This amino acid is a harbinger of two of the most important neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine.
It enhances working memory and executive function through chemical signalers in the prefrontal cortex. A quintessential Limitless Nootropic, it increases focus abilities and internalized motivation although many report a ‘wired’ feeling from it.
This is the kind of stress that is stimulated by an single event that is shocking to our biology as opposed to a long term, nagging and brooding, stress. For example:
- The shock of being in a car accident..
- Soldiers suffering from PTSD as a result of time spent in a warzone or battle.
- Getting into a fight or being assaulted.
- Playing a high impact sport.
But acute stressors don't have to involve physical violence, they can also come from environmentally tamer or even purely emotional stimuli:
- Being cold or physical activity at high altitude.
- Swimming (cold showers anyone?)
- An unexpected breakup with a partner.
- Watching an intense movie.
- Loud, unexpected noises.
- A business deal going awry.
- Furthermore, exercise is a classic acute stressor.
In small doses, acute stress can be pleasurable, that's why we enjoy skydiving, driving fast cars and scary movies. It's also a source of hormesis; positive stress that provides an impetus for our personal development.
As I researched acute stress, I was reminded of some morbid history I learned from my favorite audio program about World War 1, Blueprint for Armageddon. This conflict turned Europe into a cauldron of acute stressors. Many soldiers, not obviously, physically wounded, were severely disciplined and even executed by their commanding officers for 'cowardice' during battle.
They didn't understand the PTSD and acute stress that soldiers suffered from due to constant nearby explosions and machine gun fire was just as crippling as losing a leg or arm.
However, acute stress is still stress that comes with a spectrum of negative effects on our biology, especially our cognition and memory.
At least several human studies, have shown Tyrosine as effective in limiting the retarding effects of acute stress. To quote a U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine study of 23 soldiers:
"Tyrosine significantly decreased symptoms, adverse moods, and performance impairments in subjects who exhibited average or greater responses to these environmental conditions."
In a Dutch study the human participants, in a week long high intensity training exercise, consumed 2 grams daily of tyrosine in protein shakes, from the Abstract:
"The effects of the amino acid tyrosine on cognitive task performance were studied on a group of 21 cadets during a demanding military combat training course... The group supplied with the tyrosine-rich drink performed better on a memory and a tracking task than the group supplied with the carbohydrate-rich drink. These findings suggest that supplementation with tyrosine may, under operational circumstances characterized by psychosocial and physical stress, reduce the effects of stress and fatigue on cognitive task performance."
Most readers of this Limitless Mindset are probably not going to find themselves in a war zone or combat training exercise anytime soon, so why should you care about the rejuvenating.effects of Tyrosine?
- Crossfit junkies or other varieties of gym rats who live for that euphoric rush of endorphins should strongly consider supplementing Tyrosine to prevent Hypothyroidism (more on this below).
- Are you a flowstate hacker? For many, activities like surfing, rock climbing, snowboarding, and skydiving present a portal to gamma brain wave driven flowstates of clarity, creativity and even slow time dilation. These stimuli, while awesome, have an undeniable biological cost in stress.
- Entrepreneurs, Business to Business salespeople, trial attorneys and professionals whose working lives ential lots asymmetrical stress, emotional spikes and unpredictable events.
Supplementing 500 to 2000 milligrams of Tyrosine 30-60 minutes before an acute stressor.can sharply cut it's negative affect on mood and memory.
Speaking of creative flowstates, Tyrosine is a fuel for inspiration. According to a 2014 paper out of the Institute for Psychological Research and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition in the Netherlands:
"...we investigated whether creativity in convergent- and divergent-thinking tasks is promoted by the food supplement l-Tyrosine... As convergent thinking arguably requires more cognitive top-down control, this finding suggests that [l-Tyrosine] can facilitate control-hungry creative operations."
Convergent thinking is when we narrow down, analyse and choose between options. A common weakness of creative types who are always brimming with great ideas and being pulled in different creative directions constantly. According to the dutch study there was no evidence that it aided divergent thinking.
To quote one biohacker's experience on 3.5 grams daily of Tyrosine:
"I feel more intelligent, speak more intelligent, act more intelligent and perform more intelligently. This is not just my own opinion, classmates have expressed surprise and said that 'I'm on the ball these days'. Working memory is phenomenal and my frontal lobe has felt alive with activity (shown through extensive working memory, alertness, extended concentration and focus and extended awake)."
Effects on Exercise
It's a scientifically vindicated physical performance enhancer. It's used commonly as a preworkout supplement, while the benefits of intense, regular exercise are huge (literally and figuratively!), as an acute stressor, there is risk of conditions like Hypothyroidism. According to health detective Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac.
"The stress caused by intense, excessive exercise can negatively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, possibly causing conditions such as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is known to cause depression, weight gain, and digestive disfunction along with a variety of other symptoms."
Two human studies demonstrated it as being effective in inoculating participants against the cold stress induced memory deficits. This means that Tyrosine supplementation is a great idea for those whose work or recreational activities entail spending a lot of time in the cold
- Mountaineers, rock climbers, skiers and snowboarders.
- Cops, soldiers, national guardsmen and public servants who work outdoors.
- Construction workers and landscaping contractors.
Mechanism of Action
This amino has such a wide range of positive effects because of the three important neurotransmitters it helps to produce; dopamine and norepinephrine.
- Dopamine, which we traditionally think of as a pleasure chemical, works on a lot of other areas of our minds as well which enable us to be productive and focused.
