Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted in many ways. Imagine not having the right levels of neurotransmitters. What might that be like?
As a matter of fact, most of us experience a neurotransmitter deficiency every day!
Stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, genetic predisposition, drugs (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine can cause these levels to be out of optimal range. It shows up when we are depressed, tired, stressed, cannot focus, and even when we eat too much. Neurotransmitters “control” everything from our mood and disposition to how tired or awake we feel. They control our entire brain and body chemistry. Clearly these things are important!
Austrian scientist Otto Loewi discovered the first neurotransmitter in 1921. He could not have possibly imagined that what he discovered almost a century ago would become such an important part of our health and happiness. Since then, over 183 neurotransmitters have been identified and many more are waiting to be discovered. The ones best understood are serotonin and catecholamines, which include norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. Each neurotransmitter affects mood and energy differently.
The ones responsible for raising energy are called excitatory. Excitatory neurotransmitters are not necessarily exciting – they are what stimulates the brain. Others that are calming are called inhibitory. Inhibitory neurotransmitters balance mood and are easily depleted when the excitatory neurotransmitters are overactive.
Serotonin – a hormone categorized as a neurotransmitter also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP) is produced both in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and in the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) and are found all over the body, with large concentrations in the digestive tract.
Serotonin produced in the CNS effects mood, body temperature, sleep, pain and appetite.
Serotonin produced in the PNS is associated with gastrointestinal activity and pain modulation and is necessary to balance the levels of stress hormones.
Serotonin is a precursor of melatonin, a hormone that is released at night when you are asleep. Serotonin also regulates mood, pleasure, pain and appetite. Balanced Serotonin provides a healing, nourishment and a feeling of well-being and satisfaction. You will experience pleasure, being productive, thinking rationally, sleeping deeply and peacefully and enjoying life, family and friends.
Symptoms and conditions of serotonin imbalance include:
Loss of pleasure and enjoyment
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD)
Indigestion and many others....
The amino acids and co-factors required for serotonin production and utilization:
Vitamin B6 in the form of Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate is an essential co-factor but can be depleted by over consumption of alcohol
Vitamin B12 in the form of Methylcobalamin
Iron – deficiency experience with anemia.
Tryptophan is an amino acid precursor to serotonin. The brain does not produce tryptophan and is therefore dependent upon a diet to supply it. Tryptophan is the most limited amino acid in foods and not always bio available even in the foods that are considered to be rich in tryptophan like: Turkey, Chicken Breast, Lamb, Beef, Liver, Halibut, Shrimp, Salmon, Snapper, Scallops, Spinach and Mushrooms.
Dopamine – neurotransmitter of pleasure and pain. Dopamine works like a natural amphetamine. It monitors our metabolism, controls our energy, excitement and motivation. It promotes feelings of pleasure and enjoyment, mental alertness, relaxation, pain relief and happiness. Dopamine controls bodily functions including increased heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism and digestion as well as motor coordination, cognition, mood, attention and learning.
Symptoms or conditions of dopamine imbalance include:
Heavy Menstrual cycles
High or Low Blood Pressure
Loss of libido
Low stress tolerance
The amino acids and co-factors required for dopamine production and utilization:
Mucuna Pruriens and Its components include L-Dopa which is converted into dopamine in the brain.
Beta-Phenylethylamine (PEA) influences endorphins attributed to feeling pleasure, improve attention and relieve depression. Chocolate contains a rich source of PEA.
Blueberry extract contains a rich and potent source of antioxidants proven effective in free radical quenching of dopamine rich neurons of the central nervous system.
D, L-Phenylalanine (DLPA) is an essential amino acid precursor to dopamine. It is effective in managing depression, mood and reducing pain perception.
N-Acetyl-Tyrosine is an amino acid precursor of dopamine.
Glutathione cofactors including selenium, lipoic acid and n-acetyl-cysteine are essential nutrients for the synthesis of glutathione that helps protect the neuronal tissue responsible for dopamine production.
Folic acid and B12 (deficiencies can result because of hypothyroid, use of oral contraceptives and estrogen replacement, antacid use, decreased levels of hydrochloric acid and h pylori infections).
Foods rich in phenylalanine and tyrosine can help in dopamine production. These include: Chocolate, Beef, Pork, Fish, Turkey, Eggs, Cheese.
Norepinephrine – also known as noradrenaline. A hormone – neurotransmitter released by the adrenal glands in response to perceived threat. Norepinephrine is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is responsible for stimulatory processes in the body. High levels of this hormone result in anxiety and insomnia. Norepinephrine also regulates metabolic processes (heart beat, blood pressure), calmness, relaxation and focus. Low levels of norepinephrine are associated with low energy, decreased focus ability and sleep cycle problems.
Epinephrine – also known as Adrenaline. A “fight or flight” hormone – neurotransmitter secreted by the adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream in response to physical or mental stress, as from fear or injury. It initiates many bodily responses, including the stimulation of heart action and an increase in blood pressure, metabolic rate, and blood glucose concentration. Helps with focus, attention and productivity.
"Neurotransmitter (Amino Acid)Therapy” and other integrative therapies can successfully address underlying causes of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s like Disease symptoms. Knowing exactly what lies underneath is the first, most important part of getting well.