All About DLPA For Addiction, Depression, PAIN & More

In episode 264 of the Elevation Recovery Podcast, Matt Finch discusses the amino acid DL-phenylalanine or DLPA. He talks about what this amino acid does in the body, its mechanisms, the benefits, and the experiences of people who use it. Matt references the article from Optimal Living Dynamics, linked below. 

DLPA Overview

DLPA, also known as DL-Phenylalanine, is a combination supplement consisting of D-Phenylalanine and L-Phenylalanine.

L-Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid found in protein-rich foods such as:

  • Beef
  • Tofu
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Poultry

L-Phenylalanine makes the following biological conversion in the brain:

L-phenylalanine → L-Tyrosine → L-DOPA → dopamine + norepinephrine + epinephrine 

This L- form of the amino acid phenylalanine has the ability to radically spike dopamine levels in the brain, thus giving the opiate abuser’s depleted brain chemistry a much-needed boost.

L-Phenylalanine supplementation may assist with:

  • Enhanced mood (pleasure)
  • Increase in natural energy and motivation
  • Helps the body respond to physical and psychological stress

D-Phenylalanine is made synthetically in laboratories. It slows the action of the enzymes, particularly carboxypeptidase A and enkephalinase, that destroy endorphins. DPA does this by acting like a “downfield body blocker” in football.

When the endorphins are trying to reach the traumatized area, the endorphin-degrading enzymes are on their way to eat them “Pac-Man” style.

DPA comes right up and blocks them from reaching the endorphins, thus enabling the endorphins to successfully reach the traumatized area. Supplementation with DPA can result in a significant increase in endorphin levels in the body. In one study, a man that took a single dose of DLPA experienced a 300% increase in endorphin levels, and they stayed that high for six days.

Many have reported the following from DLPA usage:

  • Alleviates depression
  • Calms anxiety
  • Promotes natural energy production
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Natural pain relief

Links to Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Here are some ways to learn from this episode:

Matt Finch: "It now takes a huge spike in dopamine, alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, et cetera, to feel pleasure. This is one of the top reasons why people relapse within a few months after quitting. They have pleasure deafness. Life basically sucks. Enough is enough. They feel like they can't go on feeling so bad every day, so they start using again and the cycle continues. DLPA to the rescue. Luckily, there's a simple, natural, and inexpensive supplement called DLPA that can break this cycle quickly."

Speaker 2: Thanks for tuning in to the Elevation Recovery Podcast, your hub for addiction recovery strategies, hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.

Matt Finch: Welcome to episode 264. Thanks so much for joining us today. I got Papaya on my shoulder, and we're bringing you a really awesome topic on one of my favorite supplements, and probably my favorite amino acid overall. A working title for this is going to have to do with the actual title of the article that I'm going to reference. So, in this episode, you're going to be learning all about DLPA, that is DL-phenylalanine. It is one of the best amino acids for depression, addiction, anxiety, and pain, and what DLPA is, what are the mechanisms of action, what are some of the benefits and experiences people have had, and myself, and how it could potentially help you too.

Matt Finch: The article I'm going to be reading comes from optimallivingdynamics.com. This is very recent too. It was just the end of 2021, a few months ago. The Best Amino Acid for Depression, Anxiety, and Pain is the title. Jordan Fallis is the author. And Papaya, would you be quiet? I'm trying to read this.

Matt Finch: I'll kind of just frame this article on DLPA, bringing up my benefits. When I got off addiction this last time, it was opioids, alcohol, and benzos, a little over 10 years ago now, I was taking DLPA. I didn't know what it did, but a family member shipped me down some products, and one of the products had DLPA in it as a main ingredient. And I started to get over my Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, quitting mostly opioids and alcohol, but also benzos at that point, too. So, it was all three of those CNS depressants.

Matt Finch: And DLPA, along with some of the other supplements, helped a lot. And DLPA was probably, for my individual case, in my experience, the most helpful overall supplement for getting through that Post-Acute Withdrawal, getting my energy back, getting my good mood and motivation and dopamine going. Since then, I've told so many people about DLPA, so many clients. I've written so many articles about it. We've talked about it in numerous videos and podcasts, but we haven't done a full episode on DLPA. But on this podcast, it certainly deserves one, so without further ado, here we go.

Matt Finch: All right. Here's the article. "Today, I want to talk to you about one of the best amino acids that has really helped me manage feelings of depression, anxiety, and trauma. I write about many different helpful nutrients and supplements, and I know it can be overwhelming, so I want to dedicate this post to one amino acid, because I feel like it's helped me more than any other. As soon as I realize I'm running low and have just a few capsules left, I order it immediately, because it gives me so many benefits. Even though I can live without it, I'd rather not. Taking it every so often helps my mood and significantly improves the quality of my life.

