Phenylalanine D & L: Happily pain free (S2E6)

To be happily pain free (pun explained shortly), there are many health interventions that would help you achieve this end, from exercise and low carb diets to supplements and drugs. However, one particular amino acid kills twin birds with twin stones. I’m talking about D and L forms of Phenylalanine. D stands for dextrorotary and L for levorotary. These forms are essentially mirror images of each other, but possess different functions. L-Phenylalanine acts as a precursor to Tyrosine, Dopamine, Melanin, norepinephrine and epinephrine. This means that it not only treats depression, but also poor energy and the skin pigment disorder known as vitiligo.

Although D-Phenylalanine is not found in nature, it gets metabolized by the body to a substance called phenyl-ethylamine or PEA. PEA is the mind mellowing and stimulating chemical also found in chocolate, that recreates the feeling of being in love, hence, its usefulness for depression. It is also useful due to it’s ability to prevent endorphins and enkephalins (which are the body’s internal opioids) from being used up too quickly. This makes it useful in the treatment of opiate withdrawal.


The only contra-indications for both forms of phenylalanine exist in those born with the genetic disease known as PKU or phenylketonuria, and those with either skin or certain brain cancers. PKU is screened out for most people with a blood test when they are born. It occurs in only 1 in 10,000 people.


Typical doses for DL-phenylalanine (the combined form) are between 250 and 1000mg before meals.


Tune in next episode when we’ll talk about Choline.


Be Well and Be Zen



Atkins, R., (1999), Dr. Atkins’ Vita Nutrient Solution, Nature’s answer to drugs., p.172-74. ISBN: 0-684-81849-3. Simon & Schuster Publishing, New York.

R. Gaby., Phenylalanine., Nutritional Medicine (2011)., Ch. 45., pp. 189-91, ISBN13: 978-0-9828850-0-0. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH.

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