How to Fight Alzheimer's Disease with Intranasal Insulin

A woman spraying insulin up her cose with an intranasal bottle.

Today I want to discuss "intranasal insulin", a cutting-edge therapy that could help a lot of people. 

Neurologists and psychiatrists tend to undervalue the impact of hormones originating outside the brain.

Until modern medicine treats the entire body as one unified system – like functional medicine practitioners do – people will continue to lose faith in conventional practitioners and look elsewhere for solutions to their chronic brain and mental health problems. 

As Dr. Suzanne Craft, Ph.D, Professor of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, explains:

People are now starting to understand the critical interaction between the brain and the body and that many of the peptides and hormones produced in the body have very substantial roles to play in the brain. I think we’re at the beginning of a very exciting era in which we’re going to be able to start putting together these systems to understand Alzheimer’s disease, which is clearly a disease of the entire organism, not just of the brain.

Insulin is one of the hormones that significantly affects brain function.

It's been shown to pass the blood-brain barrier and act on insulin receptors directly within the brain (3, 4). 

Not only does our body produce and release it, but it can also be taken as a medication, particularly for the treatment of diabetes (1, 2). 

Researchers have found that insulin has “neurotrophic, neuromodulatory, and neuroprotective effects” by:

  • Promoting neuronal growth;

  • Regulating the levels of certain neurotransmitters;

  • Increasing brain energy levels (ATP in your mitochondria);

  • Increasing blood flow in the brain;

  • Preventing dopaminergic neuron loss;

  • Reducing inflammation in the brain; and

  • Protecting against oxidative stress in the brain by restoring antioxidants and energy metabolism (5-13).

Insulin in the dictionary.
In the brain, insulin has a number of roles to play. It promotes glucose uptake in the neurons of the hippocampal formation and the frontal lobes, areas that are involved in memory. Insulin also strengthens the synaptic connections between brain cells, helping to form new memories. In addition, insulin regulates the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays an important role in learning and memory.
— Dr. Suzanne Craft, Ph.D

So, it clearly does a lot in the brain, and research shows that it can be therapeutic for a number of mental health conditions, particularly Alzheimer’s disease

In a new therapeutic approach, commercially-available insulin (Novalin R) is prepared and added to nasal spray bottleslike this one – and sprayed and inhaled through the nose to support brain and mental health. 

Dr. William Banks, Professor of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, says there are more than 100 different intranasal compounds that are being tested for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

“Intranasal insulin” is just one of them, and it’s one of the more promising ones, as it’s been reported to significantly enhance memory, increase mental energy, reduce brain fog, improve mood, and lower anxiety and stress levels

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The Link Between Alzheimer’s Disease, Insulin and Diabetes

Many of the brain health experts I’ve talked to are convinced that Alzheimer’s disease should actually be called "Type 3 diabetes".

This is because diabetes and insulin are closely linked to cognitive decline and dementia

Many studies show that diabetes is associated with an increased risk of cognitive dysfunction, and people with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment than non-diabetics (14-21). 

Researchers have also found that insulin declines in the brain as people age, and patients with Alzheimer’s disease often have insulin resistance and reduced levels of insulin in their brains (25-30)

But what if insulin deficiency is detected in the brain, and then insulin is supplied to the brain, could neurodegeneration and the development of dementia be prevented? And could the progression of existing Alzheimer’s disease be halted?

The answers to these questions appears to be yes:

  • Diabetic patients who take insulin have improved memory and reduced rates of Alzheimer’s disease;

  • Elderly diabetics who take insulin have less severe Alzheimer’s disease compared with non-diabetics;

  • Insulin improves cognition and memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease; and

  • Insulin prevents and reverses brain degeneration and cognitive impairment in diabetic animals (22-24).

Check out the below video to learn more from one of the leading researchers in the field: 

Cutting-Edge Research Shows That Intranasal Insulin Improves Cognition and Memory

The intranasal route of insulin administration provides direct access to the cerebrospinal fluid and brain.

This allows insulin to directly enter the brain from the nose, and bind to receptors within specific areas of the brain that are involved in memory and cognition (42). 

Insulin receptors in the brain are found in high densities in the hippocampus, a region that is fundamentally involved in the acquisition, consolidation, and recollection of new information.

An increasing amount of research has been published over the last ten years, demonstrating that intranasal insulin can significantly improve cognition, attention, memory and overall brain function in people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease (31-33, 38-39, 43-45). 

In fact, there are over 30 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials showing that it’s effective at improving memory, learning and cognitive performance in humans (34-37). 

Illustration of how intranasal insulin works.

Yet most people aren’t aware of it, and doctors aren’t prescribing it, while millions of people suffer from dementia

One study found that it improved objective biomarkers of neurodegeneration, including amyloid deposits and tau pathology, in people with Alzheimer’s disease within a few months. In the group of patients that didn’t receive intranasal insulin, brain function continued to deteriorate (40). 

In another study, researchers gave intranasal insulin to 104 adults with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of the 4-month study, the participants who received insulin had significantly better memory and cognitive function compared to the group who didn’t receive insulin (41). 

The researchers also found that the improvements in cognition were correlated with improvements in objective biomarkers, and concluded that “intranasal insulin therapy can help to stabilize, slow, or possibly even reverse the course of Alzheimer’s disease (41). 

Because of the promising research so far, the US government is currently funding a two-year long clinical trial to see if intranasal insulin will help 240 people with Alzheimer’s disease. Results from the Study of Nasal Insulin in the Fight Against Forgetfulness (SNIFF) are expected to be released in 2017. 

And intranasal insulin doesn’t just help elderly people with dementia. It’s also been shown to improve memory in younger, healthy individuals (46-51). 

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Intranasal Insulin and Other Brain and Mental Health Disorders

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t the only brain and mental health condition that can benefit from intranasal insulin. 

Here are some others:

  • ADHD and drug addiction – Insulin affects dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter linked to both these conditions (52).

  • Depression, anxiety and anger – In one study, 38 healthy people took intranasal insulin for 8 weeks and experienced enhanced mood, increased self-confidence and reduced anger. Another study found that it affected heart-rate variability (53, 59).

  • Stroke – Researchers point out that “intranasally administered insulin possesses many of the ideal properties for acute stroke neuroprotection” (54, 62).

