Glycine is an amino acid with neurotransmitter roles

Subtitle: Rebranding and the power of a name: “Essence of Meat-ade” or “Cheerful Juice.”

Sub-subtitle:  Genetic defects in metabolism can affect the entire body due to lack of essential nutrients.

Background: I was found to have eleven of thirty defects in the methylation cycle that were known to be more common in patients with autism spectrum disorder. The screening is not for diagnostic purposes at this stage but is available to consumers interested in the information for their own research purposes (which might include what to feed their child or themselves for better management of autism symptoms – but it is use at your own risk information rather than ‘evidence based’ medical treatment approved for a certain diagnosis).

One of my genetic defects affects my ability to break down betaine into the free amino acids glycine and methionine (roughly, I would have to review the chemistry for the specifics). So armed with this new information I ordered tablets of each amino acid and started taking them each day as supplements. They seemed to help but it wasn’t a dramatic change in how I felt.

A month or two later before reordering more bottles I considered the question of just how much glycine or methionine I might need each day if I had a defect that prevented me from digesting protein and releasing the essential amino acids. When I looked into how much glycine might be needed by the body each day, I didn’t find much research but there was some and the amount suggested was far greater than the amount I was taking in the form of a tablet — 200 milligram tablet compared to two grams of the essential amino acid as a minimum recommendation with up to ten grams being proposed as possibly beneficial. And no toxicity risks were mentioned. Two grams is equivalent to 2000 milligrams or ten of the tablets each day, which would be expensive and a lot of tablets.

Many things that are available as supplements are also available in bulk as a powder that companies might use to make capsules or tablets for the individual consumer to purchase. The amino acids glycine and methionine were available online in a package size that was designed for individual use, possibly being marketed to people interested in body building or weight lifting.

A teaspoon of a powder substance is roughly five grams, depending on the density of the powder. I decided to try one teaspoon of glycine and one teaspoon of methionine per day as that would easily provide two grams and might provide up to five grams per day.

Results: Free essential amino acids are acidic — like lemonade — but taste a little like protein aka meat, so two teaspoons of free amino acids in water tasted VERY BAD. My nickname for the concoction became “Essence of Meat-ade” for the first day or two, however almost immediately after drinking the vile drink my mood became incredibly cheerful and I was suddenly filled with energy. I was amazed — how could a horrible tasting glass of water change my mood? I started looking forward to the drink and while I had started taking it in the evening I gradually switched to taking it earlier in the day and even twice a day occasionally, which would provide about ten grams of the powder.

My mental nickname changed from “Essence of Meat-ade” to “Cheerful Juice,” it helped my mood so much that I loved the stuff no matter how silly my face looked while trying to gulp it down too quickly to taste. I was amazed, and a little sad to consider that I had been without “Cheerful Juice” for my first fifty years of life — but better late than never is a motto of mine. With a double genetic defect I wouldn’t have been able to release glycine or methionine from larger proteins for my entire life — and therefore wouldn’t have had the cheerful effects or boost in energy due to the incomplete digestion of my food.

Why would a bad tasting drink give me a good mood?

I knew the amino acids glutamine and aspartic acid can act as messenger chemicals within the brain so I looked up glycine and methionine and sure enough they both also can act as brain signaling chemicals.

The rest of this information is about glycine’s role as a brain neurotransmitter. It doesn’t cover methionine but it also has roles in brain chemistry.

Glycine is a Neurotransmitter: 

Glycine has inhibitory and excitatory roles in the brain as a neurotransmitter – a type of chemical that can serve as a messenger between brain cells which are called neurons.

“Interestingly, glycine receptors comprised of a1 subunits are efficiently gated by taurine and b-alanine, whereas a2-containing receptors are not (8). The a1 and a2 genes are expressed in the adult and neonatal brain, respectively.”

ie-the type of glycine receptor found within the baby brain is not as well protected as the type found within the adult brain, later in the next paragraph:

“Recently, the expression of a1 and a2 subunits has been shown to be developmentally regulated with a switch from the neonatal a2 subunit (strychnine-insensitive) to the adult a1 form (strychnine-sensitive) at about 2 weeks postnatally in the mouse (8). The timing of this “switch” corresponds with the development of spasticity in the mutant spastic mouse (5), prompting speculation that insufficient expression of the adult isoform may underlie some forms of spasticity.” [1]

Background: Glyphosate is chemically very similar to glycine in that it may be incorporated into proteins but is not functionally the same. A protein containing glyphosate instead of glycine would be dysfunctional. Glycine provides methyl groups which are important for turning strands of DNA on and off, (DNA is the genetic material that acts as recipe cards for making proteins).

