Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Branched chain amino acids, the ketogenic diet pill, and ketosis

Recently I have been combining exogenous ketones with BCAAs on my restricted protein ketogenic diet protocol to see how I react over time. Nutritional ketosis produces an increased ratio of plasma branched chain amino acids to aromatic amino acids which is one of its main proposed mechanisms of action for seizure control. 

It has been suggested that the high ratio of plasma BCAAs/ARAAs could be useful for epileptics as it results in decreasing ARAAs- (ARAAs supposedly increase the excitability potential of the brain entering the central nervous system (Jirapinyo et al., 2004)). This shift resulting in a rise of BCAAs to ARAAs means that a state of ketosis will decrease the excitability potential of the brain and increase seizure threshold. The brain becomes more resilient to stress you could say and brain chemistry in general is more balanced as a result. I feel pretty good today but its just one day, one experiment, and the type I am taking also includes resveratrol and L-carnitine (which may have its own benefits). Resveratrol readily crosses the blood brain barrier and modulates the Wnt signalling pathway to impair glioma stem cell proliferation and inhibit angiogenesis (Cilibrasi et al., 2017)

I have been taking the BCAAs at the same time as my exogenous ketones because I have held the belief for a while now that exogenous ketones could improve drug delivery to the brain (much like the combination of aspirin and caffeine) and research already suggests that brain amino acid metabolism is more efficient in a ketotic state (Yudkoff et al., 2007). 

These branched chain amino acids compliment ketogenesis nicely and leucine and lysine in particular are strictly ketogenic amino acids which have shown potent anticonvulsant effects. Its complicated, I know, and the ratio of individual amino acids are important, so I'm still learning and testing blood ketones and blood glucose to assess efficacy.

I am particularly interested in this amino acid supplement from Dr. Heinz Reinwald, who has used it in some very interesting studies for the metabolic management of cancer and to compliment immunotherapy treatments such as in the study below.

Amino acid product and study:



IMG- Glucogenic and Ketogenic amino acids:

The effects of all this, and nutritional ketosis in general, can be similar to that of the 'ketogenic diet pill' developed by researchers in Japan. The drug, sitipentol, works primarily by enhancing central Gaba neurotransmission and by inhibiting lactate dehydrogenase, an important enzyme involved in the energy metabolism of neutrons (Sada et al., 2015)

IMPORTANT!!! In cancer, lactate dehydrogenase expression is enhanced as a result of the Warburg Effect (Hirschhaeuser, Sattler, and Mueller-Klieser, 2011) so sitipentol could indeed be very useful not just for seizure control of drug resistant epilepsy, but also to compliment a metabolic protocol for cancer management to take advantage of this metabolic defect. 

IMG- Targeting Lactate Dehydrogenase A inhibits tumourigenesis and tumour progression in mouse models:
(Xie et al., 2014)
The side effects could be irritating, as with other anticonvulsants, but if you have active cancer the pay-off would be worth it in my opinion and I would take the drug in a heartbeat if I ever have a recurrence. It could be taken in cycles. I have back up plans as I have mentioned a few times, and this is near the top of my list of things I would add to my protocol to hit the cancer hard if the situation arises (hopefully not). 

I believe it would likely be effective at therapeutic doses that go beyond seizure control. I would even be more comfortable taking stiripentol than metformin for brain cancer management even though I think they both show great potential. I would simply be more confident of stiripentol offering the specific neurological effects I would be hoping for despite the side effects. I am not entirely convinced that metformin crosses the blood brain barrier at appreciable amounts despite its ability to lower blood glucose so I see sitipentol as being potentially more suitable for brain cancer specifically in theory. It just makes sense to me.