  • Bipolar disorder – One study found that intranasal insulin significantly improved executive function in patients with bipolar disorder (55).

  • Neurodevelopmental disorder – Two studies have found that intranasal insulin improves cognition, autonomy, motor activity, nonverbal communication, social skills and developmental functioning of children and adults with a rare neurodevelopmental disorder (Phelan-McDermid syndrome) (57, 58).

  • Overall brain function – “Intranasal insulin appears to restore complex neural networking in the direction of normalization”. In other words, it seems to “reboot” the brain (56).

  • Parkinson’s disease and Down Syndrome – There is no evidence for this yet but there are ongoing trials looking into whether intranasal insulin could help people with these conditions (60, 61).

Safety of Intranasal Insulin and How to Try It Yourself

Numerous studies show that intranasal insulin is incredibly safe and does not cause any significant adverse side effects. The only minor side effects I came across were dizziness, nose bleeding and mild rhinitis, but these were rare (63-65). 

This is because unlike regular insulin administration, intranasal insulin only affects the nose and brain. It doesn’t enter the bloodstream, change insulin levels throughout the entire body, or cause low blood sugar (66-83). 

Overall, I believe the benefits outweigh the risks and it’s worth trying, especially if you’re struggling with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer’s disease. It may be another decade or more until the research trickles down and reaches your doctor’s office. Research shows that it takes about 17 years for new scientific evidence to be implemented in clinical practice

However, I’m not a doctor and you should definitely talk to your doctor about this if you’re considering trying it. If you have an open-minded doctor, perhaps they will support you in trying it. Don’t be surprised if they dismiss the idea entirely though. 

With that said, you can easily and legally buy insulin yourself. It’s available over the counter without a prescription at any pharmacy (in the US and Canada). Pharmacists hold it behind the counter and you just have to walk up and ask for “Novolin R.” In Canada, it’s called “Novolin Toronto.”

It’s that simple. You don’t need to provide personal identification or sign anything. It costs about $30.

After that, you can get a nasal spray bottle - like this one or this one

Then, use pliers to carefully remove the rubber cap from the insulin vial, and pour the insulin into the spray bottle. 

At this point, you’re ready to use it. Make sure to keep it in the fridge when you're not using it. 

Again, I’m not a doctor. So talk to your doctor about this before trying it. But I feel this is worth sharing and writing about considering it has massive potential to help many people who are struggling day-to-day. 

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Dosage

Each spray from the nasal bottle is 0.1mL or 10IU of insulin. 

Dosages in human studies range from 10IU to 160IU (1 to 16 sprays) daily. 

In the longest lasting study, participants took either 20 IU (2 sprays) or 40IU (4 sprays) of insulin daily for four months (86). 

So, if you’re going to try it, I wouldn’t take more than 40IU (4 sprays) for longer than 4 months.

However, participants in the ongoing SNIFF trial have been taking intranasal insulin for more than one year, so once the results from that study are released in 2017, my recommendation may change. 

Overall, self-experimentation is necessary to find the correct dosage that works best for you. 

Conclusion

Intranasal insulin is a very impressive and exciting substance, and the lack of side effects is encouraging. 

If you’re looking to improve your memory and brain function and avoid Alzheimer’s disease, it’s definitely worth considering and talking to your doctor about it. 

An elderly man sprays intranasal insulin up his nose.

All that’s needed is:

I’m aware that this might be little bit “out there” for some people, but I think it has the potential to help a lot of people reach optimal brain and mental health. 

Please share with anyone who is struggling with cognitive impairment or the early signs of dementia because it isn't a very well known treatment. 

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health!

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Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

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The Brain and Mental Health Benefits of Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) & Photobiomodulation

Low-level laser/light therapy (LLLT) is the very last treatment I used to restore my brain function after serious concussions, toxic mold exposure and multiple psychiatric prescriptions

And in my experience, it is one of the most efficient ways to boost brain function and improve mental health. 

Yet your doctor likely has no idea what it is. 

It’s about as cutting-edge as it gets, and even more unconventional than neurofeedback. But it works. 

Also known as photobiomodulation, LLLT is the application of low-power lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to the body for therapeutic purposes.  When LLLT is applied to the brain, it is known as transcranial LLLT or transcranial photobiomodulation (44). 

LLLT has been around since 1967, and there are now more than one thousand scientific studies showing that it can help treat a variety of disorders without any harmful effects. Unlike high-intensity surgical lasers, low-powered lasers do not cut or burn tissue. Instead, these lasers stimulate a biological response and encourage cells to function properly (11, 12, 33). 

And luckily, it’s very easy to treat yourself at home with LLLT using red and infrared light.

I use two main devices on my brain and they have significantly improved the quality of my life.

Make sure you read the Recommended Devices section below, where I discuss the different devices I use. 

Picture of mitochondria being irradiated and stimulated by red and infrared light.

How It Works

Research shows that red and infrared light between the wavelengths of 632 nanometers (nm) and 1064 nm produce positive biological effects. For brain cells, the optimal range appears to be between 800 nm and 1000 nm, as these wavelengths can penetrate the scalp and skull and reach the brain (19, 20, 25-31).

The devices I use fall within this range. 

The light emitted from these devices stimulate a photochemical reaction within cells, which can accelerate the natural healing process and cause beneficial changes in behaviour (45).

How does it do this?

Mainly by supporting your mitochondria

As I’ve discussed before, mitochondria are considered the “powerhouses of the cell,” generating most of the energy in your body in the form of adenosine-5’- triphosphate (ATP). 

ATP is your body’s main source of cellular fuel. You are constantly using it, and your brain needs enough of it to work properly. 

Proper mitochondrial function and ATP production is critical for neuroprotection, cognitive enhancement, and the prevention and alleviation of several neurological and mental disorders (46).

And research demonstrates that transcranial LLLT supports mitochondrial function and significantly increases the production of ATP in the brain (3-5, 8-10, 13-17, 21-22, 34, 45).

Your mitochondria contain photoacceptors that absorb the photons from light and convert them into ATP – energy that can be used to perform cellular tasks and biological processes (39, 40).

This process is comparable to plant photosynthesis, during which sunlight is absorbed by plants and converted to energy for the plants to grow (23, 24). 

By stimulating the mitochondria and producing more ATP, LLLT gives brain cells extra ATP energy to work better and heal and repair themselves.

