Welcome Trudy Scott, author and certified nutritionist to the blog.This post is part of a series that covers the many ways in which nutrition, digestive health and mood are related. We hope that you find it helpful. If there are any topics that you would like to see covered, leave us a comment and we will try to add them to our series too!
The targeted use of individual amino acid supplements will balance brain chemistry to alleviate anxiety, fear, worry, panic attacks, and feeling stressed or overwhelmed. They can also be helpful in addressing other problems that contribute to or exacerbate anxiety, such as sugar cravings and addictions. In addition, they can help with depression and insomnia, which often co-occur with anxiety. When you balance your brain chemistry, not only will you alleviate symptoms of anxiety, you’ll also have a great mood, eliminate cravings, sleep well, and have good energy and mental focus.
Amino Acids Mood Questionnaire
Check off the symptoms below that best describe your struggles with mood. Worry and anxiety can be a result of low GABA and also low serotonin, so you may check off anxiety in both sections. Low GABA tends to result in a more physical anxiety, while low serotonin tends to result in more anxiety in the head, ruminating thoughts etc.
- Anxiety and feeling overwhelmed or stressed
- Feeling worried or fearful
- Panic attacks
- Unable to relax or loosen up
- Stiff or tense muscles
- Feeling stressed and burned-out
- Craving carbs, alcohol, or drugs for relaxation and calming
- Panic attacks or phobias
- Feeling worried or fearful
- Obsessive thoughts or behaviors
- Perfectionism or being overly controlling
- Anxiety that’s worse in winter
- Winter blues or seasonal affective disorder
- Negativity or depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Excessive self-criticism
- Low self-esteem and poor self-confidence
- PMS or menopausal mood swings
- Sensitivity to hot weather
- Anger or rage
- Digestive issues
- Fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint syndrome, or other pain syndromes
- Difficulty getting to sleep
- Insomnia or disturbed sleep
- Afternoon or evening cravings for carbs, alcohol or drugs
- Depression and apathy
- Easily bored
- Lack of energy
- Lack of focus
- Lack of drive and low motivation
- Attention deficit disorder
- Procrastination and indecisiveness
- Craving carbs, alcohol, caffeine, or drugs for energy
- Heightened sensitivity to emotional pain
- Heightened sensitivity to physical pain
- Crying or tearing up easily
- Eating to soothe your mood, or comfort eating
- Really, really loving certain foods, behaviors, drugs, or alcohol
- Craving a reward or numbing treat
Low Blood Sugar
- Crave sugar, starch or alcohol any time during the day
- Irritable, shaky, headachey – especially if too long between meals
- Intense cravings for sweets
- Lightheaded if meals are missed
- Eating relieves fatigue
- Agitated, easily upset, nervous
Each of the above sections on specific neurotransmitter or brain chemical imbalances can also be found in greater detail in The Antianxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood and End Cravings. They were reprinted from The Mood Cure (2004) with permission from Julia Ross. They do contain many of my own modifications based on my experience with working with many clients.
You can also find the above questionnaire online here: Amino Acids Mood Questionnaire from The Antianxiety Food Solution.
Amino Acid Supplements
There are some precautions to be aware of when taking supplemental amino acids. Be sure to check out the Amino Acid Precautions here and work with a knowledgeable practitioner if necessary.
Individual amino acids are used based on the above questionnaires and the results are profound and often felt within a few minutes:
- GABA for low serotonin
- Tryptophan or 5-HTP for low serotonin
- DPA for low endorphins
- Tyrosine for low catecholamines
- Glutamine for low blood sugar
Here is a common question I get:
“My husband answered Yes to a lot of these questions from each category – some more, and some less. Here’s to give you an idea: GABA (6), Serotonin (13), Catecholamines (8), Endorphins (5), Sugar (3). Would you say that the best way to supplement would be to start with the highest ranking one, and then work on each area one at a time? Or an integrated approach to address all at the same time would make more sense? I would love to hear your thoughts on it.”
I like to deal with one area at a time so you can feel and observe the effects. I have my clients pick the area that is most bothersome and start there, typically working on calming and sleep first (so addressing low GABA, low serotonin and blood sugar balance) before boosting catecholamines which may increase anxiety. That being said, one of my clients felt much calmer once we addressed her low catecholamines (bad focus, low energy and ADD). So it really is individualized.
Using targeted individual amino acid supplements is the most effective approach I use with my anxious clients. I love that the effects are so quick and that they feel hope from the first session.
I get feedback like this all the time: “these are miracles”, “tryptophan is my new best friend” and “I can’t remember when I last felt this good.”
About the Author
Food Mood Expert Trudy Scott is a certified nutritionist on a mission to educate and empower anxious individuals worldwide about natural solutions for anxiety, stress and emotional eating. Trudy serves as a catalyst in bringing about life enhancing transformations that start with the healing powers of eating real whole food, using individually targeted supplementation and making simple lifestyle changes. She works primarily with women but the information she offers works equally well for men and children.
Trudy is passionate about sharing the powerful food mood connection because she experienced the results first-hand, finding complete resolution of her anxiety and panic attacks.
Trudy is the author of The Antianxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood and End Cravings and host of The Anxiety Summit. Season 3 of The Anxiety Summit runs May 6-20. You can find more and sign up here.
Trudy’s interview related to the above article will be: “Pyroluria, Amino Acids and Anxiety: Troubleshooting when you are not getting results.”