Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mania Nutrients: Taurine

Taurine, like GABA, is an amino acid and a major inhibitory neurotransmitter. It generally regulates electrical and chemical communication between neurons, depressing the firing of brain cells, and reducing brain stimulation. 
Some bipolars seem to do better with GABA, others with taurine, or a combo of both. Dr. Joan Larson, PhD, finds taurine (500 mg, 3x/day) can stabilize mood as effectively as pharmacological lithium. 

Mechanisms that may help counter mania
1 Taurine concentrates and acts in electrically excitable tissues, stabilizing membrane excitability, and exhibiting anticonvulsant properties.  (Thus, Dr Walsh suggests it may be most relevant for bipolars with neurological symptoms.)
See: Seizural/bipolar connections and inhibitory aminos
2 Acts in brain regions which modulate mood (hippocampus (critical to memory), the pineal (light/dark response), and the olfactory lobe.
3 Inhibits stimulating, and activates inhibiting, neurotransmitters. (Suppresses release of dopamine, norepinephrine, glutamate, and aspartate (stimulating transmitters). On the inhibitory side, increases acetylcholine, and may increase hippocampal histamine (which counterbalances dopamine).
4 Regulates electrolytes, influencing membrane stability, receptor activity, second messenger signalling, electrical communication along the axon, and chemical communication between cells.
5 Modulates creation and activity of cAMP (which helps initiate the second messenger cascade).

6 Moderates hormonal activity. Decreases thyroid and adrenal overactivity. Supports normal thyroid function. Reduces blood sugar, enhances use and storage.
7 Antioxidant. Helps regulate copper and iron. Supports immune function and helps prevent chemical sensitivity.
8 Needed in fat absorption, metabolism, elimination. (Fats are critical to neural signalling, and the formation of hormones which affect mood.)

You can find a good introduction to taurine in the second half of Dr. Priscilla Slagle's Jan 15, 2000 Newsletter.  
Also see, Birdsall, TC, Therapeutic applications of taurine. Altern Med Rev. 3(2):128-36; April 1998.
For references, and further discussion of bipolar issues, see Natural Healing for Bipolar Disorder.

Reminder: Treatment must be tailored to each individual's unique biochemical requirements, including contraindications. If you need treatment for bipolar disorder, or any other medical condition, consult a knowledgeable physician. In some cases, this will be an orthomolecular or other nutritionally-oriented physician.

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