Lactic Acid, Your Brain, and Fibromyalgia

October 3, 2008 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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Lactic Acid, Your Brain, and Fibromyalgia
New research indicates that during intense exercise the lactic acid1 produced by your muscles can be used by your brain for energy production. This discovery may be of extreme significance for individuals suffering from fibromyalgia.

Lactic acid is made when your muscles surpass their aerobic capacity, switching to a less efficient form of anaerobic metabolism that yields less energy and lots of lactic acid. An obvious conclusion from this study is that it conferred specific genetic advantage for our brains to be able to use a waste product for energy – meaning that you would be able to flee more efficiently from a predator.

When your muscles ache or tire during exercise then you are making too much lactic acid. Long distance runners who “hit the wall” are being overwhelmed by too much lactic acid. People with fibromyalgia make too much lactic acid even though they have hardly done anything.

The biochemistry of how lactic acid is cleared by your liver is well understood. Thus, to help an athlete perform at a higher level or to help someone with fibromyalgia clear muscle aches liver support (Daily Balancer) is very helpful. At the same time important anti-fatigue nutrients like malic acid and magnesium (Muscle Mag) are needed to make less lactic acid in the first place.

In addition to Daily Balancer and Muscle Mag, for athletes wishing to perform at a higher level, I have always recommended Pantethine, and sometimes extra Q10. Pantethine is a major adrenal and brain energy-cofactor. Q10 is a cell energizer, including brain cells. I know from my own personal experience, as well as from many others that have tried this, that pantethine significantly improves aerobic performance when taken prior to running. I never realized that this is in part due to Pantethine helping the brain clear lactic acid. I'm 100% certain this works, and the new study explains why.

As far as fibromyalgia goes, or really any situation of muscle fatigue, there is too much lactic acid in general. I typically help people support their muscles and liver to improve this, which does help. Based on this new study, another very key strategy is to get your brain making ATP better so that your brain will help clear the excess lactic acid – actually using it as fuel. Adding specific brain energizers like Pantethine and Q10 are sure to help. I know this because I've seen it happen many times in many people, it just never dawned on me that helping to improve brain energy and boost mood was actually directly clearing lactic acid. This new slant on poor muscle function and muscle aches should help quite a few people feel better – at which point they are much more likely to get a better response to exercise – opening the door to actually improve fitness and get out of a bad rut.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Lactic Acid and Your Brain  The FASEB Journal.  Bjørn Quistorff, Niels H. Secher, and Johannes J. Van Lieshout.

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