Many of us are on a journey to find the supplements that work best for our mind, body and soul, promoting faster, deeper sleep. I've always loved learning how supplements like GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and melatonin can help with sleep. However, when I started to suffer from insomnia due to taking a low dose of naltrexone my obsession with sleep and sleep hygiene took on a new life. Discovering taurine has been an incredible solution for me, and I want to share it with you too. Taurine accomplishes all of that and more. My sleep, moods, and chronic pain have all improved since taking it. Today, I'm going to run you through what taurine is and why it is good for sleep, anxiety, and pain.
So, what is Taurine?
Taurine, a naturally occurring sulfur-containing amino acid, is found abundantly in various parts of the body including the brain and central nervous system, and many other organs, but is particularly concentrated in the brain, eyes, heart, and muscles, making it a vital compound for overall health and organ function. While taurine is considered a "non-essential" amino acid, as our bodies naturally produce most of what we need, supplementation and dietary intake are necessary to meet all of our requirements. Taurine can be obtained from dietary sources, particularly high-protein foods like poultry, seafood, and dairy products.
What are the Functions of Taurine?
Honestly, so many. Taurine is a calming neurotransmitter with a structure similar to glycine and GABA, both of which are known as the brain's other calming neurotransmitters. More on this later to help you understand why it is so good for sleep. But, before we get there, it is also good to understand that one of the essential roles of taurine is its cell-protective properties. It helps to regulate the volume of body cells, stabilizing cell membranes, adjusting the intracellular calcium levels, and contributing to the production of bile salts.
Taurine and the Connection to GABA
Taurine plays a crucial role in supporting GABA levels, which can help with sleep and anxiety. GABA functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, regulating brain activity and promoting feelings of calmness and relaxation. Research indicates that taurine enhances GABA levels in the brain through various mechanisms. It increases the synthesis and release of GABA and also activates GABA receptors, further promoting its calming effects. By boosting GABA levels, taurine helps to induce a sense of calmness, reduce anxiety symptoms, and alleviate mood issues. Additionally, GABA's ability to slow down certain brain functions is believed to contribute to stress reduction, anxiety relief, and improved sleep quality. The interplay between taurine and GABA provides a powerful combination for supporting mental well-being and promoting better sleep. And, talking about sleep, let’s now get into why taurine is incredible for helping with sleep, and why it has helped me so much.
Taurine and Better Sleep
It’s again through its interaction with GABA that taurine helps with sleep. This is because it facilitates the brain's ability to unwind and encourage relaxation. The studies back it up, too. An American study investigated the effects of caffeine and taurine on drosophila flies. The results revealed that flies given caffeine faced difficulty falling asleep, while those given taurine experienced a significant increase in drowsiness. The same study demonstrated that taking taurine supplements led to a remarkable 50% increase in total sleep too.
Other studies have shown that taurine supplementation significantly improved the sleep experience across sleep quality, sleep duration, time to fall asleep, and insomnia, among others:
- A study published in the journal of Amino Acids investigated the effects of taurine on sleep quality in healthy volunteers. The researchers found that taurine supplementation significantly improved sleep quality by increasing sleep duration and reducing the time it took to fall asleep. This study suggests that taurine can have a positive impact on overall sleep patterns and may be beneficial for individuals struggling with sleep disturbances.
- Another study, published in the Journal of Biomedical Science, examined the potential of taurine as a therapeutic option for insomnia. The researchers administered taurine to animal subjects and observed a significant increase in total sleep time and improvements in sleep efficiency too. The study suggests that taurine may hold promise as a natural remedy for individuals experiencing insomnia.
- Studies have explored the potential of taurine in managing sleep disorders too. A study in the journal of Sleep Science investigated the effects of taurine supplementation in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and the results showed that taurine supplementation led to significant improvements in sleep quality, reducing sleep disturbances related to the sleep apnea. This suggests that taurine may be a helpful adjunct therapy for individuals with certain sleep disorders.
So, the science is there to help explain how taurine can help with specific sleep-related challenges and why it has been so helpful for me. The benefits don’t stop at sleep, however.
Taurine and Pain
Taurine offers potential benefits in managing chronic pain through its incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This is another benefit for me of taking taurine as it can help me with my endo pain. But why is it so powerful in the battle against pain?
This is mainly because, acting as an antioxidant, taurine protects tissues from oxidative damage that contributes to chronic pain conditions. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory actions can reduce inflammation often associated with chronic pain. By minimizing tissue damage and inflammation, taurine may play a significant role in providing relief from chronic pain. Moreover, taurine helps with pain in two primary ways: it acts as an antioxidant, shielding our tissues from harmful oxidants, and creates compounds like taurine chloramine and bromamine with anti-inflammatory effects. By increasing these compounds through taurine supplementation, it may alleviate inflammation and offer relief from pain, especially acute conditions.
Taurine and Anxiety
The reduction of inflammation in the body can also have added benefits by lowering anxiety levels. Taurine's potential as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) agent is well-documented and it shows promise in helping with anxiety and psychosis by influencing neurotransmitter levels in the brain. It helps increase glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the body, which keeps our minds relaxed and less alert. Low GABA levels have been linked to anxiety, low mood, overthinking, and increased tension. Therefore, supplementing with taurine to boost GABA levels could be beneficial for anxiety relief.
Taurine's neuroprotective properties against the harmful effects of glutamate may also play a role in managing not only anxiety but psychosis too. In a study involving young adults with psychosis, taurine supplementation alongside conventional antipsychotic medication resulted in fewer pathological symptoms compared to medication alone. It’s good to remember that lowering inflammation in the body also lowers anxiety, so this is a heavy hitter, delivering the benefits of both inflammation reduction and anxiety reduction.
Taurine, Longevity and Lifespan
In addition to the benefits to our anxiety, sleep and general wellbeing, new research also shows that taurine could have a positive impact on our lifespan and healthspan too! Scientists have been exploring factors that promote longevity and increased healthspan, and taurine appears to hold promise as a potential "elixir of life" that could help us live longer and healthier lives.
Research indicates that taurine levels do decline with age, but supplementation with taurine shows promise in reversing this decline. Studies on worms and mice revealed a 10–23% increase in median lifespan after supplementing with taurine. Taurine supplementation also improved strength, coordination, cognitive functions, and slowed aging markers in mice. Rhesus macaques benefited in bone, metabolic, and immunological health with taurine supplementation.
In conclusion, taurine is a remarkable supplement that has truly helped me. Its calming effects have significantly improved my sleep, providing relief from insomnia and enhancing sleep duration and quality. Beyond that, the added benefits of pain relief and overall well-being make it a true superstar in my daily routine. Knowing that taurine's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are working to protect my body further adds to its appeal. And the exciting possibility of it contributing to a longer and healthier life makes me feel proactive about my future. If you're looking to transition from restless nights to more radiant days, taurine might just be the sleep and lifestyle supplement you've been searching for. And, according to the best available evidence, taurine has NO negative side effects when supplemented appropriately. It has certainly been a game-changer for me, and I can't recommend it enough.
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST***