Taurine Aids in Myelin Regeneration in Multiple Sclerosis
Node Smith, ND
Taurine to the Rescue
A team of researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that the amino acid taurine can actually help spark myelin regeneration, a process which is vitally important in multiple sclerosis (MS). 1 Myelin is a functional coating that allows transmission of nerve signals to happen more efficiently. MS involves autoimmune degradation of the myelin sheaths surrounding certain nerve tracts leading to changes in sensation, movement difficulties, as well as speech and vision changes. MS is often remitting and relapsing and current conventional treatment often concentrates on improving cell differentiation of oligodendrocytes to help increase myelin production and keep the disease in the remittance phase.
Fasting, Acupuncture, and Removing Toxins and Allergens to Promote Cellular Differentiation
The researchers at TSRI, discovered that taurine, an endogenous metabolite utilized by many organ systems, including the brain, increased the remyelination process when used with a drug which induced oligodendrocyte precursor cells, benztropine. The taurine didn’t have a specific effect on cellular differentiation, though there are many natural methods that are utilized to promote this type of effect – fasting, acupuncture, and simply removing toxins and allergens may allow the body to naturally regulate cellular differentiation more appropriately. If Taurine is able to promote the remyelination process specifically, it could be beneficial to add to these other treatments as well.
Taurine Commonly Used in Athletics for Building Proteins
Taurine is a commonly utilized amino acid (a combination of methionine and cysteine) in athletic performance – for building proteins – though it has many other physiological uses.2 It helps regulate hydration and cellular electrolyte balance, as well as intracellular mineral balance. Taurine is essential for bile salt production, immune function, and central nervous system function, including macular health.
This research is part of a new research model, being used by TSRI called metabolomic profiling, which is a way of analyzing endogenous metabolites which are functionally relevant in disease processes. The research lab hopes that by using this technology it will uncover other metabolites that the body is already producing which may be utilized in the treatment of disease.
- Beyer BA, Fang M, Sadrian B, et al. Metabolomics-based discovery of a metabolite that enhances oligodendrocyte maturation. Nat Chem Biol. 2017
- Ripps H, Shen W. Review: taurine: a “very essential” amino acid. Mol Vis. 2012;18:2673-86.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.