Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that allow neurons to communicate with one another. Some factors that sabotage these connections: inflammation, hormone imbalances, imbalanced blood sugar, for instance you need estrogen for the neurons to take up serotonin.
There is a threshold, which is the amount of input it takes to cause a neuron to fire. So neurons can be ‘touchy’ and fire too easily. This can be from not enough oxygen or glucose. One symptom of this is being over sensitive to things like light or sound or scents.
Some signs of acetylcholine impairment are
loss of visual and verbal memory and memory lapses
impaired creativity, diminished comprehension, difficulty calculating numbers or recognizing faces or object. Slow mental responsiveness or problems with directions or spacial orientation.
This neurotransmitter is most important for the conversion of short term into long term memory, which happens in the hippocampus (no it is not a college for hippopotami). So dementia and Alzheimer’s have the same symptoms as acetylcholine impairment. So don’t ignore “senior moments” because they can be early warning signs of brain degeneration.
A low fat diet can rob the brain of acetylcholine, we need natural fats to increase levels of this neurotransmitter. If their is inadequate dietary fat then the brain can break down it’s own tissue to provide acetylcholine. For my patients the main oils showing up as beneficial are coconut oil and olive oil, as well as fish or krill oil. The best fish are herring, sardines, mackerel and wild salmon.
Blood sugar imbalances can affect acetylcholine synthesis.
Some signs of a serotonin imbalance are:
Loss of pleasure in hobbies or interests and lack of joy and enthusiasm, inner rage or anger, depression especially when cloudy or lack of light. Not enjoying friendships and relationships or favorite foods. Unable to fall into deep restful sleep.
The frontal lobe is saturated with receptor sites for serotonin, so often depression is decreased firing of the frontal lobe. If you feel worse in the winter or with lack of light it could be serotonin.
Estrogen makes serotonin receptor sites more sensitive, so if estrogen is deficient then just serotonin support may not be enough.
5HTP and tryptophan are precursors to serotonin and can help depression, nightmares, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches and mood disorders.
Some other items that help serotonin levels are St. John’s wort, SAMe, B6, niacinaminde, magnesium, B12 and folic acid.
To make sufficient serotonin you need adequate levels of iron as well. One must also look at stress levels and blood sugar imbalances as well.
Serotonin is converted to melatonin in the pineal gland. Low cortisol can hinder this conversion and make sleeping difficult.
Signs of a Gaba imbalance is a sense of anxiousness, panic, overwhelm or dread for no reason. Inner tension and excitability. A restless mind and inability to turn mind off when you want to relax. Having a disorganized attention.
The drug Xanax works on Gaba pathways and is the one of the most commonly prescribed drugs.
Some neurotransmitters are made in specific parts the brain, but Gaba is made throughout the brain.
Some people have a genetic inability to synthesize Gaba, others can have it brought on by a gluten intolerance or autoimmune disease. It can be brought on by stress, blood sugar imbalances or other lifestyle or diet related issues.
There can be an autoimmune reaction where the body reacts against the enzyme that makes Gaba, called a GAD autoimmune reaction. One can be predisposed to this with celiac disease, Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes. Anything that lowers blood sugar in the brain can decrease Gaba like hypoglycemia or insulin resistance. Toxic chemicals and metals can also lead to problems with Gaba. MSG should be avoided if you have GAD antibodies.
A few things that help boost and balance Gaba is valerian, lithium, passion flower, L theanine, magnesium, zinc and manganese.
Some symptoms of poor dopamine activity is inability to self motivate, or start and finish tasks. Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Losing temper for minor reasons and inability to handle stress. A desire to isolate oneself or lack of concern for family and friends.
Dopamine is related to motor coordination, motivation and reward. It is made in the substantia nigra, which when destroyed leads to Parkinson’s disease. I t helps regulate prolactin which has to do with lactation, reproduction and libido. It has to do with mood, attention, learning and drives the pleasure centers in the brain.
Dopamine deficient patients can be hard for practitioners because they tend to be non compliant.
Dopamine is heavily involved with addiction.
A byproduct of folic acid produced by healthy gut bacteria is needed to produce dopamine, so you must clear gut infections and have healthy gut flora. Vitamin B6 is a cofactor for dopamine synthesis and many are deficient. Magnesium helps clear and breakdown dopamine. Diuretics for high blood pressure can deplete magnesium as can athletes that over train.
Anemia can starve the brain of sufficient iron and oxygen, thus hampering dopamine production, this can explain why people with anemia can have loss of motivation and depression.
Some supplements that can help with dopamine levels are L-phenylalaine, tyrosine, vitamin B6, selenium, blueberry extract and alpha lipoic acid.
I find that most people have to be on some sort of omega 3 fish oil supplements for brain health. There are some from algae for vegetarians.
So many people complain of depression and anxiety as their main problems, so make sure you are working on the underlying conditions causing neurotransmitter disorders. But even though these mood disorders can be caused by biochemical imbalances, I believe that strong emotional patterns and blockages can be an even deeper cause for these neurotransmitter issues. That is why I often use QNRT for past trauma and homeopathics and flower essences for brain problems at least as often as products made for neurotransmitter imbalances.