If glyphosate is being physically incorporated within body tissues in place of the amino acid glycine, then the role of glycine within early fetal development discussed in the above excerpt might be part of the mechanism for how autism risk may be occurring during the prenatal stage of life.

From a Marketing Perspective: How to sell something that tastes horrible but makes certain people feel great?

From my experience working with special need infants and children I learned that sick children when given a formula they can tolerate will cheerfully start drinking the formula if it  isn’t making them feel sicker — no matter how bad the formula tastes — and some of them are like “Essence of Meat” because they are based on free amino acids that would be easy to digest and wouldn’t have the same allergy risk as the larger and more complex proteins.

So how to market a specialty product? Target the special needs market, and pitch having the genetic screening done first in order to find out who needs the special product — and put the bulk powder in capsules  😉 , I tried to add lemon flavoring to make it more like lemonade but that didn’t change the flavor enough — I’m working on acquiring a taste for it instead.

The genetic screening I had done is “For Research Purposes Only” but it was assembled by a specialist with a PhD and experience in genetics. She is not a medical doctor and no diagnoses are provided however some health information is provided I haven’t reviewed it yet and therefore can not provide any feedback regarding it.

  • The Methylation Cycle genetic screening test:
  • My results and my notes regarding the 11 defects, this is a list of notes rather than being in article format, see number three of the double defects for details about the gene BHMT/1 (Call – T), which is for the enzyme Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT):
  • An excerpt from that post regarding diagnoses that may be helped by use of dimethylglycine (DMG) and methionine as supplements : DMG has been found helpful in ADHD, autism, allergies, alcoholism, drug addiction, and chronic fatigue syndrome among other chronic issues. Methionine has been found helpful in treating depression, allergies, alcoholism and schizophrenia among other chronic issues.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Steven M. Paul, GABA and Glycine,

Updates regarding glycine, health, and glyphosate

9/20/2016 Updates to a couple previous posts [1, 2]: See the following post on my other website,  for more about use of dimethylglycine as a supplement and the gene defect that can affect its metabolism:

A recent post included details from Professor Seneff’s talk on dietary and lifestyle tips for reducing exposure to glyphosate and which nutrients might be affected by the chemical and food sources. Increasing intake of a substance that is being inhibited can sometimes help overcome the inhibitory effect. Roughly, the theory being suggested is that glyphosate acts as a puzzle piece that can fit in one side of the puzzle but won’t fit with the other pieces, as it is partially filling the remaining open spot on the piece. Glyphosate also does not provide methyl groups as glycine would. Methyl groups help protect against cancer among other important functions such as re-methylating molecules of vitamin B12 and  folate.

The presence of glyphosate in vaccines almost confirms that theory being presented by Professor Seneff. If it was being built right into the animal collagen  that was used in the Petri dishes for culturing the vaccine microbes, then they would be building their own growing microbe bodies out of glyphosate too.

A building block is a building block, a puzzle piece is a puzzle piece —  whether they fit well together or not, is an important question to ask before strewing them all over the landscape and food supply, and injecting them straight into tiny infants and pregnant women.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./


Glyphosate was found in vaccines; and tips for reducing dietary exposure

The nonprofit organization Moms Across America paid to have five types of vaccines tested in an accredited laboratory for the presence of the herbicide glyphosate. The chemical, which was originally patented as an antibiotic and mineral chelator, has never been tested or marketed as an injectable drug. Vaccines are injected directly into the blood stream which bypasses the protection of the gastrointestinal system.