Stiripentol by Diatomit enhances beneficial effects of the therapeutic ketosis for cancer management by inhibiting lactate dehydrogenase and offers neuroprotection and increased seizure threshold by enhancing central Gaba neurotransmission: http://www.diacomit.eu/en/64-check

I had already undertaken extensive research into leucine after learning about its very promising results for drug resistant epilepsy in animals. I wrote a long article on this a while ago, but it was deleted which is a little frustrating, however there is a decent summation here of the potential of these ketogenic amino acids, even in isolation for seizure control.- https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/news/news/amino-acid-good-rescue-medication-64819

Supplementation with L-carnitine may be especially useful for patients taking valproic acid (Epilim) as an anticonvulsant because it can result in hormonal dysregulation in both females AND males. These effects in males are rarely documented or even discussed. Men taking VPA display significantly lower free carnitine/total carnitine but it also makes your sperms weaker swimmers (lower motility), lowers testosterone, and raises insulin and C-peptide concentrations (YIKES!) (Røste et al., 2005)

Carnitine also aids fatty acid metabolism of course being an essential cofactor required for long chain fatty acids to enter mitochondria. It aids oxidation of palmitic acid (Seim, Kiess and Richter, 2002) so one could potentially argue (I don't know, just a theory) that maybe that if this palmitic acid is used and not stored as body fat (which would promote systemic inflammation), that these studies suggesting palmitic acid promotes carcinogenesis (Pasqual et al., 2017) may be invalidated from a well constructed dietary perspective. It is also worth noting that the study looked at CD36, which is a fatty acid receptor for oxidised low density lipoprotein (the 'bad' cholesterol), which is often linked to atherosclerosis (Endemann et al., 1993) and shouldn't be a problem on a well structured ketogenic diet. Quite the opposite in fact.

IMG- Oxidation of fatty acids: carnitine (Flanagan et al., 2010)

People have different opinions on this, and it is likely that it is actually the ratio of LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is more important or simply HDL on its own (if its too low this is the main problem it seems). On a well structured ketogenic diet LDL cholesterol is unlikely to change much (it may be a little elevated but particle size is the important consideration) but high density lipoprotein (the 'good' cholesterol), usually increases and insulin is normalised. 

This would mean that CD36 is unlikely to be expressed to respond, forming a 'foam cell' as shown below. This is called a foam cell because macrophages are recruited to the location of these fatty deposits on blood vessel cell walls. It is a pro-inflammatory response causing the cell to be filled with lipids and this action creates a 'foamy' appearance. 

IMG- Foam Cell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foam_cell
A well structured ketogenic diet is anti-inflammatory and also is unlikely to increase thrombosis and platelet aggregation. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease for example are actually improved being on a ketogenic diet, as is the lipid profile as a result. The ketogenic diet improves triglyceride levels, HDL, and LDL particle size- measures that have been seen as indicating risk. More information with a comprehensive list of references can be found here:

IMG- (Lüscher et al., 2014)

IMG- https://www.spectracell.com/clinicians/products/lpp/

The ketogenic diet is about using fat for energy and it is excess carbohydrates and trans fats which will cause this type of fat to be stored, creating inflammatory responses. I remain unconvinced that palmitic acid from foods such as ghee and coconut oil will promote carcinogenesis, especially when the fatty acid profile is balanced appropriately and the diet is personalised. Palmitic acid from grass fed and grain fed animals may also be different of course, just a thought. I am no expert of course (I'm always learning, nobody is a true expert), but the basic idea seems to make sense to me.

IMG- (St-Pierre et al., 2017)
Other anti-epileptic drugs have similar issues. As with everything though, it is always my belief that we can adjust these variables to bring endocrine functioning back to normal parameters AND allow the drugs to do exert their positive effects IF it is working for the patient to maintain seizure control. I was on VPA (Epilim) at one point when I took AEDs, and it does have survival benefits, but it is my firm belief that any micronutrient deficiencies the medication causes and any negative hormonal responses must be accounted for to achieve the best results not only for seizure control, but also quality of life and potential survival for improved survival.

Maybe I'll have amazing cognitive abilities and be superhuman in some way. It would be good to just feel more normal as I still feel like crap a lot of the time. Telekinesis would be pretty fun though or the ability to read a whole book on a complicated subject in a single day. Kind of like Doctor Strange, that was a cool film, enjoyed it. I like superheroes with intelligence rather than the meathead types.

IMG- http://www.twincities.com/2016/11/03/doctor-strange-review/


Acharjee, S., Boden, W.E., Hartigan, P.M., Teo, K.K., Maron, D.J., Sedlis, S.P., Kostuk, W., Spertus, J.A., Dada, M., Chaitman, B.R. and Mancini, G.J., 2013. Low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increased risk of cardiovascular events in stable ischemic heart disease patients: a post-hoc analysis from the COURAGE Trial (Clinical Outcomes Utilizing Revascularization and Aggressive Drug Evaluation). Journal of the American College of Cardiology62(20), pp.1826-1833.

