

Pain Relief from Amino Acids Simply stated, the entire natural and continuing pain relief system of the human body is fueled by amino acids. Without adequate physiologic body levels of some specific amino acids—and the neurochemicals and hormones they produce—good pain control is not consistently possible. It is for this reason that pain practitioners should master knowledge and use of select amino acids and dietary counseling.

When protein is eaten and enters the small intestine, it is disintegrated by enzymes into individual “free” amino acids, which pass directly into the blood to the liver which begins to immediately metabolize them into secondary amino acids or other compounds that become: the primary building blocks of neurochemicals, muscle, bone, enzymes, hormones, and more.


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