Typically, BCAA refers to Branched-Chain Amino Acids. These are nutrients obtained from proteins such as dairy, legumes, and meat. Essential components in protein including valine, isoleucine, and leucine form a chemical structure that resembles a branched-chain, hence the term for this group of amino acids. Many people use BCAA as treatment for several disorders. Athletes and health-conscious people take BCAA to improve overall wellness.
Uses of BCAA
Some doctors use BCAA as medication for patients with brain conditions caused by liver disease, tardive dyskinesia, McArdie’s disease, and spinocerebellar degeneration. The supplement is also given to enhance appetite in elderly patients with cancer and kidney failure. Health care providers also provide BCAA to those who are confined in bed, as the supplement can slow malfunctioning of muscles. Aside from the uses of BCAA in treating several medical conditions, people use the supplement to reduce fatigue, improve muscle performance, and enhance concentration.
How the Supplement Works
The amino acids promote the growth and development of protein in the muscle. This action reduces muscle breakdown and deterioration. Moreover, BCAA prevents the transmission of faulty messages in the brain. This function of BCAA is useful in treating people with anorexia, mania, and advanced stages of liver disease.
BCAA Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Those who had tried using BCAA discovered the effectiveness of the supplement in improving their medical condition. However, BCAA side effects are likely to develop due to prolonged use. The use of BCAA for over six months can be harmful to health, as experienced by many people who took the supplement for an extended period. The common side effects of using BCAA include loss of coordination and fatigue. It is also important for people to avoid taking the supplement before they engage in activities that require excellent motor coordination.
Medical experts do not prescribe BCAA to people who have specific health conditions because of the possibility of severe side effects.
The following are among those who are susceptible to experience the jeopardizing effect of BCAA to the health.
1. Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
The use of BCAA in patients with ALS has been linked with high death rates and lung failure. The medication resulted in poor recovery and severity of the medical condition among these patients.
2. People with ketoaciduria
Patients with ketoaciduria are not advised to take branched-chain amino acids because of the serious effects to their condition. Several BCAA side effects had been observed in patients who used the supplement such as muscle breakdown, mental retardation, and seizures.
Those who suffer from chronic alcoholism should avoid using BCAA for dietary purposes. The use of this supplement in alcoholics has been linked with liver disease and brain damage.
4. Infants with low blood sugar levels
Infants who were supplemented with BCAA, particularly leucine, caused a reduction in the blood sugar levels of infants. These patients experienced idiopathic hypoglycemia, and researchers suggest that leucine stimulated the release of insulin from the pancreas. An overproduction of insulin leads to low levels of blood sugar.
5. Patients who will undergo surgery
Those who will undergo surgery should have the right levels of blood sugar, so they will have excellent recovery after the medical procedure. Since BCAA affects the normal blood sugar levels, patients are advised to discontinue the use of BCAA at least two weeks prior surgery.
Aside from several medical conditions, those who take the following medication should avoid using BCAA due to side effects and ineffectiveness of the drug.
Ledovopa, a medication for Parkinson’s disease, will have a decrease in effectiveness when taken with BCAA.
2. Anti-diabetes drugs
The use of branched-chain amino acids causes a reduction in blood sugar levels. Since anti-diabetes drugs aim to decrease blood sugar, patients might suffer from hypoglycemia. The different medications for diabetes that should not be used with BCAA include glimepiride, rosiglitazone, glyburide, glipizide, and several others.
Before patients decide to take BCAA, they need to consult their health care provider for recommendation and medical advice. They can avoid experiencing BCAA side effects when they have proper guidance regarding the use of the supplement.