On top of this, LLLT has also been shown to:

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My Experience and What You Should Expect

Along with neurofeedback, LLLT is one of the most impactful actions I have taken to optimize my brain and mental health.

Man using LLLT helmet and intranasal Vielight device.

By the time I was off all psychiatric medications, I had lost a lot of my full cognitive capabilities. Thankfully, LLLT has restored them.

Here are some of the results I’ve noticed:

  • Increased cognitive function

  • Sharper thinking

  • Improved mood, concentration, alertness

  • Less fatigue and reduced need for sleep

  • More mental motivation, endurance and productivity

Overall, it has improved my mental constitution. I don’t get fatigued and worn down as easily and I can focus and think harder for longer periods of time.

LLLT also has a cumulative effect. Your brain becomes stronger and more resilient over time as you do the treatment consistently.  

It has allowed me to reduce the number of supplements I take daily. I now realize that I needed the treatment for many years, but I just didn’t know it existed.

Luckily, I’m now able to treat myself on a regular basis and I’ve never felt better. 

Many serious brain injuries and mental illnesses can be successfully treated with LLLT, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, post-concussion syndrome, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

I explore how LLLT has been shown to help each of these disorders below. Feel free to skip to the disorder you're struggling with to learn more.

Depression and Anxiety

Studies in rats and humans provide evidence that LLLT improves mood and decreases depressive symptoms.

In 2009, researchers took 10 patients with a history of major depression and anxiety (including post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse) and applied LLLT to their foreheads for four weeks. At the end of the study, six of the 10 patients experienced a remission of their depression, and seven of the 10 patients experienced a remission of their anxiety. There were no observable side effects (54). 

The data supports that LLLT to the head constitutes a promising neurotherapeutic tool to modulate behaviour in a non-invasive manner.
— Dr. Julio C. Rojas, MD, PhD, University of California

This makes sense considering that several studies show that depression is linked to abnormal blood flow in the frontal cortex of the brain, and LLLT increases blood flow and circulation (47, 53). 

Other studies have shown that participants report a significant increase in positive emotions and a reduction in depressive symptoms for two weeks after LLLT treatment (55-57). 

Sufferers of traumatic brain injury (TBI) also experience a decrease in depression, anxiety, irritability and insomnia, and an overall improvement in quality of life, because of LLLT (58, 59).  

I’ve personally experienced all of these results.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a growing health concern. An estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually in the U.S. (60). 

Mild TBIs (concussions) make up 75 per cent of all brain injuries. Military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan frequently experience mild TBI while overseas, and many months after they return home, they often struggle with PTSD, depression and anxiety (61, 62). 

And research shows that transcranial LLLT can help (63). 

I personally experienced this. In 2010, I suffered multiple concussions while living in a moldy home, and thankfully LLLT has helped me completely recover from post-concussion syndrome. It’s helped me as much as neurofeedback

A number of human studies show that patients with chronic mild TBI experience improved cognition, memory and sleep with LLLT treatment. 

One study examined whether LLLT could help 11 patients with chronic mild TBI symptoms. They all had cognitive dysfunction, and four of them had multiple concussions like I did. 

After 18 LLLT sessions, their cognition, memory and verbal learning improved. Participants also said they slept better and had fewer PTSD symptoms. Coworkers, friends and family reported improved social, interpersonal, and occupational functioning (65). 

If LLLT was a drug, we would definitely be hearing about it.

In another study, 10 people with chronic TBI were given 10 treatments of LLLT (810 nm) and witnessed a reduction in headaches, cognitive dysfunction, sleep problems, anxiety, depression and irritability (66). 

There have also been a few case studies showing beneficial effects of transcranial LLLT in TBI patients (67, 68):

Seven years after closed-head TBI from a motor vehicle accident, case 1 (a 66-year-old woman) began transcranial LED treatments. Before LLLT treatment, she could focus on her computer for only 20 minutes. After eight weekly LLLT treatments, her focused computer time increased to 3 hours. She has treated herself nightly at home for 5.5 years now and maintains her improved cognition at age 72 years.
Case 2 (a 52-year-old retired, high-ranking female military officer) had a history of multiple closed-head injuries. Before beginning LLLT treatments, she was on medical disability for 5 months. After 4 months of nightly LLLT treatments at home, she returned to working full-time as an executive consultant with an international technology consulting firm and discontinued medical disability. Neuropsychological testing performed after 9 months of transcranial LED showed significant improvement in cognition and memory, as well as reduction in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
Case 3 received 20 LLLT treatments over two months and experienced highly favourable outcomes with decreased depression, anxiety, headache, and insomnia, whereas cognition and quality of life improved.

So LLLT can improve cognition, reduce costs in TBI treatment and be applied at home?

Hmm, sounds like something the pharmaceutical industry would not like people to know about – and something that would force them to lose a lot of life-long customers. 

Several mouse studies also show that transcranial LLLT can prevent cell death and increase neurological performance after TBI (69-72). 

Researchers believe that LLLT works so well for people struggling with TBI symptoms because mitochondria in the brain are significantly dysfunctional after TBI, resulting in an inadequate supply of ATP, and LLLT can support the mitochondria and increase ATP production (73-75, 79). 

There is also poor blood flow and oxygenation, and increased inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain after head injuries. This contributes to brain damage, but LLLT can help combat these problems, increase antioxidants, promote neurogenesis and relieve chronic symptoms (76-78, 80-83).

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Alzheimer's Disease and Cognitive Impairment

Research shows that LLLT can boost performance and improve cognitive function, including attention and memory, in elderly people, young healthy people and animals.  

Preliminary studies demonstrate that LLLT could slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by decreasing a protein in the brain that is linked to dementia (84-86, 94). 

Downregulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) occurs early in the progression of Alzheimer's disease, and LLLT has been shown to prevent brain cell loss by upregulating BDNF (87). 

LLLT could be used as a preventive intervention in people who present risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, or a history of head trauma. In such patients, LLLT could be combined with cognitive intervention approaches.
— Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, PhD, University of Austin, Texas

Researchers have also applied LLLT to middle-aged mice, and discovered that the memory and cognitive performance of the middle-aged mice improved so much that it was comparable with that of young mice. The researchers concluded that LLLT should be “applied in cases of general cognitive impairment in elderly persons” (5, 88). 

Several others studies have shown that LLLT significantly increases alertness, awareness and sustained attention, and improves short-term memory and reaction time. Study participants also made fewer errors during tasks and tests (89-91, 93, 95). 

Another study found that LLLT was just as effective as exercise at enhancing cognition, likely by providing neuroprotection and supporting the mitochondria (92, 96).

Stroke

Multiple studies show that LLLT can significantly reduce brain damage and improve recovery outcomes after a stroke (110-113). 

In one study, researchers applied LLLT over the entire surface of the head of stroke patients approximately 18 hours after a stroke. Five days after the stroke, they found significantly greater improvements in the LLLT-treated group. The improvements continued 90 days after the stroke. At the end of the study, 70% of the patients treated with real LLLT had a successful outcome compared with only 51% of the control subjects (114). 

Follow up studies with over 600 stroke patients found similar beneficial results. Researchers believe increase in the production of ATP is responsible for the improvements (115, 116, 117).  

Numerous studies also show that LLLT significantly reduces neurological problems and improves behaviour in rats and rabbits after stroke. It also increases the growth of new brain cells in these animals, improving their overall recovery (118-124).

Other Disorders

There are a number of other disorders that can also improve with LLLT treatment: 

  • Parkinson’s disease (PD) – “Mitochondria in PD tissues are compromised… LLLT could be developed as a novel treatment to improve neuronal function in patients with PD” (109).

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress play an important role in motor neuron loss in ALS. Motor function significantly improved with LLLT group in the early stage of the disease (99).

  • Autism – Linked to mitochondria dysfunction and inflammation, so LLLT would likely help (103, 104).

  • Bipolar disorder – Linked to mitochondria dysfunction and inflammation (105, 106, 107)

  • Schizophrenia – Linked mitochondria dysfunction and inflammation (105, 106)

  • Smoking Cessation – Check out this video.

  • Alcoholism (101, 102)

  • Opiate addiction (102)

  • Headaches and migraines (108)

  • Acne - This is unrelated to brain health but LLLT can also treat acne. Improving my diet and gut health helped me overcome my acne, but I definitely wish I had known about LLLT when I had it. An integrative physician here in Ottawa has had a lot of success with her patients struggling with acne and other skin issues (97, 98).

Recommended Devices

I first discovered LLLT when reading Dr. Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity. I highly recommend the book. 

Dr. Doidge talks about the BioFlex Laser Therapy equipment, which costs thousands of dollars.

I found an integrative physician here who owned a Bioflex and I gave it a try. 

After a few sessions, I started experiencing beneficial effects.

So I decided to go ahead and buy my own LLLT devices for cheaper. And they have provided me with the same brain and mental health benefits as the expensive Bioflex: 

  • Platinum Therapy Lights Bio-450 (Combo Red/NIR) - This is a powerful device that shines 660 nm of red light and 850 nm of infrared light. I shine it on my forehead for 5-10 minutes every other day. I also shine it on other parts of my head, and on my thyroid, thymus gland and gut. If you decide to get this device, you can use the coupon code OPTIMAL for a 5% discount.

  • Vielight 810 – This is an intranasal device with 810 nm of near infrared light that I use regularly. It penetrates deeper into brain tissue and is absorbed better by the central nervous system. If you decide to get this one, you can use the coupon code JORDANFALLIS for a 10% discount. Some research has shown a 20-fold higher efficiency of light delivery to the deep brain through the nose instead of transcranial application (125).

  • Vielight also has two new devices - the Neuro Gamma and the Neuro Alpha. I haven't tried them yet because I’m happy with my Bio-450 and Vielight 810. But I have heard great things from other biohackers and researchers. They are apparently even more effective than the Vielight 810. Again, you can also use the coupon code JORDANFALLIS for a 10% discount if you buy one of these devices.

  • Red Light Man is another reliable company that provides red and infrared light devices.

Unlike most pharmaceuticals, LLLT is very safe, non-toxic and non-invasive, so you can easily try it on yourself without concern and see if it helps you like it has helped me (33, 34, 126). 

Woman applying a red and infrared light LLLT device to her forehead.

You can shine the light all over your head. But start slow and apply the light to different areas of your head for just 1-2 minutes, maybe even less if you’re really sensitive. Then work your way up to longer periods of time, perhaps 5-10 minutes per area. There’s no exact proper way to do this. Listen to your body and see how it affects you. 

It’s important to note that some people experience grogginess and fatigue after using LLLT. I experienced this the day after my first treatment. I was incredibly tired and lethargic. This was a sign that I did too much. 

If you feel extremely tired immediately after LLLT or the next day, take a break and do less next time. For example, if you applied light to your forehead for 3 minutes, then drop back down to 2 minutes for your next session. 

It is also important to cycle LLLT. The way it works is similar to exercise, so you need to take breaks in order to heal and get stronger. Using it everyday can cause a burnout effect. I use it every 2-3 days to give my brain a chance to recover.

Conclusion

Frankly, it’s ridiculous that this therapy is not more well-known and promoted by doctors. But like everything else on this website, you don’t have to wait for conventional medicine to catch up, and you can experiment with the LLLT devices yourself. There is a high benefit-to-risk ratio. 

I suspect that home-use application of LLLT will become much more popular in the coming years.

The remarkable effects of the treatment in healing the brain in a non-invasive manner, along with the fact that there is little evidence of any adverse side effects, suggests to me that it’s use will only increase.

At the same time, distrust in pharmaceuticals continues to grow because of uncertain efficacy and unbearable side effects. 

And as the Western population continues to age, the incidence of the degenerative brain diseases will only continue to increase, which will produce a severe financial and societal burden.

So people will realize they are at a disadvantage by not having their own device(s) and will start using them on a regular basis for optimal mental health and cognition.

I've come to this conclusion, and I'm glad I did.

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(71) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538543/

(72) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3397203

(73) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11059663

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(78) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3397203/

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(81) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17439348/

(82) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17439348

(83)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229161498_Transcranial_low_level_laser_light_therapy_for_traumatic_brain_injury

(84) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18769048/

(85) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263742704_Low-Level_Laser_Therapy_Ameliorates_Disease_Progression_in_a_Mouse_Model_of_Alzheimer%27s_Disease

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(89) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23200785

(90) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27080072

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(92) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27220529

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(94) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24387311

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(99) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19143012/

(100) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26817446

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(108) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12811613

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

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The Best Amino Acid for Depression, Anxiety and Pain

An illustration of a woman worrying and ruminating.