Matt Finch: "A subtle sense of impending doom starts to creep in when I've gone too long without it. If you struggle with chronic anxiety and depression, you probably know what I'm talking about. This feeling used to be a lot worse for me. It felt like a dark cloud was following me around all day and I just couldn't shake it. It's now gone, and thankfully, I know exactly how to keep it away. But life can be tough at times and things happen, and that's why I'm glad I have access to DL-phenylalanine, DLPA, whenever I need it. It helps me get through stressful times. It can get me out of a deep hole like nothing else. And if you struggle with feelings of trauma, anxiety, and depression on a regular basis, it may help you too.

Matt Finch: "I first learned about phenylalanine in the book, The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross. It's an essential amino acid that plays a key role in the proper functioning of your nervous system. If you're deficient in phenylalanine, you can have the following symptoms, fatigue, confusion, memory problems, decreased alertness, loss of appetite. DL-phenylalanine, or DLPA for short, is a combination of two different forms of phenylalanine, D-phenylalanine and L-phenylalanine.

Matt Finch: "The D and L forms of phenylalanine have different beneficial effects on your body and brain. L-phenylalanine is used as a building block by your body to create a number of important proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. This includes dopamine, norepinephrine, and thyroid hormone, all of which are necessary for optimal brain and mental function. Dopamine in particular is very important, as it's the main neurotransmitter that supports your attention and motivation, and plays a key role in the reward system of your brain.

Matt Finch: "D-phenylalanine, on the other hand, inhibits the breakdown of endorphins. Endorphins are pain-relieving compounds that originate within your body. Your brain produces and releases these natural pain killers during times of strenuous exercise, emotional stress, and pain, but D-phenylalanine has been shown to slow the action of enzymes that destroy these morphine-like substances. By doing this, it can prolong the activity of your endorphins within your nervous system, allowing you to feel better for longer.

Matt Finch: "Together, D and L-phenylalanine can support your brain and mental health by increasing both dopamine and endorphin levels. My research and personal experience suggests it can treat a number of different conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, bipolar disorder, Parkinson's disease, premenstrual syndrome, PMS, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, drug withdrawal, including alcohol, opiates, and psychiatric medication, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics. Personally, it helped me the most with depression and anxiety, and there are several studies that show it can improve your mood.

Matt Finch: "In one study, 20 depressed patients took 200 milligrams of DLPA every day. At the end of the three-week study, 12 patients no longer had depression, and four patients experienced mild to moderate improvements in their mood. This makes sense, considering that researchers have found that people struggling with depression often have low levels of phenylalanine, and supplementation significantly elevates their mood. In fact, one study found that DLPA is just as effective as standard antidepressants, but without side effects. And another found that people who don't respond to common antidepressants often get significantly better when they take DLPA. And even if you take medication, research shows that combining DLPA with antidepressants leads to greater increases in mood than simply taking an antidepressant alone, yet unlike anti antidepressants, you can feel the effects of DLPA quickly, within a few hours, and in some cases, it can terminate depression within two to three days.

Matt Finch: "By building up your natural endorphin production, DLPA doesn't just help physical pain, but mental pain as well. When I first started taking DLPA, it was such a relief. I was so glad I had found it. I noticed it makes me more comfortable, happy and satisfied with my life, more relaxed and calmer every time I take it, less moody and irritable, less likely to take things so seriously, and less reactive to negative events in situations. Overall, it lifts my mood and reduces emotional sensitivity. Life becomes less intense. I'm not as sensitive to the world around me. I would definitely recommend it to others who also have, quote-unquote, sensory processing sensitivity.

Matt Finch: "And eventually, DLPA helped me successfully wean off multiple psychiatric medications. Along with some other supplements, it played a critical role in making the withdrawal process as smooth as possible. I used to take 500 milligrams every day. Currently, I only need 500 milligrams once or twice a week, mainly because neurofeedback and EMDR have helped so much."

Matt Finch: Quick little interruption here. This is a very long article, and it's got a bunch of different testimonials from random people, so I'm going to skip to the where to get it and how to take it section. And then, I'll give my kind of feedback and additions to this lovely article.

Matt Finch: Back to the article. "Make sure you get a combination of both D and L-phenylalanine. I tried L-phenylalanine alone once, and it didn't help me as much. In theory, it's also a good idea to take it alongside B6 and vitamin C because they help with conversion of phenylalanine to dopamine. You should start with 500 to 750 milligrams each day and monitor how you feel. You'll have to experiment and figure out your ideal DLPA dosage.

