The best way to figure out if you have a particular brain chemical imbalance and if you’ll benefit from a certain amino acid, is to do a trial. This is something I do with all my clients with anxiety, when we’re working one-one-one and with those in group programs, and it works really well.
Because the effects of amino acids can be felt within a few minutes to a few days, it’s easy to confirm whether you do in fact have a deficiency in a certain area and whether you’ll benefit from supplementing with the associated amino acid.
How does doing a trial work?
- I have my clients complete the Amino Acids Mood Questionnaire from The Antianxiety Food Solution and check off their symptoms on the low serotonin, low GABA, low catecholamines, low endorphins, and low blood sugar sections. The rating uses scale of 1-10 with 10 being worst.
- I also have my clients review the Amino Acids Precautions and we figure out which amino acids they can and can’t use
- I have them do a trial of the amino acid that resonates the most with them. For example if they have really bad obsessive thoughts, anxiety in the head, negative self-talk we’ll start with trying to address low serotonin with tryptophan or 5-HTP. If they resonate more with physical tension and overwhelm, we’ll start with trying to address low GABA with GABA.
- We trial one amino acid at a time and use them opened onto the tongue or chewed (and held there for 1 to 2 minutes) for getting immediate feedback.
- I have my client rate themselves before the trial and then afterwards (10 is worst), looking for benefits and how many notches they improved. This helps us figure out how much to start with.
- If it’s a big improvement (like 4 or 5 notches) they may start on 1 of the lowest dose (for example 1 x 500mg tryptophan or 1 x 125 mg GABA).
- If they see a small improvement (like 1 or 2 notches) we may start with the lowest dose and give them a range to try over the next week (for example 1-2 x 500mg tryptophan or 1-2 x 125 mg GABA)
- During the trial and over the next week we also look for possible negative effects, such as a headache or feeling light-headed. If the adverse effects of supplemental amino acids are uncomfortable, taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C is an effective short-term antidote.
- If someone is very sensitive to small amount of supplements, we may have them do a trial with a dab or two rather than a whole capsule and start really low during the next week.
- We typically allow a week to see how the selected amino acid is working and adjust up or down during that week until we find the optimal amount.
What are the advantages of doing a trial?
- You are able to target the amino acid for your specific needs – I write more about this here: Targeted individual amino acids: what do we really mean?
- You get feedback immediately – the amino acid works or doesn’t
- You are able to figure out what your starting dose of the amino should be and are able to adjust upwards accordingly
- You get more in tune with your symptoms and how certain amino acids affect you
- You can use the results (provided you log them – this is something I recommend and encourage) if you ever need a tune up in the future
Which amino acids have you found to be effective? Did you do a trial to figure out which one to try and how did that work for you? We’d love to hear in the comments below?
Have you got questions about doing a trial? Feel free to ask in the comments below.
If this information is useful but also sounds a little overwhelming, check out the The Amazing Aminos for Anxiety homestudy program. This homestudy group program provides guidance with using each of the targeted individual amino acids and how to do a trial.
Additional Anxiety Resources