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1. About MAO inhibitors 2. Effect3. Usage4. Contra indications

About MAO inhibitors

What you should be aware of when using products containing substances that are MAO inhibiting:


The MAO (monoamine oxidase) enzyme is produced by the body and breaks down certain amines to render them harmless and ineffective. It also breaks down the monoamine neurotransmitters dopamine, nor-adrenaline and serotonin, keeping them at a normal level. When the MAO enzyme increases its activity, it will result in slightly lower to extremely low levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, (nor) adrenaline and serotonin. These lowered levels can lead to depression. In case of extreme depression it may be beneficial to administer MAO inhibitors, for they decrease the activity of the MAO enzyme, so that higher levels of the mentioned neurotransmitters are maintained. However, MAO inhibitors also prevent the MAO enzyme to break down certain amines. These amines are of no danger if gradually broken down by MAO, but if they are not broken down, they will accumulate and may reach a harmful level. An example is the substance tyramine; this substance is normally broken down with little or no toxic effects. However when MAO inhibitors are present a 'harmless' substance, like tyramine, accumulates and becomes dangerous, causing headaches, a stiff neck, cardiovascular difficulties and in an extreme case, even death.


Another effect that MAO inhibitors may produce, is prolonging and intensifying the effects of certain substances (drugs etc.), because these substances are broken down much slower also. In other words, the MAO inhibitor will increase or alter the psycho activity of these drugs. - It would be extremely foolish and dangerous to start experimenting with combinations of MAO inhibitors and other prescription or non-prescription drugs, for the effects vary extremely! - Next to the commercially used or prescription MAO inhibitors like procaine or Prozac, and most antidepressants, MAO inhibitors include MDMA, various tryptamines, and particularly, various harmala alkaloids and possibly Yohimbe. These MAO inhibitors can be very potent and their action persists anywhere from thirty minutes to several hours. The effects of the commercially (prescription) used MAO inhibitors lasted anywhere from several days to several weeks. The first group is referred to as short term MAO inhibitors and the second one as long term MAO inhibitors; this depends on the duration of their action. (Short is 30 minutes to several hours and long are a few days).

Contra indications

- When using MAO inhibitors, one should avoid an excessive intake of certain amino acids and the monoamine precursors tyrosine, phenylalanine and tryptophan. - Tyrosine stimulates the production of nor-adrenaline, which, in combination with the raised level of nor-adrenaline caused by MAO-inhibitors, may cause a dangerous blood pressure rise or drop, or one of the other effects mentioned above. - Phenylalanine could cause extremely high levels of certain monoamines, which leads to dangerously high blood pressure. Phenylalanine is present, in relatively large amounts, in foods like: meat, milk, cheese and some other high protein foods. -Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body makes from the digestion of proteins and that the brain uses to make serotonin, is also very dangerous in combination with MAO inhibitors: the two substances intensify and alter each others actions in unpredictable and potentially dangerous ways. - Foods that contain tyramine, can be very dangerous when used in combination with MAO inhibitors, in certain cases the combination even is potentially lethal. First of all tyramine is usually broken down by the MAO enzyme, but when this enzyme is inhibited, the level of tyramine will become dangerously high. Second of all, since both tyramine and MAO inhibitors produce a raised level of (nor) adrenaline, the combination could raise the adrenaline activity tremendously, resulting in a sharp rise of blood pressure. Examples of foods and drinks containing tyramine are: alcoholic beverages and particularly wine, aged cheeses, chocolate (cacao), beef and chicken livers. - MAO inhibitors should NOT be combined with certain psychoactive substances, for they can prolong, intensify and/or alter the effects of these substances in rather unpredictable manner that can be potentially dangerous (for example they can cause dangerous blood pressure drops/rises). Examples of these substances are: antidepressants, CNS depressants, narcotic analgesics and antihistamines. - MAO inhibitors should also NEVER be combined with other MAO inhibitors, for they may intensify each others effect, only the level of intensification is very unpredictable and potentially lethal due to sharp blood pressure raises or drops.

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