Amino-acid therapy claims massive success in treating drug addiction

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      Jay Dodd was travelling through Thailand in 2002 when he took the wrong drugs and died. Five years later, Dodd's mother has nearly completed the journey that began with her son's untimely death.

      "He died in a drug-related death, and I was not able to do anything about that," Maggie Gold told the Georgia Straight. "He died of anaphylactic shock."

      She continued, speaking softly in her Yaletown office: "You can't stop somebody from having anaphylactic shock, but there are so many other people out there who have got drug and alcohol challenges that maybe you can do something to help."

      In 2002, Gold had been practising naturopathic medicine for 15 years. When her son died, she focused all her energy on researching addiction and eventually found something called amino-acid therapy.

      On October 1 of this year, the Agora Regeneration Clinic opened in Vancouver. Amino-acid therapy has been offered in the United States and Mexico for more than a decade now, but Agora is the first private clinic to offer the therapy in Canada.

      Gold said she did not believe that standard addiction therapies, cited in government reports with success rates averaging about 20 percent, were the best treatments available for drug and alcohol addiction. "I said, 'There has got to be another way; there has got to be something else'," she explained. "And that's when I went into the natural-medicine world to see what was there."

      Agora's Cameron McIntyre, a naturopathic doctor, explained amino-acid therapy to the Straight. He said drug abuse damages neuroreceptors in the brain. That damage then makes a person more susceptible to addictive tendencies, reinforcing the cycle of drug abuse. What Agora does, McIntyre continued, is inject an amino-acid solution into the blood. The amino acids then repair damaged proteins in a drug user's brain, "basically giving the brain the chemicals that it is craving, but in a healthy way".

      The result is a reestablishment of a healthy balance of neurochemistry. Withdrawal symptoms are reduced, and a patient's ability to make logical decisions about substance use is restored, McIntyre said.

      Gold claimed that treatment centres across the U.S. that use amino-acid solutions similar to Agora's have a success rate of about 70 percent. However, because there has never been an independent study performed on the amino-acid therapy's impact on drug addiction, that number cannot be verified. "But even if it is half that, it's worth going through," she said. "If something does no harm, if it has anecdotal evidence that it works, why wouldn't we try it?"



      When the Straight got Nicolas Huibers on his cellphone, he didn't sound like someone who had just emerged from five years of substance abuse. Laughing with his mother on their way home from Agora, Huibers was cautiously optimistic about his future.

      "The last 10 days were good. I just kind of kept getting better and better," he said. "I've gone through a conventional residential treatment centre, and it nowhere near did what this kind of treatment did."

      Huibers declined to comment on the details of his abuse problems but was happy to talk to the Straight about the treatment he had just undergone at Agora.

      "The first couple of days, I was fairly tired," he began. "By day three and by day four, my mind was getting clearer; I was feeling much more healthy in the body and the mind." By days five and six, Huibers continued, cognitive abilities to reason and understand his addictive tendencies had noticeably improved.

      Alongside the amino-acid therapy, with which Huibers was injected on a daily basis, Agora provided a string of complementary therapies designed to provide "the best possible option for all-natural drug and alcohol treatment", according to an Agora brochure.

      On arrival at the clinic, Huibers said, he was given a complete naturopathic physical exam. During treatment, he spent time in an infrared sauna, underwent acupuncture, attended energy psychology sessions, and received massage therapy.

      But the key to his treatment, Huibers claimed, was the amino-acid solution. "With the intravenous therapy, with getting the brain rebalanced, I noticed right away a clear and more accurate understanding of what I want, what I don't want, and [how] not to give in to those cravings," he said.

      On his way home from 12 days at Agora, Huibers felt that he knew he did not want to be a substance abuser any more. "I feel like I've got my brain and body back," he said.

      However, he acknowledged there was a tough road ahead, stressing that he planned to continue immediately with regular counselling sessions.



      Huibers may be happy with Agora's approach to addiction so far. But when he spoke with the Straight he wasn't even a day out. What's more, he was only Agora's second patient.

      Dr. Adam Frankel, assistant professor and Canada research chair in Drug Discovery at UBC, told the Straight that he was "highly skeptical" of Agora's treatment program.

      "The problem is that they are not accounting for all of the other pathways that all of these natural amino acids can play into," he said. Frankel argued that when Agora injects the amino-acid tyrosine, for example, with the goal of producing a dopamine neurotransmitter, there is no guarantee that will actually happen. "That's not a good assumption to make, because tyrosine can be metabolized into a whole variety of different things in addition to dopamine," Frankel said.

      Steve Sewell, program director for the National Organization for Recovering Alcoholics in the U.S., who, together with Dr. Dan Hepburn, designed the amino-acid solution used by Agora, claimed that there are ways of increasing the odds of a desired outcome. He said that his amino-acid solution includes vitamins and minerals that help direct the metabolization of amino acids into the desired proteins that will help repair the brain.

