Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

Therapeutic Uses

Preliminary evidence suggests that BCAAs may improve appetite in people undergoing treatment for cancer . 1 There is also some evidence that BCAA supplements may reduce symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease); however, not all studies have had positive results. 2 3 4 Preliminary evidence from a series of small studies suggests that BCAAs might decrease symptoms of tardive dyskinesia , a movement disorder caused by long-term usage of antipsychotic drugs. 5 BCAAs have also shown a bit of promise for enhancing recovery from traumatic brain injury. 6 Because of how they are metabolized in the body, BCAAs might be helpful for individuals with severe liver disease (such as cirrhosis ). 7 BCAAs have also been tried for aiding muscle recovery after bedrest, such as following surgery . 8 Although there is a little supportive evidence, on balance, current research does notindicate that BCAAs are effective as a for enhancing sports performance . 9 One preliminary study hints that BCAAs might aid recovery from long distance running. 10 BCAAs have also as yet failed to prove effective for muscular dystrophy. 11


  1. Cangiano C, Laviano A, Meguid MM, Mulieri M, Conversano L, Preziosa I, Rossi-Fanelli F. Effects of administration of oral branched-chain amino acids on anorexia and caloric intake in cancer patients. J Natl Cancer Inst. 88(8):550-2.
  2. Plaitakis A, Smith J, Mandeli J, Yahr MD. Pilot trial of branched-chain aminoacids in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Lancet. 1(8593):1015-8.
  3. Testa D, Caraceni T, Fetoni V. Branched-chain amino acids in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. J Neurol. 236(8):445-7.
  4. Tandan R, Bromberg MB, Forshew D, Fries TJ, Badger GJ, Carpenter J, Krusinski PB, Betts EF, Arciero K, Nau K. A controlled trial of amino acid therapy in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: I. Clinical, functional, and maximum isometric torque data. Neurology. 47(5):1220-6.
  5. Richardson MA, Bevans ML, Weber JB, Gonzalez JJ, Flynn CJ, Amira L, Read LL, Suckow RF, Maher TJ. Branched chain amino acids decrease tardive dyskinesia symptoms. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 143(4):358-64.
  6. Crowe MJ, Weatherson JN, Bowden BF. Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 97(6):664-72.
  7. Marchesini G, Bianchi G, Rossi B, Brizi M, Melchionda N. Nutritional treatment with branched-chain amino acids in advanced liver cirrhosis. J Gastroenterol. 35 Suppl 12():7-12.
  8. Stein TP, Donaldson MR, Leskiw MJ, Schluter MD, Baggett DW, Boden G. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation during bed rest: effect on recovery. J Appl Physiol. 94(4):1345-52.
  9. Kelly GS. Sports nutrition: a review of selected nutritional supplements for bodybuilders and strength athletes. Alt Med Rev. 1997;2:184-201.
  10. Crowe MJ, Weatherson JN, Bowden BF. Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 97(6):664-72.
  11. Mendell JR, Griggs RC, Moxley RT III, et al. Clinical investigation in Duchenne muscular dystrophy: IV. Double-blind controlled trial of leucine. Muscle Nerve. 1984;7:535-541.


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