BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

OTHER NAME(S):

Acide Isovalérique de Leucine, Acides Aminés à Chaîne Ramifiée, Acides Aminés Ramifiés, Aminoacidos Con Cadenas Laterales Ramificadas, BCAA, BCAAs, Branched Chain Amino Acid Therapy, Branched Chain Amino Acids, Isoleucine, Isoleucine Ethyl Ester HCl, Leucine, Leucine Ethyl Ester HCl, Leucine Isovaleric Acid, Leucine Methyl Ester HCl, L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Leucine Pyroglutamate, L-Valine, N-Acetyl Leucine, N-Acétyl Leucine, Valine, 2-amino-3-methylvaleric acid, 2-amino-4-methylvaleric acid, 2-amino-3-methylbutanoic acid.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Branched-chain amino acids are essential nutrients that the body obtains from proteins found in food, especially meat, dairy products, and legumes. They include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. "Branched-chain" refers to the chemical structure of these amino acids. People use branched-chain amino acids for medicine.

Branched-chain amino acids are commonly taken by mouth or given intravenously (by IV) by healthcare providers for brain conditions due to liver disease (acute, chronic, and latent hepatic encephalopathy). Branched-chain amino acids are used for many other conditions and may be taken by athletes to improve athletic performance, prevent fatigue, improve concentration, and reduce muscle breakdown during intense exercise. But there is limited scientific research to support these other uses.

How does it work?

Branched-chain amino acids stimulate the building of protein in muscle and possibly reduce muscle breakdown. Branched-chain amino acids seem to prevent faulty message transmission in the brain cells of people with advanced liver disease, mania, tardive dyskinesia, and anorexia.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Anorexia. Certain illnesses cause some people to have poor appetite. Taking branched-chain amino acids by mouth seems to improve appetite and overall nutrition in people with kidney failure, cancer, or liver disease.
  • Poor brain function related to liver disease. Taking branched-chain amino acids by mouth seems to improve liver function in people with poor brain function caused by liver disease. Branched-chain amino acids may also improve mental function or reverse comas in people with this condition, but conflicting results exist. Branched-chain amino acids don't appear to reduce the chance of death in people with this condition.
  • Mania. Consuming a drink containing branched-chain amino acids seems to reduce symptoms of mania.
  • Movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. Taking branched-chain amino acids by mouth seems to reduce symptoms of the muscle disorder called tardive dyskinesia.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Liver cancer. Drinking a beverage containing 50 grams of branched-chain amino acids twice daily for up to one year does not seem to improve survival or reduce recurrence in people with liver cancer who have undergone liver resection.

Likely InEffective for

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease). Early studies showed promising results, but more recent studies show no benefit of branched chain amino acids in people with ALS. In fact, taking branched-chain amino acids might make lung function worse and increase the chance of death in people with this condition.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Liver swelling caused by alcohol. Taking branched-chain amino acids daily along with a controlled diet does not reduce the chance of death in people with liver swelling caused by drinking alcohol.
  • Athletic performance. Taking branched-chain amino acids may reduce fatigue caused by exercising. In many cases, this improvement is found when branched-chain amino acids are taken with arginine or green tea powder. However, not all studies agree. Some studies also show that taking branched chain amino acids may reduce muscle soreness after exercise. However, taking branched-chain amino acids does not appear to improve strength, running times, or cycling speed.
  • Diabetes. Eating carbohydrates with an amino acid/protein mixture might improve insulin response in people with diabetes. However, it is not known if taking branched-chain amino acids as a supplement will provide the same benefits.
  • Long-term liver damage (liver cirrhosis). It is not clear if branched-chain amino acids benefit people with liver cirrhosis. Taking branched-chain amino acids seems to improve liver function and reduce liver complications in people with early-stage liver cirrhosis. However, taking branched-chain amino acids does not seem improve liver function or survival in people with advanced liver cirrhosis. There is conflicting evidence about the effects of branched-chain amino acids on quality of life in people with liver cirrhosis.
  • Muscle breakdown. Taking branched-chain amino acids by mouth seems to reduce the breakdown of muscles during exercise. But not all studies agree.
  • Genetic disorder that increases phenylalanine in the blood (Phenylketonuria). Taking branched-chain amino acids for up to 6 months seems to improve attention in children with phenylketonuria.
  • Disease of the spine called spinocerebellar degeneration (SCD). There are conflicting results about the effects of branched-chain amino acids in people with a disease of the spine called SCD. Some early research suggests that taking branched-chain amino acids by mouth might improve some symptoms of SCD. However, other research suggests that branched-chain amino acids do not improve muscle control in people with SCD.
  • Preventing muscle wasting in people confined to bed.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of branched-chain amino acids for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Branched-chain amino acids are LIKELY SAFE when injected intravenously (by IV) by a healthcare professional.

