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Tyramine: Questionable Trace Amine Supplement
Tyramine is one of the so-called trace amines, naturally found in food and the human body. This group includes phenylethylamine (found in chocolate), octopamine, and synephrine, in addition to tyramine. The amino acid L-tyrosine is the precursor of most of the trace amines, including tyramine. Some of the benefits of supplemental L-tyrosine may be attributable to its conversion in the body (and especially in the brain) to these trace amines, which can function like neurotransmitters. Unlike the amines themselves, however, L-tyrosine can be absorbed and taken up across the blood-brain barrier.

Theoretical Benefits

The main theoretical benefit of supplemental tyramine is to increase norepinephrine release, and thus to get the many benefits of increased norepinephrine: more energy, greater mental acuity, upregulated thermogenesis and calorie-burning, fat mobilization, and so forth. While research on the norepinephrine front appears to be lacking, some data suggests Tyramine does in fact stimulate the release of epinephrine (adrenaline), the less desirable of the two neurotransmitters. As a result, tyramine may also increase blood pressure and heart rate at higher doses. Tyramine also stimulates glucose uptake in a variety of tissues (like insulin), and stimulates fat synthesis in fat cells, while inhibiting fat breakdown. The desirability here is obviously mixed: glucose uptake is generally good; fat synthesis is clearly bad. Unfortunately, there have been no human trials of adequate length, assessing the net effect of tyramine on metabolism or body composition. Further, it is known that: 1) tyramine, like other amines, is rapidly degraded in the liver by amine oxidases, and 2) none of the trace amines can be taken up across the blood-brain barrier so as to effect central nervous function. That means that most of the (putative) stimulant and anti-depressant effects of the trace amines cannot result from oral use of the amines themselves. (Though precursor supplementation -- with L-tyrosine and DL-phenylalanine -- still remains a viable and often-effective approach.) The real world results of tyramine also appear to be less than promising. Consider the fact that we consume relatively high concentrations when we eat larger portions of yogurt or aged cheeses and following that, no noticeable thermogenic or nuerostimulant effect is felt. At best, tyramine appears to be nothing more than label dressing for companies that are trying to look cutting edge by having new high tech sounding ingredients listed.

Sensitivities & Side Effects

High sensitivity to dietary tyramine is not uncommon. Tyramine occurs naturally in foods such as yeast, aged cheeses and cured meats, cocoa products, some wines, and fruits and vegetables. Sensitive people often report headaches and various allergic-type reactions after consuming these foods. There is a large medical literature on the ability of tyramine to precipitate migraine and other types of headaches -- much more literature than is available on the use of it as a beneficial supplement. The serious risk with tyramine is for those people who are taking MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) -- drugs used in the treatment of depression. MAOIs drastically reduce the tolerance to trace amines, and drastically reduce the amounts needed to have an effect. Even small amounts of tyramine in combination with MAOIs could have dangerous effects. Regardless of whether or not you are using MAOIs, you should be cautious with this experimental compound, for which there is so little human clinical data. The watchword is: start low, go slow. If you use it at all, start with a low dose, and increase gradually, watching carefully for any signs of excess such as racing heart, increased blood pressure, "jitters", insomnia, etc. If you have any sensitivity to tyramine based foods (e.g. yogurt, aged cheeses, milk, etc) then don't use any tyramine-based supplements.

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