Neurotranmitters are like our brain's natural chemical messengers that communicate information throughout our body and brain. They relay messengers from nerve cells called neurons. For instance the brain relays messages for the heart to beat, lungs to breathe and your stomach to digest. This is fascinating as these neurotransmitters can affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight and balance.
There are two different types of neurotransmitters EXCITATORY and INHIBITORY. The excitatory are the stimulating ones and the inhibitory are more the calming ones.
Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it does not excite the brain. This one helps you feel stable and balanced. Caffeine can deplete serotonin over time. Here at the clinic if someone is low in Serotonin then a form of Tryptophan or 5 HTP can be used to help increase the serotonin levels. This can be very effective for not only depression but also symptoms like fibromyalgia, insomnia, carbohydrate craving, cerebellar ataxia and chronic headaches. Serotonin increases thyroid function.
GABA of G- Aminobutyric Acid
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It is often referred to as natures Valium like substance. From Glutamate with the use of B6 you get GABA, this is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA reduces thyroid function.
CATS ( Catecholamines)
The amino acids used for these three neurotransmitters are Tyrosine and /or Phenylalanine. this is done in the Adrenal Medulla, CNS and even the Parasymathetic Neurons.
Dopamine is a neurotranmitter primarily in the CNS it is very important when it comes to focus. It can be classified as both excitatory and inhibitory. It is complicated as it is not as simple as just giving dopamine for people with focus problems or ADHD as long term use can cause depletion of dopamine over time. If this neurotranmitter is over expressed and the serotonin is low then this can lead to delusional thinking, hypo- mania/bipolar and at its worse psychosis. Dopamine lowers prolactin but increase growth hormone.
Norepineephrine act also primarily in the CNS.It is excitatory and is responsible for stimulatory processes in the body.If this is over expressed and the serotonin is low then this can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. An over expression of this neurotransmitter can show as anxiety, aggression, irritability,mood dampening, mania, bipolar, immune suppressionand hypertension.
Whereas a low noepinephrine can be associated with fatigue, lethargy, sleepiness and apathy. This is the precursor for Epinephrine but needs SAME and cortisol to aid conversion.
Epinephrine or adrenaline acts as an adrenal hormone peripherilly. Most of us know this one as reflective of stress. This is an excitatory meidiator for the autonomic nervous system. We need this hormone for our fight and flight but to much can cause increased heart rate, sodium retention, elevated blood presssure, raises blood glucose. A chronic high Epinephrine can lead to insulin resistance.
One of the ways to measure Neurotransmitter issues is with a function medicine test done by Nutripath. Please consult your practitioner if you are interested in testing your levels of neurotransmitters. Naturopaths here at the clinic can talk to you about specific amino acid therapy to balance the neurotransmitters using things like, L- Tryptopphan, SAme, L- Tyrosine, Serine, Glycine and Glutamine.Sometimes it is not the amino acid you need but digestive changes to enhance amino acid absorption. There are also vitamins, herbs and minerals that can play a role in neurotransmitter levels. Balancing neurotransmitter levels can have a profound affect on conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, headaches, migraines, memory, focus, chronic pain and more.