Branched-chain amino acids are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. Some side effects are known to occur, such as fatigue and loss of coordination. Branched-chain amino acids should be used cautiously before or during activities where performance depends on motor coordination, such as driving. Branched-chain amino acids might also cause stomach problems, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach bloating. In rare cases, branched-chain amino acids may cause high blood pressure, headache, or skin whitening.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking branched-chain amino acids if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Branched-chain amino acids are POSSIBLY SAFE for children when taken by mouth, short-term. Branched-chain amino acids have been used safely in children for up to 6 months.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease): The use of branched-chain amino acids has been linked with lung failure and higher death rates when used in patients with ALS. If you have ALS, do not use branched-chain amino acids until more is known.

Branched-chain ketoaciduria: Seizures and severe mental and physical retardation can result if intake of branched-chain amino acids is increased. Don't use branched-chain amino acids if you have this condition.

Chronic alcoholism: Dietary use of branched-chain amino acids in alcoholics has been associated with liver disease leading to brain damage (hepatic encephalopathy).

Low blood sugar in infants: Intake of one of the branched-chain amino acids, leucine, has been reported to lower blood sugar in infants with a condition called idiopathic hypoglycemia. This term means they have low blood sugar, but the cause is unknown. Some research suggests leucine causes the pancreas to release insulin, and this lowers blood sugar.

Surgery: Branched-chain amino acids might affect blood sugar levels, and this might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using branched-chain amino acids at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • Levodopa interacts with BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

    Branched-chain amino acids might decrease how much levodopa the body absorbs. By decreasing how much levodopa the body absorbs, branched-chain amino acids might decrease the effectiveness of levodopa. Do not take branched-chain amino acids and levodopa at the same time.

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

    Branched-chain amino acids might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking branched-chain amino acids along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.<br/><br/> Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Minor Interaction

Be watchful with this combination

!
  • Diazoxide (Hyperstat, Proglycem) interacts with BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

    Branched-chain amino acids are used to help make proteins in the body. Taking Diazoxide along with branched-chain amino acids might decrease the effects of branched-chain amino acids on proteins. More information is needed about this interaction.

  • Medications for inflammation (Corticosteroids) interacts with BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

    Branched-chain amino acids are used to help make proteins in the body. Taking drugs called glucocorticoids along with branched-chain amino acids might decrease the effects of branched-chain amino acids on proteins. More information is needed about this interaction.

  • Thyroid hormone interacts with BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

    Branched-chain amino acids help the body make proteins. Some thyroid hormone medications can decrease how fast the body breaks down branched-chain amino acids. However, more information is needed to know the significance of this interaction.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For a brain condition due to liver disease (hepatic encephalopathy): 240 mg/kg/day up to 25 grams of branched-chain amino acids daily for three months. In some cases the dose is taken in three divided doses daily.
  • For mania: a 60 gram branched-chain amino acid drink containing valine, isoleucine, and leucine in a ratio of 3:3:4 taken every morning for 7 days.
  • For tardive dyskinesia: a branched-chain amino acid drink containing valine, isoleucine, and leucine at a dose of 222 mg/kg taken three times daily for 3 weeks.
  • For anorexia and improving overall nutrition in elderly malnourished hemodialysis patients: granules of branched-chain amino acids consisting of valine, leucine, and isoleucine at a dose of 4 grams taken three times daily.
  • For anorexia in patients with liver disease: 2.4 gram packets of branched-chain amino acids has been taken in two-packet doses three times daily for one year.
  • For anorexia in cancer patients: 4.8 grams of branched chain amino acids taken three times daily for one week.
The estimated average requirement (EAR) of branched-chain amino acids is 68 mg/kg/day (leucine 34 mg, isoleucine 15 mg, valine 19 mg) for adults. However, some researchers think that the requirement should be around 144 mg/kg/day. Some researchers also think the EARs for children are also low. EARs for branched-chain amino acids for children are: ages 7-12 months, 134 mg/kg/day; 1-3 years, 98 mg/kg/day; 4-8 years, 81 mg/kg/day; boys 9-13 years, 81 mg/kg/day; girls 9-13 years, 77 mg/kg/day; boys 14-18 years, 77 mg/kg/day; girls 14-18 years, 71 mg/kg/day.

INTRAVENOUS (IV):
  • Healthcare providers give branched-chain amino acids intravenously (by IV) for brain enlargement due to liver disease (hepatic encephalopathy).

View References

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