The human brain is made of a complex network of nerves. Neurotransmitters are responsible for the transfer of information between nerves and the rest of the body. This is why they are known as chemical messengers. Since each “message” invokes a specific feeling or reaction, neurotransmitter balance is crucial to the proper functioning of the brain. A slight spike or drop could alter your mood and emotions. For most people, this delicate balance is stable and cannot be interrupted. Unfortunately, some people are born with weaker brain chemistry and need a little help. Neurotransmitter therapy is the process of restoring this balance. Keep reading to find out everything you should know about neurotransmitter therapies.
Neurotransmitters are signaling chemicals that transmit information between nerves and various cells. Depending on your needs, different neurotransmitters are released. These chemicals are what are responsible for how you feel, think, and act. They can cause you to be excited, fearful, angry, sad, happy, calm, or stressed. Therefore, an imbalance would cause you to be always anxious or upset.
The brain strives to keep these chemicals in check through constant synaptic neurobiological shifts. In addition to emotions, neurotransmitters can affect physiological processes, such as increased heart rate. This healthy neurotransmitter balance can be disrupted by various factors such as:
- Diet – The brain requires a healthy diet to provide the building blocks for neurochemical processes. Each nutrient, such as amino acids, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates, plays a part. A diet lacking in any nutrient can cause an imbalance.
- Leaky Gut – This is a condition that causes tearing of the intestinal walls. The rapture walls allow foreign molecules into the bloodstream. Harmful compounds found in pesticides are located in the foods we eat. These chemicals can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause an imbalance.
- Medication – The use of drugs can disrupt the balance in various ways. They can mimic, enhance, or block neurotransmitters. Other causes of neurotransmitter imbalance are chronic stress and aging.
Types of Neurotransmitters
Although the exact number of neurotransmitters is not known, researchers estimate that there more than 100 different types of them. Each plays a specific function. Here are the most important neurotransmitters and the roles they play.
The secretion of dopamine is associated with motivation and the desire to complete a task. For this reason, dopamine is considered an achievement molecule. Very low levels of dopamine are one of the causes of Parkinson’s disease. On the other hand, high levels of dopamine are associated with schizophrenia. Dopamine deficiency symptoms include low self-esteem, dread, hopelessness, anger, irritability, and weight gain. Although unusually high dopamine levels are rare, it can cause hyperactivity, paranoia, and agitation.
This neurotransmitter acts as the go-between for muscles and motor neurons. Acetylcholine is majorly involved in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. It facilitates memory, navigation, and learning. Acetylcholine helps in activities involving muscular movement, such as talking, walking, and breathing. Some symptoms of acetylcholine deficiency include poor memory, difficulty performing mental calculations, poor spatial awareness, and trouble placing faces.
Serotonin is one of the essential neurotransmitters in the body. In addition to influencing emotions and perception, it helps with indigestion. Low levels of serotonin can cause depression and other social anxiety disorders. Conversely, very high levels can lead to serotonin syndrome. Signs of low serotonin levels include unhappiness, depression, and trouble falling asleep. Very high levels can cause muscle twitching, anxiety, rapid heart rate, and loss of coordination.
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
This neurotransmitter is responsible for calming down the nervous system. It counteracts the effects of stimulating neurotransmitters. Some symptoms of GABA deficiency include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, and cold hands and feet. Its opposite is known as glutamate, which is used for learning and memory.
Before the therapy, neurotransmitter testing is done to identify the deficient molecules. Usually, a combination of tests is needed to be sure. The neurotransmitter test results are combined with other biomarkers, such as bloodwork, and patient history for conclusive results.
- Dried Urine Spot Testing: This approach analyses the composition of a urine sample. The test analyses metabolic products of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
- Blood Tests: Testing the blood helps identify any underlying medical conditions a patient may have. Of interest are cholesterol, iron, vitamin B12, and the thyroid. The bloodwork helps eliminate other diseases that may have similar symptoms with neural imbalance.
Before choosing a type of neurotransmitter treatment, it’s important to understand every testing approach. All of the aforementioned tests are covered in detail in our online neurotransmitter training course.
How Does Therapy Work?
Neurotransmitter therapy refers to the process of restoring neurochemical balance. The neurotransmitter test results inform the choice of treatment. Some benefits include:
- Enhanced ability to deal with stress
- Relief for food addiction and craving
- Increased energy and focus
- Solving emotional disorders, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and mood swings
Amino Acids Therapies
During targeted amino acid therapies, supplements of particular neurotransmitters are given to the individual with the imbalance. The supplements increase the number of amino acids that can cross the blood-brain barrier. This approach is necessary because increasing the intake of amino acids never changes the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. Supplements of a particular type of amino acid promote the uptake of the deficient neurotransmitter over the rest. Tryptophan, tyrosine, cysteine, and L-dopa are the most common type of amino acids contained in supplements. They help in balancing serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine levels.
Light can manipulate the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. This type of therapy is a common treatment for depression and mood disorders. Light therapy targets serotonin since it’s the main culprit for depression disorders. It addresses disorders that exhibit seasonal patterns. For the procedure, the patient sits near a light-emitting device. An artificial light mimics natural light and stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain. As you already know, serotonin is the feel-good neurotransmitter. The intensity of the light used is measured in units called lux. The higher the intensity, the shorter the treatment. The major selling point of this type of therapy is that it is noninvasive. Light therapies are also very safe and have few side effects.
It is no secret that taking part in physical activity can be beneficial to your health. In addition to staying fit, exercise can restore neurotransmitter imbalance. This form of therapy uses exercise to trigger the brain to produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. Intensive physical activities increase the synthesis of serotonin, which can help those suffering from depression. Serotonin and dopamine are responsible for the feeling of fatigue after an intensive exercise. A positive change in mood usually accompanies it.
Neurotransmitter Online Training Course
Neurotransmitters are important for the proper function of the brain. A slight imbalance makes life difficult. The good news is that the imbalance can be restored through various neurotransmitter treatment.
If you are looking to join the profession, this material is only an overview. For more practical knowledge, our approved neurotransmitter online training course is a better fit. The course is accredited by all the relevant bodies, including the American Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians. Register today and claim your credits.