Studies to Prove that MAOI's Benefit Doesn't just Come From Avoiding Amines?
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Q:  Studies to Prove that MAOI's Benefit Doesn't just Come From Avoiding Amines?

Hello Dr Phelps,

Your well-referenced website is entertaining and life-changing. Thank you so much for your skill and effort!

I have a question.

- Are there any studies to prove that MAOI's benefit doesn't just come from avoiding amines in the diet?

Have there been controlled studies to compare the benefit on mood between
a) a group taking MAOIs plus eating their amine-free diet and
b) a group eating an amine-free diet only?

(Since you say sufferers of Bipolar II are prone to migraines, and since more studies are showing the effect of amines on children's behavioural and mood problems, I'm wondering if the main benefit from "MAOIs plus amine free diet" doesn't just come from the amine free diet.)

I'd love to hear this one answered. Thanks!

Hello Pamela --

Well that is an interesting one.  To my knowledge that has not been studied, using for example the design that you outline, comparing the two groups. 

However, the general premise would be puzzling. Tyramine is the amino acid that is being avoided in the MAOI diets.  By contrast, tyrosine is a related amino acid that is very directly involved in a synthesis of brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine.  Tyrosine does not have to be avoided when taking an MAOI. Indeed, theoretically, lowering the amount of tyrosine in the diet could have negative effects on mood (if somehow you managed to do a good job and really keep the intake low, as one has to try to do with tyramine when taking an MAOI).

Dr. Phelps

Published June, 2009


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