Today I want to talk to you about one of the best amino acids that has really helped me manage feelings of depression, anxiety and trauma.

I write about many different helpful nutrients and supplements, and I know it can be overwhelming. 

So I want to dedicate this post to one amino acid, because I feel like it’s helped me more than any other (even more than n-acetyl-cysteine). 

As soon as I realize I'm running low and have just a few capsules left, I order it immediately because it gives me so many benefits.

Even though I can live without it, I’d rather not.

A man sitting on the edge of a cliff, depressed and worrying. Clouds are above him and raining down on him.

Taking it every so often helps my mood and significantly improves the quality of my life. 

A subtle sense of “impending doom” starts to creep in when I’ve gone too long without it. 

If you struggle with chronic anxiety and depression, you probably know what I’m talking about.

This feeling used to be a lot worse for me. 

It felt like a dark cloud was following me around all day, and I just couldn’t shake it.

It’s now gone.

And thankfully, I know exactly how to keep it away.

But life can be tough at times, and things happen.

And that’s why I’m glad I have access to DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) whenever I need it.

It helps me get through stressful times.

It can get me out of a deep hole like nothing else.

And if you struggle with feelings of trauma, anxiety and depression on a regular basis, it may help you too. 

What is DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) and How Does It Work?

I first learned about phenylalanine in the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. 

It’s an essential amino acid that plays a key role in the proper functioning of your nervous system.

If you're deficient in phenylalanine, you can have the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue

  • Confusion

  • Memory problems

  • Decreased alertness

  • Loss of appetite

DL-Phenylalanine, or DLPA for short, is a combination of two different forms of phenylalanine – D-Phenylalanine and L- Phenylalanine.

The D and L forms of phenylalanine have different beneficial effects on your body and brain. 

L-Phenylalanine is used as a building block by your body to create a number of important proteins, hormones and neurotransmitters. 

This includes dopamine, norepinephrine and thyroid hormone – all of which are necessary for optimal brain and mental function.

Dopamine in particular is very important as it’s the main neurotransmitter that supports your attention and motivation, and plays a key role in the “reward system” of your brain.

D-Phenylalanine, on the other hand, inhibits the breakdown of endorphins.

Endorphins are pain-relieving compounds that originate within your body. 

Your brain produces and releases these natural painkillers during times of strenuous exercise, emotional stress and pain. 

But D-Phenylalanine has been shown to slow the action of enzymes that destroy these morphine-like substances. By doing this, it can prolong the activity of your endorphins within your nervous system, allowing you feel better for longer (1-6). 

How It Can Help You

Together, D and L-Phenylalanine can support your brain and mental health by increasing both dopamine and endorphins levels.

My research and personal experience suggest it can help treat a number of different conditions, including:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Drug withdrawal, including alcohol, opiates and psychiatric medication (antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics). If you struggle with any sort of addiction and cravings, I recommend the book End Your Addiction Now by Dr. Charles Gant, MD.

Personally, it helped me the most with depression and anxiety, and there are several studies that show it can improve your mood.

In one study, 20 depressed patients took 200 mg of DLPA everyday. At the end of the 3-week study, 12 patients no longer had depression, and 4 patients experienced mild to moderate improvements in their mood (8). 

This makes sense considering that researchers have found that people struggling with depression often have low levels of phenylalanine, and supplementation significantly elevates their mood (9). 

In fact, one study found that DLPA is just as effective as standard antidepressants (but without side effects), and another found that people who don’t respond to common antidepressants often get significantly better when they take DLPA (10, 11). 

And even if you take medication, research shows that combining DLPA with antidepressants leads to greater increases in mood than simply taking an antidepressant alone (12).

Yet unlike antidepressants, you can feel the effects of DLPA quickly (within a few hours) and in some cases, it can “terminate depression within 2 to 3 days” (13).

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My Experience

By building up your natural endorphin production, DLPA doesn’t just help reduce physical pain – but mental pain as well.

I'm currently taking this DLPA.

I'm currently taking this DLPA.

When I first started taking DLPA, it was such a relief. I was so glad I had found it. 

I notice it makes me:

  • More comfortable, happy and satisfied with my life;

  • More relaxed and calmer every time I take it;

  • Less moody and irritable;

  • Less likely to take things so seriously; and

  • Less reactive to negative events and situations.

Overall, it lifts my mood and reduces emotional sensitivity. Life becomes less intense. I’m not as sensitive to the world around me. I would definitely recommend it to others who also have “sensory processing sensitivity”. 

And eventually, DLPA helped me successfully wean off multiple psychiatric medications. Along with some other supplements, it played a critical role in making the withdrawal process as smooth as possible. 

I used to take 500 mg every day. Currently, I only need 500 mg once or twice each week, mainly because neurofeedback, low-level laser therapy and EMDR have helped me so much.

Other Success Stories

I understand that you might be thinking that perhaps DLPA won’t help you like it helped me.

And I can't guarantee that it will. 

But I did some digging and found a number of other people online who say that DLPA has also helped them manage or overcome their mental health issues. 

I’ve gathered their comments below and bolded anything that I can personally relate to or I have experienced while taking it:

  • “Suffering from severe post-traumatic stress, I've tried any number of natural products as the chemical cocktails handed out by conventional medicine are simply not acceptable to me. After my first dose of 1000mg DLPA, my depression lifted and trauma reactions (flashbacks and hyperviligence) significantly reduced. I've been taking this for a couple months now and there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. It has almost completely reversed my suicidal tendencies which were increasing regularly; they are now practically nonexistent. This product has truly saved my life.”

  • “My brain finally feels at rest and the anxiety has greatly decreased, and I can get on with my life. DLPA is my lifesaver. I will be taking this for as long as I need to.”

  • DLPA has been a huge help to me. I have type 1 bipolar and this has helped me more than anything I have ever tried. I will buy more and I also take more than 1. I take 2 to 3 a day and it calms my mind like nothing else ever has.”

  • “My husband is mildly bipolar. We've decided to try to treat him naturally and phenylalanine is one of the treatments. He only takes this on an "as needed" basis, which turns out to be at least two days per week. He has other regular supplements he takes daily. This is only for "extra support" on bad days. And it really works.”

