Some chronic pain can be treated with DL-phenylalanine through the stimulation of nerve pathways in the brain that control pain. Enhanced pain relief has been discovered when D-phenylalanine is used in conjunction with prescribed pain killers. This manufactured form of phenylalanine is used to block an enzyme in the nervous system that increases pain signals. The interruption of pain signals allows the healing mechanisms of the body to begin working faster.
DL-Phenylalanine is a chemical combination of half L-phenylalanine and half D-phenylalanine. L-Phenylalanine is the natural form of phenylalanine found in proteins all over the body. It is found in foods like beef, poultry, pork, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds and certain soy products. D-Phenylalanine is a synthesized form of the chemical, which means it is produced in a laboratory.
Phenylalanine as an Amino Acid:
Amino acids perform various major functions in the body. They assist in fulfilling the body's basic needs from minerals and vitamins. They can act as neurotransmitters, which carry signals to and from the brain. They also aid in other parts of the body for communication between nerve cells.
Phenylalanine is one of the essential amino acids found in protein. This means it is required for human health, but cannot be manufactured by the human body. Therefore it has to be supplied through food consumption. It can also be found and taken in the form of powder, capsule, tablet or a topical cream. In the body, phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine, which is another amino acid needed to make protein. It is also needed to make certain brain chemicals and thyroid hormones. Phenylalanine deficiency signs include:
* Confusion * Decreased alertness * Lack of energy * Diminished appetite * Decreased memory
A rare disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU) happens in humans who are missing the enzyme required to metabolize phenylalanine. Symptoms of this disorder tend to appear between the ages of 3-6 months. These include:
* Eczema * Developmental delay * Abnormally small head circumference * Hyperactivity
If PKU is not treated within the first three weeks of life, it can cause severe and irreversible mental retardation. Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid taking phenylalanine as a supplement in any form. DL-Phenylalanine may cause hyperactivity, jitteriness and anxiety in children.
Phenylalanine is the major ingredient in the artificial sweetener known as aspartame. Products containing this sweetener are required by law to carry warnings on their labels for phenylketonurics. People who have PKU can be severely injured by ingesting the sweetener. Products containing this artificial sweetener include diet sodas, sugarless gums and some sugar substitutes. Some sugar-free versions of Jello, puddings, ice creams, candies and various other items also contain aspartame.
Other Phenylalanine Uses:
Some individuals have reported that taking DL-phenylalanine has improved their mood and aided in treating depression. This is the result of a higher rate of production of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals, when out of balance, cause depression, stress and frustration. Elevation of the levels of these chemicals have an anti-depressant effect in the body.
One study suggests that D-phenylalanine has been shown to improve some symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease. These include: depression, rigidity, walking problems and speech problems.
The combination of L-phenylalanine and UVA radiation may be used to treat the symptoms of vitiligo. This condition involves de-pigmentation (white patches) of skin. The use of L-phenylalanine may help to re-pigment these patches, but further study is necessary.
DL-Phenylalanine has many uses and benefits if taken correctly. As with any new dietary supplement, consult your physician before beginning a new routine.
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