Taurine is an amino acid that is believed to help with a number of different illnesses and other health conditions. Studies have shown that it can benefit patients suffering from conditions ranging from heart disease to alcoholism. Taurine has properties that help aid brain chemistry and is believed to be a possible natural treatment for bipolar disorder.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a condition of cycling between the two extremes of mania and depression. It is often referred to as manic depression. Mania is a condition of heightened energy or irritability. In bipolar disorder, this sort of mania is often followed by a “crash” of depression and depressive thoughts. This cycle of mania and depression can make life difficult for those with bipolar disorder.
Taurine is an amino acid, which act as neurotransmitters in the body’s nervous system. This means that it—and all other amino acids—help the cells in the body communicate with each other. Taurine is useful for bipolar disorder because it also acts as a neuroinhibiter as well. By suppressing the release of other neurotransmitters, it can help someone from having excess energy to drive them into mania.
However, there is a warning to taking taurine for bipolar disorder. While it helps to stave off excess energy associated with mania, it also can act as a sedative. This can actually increase the effects of depression in those with bipolar disorder.
Otherwise, taurine is generally considered to be safe. However it is known to prevent the absorption of certain medications and can cause an increase in the frequency of seizures to sufferers of epilepsy.
Other Benefits of Taurine
Taurine also has many other benefits associated with it to aid with other illnesses and health conditions. These include but are not limited to:
- Congestive heart failure
- Reduces death from heart disease
- Protects kidney function in diabetics and those with high blood pressure
- Exercise performance and endurance
- Prevents cataracts
- Possible decrease in memory loss due to aging
- Possible reduction in depression and anxiety
- Reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improvement in insulin resistance in diabetes
- Reduced chance of relapse for recovering alcoholics
- Reduced chance of psychotic episodes related to alcohol withdrawal
- Prevent damage done to brain and liver from alcohol
- Improve coordination while intoxicated
- Reduce the effects of hangovers
Sources of Taurine
As a conditional amino acid, the body has the ability to produce levels of taurine—unlike that of essential amino acids. However, the body does not always produce the taurine it needs, so supplementing it can come in many forms. Examples of sources of taurine include:
- Meats, such as fish, beef, pork and poultry
- Taurine supplements
- Red Bull and other energy drinks
Since the primary source of taurine comes from meats, those living vegan or vegetarian lifestyles may have difficulty obtaining enough taurine without nutritional supplements. Energy drinks, such as Red Bull, contain taurine in addition to caffeine and other substances. Since it is still unknown how all the substances interact with each other, this is not the most recommended method of supplementing taurine in your system.