  • DLPA is a key factor in improving my anxiety, depression and ADHD more than any of the several medications I have taken over the last 10 years.”

  • “I take DLPA first thing in the morning and it literally helps me get out of bed, get focused and get the day going with a positive attitude.”

  • “I honestly felt a difference right away. I was suddenly happy and smiling non-stop. I truly had a sparkle in my eye and I felt talkative and social. After a few hours the feeling wore off but I still felt an inner sense of content. It has helped with feelings of anxiety as well which is a plus.”

  • “Wow, what a difference! I have been so relieved from all those false moods that I can honestly say I am happy, alive and free.”

  • “I use this daily for the treatment of mild depression. I do notice a difference while on it. I went off of it briefly and felt as if someone had let some air out of my balloon, just kind of deflated.”

  • “I have suffered with extreme depression and anxiety since I was 13 (I’m now 42). I have gone through many different prescription/herbal/clinical therapies, and this product has been life-changing in a very short time. This has given me energy and focus I never had, a zest for life, an ability to handle stresses. I tell my husband (who keeps mentioning what a huge difference he has noticed) that this must be how "normal" people live.”

It absolutely blows my mind that more people aren’t aware of DLPA’s incredible and diverse benefits.

Clearly, it should be a first-line treatment for depression and anxiety. 

Yet I was never told about it, and it took me years to finally discover it.

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Where to Get It and How to Take It

I currently take this DL-Phenylalanine

I've also taken this one at one point.

I've also taken this DLPA and it works. It's currently less expensive than others through Amazon.

I've also taken this DLPA and it works. It's currently less expensive than others through Amazon.

Both work very well in my experience.

There are a number of other brands with good reviews, but I personally can’t vouch for them.

Make sure you get a combination of both D and L-Phenylalanine. I tried L-Phenylalanine alone once and it didn’t help me as much. 

In theory, it’s also a good idea to take it alongside Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C because they help with the conversion of phenylalanine to dopamine.

You should start with 500-750 mg each day and monitor how you feel. You will have to experiment and figure out your ideal DLPA dosage. The DLPA dosage for depression, pain or anxiety can vary. You may even need up to 1,500 mg daily.

But the benefits seem to increase over the time. The more you take it, the more you can feel it’s effects. 

Also, make sure you take it on an empty stomach. Do not take it with high-protein foods. Other amino acids (such as tryptophan) can compete with phenylalanine, and reduce its absorption and transportation across the blood-brain barrier.

Lastly, this anti-anxiety supplement includes several other natural compounds and amino acids that have helped me manage my anxiety over the years. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety, along with DL-Phenylalanine

Conclusion

Antidepressants and benzodiazepines are not your only options for depression and anxiety. 

Unfortunately, much of the so-called “science” behind mainstream psychiatric drugs is untrustworthy and fraudulent, and other safe and effective treatment options are often ignored by conventional medicine. 

A person’s hand and it says “I am stronger than depression.”

DL-Phenylalanine is one of these other options.

I can’t promise it will work for everyone, but since it’s easily accessible through Amazon, it’s worth a try if you suffer from depression and anxiety. Experiment with it and listen to how you feel. 

And like I have, I encourage you to use as many tools as you can to help yourself, including nutrition, supplements, exercise, neurofeedback, light therapy, etc. The list goes on and on. 

None of them have to work completely.

But all together, they can make a huge difference and change the course of your life like they have mine.

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Jordan Fallis

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16 Powerful Ways to Effectively Lower Homocysteine

Lowering and normalizing homocysteine levels is another key way to improve the health of your brain and manage your mental health. 

In fact, keeping homocysteine levels within normal range is good for overall health in general. 

But what exactly is homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body as a by-product of methylation.

In healthy people, it’s properly metabolized and normal levels are maintained. 

But when homocysteine isn’t properly metabolized, it can build up inside the body and levels can become too high.

And that’s when homocysteine becomes dangerous and unhealthy. 

At high levels, homocysteine is inflammatory and neurotoxic, and increases oxidative stress and free radical damage in the brain by reducing levels of cysteine and glutathione (89-95, 138-139). 

Homocysteine and it’s chemical symbol.

It’s also been shown to contribute to mitochondrial damage and reduce energy production in the brain (96-98). 

Researchers have found that high levels of homocysteine disrupt the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which allows substances that are normally kept out of the brain to cross over and contribute to neurological problems (99-102). 

And studies have found that people with high levels of homocysteine have lower levels of serotonin and SAMe, a nutrient involved in the production of many neurotransmitters that improve mood (103-104). 

Considering all this, it’s not too surprising that high levels of homocysteine have been linked to many chronic neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases, including:

  • Depression (105-111)

  • Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment/dysfunction/decline (119-133, 143)

  • Headaches and migraines (112-118, 148)

  • Hearing loss (136-137)

  • Brain atrophy (134, 144, 151)

  • Parkinson’s disease (145)

  • Stroke (154-155)

  • Postpartum depression (135)

  • Postmenopausal mental decline (146)

  • Schizophrenia and other affective disorders (147, 153, 156)

  • Alcoholism (149)

  • Brain damage and neurotoxicity (152)

  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder (157)

  • Multiple sclerosis (158-161)

People with nutritional deficiencies and MTHFR gene mutation are at an increased risk of high homocysteine levels. Homocysteine levels gradually increase as you age, and men are more likely than women to have high levels of homocysteine (140-142). 

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to lower homocysteine.

Here are 16 ways to keep your homocysteine levels in check. 

1. Trimethylglycine

Trimethylglycine (also known as betaine) is an amino acid derivative that can be found in plants such as beets and spinach. 

Trimethylglycine plays an important role in methylation, a process that is involved in the synthesis of melatonin, coenzyme Q10, and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. 

An image of beets. Beets contain betaine, which has been shown to lower homocysteine levels.

Several studies show that supplementing with trimethylglycine can significantly lower homocysteine levels (1-5). 

One study found that the more trimethyglycine a person consumes, the lower their homocysteine levels (6).

According to the research, it appears that you need to supplement with at least three grams of trimethyglycine daily to significantly reduce homocysteine. Doing so will reduce homocysteine levels by 10% in persons with normal levels or by 20 to 40% in persons with elevated homocysteine levels (7-9).

