Taurine (generic name)
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SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Taurine is an amino acid and it is unlikely that there are allergies related to this constituent. However, allergies may occur from multi-ingredient products that contain taurine.
Side Effects and Warnings
Taurine is an amino acid and oral (by mouth) supplementation that has been well tolerated for up to one year.
Taurine supplementation may reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. Use cautiously in individuals with a history of low blood pressure due to the potential for increased hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) effects.
In human infants, taurine-supplemented formula increased absorption of fat, particularly saturated fat. The same was observed in cystic fibrosis patients supplemented with taurine.
Taurine was found to reduce platelet aggregation and may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Use cautiously in patients with epilepsy, as taurine derivaties, specifically taltrimide, may increase seizure frequency. Taurine may also cause drowsiness and ataxia.
An energy drink containing taurine, caffeine, glucuronolactone, B vitamins, and other ingredients (Red Bull Energy Drink®) caused mania in a stable bipolar man. It is not known if this effect is related to taurine itself. Deaths following Red Bull Energy Drink® have also been reported, and are likely a result of dehydration, due to the combined effects of caffeine and alcohol and/or exercise.
Use cautiously in patients with high VLDL cholesterol due to potential for further increases. Also use cautiously in individuals on hypolipidemic (cholesterol lowering) medications due to potential for antagonistic effects. Patients with hypertriglyceridemia should also use with caution due to potential for increased levels of triglycerides.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Taurine supplementation is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence, although taurine is a natural component of breast milk.
Interactions with Drugs
Caution is advised in patients taking anesthetics, because injections of taurine may decrease in plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) and glutathione peroxidase in erythrocyte lysate and plasma.
Taurine may reduce platelet aggregation and may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Based on studies in cystic fibrosis patients, preterm infants, and biliary surgical patients, taurine may increase the absorption of fat and decrease fatty acid excretion. Patients taking antihyperlipidemic agents should use taurine with caution due to possible additive effects.
Taurine may suppress the sympathetic nervous system and may decrease blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking antihypertensive (blood pressure lowering) agents.
Taurine may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Taltrimide is a taurine derivative with potent anticonvulsant activity. The combination of taurine and taltrimide may result in increased seizure frequency. Taltrimide may also increase phenytoin concentrations and decrease serum carbamazepine concentrations. Furthermore, a potential exists for taurine or its metabolites to antagonize the effects of anticonvulsive therapy.
Tamoxifen is often used as an adjuvant in patients with advanced breast cancer. Taking taurine with tamoxifen may reduce the tamoxifen-induced hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity). Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before combining therapies.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Taurine may reduce platelet aggregation and may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Based on studies in cystic fibrosis patients, preterm infants, and biliary surgical patients, taurine may increase the absorption of fat and decrease fatty acid excretion. Patients taking antihyperlipidemic herbs, such as red yeast, should use taurine with caution due to possible additive effects.
Taurine may suppress the sympathetic nervous system and may decrease blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking antihypertensive (blood pressure lowering) herbs or supplements.
An energy drink containing taurine, caffeine, glucuronolactone, glucose, sucrose, and B vitamin complex may reduce sleepiness and lane drifting while driving following sleep restriction or increase readiness potential after exhaustive exercise. In theory, these energy drinks may have antagonistic effects when used with herbs with sedative effects. When these energy drinks are taken with other supplements included in the drinks, such as B vitamin complex, additive effects may occur.
Taurine may also increase the absorption of iron or reduce tyrosine levels. Ingestion of glutamine may increase plasma taurine levels.
A mixture of taurine, diltiazem, and vitamin E may have a beneficial effect on the progression of visual field loss in retinitis pigmentosa patients.