~ Glycine May Relieve Insomnia, Gastric Ulcers

By Dale Kiefer, March 2005

A Japanese agricultural products firm, Ajinomoto Co., recently announced that it may develop an insomnia treatment based on the amino acid glycine. According to a report published by Asia Pulse news service, Ajinomoto researchers conducted studies on men and women with sleep difficulties that appear to show that glycine supplementation promotes deep sleep.

Subjects who took three grams of glycine within an hour of bedtime reportedly fell asleep—and exhibited brainwave patterns associated with deep, non-REM sleep—sooner than control subjects who did not supplement. Subjects reported feeling refreshed on waking, with no indication that glycine produced "morning hangover," a foggy feeling often associated with the use of prescription sleep aids.

Glycine, an amino acid, is known to accumulate in the pineal gland of rodents during sleep, and is believed to play an important role in "disconnecting" the brain from the body during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles. REM is a recurring sleep state characterized by rapid eye movements and vivid dreaming. Previous research has shown that glycine supplementation improves memory and attention in young, middle-aged, and older adults.

Glycine has received attention recently as a potential treatment for other maladies. Japanese researchers, for instance, investigated its potential as an anti-bacterial agent for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant H. pylori bacteria, which often infect the stomach lining. H. pylori infection is be-lieved to be an underlying cause of many gastric ulcers. In laboratory experiments, the scientists demonstrated that glycine acted alone to reduce H. pylori infection. When combined with amoxicillin, a common generic antibiotic, glycine reduced by a factor of 10 the amount of amoxicillin needed to kill the troublesome bacteria.

References

1. Redecker P, Pabst H, Loscher W, Steinlechner S. Evidence for microvesicular storage and release of glycine in rodent pinealocytes. Neurosci Lett. 2001 Feb 16;299(1-2):93-6.

2. Chase MH, Soja PJ, Morales FR. Evidence that glycine mediates the postsynaptic poten- tials that inhibit lumbar motoneurons during the atonia of active sleep. J Neurosci. 1989 Mar;9(3):743-51.

3. File SE, Fluck E, Fernandes C. Beneficial effects of glycine (bioglycin) on memory and attention in young and middle-aged adults. J Clin Pyschopharmacol. 1999 Dec;19(6):506-12.

4. Schwartz BL, Hashtroudi S, Herting RL, Handerson H, Deutsch SL. Glycine prodrug facilitates memory retrieval in humans. Neurology. 1991 Sep;41(9)1341-3.

5. Minami M, Ando T, Hashikawa SN, et al. Effect of glycine on Helicobacter pylori in vitro. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 Oct;48(10):3782-8.

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