The Neuro Link - Neurotransmitters
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Learn How Neurotransmitters Chemically Generate
Feelings of Happiness
Drive and Motivation
Ability to Focus
Good Feelings Toward Others
Calmness in the Face of Difficulty
Relieve the symptoms of neurotransmitter insufficiency by restoring daily supplies to maintain the brain's chemical balance.
In your brain are ten billion neurons (brain cells). Between each and every one of these are neurotransmitters. Chemical messengers that TRANSMIT thought from one cell to the next, allowing brain cells to "talk to each other." What's most fascinating is that how you experience emotion and how you feel, is dictated by certain neurotransmitters, as illustrated in the following example.
Colors of Your Mind
A RED GLASS held in front of a flashlight will transmit light through the glass as RED. It has no choice but to transmit as RED. A GREEN glass transmits the light as GREEN. The colors RED and GREEN can be compared to different emotions or feelings you feel. The glass is the transmitter, the beam of light is like your thought. Different neurotransmitters, like different colored glasses, will determine which emotion or feeling your thought is transmitted in. Some transmitters transmit thought in a positive, happy or euphoric feeling; some transmit thought in a relaxed, calm and quiet mood; some transmit thought in a highly motivated, intense and focused "state of mind," and so on.
Moods Change . . .
The types of transmitters change regularly between cells in your brain to meet the needs of your current circumstance. At night, to induce sleep, the brain needs to raise its level so certain thoughts are transmitted in a calming, quieting and relaxing way for you to sleep well. In the morning it must lower its levels of these transmitters and raise excitatory transmitter levels. During exercise it increases levels of euphoria inducing transmitters. During times of stress it must raise levels of another transmitter that helps you to remain clam and in control. When in pain, inhibitory transmitters are used by the brain to restrict the transmission of pain. The more present the less pain you feel!
IT IS CRITICAL that all of the major neurotransmitters be present daily and in sufficient amounts in order for the brain to be chemically balanced. When there are insufficient amounts of one or more of these it upsets the ratio and symptoms are experienced.
Depleted supplies of "feel good" transmitters means it will be impossible for you to feel happy, upbeat, motivated or on track. You will feel just the opposite: A decrease in energy and interest, feelings of worthlessness and a pervasive sense of helplessness to control the course of your life.
Certain transmitters, when depleted, may cause you to be easily agitated or angered, experience mild to severe anxiety and have sleep problems. You may feel more psychological and physical pain. These can all be symptoms of neurotransmitter insufficiency.
IN CHILDREN, when supplies of desirable transmitters are too low, it is a major cause of excitable, uncontrollable behavior, and an inability to focus or pay attention. An extremely low level of some neurotransmitters creates the potential of violent behavior.
MAIN CAUSES of Neurotransmitter Deficiencies
GENETIC: A person's genetic make up is responsible for low, high or balanced levels of transmitters from birth.
STRESS: Stress depletes neurotransmitters! Any type of stress . . . lack of sleep, everyday mental and emotional battles or poor health, will deplete "feel good" transmitters. This results in a reduction of transmitters needed for sleep, as well as pain blocking transmitters.
DIET: The specific amino acids that our brains manufacture transmitters from are frequently not supplied by our modern diet or in the way our brain best utilizes them. As stress further depletes supplies it is difficult, if not impossible, for the brain to restore necessary amounts to proper levels. More information on the subject of diet can be found under the heading "Amino Acid Link."
Major Neurotransmitters "Feel Good"
ENDORPHINS (Opiods): Mood elevating, enhancing, euphoric. The more present, the happier you are! Natural pain killers.
NOREPINEPHRINE: Excitatory, feel happy, alert, motivated. Anti-depressant, appetite control, energy, sexual arousal.
DOPAMINE: Feelings of bliss and pleasure, euphoric, appetite control, controlled motor movements, feel focused.
ACETYLCHOLINE: Alertness, memory, sexual performance, appetite control, release of growth hormone.
PHENYLETHYLMINE (PEA): Feelings of bliss, involved in feelings of infatuation (high levels found in chocolate).
ENKEPHALINS: Restrict transmission of pain, reduce craving, reduce depression.
GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid): Found throughout central nervous system, anti-stress, anti-anxiety, anti-panic, anti-pain; Feel calm, maintain control, focus.
SEROTONIN: Promotes and improves sleep, improves self esteem, relieves depression, diminishes craving, prevents agitated depression and worrying.
MELATONIN: "Rest and recuperation" and "anti-aging" hormone. Regulates body clock.
OXYTOCIN: Stimulated by Dopamine. Promotes sexual arousal, feelings of emotional attachment, desire to cuddle.
