Essential Amino Acids and Neuroplasticity

Amino Acids to Support Recovery

Amino acids build new neural pathways, maintain neuroplasticity, and stabilize brain chemistry.

Essential Amino Acids and Neuroplasticity
Essential Amino Acids and Neuroplasticity

Essential Amino Acids and Neuroplasticity

Amino Acids to Support Recovery

Amino acids build new neural pathways, maintain neuroplasticity, and stabilize brain chemistry.

The information presented on this page is a general overview and is offered here as a comprehensive resource. At Ampelis Recovery, our programs are customized and tailored to the individual’s needs. Specific details below that cover treatment protocols may not reflect the protocols used for our clients.

If you would like to learn more about Ampelis Recovery and our customized programs for professional men, please do not hesitate to reach out.


What are Essential Amino Acids?

Amino acids are organic compounds that are vital to bodily health. There are 20 amino acids needed to make proteins in humans.1 The body produces 11 of those amino acids. The other nine amino acids must be obtained through diet and supplements. The amino acids the body doesn’t make are considered essential amino acids.1

The essential amino acids are:1

  • Valine
  • Tryptophan
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Methionine
  • Lysine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Histidine

Building Block Proteins

Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. Proteins are a vital macro-nutrient. A macronutrient is a nutrient the body requires to function. Fatigue, muscular weakness, and anemia occur if a body is low on protein. Furthermore, unlike fat or carbs, the body does not store protein. This means that regularly consuming the essential amino acids is vital to healthy aging.2, 3

Amino acid proteins are used throughout the body to grow hair, muscle, repair damaged cells, and more.

What is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt to new situations and information. Neuroplasticity is vital for forging new neural pathways and reinforcing old ones. Typically, neuroplasticity decreases as we age.4

What are Neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are chemicals the brain releases to relay information. When we learn new information, our neurons release neurotransmitters.5 These transmitters cascade over the brain carrying the new information to other neurons. This process creates new neural pathways and lines of thinking.5 Science has discovered dozens of neurotransmitters over the years, but there are still more to be discovered.

How Does the Brain Rewire Itself?

The brain is continually changing based on new information, environments, and challenges. It utilizes neurotransmitters to make new neural pathways.4 It also erases older pathways deemed unessential to survival. For example, you may forget your high school locker combination after a few years because it is not considered important information. The brain rewires itself based on learned habits as well.4

Addiction and substance use is one such reason that the brain may rewire itself. Both developing and overcoming addiction causes significant changes in brain shape and chemistry.6 It is because of this connection that therapy plays such a decisive role in addiction recovery. It is necessary to rewire the brain after addiction to erase old habits and lessen the impact of emotional triggers.6

All of this occurs because of the communication between neurotransmitters. Once a certain neural pathway, or habit forms, the brain works to reinforce that habit over time.6 This change is significant in the reward centers of the brain. The intense stimulation of rewarding tasks or chemicals causes the brain to adapt and change by sending signals throughout all parts of the brain.6

In short, the brain rewires itself through neurotransmitters, which activate due to stimulation. The ability to make these changes is dependent on the flexibility of neuroplasticity.

What Can You Do to Support Neuroplasticity?

Diet and exercise play a huge role in neuroplasticity.Maintaining a positive outlook or being otherwise aware of your mental state can also improve neuroplasticity. The more the brain changes, the more elastic it becomes. When we stagnate, our neuroplasticity becomes more rigid.8 This process can lead to several brain diseases and general mental fog.

Learn More About Healing the Brain

  • Holistic Approach
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Positive Psychology

How Do Essential Amino Acids Help with Addiction Treatment?

Drug use has a profound effect on brain health. It can lead to several mental health problems, diseases, and a life-long restructuring of the brain. For example, alcohol disrupts the ability to communicate with itself and prohibits new brain cells’ growth.9 In time, these effects can heal. However, in cases of severe drug use, the healing process can take years.

Reduction of Mass and Neurotransmitters

Drug use changes the shape of the brain. Drugs do this by rewiring the reward centers of the brain.6 This change has several dangerous consequences. Drug use hinders brain cell communication. The neurotransmitters our brains use to relay information become dampened.6 This lack of communication impacts virtually all aspects of mental health.