- Norepinephrine, the simulator that allows us to use stress as a positive motivator towards our goals.
- Noradrenaline, another name for Norepinephrine in the stress family of neurotransmitters, a vital link in the chemical chain of events that allows our bodies to spring into action when they most need to.
The neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine are depleted by various traumatic events; fatigue, death of loved one, divorce, overwork, sleep deprivation and stimulant drugs.
L-Tyrosine regulates and decreases cortisol levels. An MIT study, Dietary tyrosine suppresses the rise in plasma corticosterone following acute stress in rats, demonstrated that it reduces stress hormones. In healthy individuals it doesn't have much effect on mood but an Amsterdam study, Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress, demonstrated that it lowers blood pressure and boosts cognitive function as well in healthy subjects.
One Erowid contributor reports:
"...I find an almost instant rise in alertness, a positive sensation somewhat like doing a very small amount of amphetamine, but much more smooth. Certainly there is also pain relief potential as well as aggression. I ended up ingesting this before every soccer practice and it gave me a psychological and physical edge I need..."
Increased plasma transmitter levels, an effect of L-Tyrosine, boost sex drive as well, it has a positive effect on erectile dysfunction.
If you don't sleep well during the night, a small dosage (as low as 150 milligrams, according to a Naval Aerospace human study) of Tyrosine will give you an extra few hours of alert mindset. 4 to 6 grams is supposed to counteract even extreme sleep deprivation, which I can't wait to experiment with. This makes the supplement a good option for those with deviant lifestyles:
- Entreprenuers and Wantreprenuers who need to work awkward hours to build their businesses.
- Pickup artists that stay up all night 'gaming' and hopefully 'pulling'.
- Frequent intercontinental travelers, who are constantly battling jet lag.
- Biohackers who are trying to reduce the number of hours they sleep.
People on ADHD medication, report that Tyrosine helps with mental clarity. According to some stack tweakers Tyrosine, DMAE and 5-HTP is a heaven sent remedy for ADHD.
Tyrosine helps those dealing with addiction as well because it balances the dopamine-based reward system.
It also has an anti-aging effect on skin wrinkles.
N-Methyltyramine (NMT) vs L-Tyrosine
Describing it as Tyrosine on meth, would be selling this profoundly energizing Nutraceutical a little short. With it's scary, long chemical name you wouldn't guess that NMT actually comes from a variety of orange tree, Citrus Aurantium.
Taken individually, it's effects are reportedly unimpressive but stacked with other Nootropics ingredients, it imbues the consumer with levels of focus previously not experienced.
While it has 37 results on pubmed, the single human study on it conducted in the 1980's has not been translated from Chinese and it is something of a fringe Nootropic, bodybuilders use it because of the reserves of energy and motivation it lets them tap.
Is essentially a more pure chemical form of Tyrosine, closer to the actual neurotransmitters it is involved with. It's more bioavailable, due to the acetic acid addition, meaning that less of it gets passed through the body and more of it passes the blood-brain barrier. Some bloggers report that N-Acetyl-Tyrosine increases their verbal intelligence and sociability.
Tyrosine comes from the greek word for cheese and was discovered in 1846 by a German scientist.
Tyrosine is synthesized in our bodies from the protein like chemical, phenylalanine, which occurs in high protein foods.
So why spend money on supplemental L-Tyrosine when it's fairly common in a relatively healthy diet?
In perfect world we could get all the vitamins and nutrients we need from our diet, exclusively. As a veteran Nootropics consumer, the primary value that I see lifehackers are going to find in Tyrosine is to fight asymmetrical stress and combat sleep deprivation. You would have to eat a mountain of Avocados to get the 4 to 6 grams of Tyrosine needed to have a kick ass day on just two hours of sleep.
As much as lifehackers talk about work-life balance sometimes you just need to pop some pills to take on a monster of a day or to bounce back from a crazy night. In supplement form L-Tyrosine is very affordable with 1 month supplies available around $12
Looking for tyrosine capsules?
Taste and Asthetics
I've used L-Tyrosine for several years now and honestly it's one of my favorite Nootropics to take in powdered form because it has a really unremarkable taste; it tastes almost identical to flour to me.
Many Nootropic powders have really ghastly tastes; are sticky or otherwise inconvenient to consume. Tyrosine is comparatively undramatic.
Dump a little bit of powder under your tongue and it washes down easy with glass of water or tea.
It has a dosage range that's pretty wide, this isn't a Nootropic that you need to measure out with precisely every time you take it. After you've measured out 500 milligrams once on your digital scale you can just eyeball it.
The purity, dissolution and absorption of a given vitamin are 3rd party tested and verified to meet regulatory standards that come from a national Pharmocopia. Pharmaceutical grade can be obtained without a prescription but typically they are sold by licensed health care practitioners.
Companies that distribute this grade will typically be Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified, so look for GMP Certified on the labeling and websites of the products you order from.
It's required to be 98-99% pure, you're never going to get 100% pure, but this grade is required to be within a couple percentage points of it.
5-HTP, balances out Serotonin baseline levels. Recommended ratio of 10:1 Ten units of L-Tyrosine for every 1 unit of 5-HTP is popular. A Dr. Dan Kalish recommends up to 3000 milligrams of L-Tyrosine with 300 milligrams of 5-HTP daily.
DMAE, this anti aging agent is popular in combination with Tyrosine.
Racetams, a stack with a proportion of 2.5 grams of Tyrosine with 1.6 grams Piracetam is a favorite of Biohackers on Longecity.