The World Health Organization has advised that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen and it may affect hormones which would make it dangerous potentially for pregnant women and their expected infants:

“Honeycutt continues, “The public must know that their vaccines likely contain glyphosate, a toxic weed killer, which is acknowledged by the EPA as a “reproductive effector” ( i.e.: endocrine disruptor) which “can cause liver and kidney damage” and has been shown to be a neurotoxin. The WHO has deemed glyphosate a probable carcinogen.” – Moms Across America

The MMR II vaccine by the Merck company was found to have the highest level of glyphosate, 25 times more than what was found in the other four types of vaccines that were tested: “had levels up to 25 times higher than the other vaccines, at 2.671ppb.” The MMR II vaccine has been associated with autism as an adverse reaction (possibly due to an encephalitis reaction which then leads to the more extreme brain damage seen in patients with autism).

This supports the theory discussed by Professor Seneff, that glyphosate may be in vaccinations due to the use of animal products in the gelatin based Petri dishes in which the antigens for the vaccinations are grown. The theory suggests that glyphosate is similar enough to the amino acid glycine that it may be being built right into the protein structure of the animals body parts which include the collagen that is used to make gelatin. The glyphosate would be acting like a puzzle piece that kind of fits in one side of the protein but has the wrong shape on the other side of the puzzle piece so no other pieces of the puzzle can be added afterwards. One part of glyphosate would fit well into the protein structure but then another part wouldn’t be able to do what glycine does – which is donate methyl groups – which can help protect against cancer.

Some genetic canaries in the coal mine, such as myself, may have errors in the methylation cycle that disrupt the glycine function without needing any help from glyphosate. While filling my vitamin boxes for a week’s supply I was reminded that one of the supplements I added after getting my genetic methylation cycle results is . . . DMG . . . which is Dimethylglycine. I’ve been taking one of the capsules in the morning and one in the evening — but there is no guidance for how much of it I might need with my particular genetic defect.  My favorite phrase – or least favorite: “More research is needed.” Current information available suggests 2 grams of glycine per day may be a typical amount provided by the diet but ten times that amount may increase health benefits, no toxicity upper limit has been set;

Professor Seneff included tips for how to possibly reduce your exposure to glyphosate and some strategies that have been used on farm animals who were made sick by acute exposure to glyphosate.

Professor Seneff’s slides for her discussion lists”Some Important Nutrients“:

  • Curcumin
  • Garlic
  • Vitamin C
  • Probiotics
  • Methyl tetrahydrofolate – (this is the bioactive form of folic acid)
  • Cobalamin
  • Glutathione
  • Taurine
  • Epsom salt baths  [My how to tips for Epsom salt baths]

She also recommends:

  • Get Grounded” — ie work on general lifestyle and stress reduction strategies;
  • Eat organically grown foods whenever possible;
  • Eat foods containing the mineral manganese; (as glyphosate is a mineral chelator which may limit manganese’s availability for essential functions.) She mentions a few foods and shares an image which appears to include: organic whole grains, seeds, organic tofu and other beans, shellfish, tea, dark green leafy vegetables. This list provides more information — for example cardamom and pumpkin pie spice are sources of manganese:
  • Eat foods containing sulfur; (and/or take the Epsom salt baths which would supply magnesium and sulfur.) She mentions a few foods and shares an image which appears to include: beer, cabbage, organic eggs, especially the yolk, crab, shrimp and scallops, cheese, onions, garlic, organic liver, chicken, and something I’m not going to try to guess. Based on this list of the sulfur content of many foods the image may include a picture of dried apricots:

Professor Seneff speaks very quickly, I may have missed some of her tips for trying to protect yourself from exposure to glyphosate.

She includes information about extracts from common plants that can treat glyphosate poisoning including:

Extracts from common plants such as dandelion, barberry, and burdock can protect from damage, especially if administered prior to exposure.”* (*C Gasnier et al. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2011, 6:3). []

And cows with glyphosate poisoning have been treated with:

Activated charcoal, bentonite clay, humic and fulvic acids, and sauerkraut juice have been shown to be effective in reducing glyphosate and improving animal health.“** (** H Gerlach et al., J Environ Anal Toxicol 2014, 5:2). []

See the research papers for more detail and a functional medicine professional may be able to help guide individualized treatments with some of the items that are mentioned such as activated charcoal– but seek guidance, professional help is recommended even when using natural treatments.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./