BCAAs are Branch Chained Amino Acids. They are Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine. They are simply called branched chained aminos because their physical structure is a branched molecule. These amino acids are essential – meaning they have crucial roles throughout the body and must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
Roles of BCAAs
BCAA’s play vital roles in:
- protein synthesis
- blood sugar synthesis
- energy metabolism
- neurotransmitter synthesis (glutamate, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine)
These are all vitally important functions around concussion management.
Concussion and Metabolic Cascades
The exact pathophysiology of concussion is complex and not overly well understood. One thing is for certain: there are various metabolic cascades that are altered after acute brain injury (concussion). The brain is overly sensitive to these metabolic changes. Since the brain relies on sugar and does not store it – if any of the processes involving blood sugar and energy metabolism are disrupted, problems can arise.
Branch Chained Amino Acids are an important part of our energy metabolism, and there is a clear connection to concussion.
After Concussion: BCAAs Reduce in Our Blood
Human trains have shown, that after a mild to severe traumatic brain injury, BCAA metabolites decrease significantly in the blood compared to healthy controls . The recommendation is supplementing these amino acids after a TBI or concussion.
Supplement BCAAs After Concussion
The drop in these important BCAAs occur within 24 hours, so it is recommended to supplement these BCAAs soon after a suspected concussion . There is even evidence that BCAA supplementation after a concussion can help with cognitive improvement by restoring hippocampal function .
BCAAs are generally safe and well tolerated, but consult with your naturopath, chiropractor, or physiotherapist first.
Interested in learning more?
Read on in our series of articles on Concussions!
About the Author - Dr. Johann de Chickera
Dr. Johann is a licensed naturopathic doctor and co-owner of Absolute Health and Wellness. He completed his 4-year degree at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). His clinical focus lies in chronic disease, such as those related to the Gastrointestinal, Endocrine, and Immune Systems.
His approach to medicine relies on working with the patient to come up with a feasible, multi-factorial approach that addresses all complaints at once. He employs a strong background in diagnostic medicine and human physiology and pathology to diagnose and treat. His treatment involve a combination of nutritional counselling, botanical medicine, eastern medicine (acupuncture), nutraceutical supplementation and hands on physical medicine.
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