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 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.
Branched-chain amino acids are used to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease), brain conditions due to liver disease (chronic hepatic encephalopathy, latent hepatic encephalopathy), a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia, a genetic disease called McArdle’s disease, a disease called spinocerebellar degeneration, and poor appetite in elderly kidney failure patients andcancer patients. Branched-chain amino acids are also used to help slow muscle wasting in people who are confined to bed.
Some people use branched-chain amino acids to prevent fatigue and improve concentration.
Athletes use branched-chain amino acids to improve exercise performance and reduce protein and muscle breakdown during intense exercise.
Healthcare providers give branched-chain amino acids intravenously (by IV) for suddenbrain swelling due to liver disease (acute hepatic encephalopathy) and also when the body has been under extreme stress, for example after serious injury or widespread infection.
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.
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.
- 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.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.
- Diazoxide (Hyperstat, Proglycem) interacts with BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDSBranched-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 ACIDSBranched-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 ACIDSBranched-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.
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