Your brain chemistry regulates your mood, learning, attention, and memory, and if these chemicals are out of balance, you may experience difficulty with basic brain functions. Common symptoms of brain chemistry imbalance are:
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Mood swings, irritability, sadness, low interest
- Poor attention span
- Inability to grasp new concepts
- Misplacing items
- Poor memory
- Lack of problem solving skills
- Over eating
The chemicals that control these functions of your brain are called neurotransmitters. The primary neurotransmitters involved in brain balance are dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA. Each neurotransmitter regulates a different subset of brain functions, and some neurotransmitters are considered excitatory (activitate brain cells) while others are considered inhibitory (dampen brain cell activity).
Take this short quiz to better understand your brain chemical balance!
For more reliable testing, urine neurotransmitter metabolite testing is available and can greatly help guide the treatment plan for both adults and children with mood disorders and inadequate attention/ADHD.
Many drugs for anxiety, depression, inattention/ADHD, insomnia, smoking cessation, and mood swings are intended to act on these neurotransmitters; however, some neurotransmitter imbalances are better treated via natural means.
5-HTP, St John’s Wort and Griffonia: These 3 supplements are intended to raise serotonin levels. 5-HTP is a serotonin precursor molecule, and both St John’s Wort and Griffonia are plants known to increase serotonin production. B6 and B12 are also needed to convert 5-HTP to serotonin. Tryptophan is a serotonin precursor, so eat your turkey!
Taurine, gluatmine, and GABA: Taurine stimulates GABA receptors. GABA increases levels of this neurotransmitter when a deficiency is present. B6 and glutamine are required for production of GABA.
L- Theanine: This caffeine-free green tea extract inhibits excitatory brain function, causing a calming effects that promotes relaxation, brain focus, and sleep. L-Theanine blocks the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, but also increases dopamine levels which improves brain clarity and attention.
Huperzine A and Folate (L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate):Improves acetylcholine levels which affect both cognitive function and memory. Huperzine A inhibits acetylcholine breakdown in the brain. Also improves sleep quality and mental clarity.
Phosphatidylserine, L-Carnitine: These nutrients are required for acetylcholine production.
Mucuna pruriens, Tyrosine, B6: Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean) is a plant which elevates dopamine levels in the brain. Tyrosine and B6 are necessary for dopamine production.
Exercise: Exercise elevates serotonin levels, and dopamine causes your brain to associate exercise with better mood.
Please consult with your ND before discontinuing any medication and prior to trying any supplements as both the consequence of coming off a medication, and drug/supplement interactions can be very serious!