However, even 500mg seems to lower homocysteine slightly (10). 

I took this trimethylglycine supplement after coming off psychiatric medication and noticed an improvement in mood and energy. 

2. Folate

The best way to lower homocysteine is by making sure you consume enough B vitamins on a regular basis.

Folate is one of the most important B vitamins because it helps metabolize homocysteine into methionine (51). 

When your body doesn’t have enough folate, elevated levels of homocysteine are the result (52). 

A pile of green, leafy vegetables. They contain folate, a key nutrient involved in lowering and normalizing homocysteine levels.

Good dietary sources of natural folate include leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, avocado, beef liver and poultry. These foods are included in my Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Brain Health.

However, folate-rich foods may not be enough to lower homocysteine. In fact, many people do not get enough folate from food because cooking and food processing destroy natural folates (57). 

That’s why I recommend supplementation. 

Supplementing with 800 mcg of folate has been shown to lower homocysteine by at least 28%. Even supplementing with just 113 mcg daily lowers homocysteine by about 15% (53-56, 58, 62). 

If you decide to supplement with folate, avoid synthetic folic acid, which is commonly found in standard multivitamins. Instead, you should take a biologically active form of folate (methylfolate, or 5-MTHF). 

5-MTHF is the most effective supplemental form of folate. Many people have genetic mutations in the enzyme that converts folic acid into methylfolate in the body. Therefore, folic acid is a waste and can actually cause harm if you have this genetic mutation.

Methylfolate supplements are almost seven times more effective than synthetic folic acid at increasing folate levels and lowering homocysteine levels. Regular synthetic folic acid has been shown to be quickly cleared from the central nervous system and poorly transported into the brain (59-61). 

5-MTHF is included in this B vitamin complex that I take regularly. 

3. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is another nutrient that plays a role in methylation. It's also a necessary cofactor in the metabolism of homocysteine (75-77). 

Research shows that Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to rising homocysteine levels (78-80, 83-84). 

But in those with elevated homocysteine, supplementing with 1,000 mg of B12 per day can significantly lower and normalize blood levels of homocysteine (81-82).

Ordinary B12 supplements don’t always cut it though.

If you decide to supplement, you should avoid the semisynthetic version of B12 (cyanocobalamin) and take the methylated form (methyl-B12) instead, which is better absorbed and more biologically active.

Methyl-B12 is included in this supplement. Or you can take it separately

Vitamin B12 is also found primarily in animal foods, and beef liver is a really good source. I take these beef liver capsules because I don’t like the taste of liver. 

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4. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is another homocysteine-reducing nutrient that boosts mood, deepens sleep, and supports your entire nervous system. 

It accomplishes this by playing a key role in the production of many neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin, GABA and dopamine.

Vitamin B6 is also a necessary cofactor in the metabolism of homocysteine, and having a deficiency can cause homocysteine levels to increase (14).

In fact, low blood levels of B6 are common, especially in people with higher homocysteine levels (15). 

Thankfully, supplementation has been shown to help lower and normalize homocysteine levels (11-13). 

Fruits and vegetables in the shape of B6. Vitamin B6 has been shown to lower homocysteine levels.

However, it’s important to point out that it’s best to supplement B6 along with both folate and B12 if you want to dramatically lower homocysteine levels. 

Supplementing with B6, B12 and folate has been shown to significantly lower homocysteine levels and reduce symptoms of depression (87). 

One study found that within three weeks, homocysteine levels could be reduced by 17% using folate alone, 19% using B12 alone, 57% using folate and B12, and 60% using folate, B12 and B6 (86). 

Another study found that combining B6 and folate reduces homocysteine 32% within five weeks (85).

That’s why I highly recommend supplementing with a high-quality B complex that contains all three B vitamins. 

I take this B complex.

Symptoms of Vitamin B6 deficiency include weakness, mental confusion, depression, insomnia and severe PMS symptoms.

Some of the best food sources of Vitamin B6 include potatoes, bananas and chicken. 

5. Taurine

Taurine is an organic compound found in foods, particularly animal products. It has a wide variety of health benefits.

It can cross the blood-brain barrier and produces anti-anxiety effects, and acts as an antioxidant in the brain, protecting it from various substances including lead and cadmium (16-25). 

It’s also been shown to lower homocysteine. 

Research shows that taurine supplementation significantly reduces plasma homocysteine levels (26-28).

Taurine is included in the Optimal Zinc supplement

6. Creatine

Creatine is a molecule produced in the body and found in some foods, particularly meat, eggs, and fish.

Creatine is also available in supplement form. Athletes, bodybuilders, wrestlers, sprinters often take creatine supplement to gain more muscle mass. It’s an incredibly well-researched supplement and safe to take regularly. 

A scoop of creatine powder next to weights. Creatine lowers homocysteine levels.

Supplementing with creatine can also support the brain. It's been shown to have neuroprotective effects and it rapidly produces energy to support brain cell function (29). 

Research shows that creatine supplementation can also lower homocysteine in humans (32, 34). 

Animal studies show the same (30-31, 33).

I take this creatine powder every day on an empty stomach. I take more when I’m lifting weights regularly. 

7. Green Coffee Extract

Green coffee extract is a supplement that is derived from green coffee beans. 

Green coffee beans are similar to regular coffee beans. However, they contain much more chlorogenic acid in them.

Chlorogenic acid is a phytochemical with cognitive health benefits

One study found that 140 mg of chlorogenic acid, which is 28% of the content of green coffee extract, can significantly lower homocysteine (39). 

Here is a good green coffee extract

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8. Reduce Stress

I highly recommend you try to do something every day to manage your stress because psychological stress has been shown to significantly increase homocysteine levels (70-71). 

A woman meditating on the beach near the water. Reducing stress can help you to lower your homocysteine levels.

My favourite ways to reduce stress include neurofeedback, meditation (using the Muse headband), massage, acupuncture, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), emotional freedom techniques (EFT), heart-rate variability (HRV) training, and this acupressure mat

Some supplements that can help you reduce stress include zinc, magnesium, ashwagandha and phosphatidylserine.

This anti-anxiety supplement also includes a number of natural compounds that have personally helped me manage my stress over the years. You can use the coupon code FIVE$45496275 for a 5% discount.

And here is an article with 20 other ways to lower your stress hormone, cortisol.

9. Estrogen

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system.

Research shows that higher estrogen levels are associated with lower homocysteine levels, independent of nutritional status and muscle mass (72). 

And individuals on estrogen replacement therapy have significantly lower homocysteine levels (72-73). 

I recommend both men and women get their hormone levels checked regularly and optimize them because it can really improve your quality of life. 

10. Choline

Choline is an essential B vitamin that most people don’t consume enough of, because very few foods in the Western diet contain it.

Research shows that high homocysteine levels can be lowered with choline (40-42). 

Deviled eggs. Eggs contain choline, a nutrient that can lower homocysteine levels.

One study found that increased intake of choline led to lower levels of circulating homocysteine (43). 

And other studies have shown that choline deficiency in mice and humans is associated with increased homocysteine levels (44). 

Citicoline (also known as CDP-Choline) is my favourite source of choline for the brain. 

Citicoline also supports the blood-brain barrier and promotes the regeneration of myelin

Another good source of choline for brain health is Alpha GPC.

Both Citicoline and Alpha GPC are included in the Optimal Brain supplement

You can also find some choline in beef liver and egg yolks, but Citicoline and Alpha GPC have more noticeable effects on cognition. 

11. N-Acetyl-Cysteine

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a modified form of the amino acid cysteine. It’s also the precursor to glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant.

I’ve previously discussed how NAC can help treat six different mental illnesses.

And it turns out that it can also help lower homocysteine levels. 

Research shows NAC supplementation can cause a “rapid and significant decrease” in homocysteine levels (49). 

Studies have found that NAC can decrease homocysteine anywhere from 25 to 45 per cent (47-48, 50).

Researchers believe NAC displaces homocysteine from its protein carrier in the blood, which lowers homocysteine and promotes the formation of glutathione (45-46). 

12. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Is there anything omega-3 fatty acids can’t do?

They can promote the regeneration of myelin, stimulate the vagus nerve, help reverse brain damage, and support the endocannabinoid system

And now it appears they can also lower homocysteine levels. 

A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial found that consuming three grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily for 2 months significantly decreases levels of homocysteine (63). 

Other researchers have reported that omega-3s can lower homocysteine by 36 to 48% (64-65). 

Salmon and walnuts. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower homocysteine levels.

And studies have also found that people using B vitamins to lower homocysteine should also have enough omega-3s to improve brain function. In fact, some clinical trials using B vitamins to improve brain function show benefits only in people with higher omega-3 levels (143-144). 

It’s important to eat enough omega-3s because they are essential fats that your body cannot produce itself.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in cold water fish such as salmon, black cod, sablefish, sardines and herring.

Unfortunately, most people don't consume enough omega-3 fatty acids through their diet.

That’s why I recommend people supplement with krill oil, a special kind of fish oil that contains omega-3s. 

I take this krill oil supplement. I feel slightly depressed when I stop taking it. I actually notice the difference.

You can also order very high-quality seafood and krill oil supplements here

And you can read more about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids here.

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13. Probiotics

Research suggests that probiotics may also be able to lower homocysteine.

Bacteria. Probiotic bacteria can lower homocysteine levels.

In one interesting study, researchers gave the probiotic VSL#3 to subjects with high homocysteine.

The researchers found that the probiotic increased the number of good bacteria in the gut, which then naturally increased Vitamin B12 and folate production in the gut. As a result, homocysteine levels dropped (66). 

You can get the VSL#3 probiotic used in the above study here.

I personally created and take the Optimal Biotics supplement to support my brain and mental health. 

Probiotics have also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve and help with depression

And here are five other ways to increase the good bacteria in your gut. 

14. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is a neurotoxin that wreaks havoc on the brain by raising cortisol levels, disrupting the blood-brain barrier, and increasing inflammation and oxidative stress (67).

It also increases homocysteine. 

One study found that alcohol significantly reduces Vitamin B12 and folate levels and increased homocysteine levels (68). 

And another study found that alcohol consumption increased homocysteine levels regardless of Vitamin B levels (69). 

There are ways to protect your brain from alcohol, but you’re better off avoiding it completely or significantly reducing your consumption if you’re trying to heal. I personally don’t drink alcohol at all anymore.

If you do decide to drink it, this post explains that some types of alcohol are better than others

15. Eat “Head to Tail”

Whole plant foods tend to be much healthier when they’re left whole, as they tend to have various nutrients that work together synergistically. 

The same can be said about animal food.

Muscle meat (chicken breasts, lean beef) shouldn’t be your only source of animal protein. Our ancestors didn’t eat this way, so neither should we.

Your body prefers and expects to receive a balance of amino acids from different parts of whole animals.

That’s why I recommend “head-to-tail eating” – consuming a wide variety of proteins from the entire animal. 

Along with muscle meat, you should regularly cook and eat organ meats, such as liver, and bone broth.

One of the main reasons I recommend this is because lean muscle meat is high in methionine.

Methionine is an essential amino acid, but too much methionine increases homocysteine levels and increases your need for Vitamin B6, B12, folate and choline (74, 88, 162). 

But bone broth contains collagen, gelatin, and amino acids such as glycine and proline, which balance out the methionine in muscle meat, and helps your body better metabolize it. 

Bone broth can be inconvenient to make all the time, so I drink this pre-made, organic chicken bone broth

And if you’re actually interested in learning about how to cook and incorporate more whole animal proteins into your diet, I recommend checking out the book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal by Jennifer McLagan.

16. Limit Medications and Compounds That Increase Homocysteine

A number of prescription drugs and natural compounds have been shown to increase homocysteine by interfering with folate absorption, or metabolism of homocysteine, including (35-38):

Various natural health supplements on table.
  • Cholestyramine

  • Colestipol

  • Fenofibrate

  • Levadopa

  • Metformin

  • Methotrexate

  • Niacin

  • Nitrous oxide

  • Pemetrexed

  • Phenytoin

  • Pyrimethamine

  • Sulfasalazine

Conclusion

High levels of homocysteine can be problematic and increase your risk of many brain and mental health disorders.

But fortunately, you can do something about it!

Implementing the above 16 strategies can provide powerful protection against homocysteine’s negative effects and improve your quality life. 

I’ve found great benefit in lowering my homocysteine levels, and I hope you experience the same. 

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain Health!

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Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

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