Additionally, the generally poor diet of individuals with drug use disorder makes it difficult to obtain proper nutrition. This can cause severely low levels of amino acids, which in turn further weakens neurotransmitter communication.10

Giving the Mind What it Needs to Heal

So, diet is a vital part of addiction treatment.11 By giving the mind and body what they need to function efficiently, the likelihood of successful addiction treatment increases. Amino acids, in particular, have been linked to reducing cravings and aiding in stable recovery. Because amino acids improve mental function, they can also help enhance positive thinking. Positive thinking is necessary for recovery. The ability to think one’s way out of negative thoughts and cope with stressors are all boons that amino acids help provide.12

Additionally, there are cases where addiction is brought solely as a side effect of depression.13 This depression is, in turn, caused by a lack of amino acids and other staples of a proper diet. By emphasizing a diet, the likelihood of successful recovery increases, and the chances of relapse lessens.14

Amino Acids Reduce Addictive Cravings

Amino acids have been shown to help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.15

The Brain Reward Syndrome Behaviors

Reward Deficiency Syndrome, or RDS, is a condition that interferes with the reward centers in the brain.16 It is characterized by behaviors such as overindulgence, compulsiveness, and addiction. RDS is primarily considered a genetic trait. However, people with RDS behaviors are more likely to develop an addiction. This is because of the change’s addiction makes to the reward centers of the brain.16

There is little awareness of reward syndrome behaviors in a non-medical circle. Because of this, many people may be unaware that they are prone to addiction until it is too late. Reward syndrome behaviors require professional help to monitor and control.

Dopamine Agonist Therapy

Dopamine, the feel-good chemical, is released in times of happiness. Drug addiction disrupts the natural flow of dopamine.17 Once addiction develops, the brain produces lesser amounts of dopamine. This can cause an individual to need drugs to feel happy. The connection of drugs and happiness in individuals with addictions can cause a psychological craving for further drug use. Dopamine agonist therapy involves consuming dopamine compounds to help reactivate the brain’s natural dopamine supply. This treatment method can restore pre-drug use dopamine levels and break the connection between drugs and happiness.17

Hippocampal Neurogenesis

Hippocampal neurogenesis is the process of creating new brain cells. Healthy neurogenesis is linked to preventing several mental illnesses.18

Hippocampal neurogenesis was thought to occur only in babies and children. However, in recent years it has been discovered that adults also grow new brain cells. Addiction slows down or prohibits this process altogether.19 A poor hippocampal neurogenesis process can lead to lessened neuroplasticity.

Brain Cell Regeneration

Brain cell regeneration is possible even in severe cases of addiction. This regeneration happens throughout our entire lives. The process slows as we age, but even the elderly create roughly 700 new neurons per day.20 Brain cell regeneration can be achieved through sobriety, aerobic exercise, diet, stress-relief habits, and mental exercises.

Explaining Brain Protein Synthesis

Brain protein synthesis is the process the body uses to make new amino acids and proteins. Protein synthesis is necessary for a healthy life.

How are Essential Amino Acids Synthesized in the Brain?

The brain requires specific amino acids for particular functions. This is the key reason that essential amino acids are necessary.21 Without them, certain mental functions would rapidly degrade. The brain synthesizes these proteins by essentially reading the information they provide and applying them to the compatible brain functions. Amino acids are recycled in the brain by breaking down malfunctioning amino acids. Once broken down, these amino acids are used to build new proteins. This process has diminishing returns, which means consistent amino acid intake is necessary.12

Research on the Efficacy of Amino Acid Therapy on Repairing the Brain

Research has revealed an inexorable link between amino acids and proper brain function.22 Amino acids are necessary to build new neural pathways, maintain neuroplasticity, and stabilize brain chemistry. Intravenous amino acid therapy is undampened by the blood-brain barrier.23

The blood-brain barrier is a function that prohibits certain chemicals from making their way into the brain. While also ensuring that certain other chemicals do make it into the brain.23 Some treatment options, such as certain lithium treatments, cannot cross the barrier, which lessens their impact.

How are Essential Amino Acids Given During Addiction Treatment?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and successful recovery. The most common method of administration is IV amino acid therapy.

IV Amino Acid Therapy

IV amino acids therapy is a process used to treat addiction, depression, and other mental illnesses. It involves an intravenous administration of amino acids. IV amino acids therapy is delivered in a medically supervised setting.

Reach out to your local clinic or treatment centers for more information on amino acid therapy. Practice a healthy diet to maintain amino acid levels.

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