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Ooooh That Smell! — Ammonia

Can’t you smell that smell?

Ammonia-2D-dot-crossMany people have high ammonia levels.  Having the CBS mutation can often cause problems that leads to high ammonia.  Often this comes from processing excess amino acids whether these comes from ingesting  a lot of protein, extreme exercise (which breaks down protein) or bacterial oxidation of amino acids.

The Urea Cycle normally takes the ammonia formed and turns it into urea for removal.  This occurs in the liver and the rate is increased  with greater amounts of ornithine, citrulline, or arginine. ( Must be careful of L-arginine if there viral issues, careful of ornithine if ornithine carbamoyl-transferase deficiency is a problem)

Treatment Options

  • FOS breaks down ammonia, so this could be taken as a supplement.  Generally it’s good to get bowels moving so there are no elimination issues leading to an ammonia “backup”.  Larch Arabinogalactan is another prebiotic used to lower ammonia.
  • Much of the conversion of ammonia happens in the liver, so general liver tonics like silymarin will be helpful.  As will drinking water with lemon in it.   Zinc Deficiency  also been found to lower the level of ammonia in the body.
  • L Butyrate has been known to lower ammonia. BH4 will also lower ammonia and MTHFR A1298C must be working to create the BH4…thanks Methyl Folate for filling in!
  • Lacatalose,  is a synthetic sugar that lowers ammonia but also hinders electrolytes, so these must be watched if you and your doctor decide to go this way.
  • Biotin has been shown to reduce ammonia in rat and mice. It may do so through the L-glutamate + NH3—-L-glutamine  path.
  • Manganese is often depleted trying to detoxify ammonia, so if you have the CBS mutation you might want to take more of this mineral.
  • BH4 helps to detoxify ammonia so if you have the A1298C mutation, you might want to address this aspect.

Blood Tests

Process Blood Test in 20 minutes or less of your draw.  Taking more than a couple of hours will cause the ammonia in the cells to leak out and give a false elevated reading.  So this means you cannot necessarily go to Labcorp or Quest. You may have to go to a hospital where the staff are ready to test the blood immediately.

Other Supplements

  1. Yucca, has been shown to lower ammonia in ruminal bacteria, but it does so by suppressing ciliate protozoa.
  2. Alpha Ketoglutarate has been shown to reduce ammonia, but the study that demonstrated this was done on hemodialysis patients. Yet it still helps many people.
  3. Viagra.  !! Indeed it has been shown to be neuroprotecive and reduce ammonia levels…in rats.

I hope this helps!

7 comments to Ooooh That Smell! — Ammonia

  • Annette Baker

    Would an elevated ammonia level cause urine to smell strong, even if drinking plenty of waer?

  • mthfrease

    Yes, but there would be several reasons for a strong urine smell: 1) Infection, 2) Urinary stones, 3)Something you ate (e.g. asparagus), 4) Kidney dysfunction, 5) Low Carbing (using too much protein instead of carbs/fats for energy) 6)CBS mutation. If it’s a “musty” odor, then consider phenylalanine sensitivity either through lack of enzyme PAH, or through lack of BH4 (biopterin), do you have MTHFR A1298C? See < http://bit.ly/WVcffp> for more info.

  • Tracy S.

    How do you feel about using activated charcoal once a week to lower ammonia levels?

    • mthfrease

      Hi Tracy,

      Charcoal and Yucca (and other things) are Yasko recommendations. We often don’t see references for why something might work. While I have reservations, I also think that different things work for different people. We see one article that says ammonia adsorption increases with greater amounts of charcoal. Other’s say that charcoal does nothing.

      My concerns with charcoal would be that it would be an indiscriminate adsorber, and may hold on to iodine as well as other elements. Which is why you are taking it once a week I presume. RichVanK recommended to take it several hours after eating.

      You could try sauna and sweating, there’s some alternative treatments (including essential oils)by Dr. Jernigan, biopeterin (again), if you are looking for additional options.

  • Victoria

    My urine smells like ammonia since starting methyl donors. Can methylfolate cause excess ammonia to form or am I just smelling it leaving (for the first time ever). I’m compound hetero.

  • mthfrease

    If you are taking methyl donors then they may be revving up your methionine cycle which feeds into the CBS pathway where ammonia may be an issue. So it is possible!

    • Victoria

      Thanks but I don’t understand fully. Do you mean I may be causing the excess ammonia to form or that the ammonia is already there but I am dislodging it by revving up the cycle? Trying to gauge whether I should back away from the donors, or keep going, but stay away from meat / keep on Yucca etc. Thanks!

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