How Can You Restore Proper Levels of These Neurotransmitters?
Major transmitters are manufactured inside neurons (brain cells) and then used as needed. Neurons specifically use two key amino acids as precursors, or building blocks, to make transmitters from. By supplying your brain with a ready daily supply of these 2 amino acids, neurotransmitter levels are maintained.
How Do You Feel When Transmitters Are Restores?
As levels are restored, you notice that you sleep better, think more clearly, are slower to anger, feel more at peace and relaxed. You find you're more positive, focused and motivated. These feelings begin to replace negative thoughts, hopelessness and depression.
Amino Acid Link
How We Feed Our Brain Directly Affects Our Production of Neurotransmitters.
"If the 'smart nutrient' intake of all Americans was optimal, the widespread use of psychotropic drugs that are designed to treat depression, anxiety, senility and personality disorders would greatly diminish."
renowned author on nutrition
Little Known Facts About Amino Acids, Vitamins, and Minerals...
During the Gulf War U.S. fighter pilots were given an amino acid, vitamin, and mineral formulation to relieve the debilitating stress of combat, enhance mental sharpness and improve sleep between missions (documented pilot report available.)
The same amino acid, vitamin, and mineral formulation works for animals! In large poultry farms where thousands of chickens are housed in one large area for months, the amino acid and vitamin formulations are placed in the drinking water of the chickens to keep them from killing each other!
The Two Key Amino Acids
Your Brain Uses to Make Neurotransmitters From --
Phenylalanine* is an essential amino acid, meaning that if you're not getting it from your diet then your brain isn't getting what it needs to make the transmitters that cause you to feel happy, loving and motivated. The other amino acid, Glutamine, is a conditionally essential amino acid. It is used to make neurotransmitters which keep you feeling calm, focused and in control, but during periods of stress the body cannot make its own supply of glutamine and needs an outside source, diet or otherwise.
*The all natural FOOD supplement Phenylalanine should not be confused with the CHEMICALLY ALTERED form of phenylalanine which is in the artificial sweetener Aspartame.
Three Main Challenges
in Providing the Brain with a Daily Supply of These Key Amino Acids
DIET: Overharvesting of fields resulting in nutrient depleted soils, fruits and vegetables not allowed to fully ripen on the vine, and over-processing of foods have all combined over the last century to rob our diets of many life-giving nutrients. Experts in the field of brain nutrition all agree that it is virtually impossible to get the necessary supply of the specific amino acids from our American Diet that our brain needs to create enough of the neurotransmitters that keep us feeling balanced and happy.
BLOOD BRAIN BARRIER (BBB): The BBB is a membrane or sack that completely surrounds the brain and filters all of the blood as it enters the brain. The difficulty in acquiring the high levels of the specific amino acids the brain needs to manufacture the "feel good" transmitters exists because other nutrients compete with them for entry through the BBB. For example, it is difficult to impossible for the two key amino acids to pass through the BBB when PROTEIN and OTHER AMINO ACIDS are present because they will compete with them for entry through the BBB. Thus, the brain cannot readily utilize these amino acids from protein sources such as meat, eggs and dairy products. The same is true when they are combined in a formula containing other amino acids or unassociated nutrients.
SYNERGISM: It has been discovered that in order for the brain to establish the proper ratio of one neurotransmitter to another it uses these two key amino acids best when formulated together with trace amounts of other specific associated co-factor nutrients. The inter-conversion process of these amino acids, in order to function optimally, REQUIRES these certain co-factors. When all of the necessary raw elements are present together, and in exact formulation, a higher quality and quantity of ALL desired transmitters can then be naturally produced. The result is that brain chemical balance is then possible.
The Neuro-Body Link
Stress Depletes Neurotransmitters
In handling daily stress the brain uses feel good transmitters called endorphins (opiods). When large amounts are needed to handle stress, the RATIO of many of the other transmitters, one to another, becomes upset creating a chemical imbalance. We begin to FEEL stress more acutely -- a sense of urgency and anxiety creates more stress. Harmful chemicals are released in our bodies that do damage, causing more stress. We call this vicious cycle the "stress cycle." Emotional fatigue can result, and be experienced and felt as depression.
The body responds to EMOTIONAL STRESS exactly as it responds to PHYSICAL DANGER. Without our being aware of it, usually not feeling it at all, our bodies are continuously reacting to emotions such as frustration, irritation, resentment, hurt, grief and anxiety -- responding to these MENTAL and EMOTIONAL STRUGGLES with a primitive physiological "fight or flight" response designed to prepare our bodies to face immediate danger. In modern day life we don't fight, we don't flee. Instead, the high-energy chemicals produced in many everyday situations boil inside of us, potentially taking years off our lives.
