International symposium “New treatment strategies using amino acids and proteins”
Effectiveness of amino acids
Ongoing studies have shown that amino acids are effective against diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, heart attacks, fat metabolism disorders, erectile dysfunction and a compromised immune system. They also aid anti-ageing processes.
Unfortunately, however, amino acids still do not get the credit they deserve in nutritional medicine in Germany, even though they participate in the regulation of all processes in the human body, as pointed out by the Munich-based dietary scientist Dr Doris Meister in Prague. The International Symposium of der Gesellschaft für angewandte Aminosäureforschung in der Therapie und Praxis (GFA) (Society for applied amino acid research in treatment and practice), attended by scientists from six nations (Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic), was held from 25 to 27 February 2005 in Prague.
The focus of the symposium:
Although the effects of amino acids have been well-studied, they are still not properly recognised in the field of medical science in Europe. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. They are used to build structural proteins such as collagen, enzymes, clotting mechanisms, antibodies, transport molecules, muscles and hormones (e.g. insulin).
In addition, amino acids play a major role in the detoxification of the body, the formation of neurotransmitters, energy metabolism and the synthesis of vital substances such as coenzyme A.
The amino acid taurine acts as an antioxidant, whereas glutamine, cysteine and glycine form glutathione, which also exhibits a pronounced antioxidative effect.
Owing to the fact that the majority of the German population eats a poorly balanced diet, the intake of amino acids frequently lies below internationally recommended levels, Reimann stated. The consensus of the discussions held by the conference participants was that the prevention and treatment of certain disorders frequently requires gram quantities of certain amino acids, which means they should be taken as supplements. Vegetarians as well as people with chronic disorders of the liver and kidneys have a greater risk of developing an amino acid deficiency.
According to nutritionist Doris Meister, catabolism, toxic burdens and oxidative stress facilitate the development of such deficiencies. The amino acids arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, lysine, methionine and taurine have immunomodulating effects and are beneficial for people with an immunodeficiency.
The internationally renowned amino acid researcher, Dr Erich Roth from Vienna University Hospital reviewed the immunostimulating effects of the amino acid glutamine. Studies show that the amino acids glycine and arginine have a positive effect on bone metabolism.
An optimum osteoporosis treatment should always include treatment with amino acids, Reimann stressed. There is evidence that amino acids are capable of stimulating osteoblasts, which makes them even more effective than conventional osteoporosis treatments. The amino acids alanine, cysteine, methionine and glycine, on the other hand, protect against prostate disorders.
All in all, amino acids have an enormous potential for use in the treatment and prevention of a wide range of illnesses, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up, summarised Dr Jürgen Reimann.
Encouraged by the results of his own studies, Dr Enno Freye from Düsseldorf University Hospital includes amino acids and micronutrients in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Patients with chronic pain profit from taking amino acids, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. The Düsseldorf physician was able to show that amino acid therapy is beneficial for fibromyalgia patients as it reduces pain perception and increases pain tolerance.
Amino acids are also extremely important in the treatment of cancer. Dr Thomas Tallberg from Helsinki presented his studies which demonstrate that patients with prostate cancer, leukaemia and skin cancer profit greatly from taking amino acids and other micronutrients. He believes that amino acids should always be included in cancer treatment.
When it comes to cancer, physicians and patients have their backs to the wall, attested the Viennese oncologist Dr Köstler. In his view, cancer treatment is close to collapsing.
Professor Köstler criticised that there is very little cancer prevention and patients only start to act after being diagnosed. He regards boosting the immune system with amino acids to be a vital step in cancer treatment and urges individualised administration of amino acids and antioxidants to cancer patients.
Dr Jürgen Spona from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Vienna University Hospital sees the individually tailored administration of amino acids as a way of augmenting the treatment of patients with depression and making it more effective.
In a randomised, placebo-controlled double-blind study, the renowned scientist proved that the administration of amino acids can bring a significant improvement in patients with depression.
Professor Spona recommends taking amino acids as part of anti-ageing strategies as the human ageing process not only lowers the availability of amino acids but is also associated with a change in dietary habits so that less amino acids are absorbed. Finally, Spona referred to arginine as “natural Viagra”.
In his presentation, Dr Udo Böhm from Unterwössen demonstrated that combining the amino acid arginine with folic acid provides effective protection against heart disease.
Arginine ensures that the blood vessels continuously produce nitric oxide thus optimising blood flow in the heart and the brain. Arginine also protects the heart against infarction. This effect is potentiated by simultaneous administration of arginine and folic acid, Dr Böhm emphasised in Prague.
Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin und Diätetik e.V.; International symposium »Neue Therapiestrategien durch Aminosäure- und Proteintherapie« (»New treatment strategies using amino acids and proteins«) held on 25 - 27 February in Prague.