Q - Is amino acid testing covered by insurance?
A - Most insurance companies will pay for amino acid testing and other related tests you may need. Insurance companies may not pay for you to have the testing done, but usually will reimburse you afterwards. If your test results are significantly abnormal, you should definitely submit the results to your insurance company. It will be difficult for your insurance company not to reimburse you if your amino acid blood test results are abnormal.
Q - Are Dr. Gersten's services covered by insurance?
A - Dr. Gersten requires payment at the time of service. His office staff will be happy to prepare the appropriate paperwork for you to submit to your insurance. Unless you have a restrictive PPO or HMO, your insurance should reimburse you for all or part of Dr. Gersten's fees.
Q - Are amino acid supplements covered by insurance?
A - Sadly, the answer is, "No" with few exceptions. If you need Tryptophan, your insurance company may reimburse you for that, since Tryptophan has been labeled a "drug" by the FDA, and insurance companies pay for most drugs that are not very expensive.
Q - Can I stay on my current medication?
A - Yes. In fact, Dr. Gersten definitely recommends that you not change your medications at all initially, unless your personal physician recommends such a change.
Q - Will this approach allow me to get off medication?
A - In many cases, people can reduce some or all of their medications after four to six months of amino acid supplementation, if their response to amino acid supplementation has been excellent. Reducing or eliminating medication must be a decision you make only with your doctor's advice.
Q - Can I work with my current doctor and still use this approach?
A - Yes, and that is what Dr. Gersten recommends. Dr. Gersten will be happy to consult with your personal physician.
Q - How soon before I see results?
A - Usual Response Time
There is no standard response time to amino acid supplementation. Most people begin to perceive the effects of amino acid supplementation within four to eight weeks. Once that positive response begins, people generally feel better and better. Their positive response may not plateau for six to twelve months.
Unusually Quick Response
The fastest results we have seen is 48 hours. The patient was a professional man in his forties, stressed out by work. He was depressed, anxious, and physically exhausted. Thirty-six percent of his amino acids were deficient and represented a deficiency pattern similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. His response was dramatic and lasting.
Factors Influencing Response Time
The usual four to eight weeks for the amino acid supplementation program to begin to show its positive response can be delayed for several reasons:
1. The individual has health problems that are interfering with absorption of amino acids or their metabolism. Candidiasis is one such condition which will slow down the response time, and is a condition that must be treated before the amino acids can do their work properly. Chronic viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, and HHV6 can also slow down recovery time.
2. Moderate to severe heavy metal toxicity as well as encironmental toxins can slow down healing. If that is the case, chelation therapy to remove heavy metals needs to be addressed.
3. An inadequate diet and/or lack of exercise will slow down one's response to amino acid supplementation. On the other hand, patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome, or Myalgic Encephalopathy should exercise very little at first.
4. Response time is much slower if one has structural problems, such as: heart attack with permanently damaged heart tissue, stroke or Alzheimer's Disease with damaged brain tissue, diabetes that has progressed to the point where one requires insulin. These chronic, structural problems may require six months before the positive effects of amino acid supplementation are felt.
Q - How Long is the Course of Supplementation?
A - Dr. Gersten re-tests patients taking an extensive amino acid supplementation program every six months. Usually, there is significant improvement after six months and, at that time, the dosage and number of amino acids can be reduced. Most people can reduce their supplementation program after one year, and may be able to completely discontinue the program in one to two years if all of the factors that follow are addressed completely.
Factors Determining the Time Required and Effectiveness of Amino Acid Supplementation:
1. Diet. If one carefully follows dietary recommendations that accompany the amino acid program, one can reduce and discontinue them more quickly.
2. Exercise. The same principle holds as for diet.
3. Coping with stress. Part of our treatment involves identifying areas of stress in your life, learning how to eliminate the stresses you can, and better coping with those stressors you cannot eliminate.
4. The longer you've been sick, the longer you will need to supplement with amino acids. For every year that you have been ill the length of time it takes for you to recover will be increased. For example, if you have been ill for ten years, it may take you two years to recover.
5. Unresolved conflict. This is different from stress, which may reflect work pressures, deadlines, financial worries, etcetera. Unresolved emotional conflict usually is caused by a childhood characterized by abuse or neglect. Severe abuse and/or neglect have profound physiological implications and requires a good deal of determination, will power, and soul-searching to fully out-grow the past. We pay special attention to the mind-body connection, and the power of the mind to affect the body for better or for worse. Your commitment to honestly evaluate these issues in your life and to courageously tackle them with the aim of working through them will impact your speed of recovery from physical problems.
6. Structural problems such as heart attack or stroke will require a longer duration of treatment. You may require life-time supplementation. The thought of a lifetime of supplementation may seem unthinkable initially. However, if you experience dramatic benefits, lifetime supplementation will outweigh the inconvenience.
Q - When will I need to be re-tested?
A - As stated in the previous Q and A, you will have another amino acid blood test six months after beginning supplementation. You will then require testing every six months thereafter as long as you are on the program. Testing may need to be done more frequently in very severe cases.
Q - Will other supplements other than amino acids be included in this program?
A - Yes. You will need vitamin and mineral support, and in some cases herbs also.
Q - Will I be taking an amino acid powder blend or individual capsules?
A - There are doctors and clinics that, after performing amino acid blood testing, will prepare a bottle of amino acid powder for you. The amino acid powder is said to have all of the amino acids you need, prepared in "correct ratios" with one another. There is a very big problem with this approach. Certain amino acids compete with each other in your gastrointestinal tract in the process of getting absorbed into your blood stream. Once in the blood stream, certain amino acids compete with others to get into your brain. For these reasons, we recommend that you take some amino acids at different times of the day. In this way, you can be assured that the amino acids your body requires will, in fact, reach the appropriate body system or organ with full strength.