The Importance of Amino Acids in Chronic Lyme and MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) Mutations
Amino acids are at the basis of all life processes, as they are absolutely essential for every metabolic process. Among their most important tasks are the optimal transport and optimal storage of all nutrients (i.e. water, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins). The majority of diseases can essentially be traced back to metabolic disturbances.
Interesting Amino Facts
Functions of Neurotransmitters:
Acetylcholine - First known neurotransmitter (1920) Nerve-muscle connections for all the voluntary muscles of the body and many involuntary muscles. In the presence of water acetylcholine is broken down to acetic acid (5% acetic acid is vinegar) and choline. An enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) does the breakdown. The acetylcholine is absorbed on the post synaptic membranes and the impulse travels down the neuron, releasing acetylcholine which is absorbed by another post synaptic membrane. This continues until the muscle or endocrine gland is stimulated. Poisons which inhibit the acetylcholinesterase cause death by paralysis. Examples: curare, nerve gases (Sarin)
Thyroxine - Produced by the thyroid gland. It comes from the amino acid phenylalanine and requires iodine for its structure. It regulated basal metabolic rate (BMR). Too little - lethargy. Too much - hyperactivity. Was once used as a diet supplement to increase the BMR which results in weight loss.
Dopamine - Produced by the substantia nigra structure in the brain. It is synthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine. Dopamine is involved in 1) movement control; 2) emotional responses; 3) Experience of pleasure or pain. Oversupply results in schizophrenia. Undersupply results in Parkingson's disease. Dopamine plays a role in the brain's reward system. Methamphetamine releases huge quantities of dopamine from the vesicles giving a euphoric feelings. The vesicles get depleted and that high becomes more difficult to re-acheive. Cocaine blocks the re-uptake of dopamine - leaving it in place for the experience of pleasure. DOPA cannot pass through the blood brain barrier so L-DOPA is used.
Epinephrine (Adrenalin) - Norephrine - The fight or flight hormones produced by the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys. It is syntesized from the amino acid phenylalanine. Gives unsual strength or energy. Epinephrine can cause heart arrhythmias and beta blocker drugs (Inderol) are used. They are specific for certain cells.
Serotonin - Is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin affects the perception of pain, thermo-regulation and sleep. Low levels result in depression, bulermia, anorexia nervosa, season adjustment disorder (SAD). High levels produce a manic state. Bipolar disorder can be managed by controlling the the levels of serotonin. Psychoactive drugs have actions on serotonin metabolism. LSD, an analog of serotonin, produces hallucinations. Low levels of a metabolite of serotonin (5 HIAA) is found in spinal fluids of suicide victims. High levels of 5 HIAA are found in small bowel tumors.
Mechanism: Nerve impulses release serotonin which goes to the receptor cells. Drugs can 1) increase the serotonin release; 2) prevent the re-uptake of the serotonin, leaving it there longer; or 3) inactive the enzymes which breakdown the serotonin.
Melatonin - Is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is converted to melatonin. Melatonin is involved in the wake/sleep cycle.
GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) - Is synthesized from the amino acid glutamic acid. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. The off switch of the brain. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is needed to convert glutamic acid to GABA. In 1950's a screw up on baby formula omitted B6 and the infants had seizures.
Glycine - Is the simpliest amino acid. It is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the spinal cord.
Glutamate - Is the chief excitatory amino acid in the brain. MSG is monosodium glutamate, the flavor enhancer. Some people cannot tolerate MSG - it makes them hyperactive and anxious.
Nitric Oxide NO - Is formed from the amino acid arginine. Diffuses readily into the cell and is gone in 8 to 12 seconds. NO dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. The heart drug nitroglycerin worked by releasing NO which resulted in lowering the blood pressure. Viagra works by dilating the blood vessels and relaxing the muscle cells.
Histamine - Is formed from the amino acid histine. Histamine goes to the receptor sites on the cells of the respiratory tract giving redness, swelling and itching. Antihistimines block the histamine receptors on the cells. Some antihistamines cross the blood brain barrier and acts on cells controlling sleep.
MTHFR & Aminos
The MTHFR gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme plays a role in processing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase is important for a chemical reaction involving forms of the B-vitamin folate (also called folic acid or vitamin B9). Specifically, this enzyme converts 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.
This reaction is required for the multistep process that converts the amino acid homocysteine to another amino acid, methionine. The body uses methionine to make proteins and other important compounds.
Methionine is one of the essential amino acids needed for good health but cannot be produced in the body, and so must be provided through our diet.
If you have MTHFR mutations this process can be interrupted (called homocystinuria).
At least 40 mutations in the MTHFR gene have been identified in people with homocystinuria. Most of these mutations change single amino acids in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. These changes impair the function of the enzyme, and some cause the enzyme to be turned off (inactivated). Other mutations lead to the production of an abnormally small, nonfunctional version of the enzyme. Without functional methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, homocysteine cannot be converted to methionine. As a result, homocysteine builds up in the bloodstream, and the amount of methionine is reduced. Some of the excess homocysteine is excreted in urine. Researchers have not determined how altered levels of homocysteine and methionine lead to the health problems associated with homocystinuria. MTHFR is VERY complicated and too much to cover in this post. I have posted on MTHFR previously here.
