(Last Updated on : 17/01/2014)
In Naturopathy there is immense importance of Amino Acids. Proteins are exceptionally complex organic compounds of the elements hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and with some exceptions, sulphur. Each type contains a definite number of building blocks known as amino acids. When food stuffs are ingested, the nutrients and amino acids do not immediately disseminate into all the different tissues. There are a series of biochemical reactions in the digestive tract which collect these proteins, break them down and then utilise them as needed. There are about twenty two amino acids needed for the normal functioning of the body. The body can manufacture many amino acids if it has no sufficient nitrogen source, but it cannot produce certain others in adequate amounts to meet its needs.
Much research has been done on amino acids in recent times and this has paved the way for dramatic cure and treatment of different problems by their judicious use. The various functions of the necessary and regularly investigated non essential amino acids, their deficiency symptoms and their therapeutic uses are discussed below:
Of all the vital amino acids, tryptophan is the one that is most investigated by nutrition researchers. It is essential to blood clotting, digestive juices and the optic system. It induces sleep and quietens the nervous system. It wards off signs of premature old age; cataracts of the eyes, baldness, and weakening of sex glands and deformity of teeth enamel. It is also essential to the female reproductive organs and for appropriate utilisation of vitamin A by the body. Major sources of this amino acid are nuts, and most vegetables. Lack of tryptophan causes symptoms similar to those of vitamin A deficit. A number of scientists feel that it can be used as a harmless and effective food remedy for insomnia
Tryptophan as a food medicine should be taken between meals with a low protein food such as fruit juice or bread.
This is very important sulphur -bearing compound which helps dissolve cholesterol and assimilates fat. It is required by haemoglobin, the pancreas, the lymph and the spleen. It is necessary to maintain normal body weight and also helps maintain the proper nitrogen balance in the body. Rich sources of methionine are Brazil nut, hazal nut, and other nuts. It is also found in cauliflower, pineapples, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and apples. Its insufficiency can lead to chronic rheumatic fever in children, cirrhosis and nephritis of the kidneys. Studies show that methionine and chorine thwart tumours and proliferation.
Lysine inhibits viruses. Its use along with vitamin C, zinc and vitamin A helps get rid of virus infections. Vitamin C protects this amino acid while in the body so that lysine plus vitamin C has a much stronger anti-virus effect than if either is used separately. Lysine also influences the female reproductive cycle. Lack of sufficient lysine in the diet may cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, and incipient anaemia. The main sources of this amino acid are most kinds of nuts, seeds, vegetables and sub-acid fruits. Lysine upsets in the body have also been associated with pneumonia
, nephritis and acidosis as well as malnutrition and rickets in children.
Valine is an indispensable body growth factor, chiefly for mammary glands and ovaries. Valine is directly linked with the nervous system. It is necessary for the prevention of nervous and digestive disorders. Major sources are almonds, apples and most vegetables. Lack of this amino acid makes a person sensitive to touch and sound.
This amino acid is vital for maintaining the nitrogen balance fundamental to all body functions. It also regulates metabolism of the thymus, spleen and pituitary glands. Rich sources are sunflower seeds, all nuts, except cashew nuts, avacados and olives.
It is the compliment of isoleucine, with a similar chemical composition although in different arrangement. Its functions and sources are also the same.
This is indispensable to the production of hormone adrenaline; to the production of the thyroid secretion and the hair and skin pigment, melanin. It is useful in weight control because of its effect on the thyroid. Its use before meals suppresses the appetite to a large extent. It is necessary for the efficient functioning of kidneys and bladder. Major source are nuts, parsley, seeds, carrots and tomatoes. An important recently discovered restorative use of phenylalanine is its capacity to overcome most conditions of lethargy through stimulation of adrenaline.
This amino acid is found in various types of milk and is a major constituent in cow's milk. Other sources are seeds, carrots, nuts, and green vegetables. Without threonine, a child's development will be deficient and there will be malfunctioning of the brain. This amino acid has a dominant anti convulsive effect.
This helps tissue development and repair. It is active in producing normal blood supply. It is also vital to the formation of glycogen in the liver. It is found in the root vegetables and all green vegetables. Studies show that the free form of histidine in the blood is low in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and if taken orally, may possibly slow down the symptoms of this illness. Oral histidine has, however, a propensity to stimulate hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach and persons who are vulnerable to an overabundance of acid and also those who have ulcers should keep away from taking pure histidine. Orthopaedic and joint pains are caused by lack of histidine.
This is called the "fatherhood "amino acid as it comprises 80 per cent of all male reproductive cells. It is crucial for normal growth. Serious lack of this amino acid reduces the sex instinct causing impotence
. It is found in most vegetables, in particular, green and root vegetables.
It provides resistance by building up white cell activity. It is an indispensable amino acid. It is one of the mainstays of health as it is necessary for the proper formation of skin and helps one recover from surgery. It is used in the healing of skin diseases, for low white blood cells counts and for some cases of anaemia.
This can be called an anti-stress amino acid. Tyrosine is also advantageous for nervousness, irritability, depression and despondency. Research has established this amino acid to be effectual in the management and control of depression in conjunction with glutamine, tryptophan, niacin and vitamin B6. It is also useful in the treatment of allergies
and high blood pressure
. When tyrosine is taken, a supplement of Valine, another important amino acid should not be taken as Valine may block tyrosine's entry to the brain.
This little known non-essential amino acid is considered valuable in the treatment of alcoholism. Glutamine reduces the generally irresistible craving for alcohol that recovering drinkers almost inevitably encounter.
When one or more of the fundamental amino acids are left out of the diet, symptoms similar to those of vitamin deficiencies may be experienced such as low blood pressure, loss of weight, poor resistance to infections, anaemia, poor muscle tone, slow healing of wounds and bloodshot eyes. Children who do not get the requisite amounts of amino acids in their every day diet suffer from stunted growth and lasting damage to the glands. On the other hand, those getting the full proportion of amino acids in their diet will be rewarded with vigour, energy and long life. The best food proteins with all the important amino acids are found in almonds, cheese and eggs. Amino acids are being increasingly and effectively used in the treatment of several diseases, such as stomach ulcers, burns, kidney diseases and liver diseases. It has also been observed that the diseases of old age can be largely prevented if elderly persons take the proper food supplements of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Amino acids are required at every stage from infancy to old age, to repair worn out tissues and to create new ones.