Cilibrasi, C., Riva, G., Romano, G., Cadamuro, M., Bazzoni, R., Butta, V., Paoletta, L., Dalprà, L., Strazzabosco, M., Lavitrano, M. and Giovannoni, R., 2017. Resveratrol Impairs Glioma Stem Cells Proliferation and Motility by Modulating the Wnt Signaling Pathway. PLOS ONE12(1), p.e0169854.

Endemann, G., Stanton, L.W., Madden, K.S., Bryant, C.M., White, R.T. and Protter, A.A., 1993. CD36 is a receptor for oxidized low density lipoprotein. Journal of Biological Chemistry268(16), pp.11811-11816.

Flanagan, J.L., Simmons, P.A., Vehige, J., Willcox, M.D. and Garrett, Q., 2010. Role of carnitine in disease. Nutrition & metabolism7(1), p.30.

Hirschhaeuser, F., Sattler, U.G. and Mueller-Klieser, W., 2011. Lactate: a metabolic key player in cancer. Cancer research71(22), pp.6921-6925.

Jin, J.X., Lee, S., Taweechaipaisankul, A., Kim, G.A. and Lee, B.C., 2017. Melatonin regulates lipid metabolism in porcine oocytes. Journal of Pineal Research62(2).

Jirapinyo, P., Kankirawatana, P., Densupsoontorn, N., Thamonsiri, N. and Wongarn, R., 2004. High plasma branched-chain amino acids: aromatic amino acids ratio in children on the ketogenic diet: a mechanism in controlling epilepsy. JOURNAL-MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OF THAILAND87(4), pp.432-437.

Lüscher, T.F., Landmesser, U.L.F., von Eckardstein, A. and Fogelman, A.M., 2014. High-density lipoprotein. Circulation research114(1), pp.171-182.

Pascual, G., Avgustinova, A., Mejetta, S., Martín, M., Castellanos, A., Attolini, C.S.O., Berenguer, A., Prats, N., Toll, A., Hueto, J.A. and Bescós, C., 2017. Targeting metastasis-initiating cells through the fatty acid receptor CD36. Nature541(7635), pp.41-45.

Prospective Studies Collaboration, 2007. Blood cholesterol and vascular mortality by age, sex, and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of individual data from 61 prospective studies with 55 000 vascular deaths. The Lancet370(9602), pp.1829-1839.

Røste, L.S., Taubøll, E., Mørkrid, L., Bjørnenak, T., Saetre, E.R., Mørland, T. and Gjerstad, L., 2005. Antiepileptic drugs alter reproductive endocrine hormones in men with epilepsy. European journal of neurology12(2), pp.118-124.

Sada, N., Lee, S., Katsu, T., Otsuki, T. and Inoue, T., 2015. Targeting LDH enzymes with a stiripentol analog to treat epilepsy. Science347(6228), pp.1362-1367.

Schwalb, M. et al. 2016. Clinical Observation of a Novel, Complimentary, Immunotherapeutic Approach based on a Ketogenic Diet, Chondroitin Sulfate, Vitamin D3, Oleic Acid and a Fermented Milk and Colostrum Product. American Journal of Immunology. Vol 12(4). pp.91-8.

Seim, H., Kiess, W. and Richter, T., 2002. Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on in vivo long-chain fatty acid oxidation in healthy adults. Metabolism51(11), pp.1389-1391.

St-Pierre, V., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Vandenberghe, C., Hennebelle, M., Castellano, C.A. and Cunnane, S.C., 2017. Butyrate is more ketogenic than leucine or octanoate-monoacylglycerol in healthy adult humans. Journal of Functional Foods32, pp.170-175.

Xie, H., Hanai, J.I., Ren, J.G., Kats, L., Burgess, K., Bhargava, P., Signoretti, S., Billiard, J., Duffy, K.J., Grant, A. and Wang, X., 2014. Targeting lactate dehydrogenase-a inhibits tumorigenesis and tumor progression in mouse models of lung cancer and impacts tumor-initiating cells. Cell metabolism19(5), pp.795-809.