Matt Finch: "The DLPA dosage for depression, pain, or anxiety can vary. You may even need up to 1,500 milligrams daily, but the benefits seem to increase over the time. The more you take it, the more you can feel its effects. Also, make sure you take it on an empty stomach. Do not take it with high protein foods. Other amino acids, such as tryptophan, can compete with phenylalanine and reduce its absorption and transportation across the blood-brain barrier.

Matt Finch: "Conclusion, antidepressants and benzodiazepines are not your only options for depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, much of the so-called science behind mainstream psychiatric drugs is untrustworthy and fraudulent, and other safe and effective treatment options are often ignored by conventional medicine. DL-phenylalanine is one of these other options. I can't promise it'll work for everyone, but since it's easily accessible through Amazon, it's worth a try. If you suffer from depression and anxiety, experiment with it and listen to how you feel. And like I have, I encourage you to use as many tools as you can to help yourself, including nutrition, supplements, exercise, neurofeedback, light therapy, et cetera. The list goes on and on. None of them have to work completely, but all together, they can make a huge difference and change the course of your life like they have mine."

Matt Finch: All right, and that's the end of the article. Brilliant, brilliant article on DLPA, what it's ... consists of, what the mechanisms of action are, what her benefits were, what other people's benefits are often, some of the dosages to start off with, and work your way up if needed. And the reason I chose her article rather than my DLPA article is hers is just a few months old and it specialized in ... It was more broad. It was anxiety, depression, and pain, and I added the kind of addiction thing on there as well. And she even talked about withdrawal from opioids and other drugs in that article as well, so hers was a more general DLPA benefits for things like mental health and addiction and pain.

Matt Finch: Mine was from March 9th, 2015, on my first website, opiateaddictionsupport.com. But yeah, March 9th, 2015, and the title of mine back then, so this is seven years ago, it was, DLPA: A Miracle Supplement For Opiate Addiction Recovery. So, this first website of mine was all about opioids. I did some articles on quitting benzos and quitting methamphetamines, but for the most part, it's like a 98%, 99% website dedicated to helping people quit opioids. That article, well, it used to be very popular. There's actually 325 comments at the end of mine, and there's 200 votes with a 4.63 out of five. So yeah, mine was specialized for DLPA for either Post-Acute Withdrawal quitting opioids, or for tapering, tapering opioids.

Matt Finch: What I will do from my article is read just a couple really small little sections that I think will add nicely to the article that I just read off of that other website. And before I get into this, remember that DLPA, again, is two supplements. One is L-phenylalanine, and one is D-phenylalanine. L-phenylalanine increases dopamine, and the D-phenylalanine is made in the laboratory and it boosts endorphins.

Matt Finch: So, here is the first cherry-picked little segment of my article that I want to read in addition to the previous article, and then we can talk more about it. "Imbalances in neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins and the others can result from the following, stress, physical and emotional, genetic predisposition, toxins in the environment, poor diet, drug or alcohol abuse.

Matt Finch: "There are two types of neurotransmitters. Inhibitory calms the brain and acts as a mental relaxant, and excitatory stimulates the brain. Endorphins are our natural painkillers. Think "natural morphine." Our bodies release endorphins when we exercise. Perhaps you've heard of runner's high, which describes a euphoric feeling produced by the massive production of endorphins after running long distances. Endorphins promote joy, euphoria, and contentment.

Matt Finch: "Dopamine is our main focus neurotransmitter. Dopamine is also responsible for our drive or desire to get things done, our motivation. Dopamine lifts the dark clouds of depression, is responsible for feelings of pleasure, and plays a role in the reward system in the brain. Over time, the brain eventually adjusts natural production of the dopamine neurotransmitter to compensate for the presence of drugs or alcohol.

Matt Finch: "Due to both the overactivation of dopamine during periods of intoxication and long-term changes in brain chemistry, natural dopamine levels become lowered and depleted. Once your dopamine levels are depleted, it's virtually impossible to experience pleasure without using the substance. Things that used to provide you pleasure no longer do so, such as job promotion, your kid does well on a soccer game, or a trip to Disneyland. You no longer derive enjoyment from these activities. It now takes a huge spike in dopamine, alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, et cetera, to feel pleasure. This is one of the top reasons why people relapse within a few months after quitting. They have pleasure deafness. Life basically sucks. Enough is enough. They feel like they can't go on feeling so bad every day, so they start using again, and the cycle continues. DLPA to the rescue. Luckily there's a simple, natural, and inexpensive supplement called DLPA that can break this cycle quickly."