Almost all the body functions and organs react to stress.
Your body responds to stress with a series of physiological changes that include increased secretion of adrenaline, elevation of blood pressure, acceleration of the heartbeat, and greater tension in the muscles. Digestion slows or stops. Within 24 to 48 hours after a stress-anxiety-anger reaction, major physical symptoms can and do occur.
Stress creates an excellent breeding ground for illness.
Increased adrenaline production causes the body to step up its metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates to quickly produce energy for the body to use. The pituitary gland increases its production of andrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn stimulates the release of the hormones cortisone and cortisol. These have the effect of inhibiting the functioning of disease fighting white blood cells and suppressing the immune system response. This complex of physical changes known as the "fight or flight" response is also the reason that stress can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Long-Term Stress is Particularly Dangerous.
Continual stress eventually wears out the body. Consider the fact that only a few of the veterans, Russian or German, who fought during the siege of Stalingrad lived to age 50. Few lived to 45, and most died soon after their 40th birthdays. All of these individuals suffered extreme stress 24 hours a day for more than six months.
With Amino Acids, Vitamins, and Minerals, Opiods (Endorphin) Levels Are Maintained.
High-energy chemicals are not pumped into your body to do damage. You remain relaxed, at peace, and maintain a sense of well-being.
Researchers estimate that stress contributes to as many as 80% of all major illnesses that include cardiovascular disease, cancer, endocrine and metabolic disease, skin disorders and infectious ailments of all kinds.
Studies by the American Medical Association have shown stress to be a factor in over 75% of all illnesses today.
Research linking stress to a variety of diseases and illnesses has been the subject of more than 20,000 scientific studies.
PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome): Dr. James Chuong, director of Baylor University Medical School's PMS Program, has found LOW LEVELS of endorphins ("feel good" neurotransmitters) in women suffering from PMS!
The afternoon hunger that leads us to the cookie jar, soda pop or chocolate bar may have more to do with a brain chemical imbalance than actual hunger. When the stress of the day accumulates and too many of our own natural "feel good" transmitters become depleted we reach for something to make us feel better. Consider the fact that chocolate contains high amounts of phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of bliss and is involved in feelings of infatuation.
Hence, the love affair many "chocoholics" have with chocolate! Four decades of research strongly suggests that when the brain has adequate supplies of the specific amino acids that it uses to make the transmitters that help us to think clearly, pay attention and sleep well, behavior tends to be normal. Did you ever notice that when you are feeling good you are less hungry?
Amino Acids, Vitamins, and Minerals Therapy
Neurotransmitter deficiencies can be expressed as both psychological (behavioral pattern) and physiological (physical craving) problems. Amino acid therapy provides the nutrition needed to overcome the physiological problems so that 12-step recovery programs, counseling and diets can work.
Neurotransmitter Function Drugs that Affect
Deficiencies Result In
Norepinephrine Arousal, energy, drive Cocaine, speed, caffeine, tobacco Lack of drive, depression, lack of energy L-phenylalanine GABA Staying calm, relaxation, focus Valium, alcohol, marijuana, tobacco Free-floating anxiety, fearfulness, insecurity, can't relax or sleep, unexplained panic L-glutamine Endorphins Psychological / physical pain relief, pleasure, reward, good / loving feelings toward others Heroin, marijuana, alcohol, sugar, tobacco Overly sensitive, feelings of incompleteness, anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure normally), world lacks color, inability to love dL-phenylalanine Serotonin Emotional stability, pain tolerance, self-confidence Sugar, marijuana, ecstasy, tobacco Depression, obsession, worry, low self-esteem, sleep problems, hunger, irritability Chromium Picolinate Increases L-Tryptophan availability
ADD / ADHD
Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder
ADD has nothing to do with intelligence. Many people with ADD are highly intelligent. According to experts in the field of ADD/ADHD, the disorder is the result of a neurotransmitter imbalance.
Not all children who are naturally rambunctious or extraordinarily curious have ADHD. Nor do all disorganized adults who have many things going on at one time have ADD. A professional diagnosis is the best way to determine ADD / ADHD in any individual. However, the following description, as given by experts in the field of ADD / ADHD, serves as a guide.
A high level of frustration causes ADD people to be impatient. Whatever is going on -- they want it to go quickly and be finished. People with ADD suffer from "overload"; they have a heightened awareness of incoming environmental stimuli. Their world tends to be too bright, too loud, too abrasive and too rapidly changing for comfort.
Unable to filter out normal background "noise" they find it difficult to concentrate on a task before them. Disorientation to time and space is often a problem. For instance they may have to stop and think which hand is their right or left. They may have difficulty following a set of instructions or reading a map. ADD people tend to be disorganized. They have trouble making and carrying out plans.