      "We're basically giving the body what it needs to heal itself," he told the Straight in a phone interview from his office in Durango, Colorado. "I can't make any claims other than that."

      Gold's plans for the future include starting a foundation in her son's name, which she hopes can raise money to pay for patients' treatment at Agora.

      "We cannot solve the [Downtown] Eastside, because the Eastside is more than a drug and alcohol problem," she said. "But we can take people who want to get clean and run them through this program."


      Agora Regeneration Clinic
      Dr. Adam Frankel at UBC
      National Organization for Recovering Alcoholics




      Nov 19, 2007 at 1:21am

      What a concept! Curing an addict of his habit by non-invasive natural means, rather than prolonging and worsening it by injecting their bloodstream with toxic narcotics. Obviously, anyone with a vested interest in the drug industry and a twisted mentality about what constitutes "harm reduction" will be skeptical about this procedure. I'm just waiting for all the former mayors who supported free injection sites to crawl out of their holes and denounce this therapy.


      Jan 18, 2008 at 5:17am

      I work at a rehab program in Oklahoma and we use the vitamin therapy along with amino acids. I believe that in order to recover from drug addiction, you have to first get your body back in good health. Addiciton is not just one problem, it's mental and physical. You are doing a great thing. You shoudl check out our site at drug rehab

      richard culver

      Feb 13, 2008 at 11:12am

      im an x addict of 35 years using herione,cocaine,crystal-meth aswell as prescription drugs. ive tried at least a half dozen re-habs in the u.s. before i went to the william hitt center in t.j. mexico, I dont think you will find an addict who abused life always to the edge of going to the other side, i even moved to other countries so i could be at the direct source of the supply. Dr. william hitt and his staff along with the treatment of amino acids has given me a brand new life. i never would of dreamed i could feel so good and think so clear. i would like to spend my life now helping other addicts seek treatment and answer any questions you might have aswell as offer my services to stay at your side to help you through this life changing experiance.


      Aug 13, 2008 at 9:16pm

      Many terms are applied to a drinker's relationship with alcohol. Use, misuse, heavy use, abuse, addiction, and dependence are all common labels used to describe drinking habits, but the actual meaning of these words can vary greatly depending upon the context in which they are used. Even within the medical field, the definition can vary between areas of specialization. The introduction of politics and religion further muddles the issue.


      Mar 19, 2009 at 11:11am

      Well I suppose the future will tell if this treatment works or not. For now I personally think it's too good to be true, I've heard so many news about wonder treatments for addiction that I've become skeptical when something new comes up. Until the method is proven to be effective I'll just stick to the conventional methods.
      Gerard at Cliffside

      teddy Conchas

      Oct 28, 2009 at 10:03pm

      Hi, great post,

      will bookmark this


      Oct 12, 2010 at 11:40am

      It's too bad that this kind of treatment is basically completely unaffordable at $10-15K for most people and it's not covered by insurance. I guess only the rich can afford to get clean and sober any more.

      Ann matthews

      Feb 18, 2011 at 6:23pm

      My son is being treated with over the counter amino acids for his addiction recovery and the changes are so dramatic. He is no longer paranoid, anxious or violent and is calm and more normal than he has been in years. The capsules are not that expensive and certainly worth it! He had been on all kinds of meds but nothing worked like this does.

      Mark Anthony

      Mar 1, 2011 at 8:13pm

      I use whey protein isolate, same thing body builders use, it has all the amino acids, its not too expensive, and I noticed a big improvement in my moods and my depression lifted.

      jacquie brodeur

      Jul 15, 2012 at 3:54pm

      Finding out our brain cells deplete Gsh or Glutathione is a when I discovered an answer to why I had a bipolar/depressed brain. Looking up what glutathione is doing inside our brain/body cells holds the answers. GSH is a tri peptide or 3 amino acid protein like structure that is the master antioxidant/toxin of all cells, GSH boosts the blood and raises the immunity in the body. There are many ways to raise your bodies gsh but I trusted the Scientist Dr. Robert Keller who used it on his Aids/Cancer patients. I knew I could trust his discovery to make a difference for my bipolar brain/TMJ injuries. If it's in all of my cells and it can be recycled and reproduced naturally then it makes sense. Once in the cell it can get through my blood/brain barrier where I know it has changed everything. After 15 years of hospitalizations, 10 motor vehicle accidents my brain cells are working optimally and I'm getting rid of all the toxic medications I was forced to take by so many different Doctors. If our Doctors would take a few hours away from prescribing medications and look up where 104,000 articles will prove how important glutathione is for the body/brain the zombie effect might change. Many of our organs especially the liver and brain have higher concentrations of gsh. The body can recycle and reproduce it's OWN glutathione source and finding deepers sleeps will start many of the health changes that will happen. Scientists know the discovery, Now we need to educate ourselves until the Doctors decide to catch up.