Aside from its powerful medical benefits, L-Dopa has been a great supplement both when used alone and in conjunction with other nootropics. But, what is L-Dopa and how does it work inside our body?
L-Dopa is a naturally occurring amino acid and hormone which is a form of Dihydroxyphenylalanine. In humans, it is created by the biosynthesis from the amino acid L-Tyrosine. It is also considered as an immediate precursor to Dopamine but unlike Dopamine, it can cross the blood brain barrier even when consumed orally. L-Dopa is converted into Dopamine by DOPA decarboxylase enzyme or aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase. (1) (4)
Now when the body’s Central Nervous System is stimulated, it influences an increase in Dopamine levels. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for an individual’s memory and learning capabilities, attention, pleasurable reward, behavior and cognition, and most especially for mood and sleep (5). With an increased level of this neurotransmitter, there will be a significant improvement in one’s mood and cognitive abilities. It may also be of great help to deal efficiently with stress, anxiety, depression, and even signs of OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADHD and ADD.
In addition to that, L-Dopa also serves to influence the catecholamines Epinephrine and Norepinephrine. Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is the neurotransmitter involved in our body’s “fight or flight"response. It provides our muscles the energy to respond quickly and more effectively when faced in a threat (6). Meanwhile, norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter also being referred to as the stress hormone. As the name implies, it is responsible for our body’s ability to respond to stress and is also involved in the “fight or flight"response. Norepinephrine increases a person’s breathing rate and heart rate thus, increasing blood circulation. And with an increase in blood flow, there will be more glucose and oxygen delivered to our working muscles as well as to our neurons in the brain (7). With L-Dopa’s influence on the two neurotransmitters, there will be a boost in brain power and physical energy as well as an increase in metabolism and faster neuronal communication.
Aside from the cognitive and mood enhancement L-Dopa provides, it also serves to have an effect on our physical work. This is because studies have shown that L-Dopa works with the Pituitary Gland by stimulating the production of Human Growth Hormone or Somatropin. This is then responsible for our body’s cell growth, reproduction and repair. Because of this mechanism of action, body builders and athletes have sought L-Dopa a valuable addition to their regime since it positively affects the body’s recovery while increasing strength and lean muscle mass. In addition to that, studies have found that the drug also increases testosterone production is well. As a result, it will be of great benefit to those individuals who are aiming to have a significant increase in muscle mass while losing weight. This drug is an excellent aid for both weight and strength training.
Moreover, other health benefits that L-Dopa provides is its powerful anti-oxidant properties, anti-aging, and life extension benefits.
In the medical field, one of the most widely known use of L-Dopa is its contribution as the mainstay treatment for Parkinson’s disease. But, what do we really know about this degenerative condition of the Central Nervous System?
Basically, Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive central nervous system disease first described by James Parkinson In 1817 and descriptively referred to as the shaking palsy or paralysis agitans. It is typically characterized by the cardinal signs of bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity, and postural instability. In addition, the disease may cause a variety of other symptoms including movement and gait disturbances; sensory changes; speech, voice, and swallowing disorders; cognitive and behavioral changes; ANS dysfunction; gastrointestinal changes, and cardiopulmonary changes. The disease is being referred to as one of the most common chronic diseases of adulthood wherein its peak onset occurs in the sixth and eight decade.
Although the exact cause of Parkinson’s Disease is not yet certain, it is believed that the significant reduction of Dopamine levels in the brain holds responsible to the etiology of the disease. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the pathologic degeneration of brainstem nuclei, especially dopaminergic cells of the substantianigra. It is also due to hyperactivity of the cholinergic neurons in the caudate nuclei. Motor impairment in Parkinson disease, as well as other movement disorders can be related functionally to a disruption in the balance of modulation between cortical and subcortical structures.
The substantianigra contains pigmented cells (neuromelanin) which give it a characteristic ‘black appearance’. These cells are lost in PD and the substantianigra becomes pale.
The cardinal features of Parkinson disease include resting tremor, rigidity, postural instability, and bradykinesia. The most common symptom is resting tremor which typically appears as a “pill-rolling"motion of the hand at 3 to 5 Hz. Usually this suppressed by activity or sleep, and is intensified by stress or fatigue.
- Handwriting reduces in size. - Rising from a chair becomes laborious with progressive difficulty in initiating lower limb movement from a stationary position. - Eye movements may be affected with loss of ocular convergence and upward gaze. - Excessive sweating and greasy skin (seborrhea) can be troublesome. - Depression occurs in about 50%. - As the disease progresses the frequency of drug-induced confusional states and dementia increases, with 80% developing dementia after 20 years of disease (if they survive). - Autonomic features occur—postural hypotension, constipation - REM sleep behavior disorder—where patient acts out dreams and may hurt themselves or their sleep partner. May precede onset of motor symptoms.
Juvenile presentation can occur, when presentation and disease progression is often atypical; a genetic basis is more often found.
Now, what is the role of L-Dopa to Parkinson’s Disease? Along with other pharmacological managements such as MAOI-Bs, anticholinergics, and Dopamine agonists, Dopamine replacements are widely prescribed. And, it is considered that L-Dopa is the mainstay treatment of the said disease. This includes Levodopa, Carbidopa, Sinemet and Sinemet CR. As the name implies, these Dopamine replacements cater to the reduction of the Dopamine levels in the brain. With this, the progression of the disease may be retarded. (2) (3)
It is very crucial for any drug or supplement to be taken at the right amount and frequency for it to produce the desired effects while possibly eliminating or minimizing the undesired ones. With the case of L-Dopa, how much of it do we really need each day? Basically, there has been a wide range of recommended dosages of L-Dopa which typically ranges from 100 mg to 900 mg per day. However, it is suggested that for healthy adults, a dose of 250 mg to 500 mg may be administered per day. This dose may be taken all at once or can be divided and administered into multiple administrations within the day for a more constant and sustained release of benefits.
When starting with any new drug or supplement, it would be best to start off with the lowest possible dose to see how you respond and then gradually increasing it over time. Just like in the case of L-Dopa, you might want to start first with a daily dose of 100 mg. if you are now familiar with its benefits and how it affects your body personally, you may increase your daily dosage. You might also want to consider consulting your doctor or healthcare provider first since a person’s condition and health status may play a role.
The use of L-Dopa has been considered safe and well tolerated to use. However, some side effects have been reported. This includes nausea, vomiting, hypotension, confusion, anxiety, insomnia, disturbed respiration, GI bleeding, having dreams and hallucinations, dystonia, and abnormal involuntary movements. (2)
It is also important to know that there are some special considerations associated with L-Dopa use. Since there is not enough evidence on L-Dopa’s safety among pregnant and breast feeding women, it would be best to avoid its use with this specific population.
You can purchase L-Dopa online. The supplement is available over the counter and thus does not require prescription. You may take other form of L-Dopa such as Mucuna Pruriens. Buy L-Dopa now and experience a variety of its cognitive and health benefits.References:
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