Yudkoff, M., Daikhin, Y., Melø, T.M., Nissim, I., Sonnewald, U. and Nissim, I., 2007. The ketogenic diet and brain metabolism of amino acids: relationship to the anticonvulsant effect. Annu. Rev. Nutr.27, pp.415-430.


  1. > I remain unconvinced that
    > palmitic acid from foods such as ghee and coconut
    > oil will promote carcinogenesis, especially when
    > the fatty acid profile is balanced
    > appropriately and the diet is personalised.

    Hi again Andrew!

    You've mentioned on twitter that your tolerance to MCT oil
    (through the last 2-3 years, I assume) has greatly increased.

    What kind of intolerance it was in the early days of ketogenic-style diet?
    i.e. did it come in the form of increased brain inflammation?

    I'am asking this because I'am currently is very intolerant to coconut/MCT oils,
    and digging deeper I've found that oil's fatty acids possess huge
    antibacteral properties.

    Every time I take Coconut Oil my photosensitivity got raised a bit,
    followed by a drop in blood pressure further followed by greatly increased fatigue/malaise
    and increased brain inflammation(anxiety, racing/rapid thoughts, rage)
    - all classic signs of increased level of blood endotoxins(endotoxemia) and
    proinflammatory cytokines, pointed to infected brain/body.

    I'am wondering what if during your ketogenic years your brain/body
    got cleared out of chronic infections(excessive glucose/excessive tryptophan-dependent bugs)
    and yours greatly increased tolerance to MCT(I assume to CO too) is a sign of it?

    Best Wishes, Dmitry

    1. Hi Dmitry,

      Yes, I experienced this early on with only a couple of teaspoons and now I find I can tolerate a good few tablespoons! Such a difference, I don't know why this is but would love to know. Some things remain mysteries and I wish I had been able to have more tests to see what has been going on over time neurologically but unfortunately it costs a lot of money and I have negative funds at the moment.

      I hope you are able to find answers, its interesting how I can now tolerate many foods which triggered these severe inflammatory responses for me. It also used to give me diarrhoea even at small doses and this doesn't happen anymore.

  2. Hello Andrew! I am very inspired by your story. I would like to ask you some questions - do you have an email to do so?

  3. Volek showed that circulating saturated fats depended on carbs. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113605
    A few weeks ago I read ectopic fat deposition depends more on VLDL which depends on carbs

  4. Hi Andrew, Wow I saw your interview with Ivor Cummins yesterday and I have to take my hat off to you ... you have really turned over the rocks to get yourself well again. So inspiring. I don't know how else to contact/communicate with you. I do not have any serious ailments (except a broken leg last week after a fall off my bike!!) but I note your comment about lack of magnesium and the type you were taking. I felt the need to tell you about Dr Dean's absolutely fantastic Remag if you haven't already heard about it. Following is an extract from her book "Invisible Minerals" which says it all when it comes to Magnesium.

    "Pico-Ionic Magnesium –ReMag ReMag consists of stabilized magnesium ions that are small enough in size that they are fully absorbed at the cellular level. The ionic charge allows ReMag to be attracted to the cells that require it. Because it is fully absorbed, ReMag has no laxative effect. Joseph B. Marion in his Anti-Aging Manual (1999) says “Most minerals (from food) are 8-12% absorbable, chelated minerals are 40% absorbable, and liquid Angstrom minerals are 99% absorbable, being 7,000 times smaller than Red blood cells, 1 million times smaller than a colloidal mineral, smaller than ionic, with negative-charge for added absorption.” Angstrom and Pico-Ionic minerals are similar in size, which means they are 99% absorbed at the cellular level. The difference between angstrom magnesium and ReMag is in concentration. Angstrom minerals are concentrated to 3,000ppm. ReMag is vastly more concentrated at 60,000ppm. Thus it is 20 times more effective."

    I believe you can download her book for free if you go to her web page rnareset.com. I have no connection to Dr Dean ... I just take her supplements which speak for themselves.

    Good luck with your studies, enquiries and most of all ... your health. Bon courage!!

  5. Not sure if you are familiar with these two organizations which may be helpful regarding Ketosis and seizures
    https://www.charliefoundation.org http://www.matthewsfriends.org