The Four Major Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters are powerful chemicals that regulate numerous physical and emotional processes such as mental performance, emotional states and pain response. Virtually all functions in life are controlled by neurotransmitters. They are the brain’s chemical messengers. Interactions between neurotransmitters, hormones, and the brain chemicals have a profound influence on overall health and well-being. When our concentration and focus is good, we feel more directed, motivated, and vibrant. Unfortunately, if neurotransmitter levels are inadequate these energizing and motivating signals are absent and we feel more stressed, sluggish, and out-of-control.
Proteins, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats are the essential nutrients that make up your body. Proteins are the essential components of muscle tissue, organs, blood, enzymes, antibodies, and neurotransmitters in the brain. Your brain needs the proper nutrients everyday in order to manufacture proper levels of the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood.
- Control the appetite center of the brain
- Stimulates Corticotropin Releasing Factor, Adrenalcorticotropic Hormone, & Cortisol
- Regulate male and female sex hormone
- Regulates sleep
- Modulate mood and thought processes
- Controls ability to focus, concentrate, and remember things
- The Mind Body Connection
- The chemistry of our bodies can alter, and be altered by our every thought and feeling. Our bodies and our minds are truly interconnected; the health of one depends on the health of the other.
There are many biochemical neurotransmitter imbalances that result in mental health symptoms such as:
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Blood sugar imbalance
- Food and Chemical allergy
- Heavy Metal Toxicity
- Hormone imbalance
- Nutritional Deficiency
- Serotonin/Dopamine/Noradrenalin imbalance
- Stimulant and drug intoxication
- Under or overactive thyroid
Disrupted communication between the brain and the body can have serious effects to ones health both physically and mentally. Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are thought to be directly related to imbalances with neurotransmitters. The four major neurotransmitters that regulate mood are Serotonin, Dopamine, GABA and Norepinephrine.
The Inhibitory System is the brain’s braking system, it prevents the signal from continuing. The inhibitory system slows things down. Serotonin and GABA are examples of inhibitory neurotransmitters.
GABA (Gamma amino butyric acid) GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It helps the neurons recover after transmission, reduces anxiety and stress. It regulates norepinephrine, adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, it is a significant mood modulator.
Serotonin imbalance is one of the most common contributors to mood problems. Some feel it is a virtual epidemic in the United States. Serotonin is key to our feelings of happiness and very important for our emotions because it helps defend against both anxiety and depression. You may have a shortage of serotonin if you have a sad depressed mood, anxiety, panic attacks, low energy, migraines, sleeping problems, obsession or compulsions, feel tense and irritable, crave sweets, and have a reduced interest in sex. Additionally, your hormones and Estrogen levels can affect serotonin levels and this may explain why some women have pre-menstrual and menopausal mood problems. Moreover, daily stress can greatly reduce your serotonin supplies.
The Excitatory Neurotransmitter System can be related to your car’s accelerator. It allows the signal to go. When the excitatory neurotransmitter system is in drive your system gets all revved up for action. Without a functioning inhibitory system to put on the brakes, things (like your mood) can get out of control.
Epinephrine also known as adrenaline is a neurotransmitter and hormone essential to metabolism. It regulates attention, mental focus, arousal, and cognition. It also inhibits insulin excretion and raises the amounts of fatty acids in the blood. Epinephrine is made from norepinephrine and is released from the adrenal glands. Low levels have been can result in fatigue, lack of focus, and difficulty losing weight. High levels have been linked to sleep problems, anxiety and ADHD.
Dopamine is responsible for motivation, interest, and drive. It is associated with positive stress states such as being in love, exercising, listening to music, and sex. When we don’t have enough of it we don’t feel alive, we have difficulty initiating or completing tasks, poor concentration, no energy, and lack of motivation. Dopamine also is involved in muscle control and function. Low Dopamine levels can drive us to use drugs (self medicate), alcohol, smoke cigarettes, gamble, and/or overeat. High dopamine has been observed in patients with poor GI function, autism, mood swings, psychosis, and children with attention disorders.
Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It is required for learning and memory. Low levels can lead to tiredness and poor brain activity. Increased levels of glutamate can cause death to the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. Dysfunction in glutamate levels are involved in many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Tourette’s. High levels also contribute to Depression, OCD, and Autism.
Histamine is most commonly known for it’s role in allergic reactions but it is also involved in neurotransmission and can affect your emotions and behavior as well. Histamine helps control the sleep-wake cycle and promotes the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. High histamine levels have been linked to obsessive compulsive tendencies, depression, and headaches. Low histamine levels can contribute to paranoia, low libido, fatigue, and medication sensitivities.
Norepinephrine also known as noradrenaline is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is produced by the adrenal medulla or made from dopamine. High levels of norepinephrine are linked to anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, and hyperactivity. Low levels are linked to lack of energy, focus, and motivation.
PEA (phenylethylamine) is an excitatory neurotransmitter made from phenylalanine. It is important in focus and concentration. High levels are observed in individuals experiencing “mind racing”, sleep problems, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Low PEA is associated with difficulty paying attention or thinking clearly, and in depression.
Neurotransmitter levels can now be determined by a simple and convenient urine test collected at home. Knowing your neurotransmitter levels can help you correct a problem today or prevent problems from occurring in the future.
For many years, it has been known in medicine that low levels of these neurotransmitters can cause many diseases and illnesses. A Neurotransmitter imbalance can cause:
- Attention deficit/ADHD
- Panic Attacks
- Irritable bowel
- PMS/ Hormone dysfunction
- Eating disorders
- Obsessions and Compulsions
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Early Death
- Chronic Pain
- Migraine Headaches
What causes a neurotransmitter imbalance?
Prolonged periods of stress can deplete neurotransmitters levels. Our fast paced, fast food society greatly contributes to these imbalances.
- Poor Diet. Neurotransmitters are made in the body from proteins. Also required are certain vitamins and minerals called “cofactors”. If your nutrition is poor and you do not take in enough protein, vitamins, or minerals to build the neurotransmitters, a neurotransmitter imbalance develops.
- Genetic factors, faulty metabolism, and digestive issues can impair absorption and breakdown of our food, which reduces, are ability to build neurotransmitters.
- Toxic substances like heavy metals, pesticides, drug and alcohol use, and some prescription drugs can cause permanent damage to the nerve cells that make neurotransmitters.
- Certain drugs and substances such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, NutraSweet, antidepressants, and some cholesterol lowering medications deplete neurotransmitter levels leading to neurotransmitter imbalances.
- Hormone changes such as thyroid, adrenal, male and female sex hormones can cause neurotransmitter imbalances.
- Medical conditions such as food and chemical allergy, blood sugar imbalance, inflammatory conditions, GI disorders, and head injury.
ReNue Health is located conveniently in Springboro, Ohio with easy access from Dayton International Airport, Cincinnati International Airport or the adjacent Wright Brothers Private Airport (MGY) for those travelling by private aviation. Click here for directions and contact information.
Only one visit is necessary to perform a comprehensive history, interview, and education. Follow up evaluations, adjustments and balancing of hormones are done by phone or written communications and a return visit to Dr. Rob is not necessary. Ongoing testing and adjustment is mandatory and performed through a laboratory convenient to your home.
Haven’t Been Feeling Like Yourself Lately?
It’s that nagging feeling that something does not feel quite right and you can’t put your finger on it. You’re a busy person and your own health is the last thing you have time to think about, but think again!