Many ADD people are hyperactive. As youngsters they're constantly moving, squirming, twisting and getting into everything. As adults they're restless and easily distracted. They often tend to forget appointments, to pay bills and complete tasks. Because they're always in a hurry, delays of any kind make them frantic. ADD people live under such stress, frustration is difficult to tolerate, and when they're frustrated they're likely to become angry.
ADD / ADHD, like depression, occurs in varying degrees of intensity.
Not all symptoms are present. There may be just one or a combination of them.
The Amino Acid Link The Hypothalamus
A little place IN YOUR BRAIN called the Hypothalamus, a gland about the size of the tip of your thumb, is often referred to as the "master controller" as it regulates your entire hormonal (endocrine) system, orchestrating what all the other glands of the endocrine system do. In addition to this aspect of metabolism the hypothalamus also regulates body temperature and the hunger response. More blood gushes through the hypothalamus than any part of the brain.
The ENDOCRINE SYSTEM'S glands (a gland is an organ or tissue that secretes HORMONES, substances for use elsewhere in the body, into the bloodstream) include the pituitary, thyroid, thymus and adrenal glands, as well as the pancreas, ovaries and testes.
HORMONES float through your blood, messengers telling various cells that they come in contact with what to do. They are essential to life as they regulate and determine how well your body performs many of its functions. Hormones affect your overall health and well-being, and determine how youthful you remain throughout life.
- Tell your bones how much calcium to store or release,
influencing how strong your bones are
- Determine height, bone and muscle growth
- Directly affect your mood
- Tell your brain when you will sleep and for how long
- At what rate to metabolize
- When and where to store fat
- Levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone
- Sex drive
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar levels
- Numerous other functions
Keeping the Master Controller in Good Health
The various glands of the endocrine system require different amino acids and nutrients to function optimally. However, the hypothalamus, this master controller that orchestrates and regulates your entire endocrine system, in order to function properly, MUST HAVE the essential amino acid phenylalanine. Essential meaning that the body cannot convert it from other nutrients and so it is dependent on an outside source to acquire sufficient amounts of this amino acid. If the diet is not providing adequate amounts of phenylalanine, then recommended therapeutic dosage is 500 to 2000 milligrams per day.
Symptoms of ADD / ADHD
- A sense of under achievement (cannot get life together)
- Difficulty getting organized
- Chronic procrastinating
- Starting new tasks and projects without completion
- Impulsive speaking
- Being bored easily (unable to sustain attention over prolonged period)
- Easy distractibility (a tendency to drift away in a conversation or thought)
- Creative, intuitive and highly intelligent (flashes of brilliance in the midst of disorganization)
- Needless worrying or a sense of impending doom Difficulty solving problems or managing time
- Low tolerance for stress and otherwise ordinary problems
- Mood swings or depression
- Tendencies toward addictive behavior
- Family history of ADD
- Lack of concentration
- Tendency to disturb others
- Self-destructive behavior
- Frequent mood changes
- Speech and hearing disorders
- Temper tantrums
- Extreme distractibility
- Inability to finish tasks
- Learning disabilities
- A tendency to become frustrated quickly
- Inability to sit still for any length of time
- Sleep disturbances
- Failure in school despite average or above average intelligence
Amino Acids are the Building Blocks of All Life!
In order to function properly, the body MUST HAVE the essential amino acid phenylalanine. Essential meaning that the body cannot convert it from other nutrients and so it is dependent on an outside source to acquire sufficient amounts of this amino acid. If the diet is not providing adequate amounts of phenylalanine then recommended therapeutic dosage is 500 to 2000 milligrams per day.
Just before menopause many women experience anxiety. The body ceasing to ovulate brings on a major transition largely due to the reduction of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Many different organs and systems of the body are affected by this change as many will take over from the ovaries to produce some estrogen and other hormones. The brain and body has to adjust to all of the changes. The transition usually lasts up to five years.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
According to the National Women's Health Resource Center, as many as 95% of women have some premenstrual discomfort; for 30% to 35% of them it's severe. Besides hormonal imbalance being a cause, it has also been discovered that women suffering with PMS have LOW ENDORPHIN LEVELS, the brain's natural "feel good" chemicals. This might explain why PMS has also been linked to clinical depression!
In both instances of menopause and PMS, emotional stress exaggerates the symptoms experienced. Relieving stress and anxiety through proper brain nutrition will help to lessen the associated difficulties of both experiences, making the transition periods smoother. In addition, by supplying the hypothalamus with sufficient amounts of the essential amino acid, phenylalanine, for proper regulation of the hormonal system, symptoms may also be improved.
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