Matt Finch: Now I'm going to scroll ahead and cherry-pick another part of this article that I think will add nicely to that very comprehensive article I read previously. "L-phenylalanine makes the following biological conversion in the brain. L-phenylalanine converts to L-tyrosine, converts to L-DOPA, which converts to dopamine plus norepinephrine plus epinephrine."

Matt Finch: So again, L-phenylalanine is available in supplement form, obviously. It also ... included in DLPA, but it's also found in protein-rich foods, things like beef and tofu and fish, milk, eggs, pork. High protein, it's an essential amino acid, this L-phenylalanine, in protein rich foods. So whether you take protein-rich foods, or more typically, since we're talking about DLPA, when you take a DLPA supplement, since we're talking about DLPA, the LPA in the DLPA goes like this, once you swallow the capsule or the powder.

Matt Finch: L-phenylalanine converts to L-tyrosine converts to L-DOPA, and then the L-DOPA converts to dopamine plus norepinephrine plus epinephrine, so it's a pretty cool conversion. And, "This L form of the amino acid phenylalanine has the ability to radically spike dopamine levels in the brain, thus giving your brain a much-needed boost. L-phenylalanine supplementation during acute and Post-Acute Withdrawal can lead to the following benefits, enhanced mood and pleasure, increase in natural energy and motivation, helps the body respond to physical and psychological stress.

Matt Finch: "D-phenylalanine is made synthetically in laboratories. It slows the action of the enzymes, particularly carboxypeptidase A and enkephalinase, that destroy endorphins. DPA does this by acting like a downfield body blocker in football. When the endorphins are trying to reach the traumatized area, the endorphin-degrading enzymes are on their way to eat them PAC-MAN style. DPA comes right up and blocks them from reaching the endorphins, thus enabling the endorphins to successfully reach the traumatized area.

Matt Finch: "Supplementation with DPA can result in a significant increase in endorphin levels in the body. In one study, a man that took a single dose of DLPA experienced a 300% increase in endorphin levels, and they stayed that high for six days. Taking DLPA, a combination of D-phenylalanine and L-phenylalanine, can result in a rapid increase in dopamine and endorphin levels."

Matt Finch: All right, now, skimming ahead to the very end of my particular article on DLPA, I'm going to summarize these dosing guidelines and also hybridize them to be more general for just anybody, rather than in this article that was tailored toward opioid withdrawal and tapering dosages and guidelines.

Matt Finch: "Take DLPA on an empty stomach an hour or 45 minutes before meals. Take DLPA for as long as you need. Most people benefit from taking it for at least a few weeks or a few months. For people with high blood pressure and/or anxiety issues, DLPA might aggravate those issues. In these cases, you can use DPA as it doesn't contain the L form of phenylalanine, which is the one that can exacerbate anxiety and hypertension."

Matt Finch: The starting dosage to test out DLPA on a person's own self is around 500 to 750 milligrams, depending on a person's unique situation. Someone might use 1,000 milligrams of DLPA every morning and an hour before meals, while another person might use 2,000 milligrams morning and midday, about 45 minutes to an hour before meals, while other people might just use 500 milligrams every other day, or maybe even 3,000 milligrams in a day. Some people notice that DLPA gives them a headache or aggravates anxiety, or brings up anxiety, or could even cause a migraine, so there's definitely side effects from DLPA. Typically, those come from the LPA, in which case, taking DPA very rarely leads to side effects, and it doesn't typically lead to the hypertension or anxiety or headaches. That's usually the LPA.

Matt Finch: My favorite brand, it's also a very expensive brand for DLPA, they have a 1,000 milligram DLPA capsule, very strong. That company is called Pure Encapsulations. I don't make any money recommending them. I'm not sponsored by them or anything, but I love that DLPA. Other companies that I like that I've tried are Solgar and Solaray, but there are also other epic brands out there as well with dosages ranging from typically 500 milligrams to 750 milligrams or 1,000 milligrams. Those are usually the dosages.

Matt Finch: That wraps up today's presentation. Now you can consider yourself an expert on the supplement DLPA, so congratulations for that. As always, thank you so much for joining us today. Take good, good care of yourself. We love you, and we thank you so much for joining us on these shows, and we want to wish you a happy beginning to spring. Winter is over. The low energy, low mood, seasonal affective disorder, season of winter has come to an end. You can expect longer days, more daylight, more sunlight, more vitamin D, more energy, more Chi and mana and energetic vitality out in the ether. Spring is a wonderful time for addiction recovery, for increasing health, for spring cleaning, and for so many other things. So, yeah, take good care of yourself, happy spring, and we'll see you on the next episode. Take it.

Author

  • Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.

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