Lyme, Mitochondria, Cells and Aminos
What are Mitochondria? In a nutshell Mitochondria are the cell's power producers. They convert energy into forms that are usable by the cell. Located in the cytoplasm, they are the sites of cellular respiration which ultimately generates fuel for the cell's activities. Mitochondria are also involved in other cell processes such as cell division and growth, as well as cell death. When cells become damaged or undergo some type of infection, they die. One way to remove these cells without causing harm to other cells is through apoptosis. During apoptosis, a cell triggers a process that will allow it to "commit suicide." In this process, the cell undergoes a reduction in size as its cellular components break down and condense.
The Journal of Neuroinflammation (published on 18 July 2013) states that the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi induces inflammation and apoptosis in cells. In plain English, Lyme causes your cells to "commit suicide."
Other preliminary studies state: Apoptosis plays an important role in the control of the immune system, and its impairment may be associated with autoimmune responses. Different bacterial and viral pathogens interfere with the regulation of apoptosis. This may take place in Lyme borreliosis, in which pathological autoimmune reactions are likely to occur.
As I said before, generally amino acids serve five functions in the body:
We NEED Aminos for our Mitochondria to function properly!
Amino Acids—Essential and Non-Essential
Amino acids can be placed in the category of either essential or non-essential. The name is self explanatory. Essential amino acids are those that are "essential" in the diet. In other words, we cannot create them through our own metabolism. Therefore, we need to obtain them through foods containing them. Fortunately, protein-containing foods contain varying degrees of the essential amino acids. During times of starvation, our body relies on its own protein stores, such as pre-albumin, albumin, and ultimately protein from sources that it normally shouldn't have to utilize (e.g., muscle tissue, etc.)
Non-essential amino acids are those which can be produced from other amino acids and substances in the diet and metabolism. During times of need, the metabolism can shift into producing the amino acids that it requires for synthesizing proteins essential to our survival.
Below is a list of essential and non-essential amino acids.
essential amino acids
non-essential amino acids
Dr. Vickery's Work With Aminos on Treating Bacterial, Yeast/Fungus, Parasites, and Toxic Metals
In an earlier post I talked about the work of Dr. Vickery and his healing of thousands of people (including Lyme patients) with Amino therapy. You can read more on him and his work here.
He states that protein deficiency will allow yeast or fungal infections to begin to cause problems all over the body, showing up as rashes, constipation, poor concentration, and sinusitis. It is his observation that many auto immune conditions such as, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia occur as a result of chronic infections, which the body is not equipped to
control. Overwhelmed, the body becomes confused and begins to produce T-cells that are programmed to attack live healthy cells, In other words without the necessary protein to act as our body's general system manager, chaos ensues and we respond with an allergic reaction to ourselves! Correct the protein/enzyme issue, heal the body.
Aminos & Pathogens
A research scientist from the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig, Germany, has discovered that simple, natural amino acids work better than antibiotics at treating infections, and they do not cause harm to healthy cells in the body. For their study, Dr. Andreas Schubert and his colleagues from Fraunhofer tested the effects of amino acids in vitro and found that they broke through bacterial membranes and penetrated them quicker and with less of a required concentration than antibiotic drugs. And the best part of all was that the amino acids caused no cell damage, unlike antibiotics which kill off beneficial bacteria in the system as well as harmful bacteria.
"Antibiotic peptides (from amino acids) unlock their microbicidal effect within a few minutes. They also work at a concentration of less than 1 microliter, compared with conventional antibiotics which require a concentration of 10 microliters," said Schubert as part of his test results. "The spectrum of efficacy of the tested peptides includes not only bacteria and molds but also lipid-enveloped viruses. Another key factor is that the peptides identified in our tests do not harm healthy body cells."
The findings are revolutionary, because they show that amino acids work on virtually every infection, including even MRSA and CRKP. And because amino acids occur naturally in various foods like nuts, grass-fed meats and dairy products, beans, seafood, eating more of these foods regularly can help boost levels of these vital nutrients without the need for drugs. Amino acids supplements are also a great way to boost amino acid levels to optimal levels in order to prevent or treat infections.
"We have already identified 20 of these short chains of amino acids which kill numerous microbes, including enterococci, yeasts and molds, as well as human pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, which is found in the human oral cavity and causes tooth decay," said Dr. Andreas Schubert, group manager of Fraunhofer. "Even the multi-resistant hospital bug Staphylococcus aureus is not immune, and in our tests its growth was considerably inhibited."
Because of arginine's powerful boost to the immune system, people suffering from a great variety of ailments may be tempted to experiment with it. Before doing so, make sure you do not have an acute or chronic virus, such as Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV) or Human Herpes Virus VI (HHV6), Herpes Simplex I or II. Arginine will speed up the rate of viral growth, which can prove to be dangerous. Theamino acid, Lysine, has the opposite effect on viruses, slowing down their growth. - Dr. Dennis Gersten
Having said that, Dr.Klinghardt states that Selenium acts as 'birth control' for viral infections.