Neurotransmitters are chemicals present in the brain that send signals to the nerves. These signal molecules are located at the ends of synapses, and they pick up signals received from the brain, moving the impulse or signal from one cell to another. Neurotransmitters are extremely potent and are responsible for several functions including learning, energy, and psychological states. Therefore, an imbalance in the neurotransmitters can have serious consequences for the body.
Dr. Adonis, a trained neurosurgeon, has mastered the practice of neuroscience in conjunction with functional medicine to give his patients improved results that last longer and have little to no side effects. He ensures a well-rounded care plan so that the physiological, psychological, and emotional needs of all his patients are catered to.
Restore balance, well-being, and positivity to your life by booking an appointment with our clinic — it is what your brain and gut want you to do!
The body has over 50 types of neurotransmitters, each performing a unique function. However, here are some neurotransmitters that have a substantial impact on the body:
- Dopamine – This chemical is related to a sense of achievement and motivation in the body. An imbalance in dopamine levels can lead to schizophrenia when levels are too high and Parkinson’s diseases when levels are too low.
- Serotonin – This chemical is mainly associated with moods and emotions. When levels of serotonin are low, the result could be social anxiety and depression. Serotonin syndrome, a fatal condition, occurs when serotonin levels are unusually high. This condition, however, can only occur when serotonin is consumed as a supplement.
- GABA – Gamma-aminobutyric acid is essential to calm the body and give it a sense of relaxation. When levels of GABA are low, the body starts to go into panic mode.
- Acetylcholine – This is perhaps the one chemical that sets us apart from animals and gives us the human edge. Acetylcholine is responsible for behaviors like thinking, learning, and reasoning. Imbalance in acetylcholine due to deficiency can lead to a lack of focus; poor motor skills; difficulty with computation, memory, and recall; and poor spatial reasoning.
- Endorphins – These are typically the feel-good substances in the body that negate the sense of pain and are released during exercise and situations of threat and sex.
There are several other disorders that can arise as a result of an imbalance in neurotransmitter levels. Some of these include:
- Schizophrenia – caused due to dopamine imbalance
- Depression – caused mainly due to an imbalance in the neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine
- Alzheimer’s disease – caused due to insufficient acetylcholine in the brain
- Anxiety disorder – caused due to either serotonin or norepinephrine imbalance
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – caused due to an imbalance in dopamine and norepinephrine levels
- Cravings leading to overeating and weight gain.
Each of these neurochemicals has a very specific role and function. Sometimes, when these neurochemicals malfunction, the patient may experience certain traits or symptoms typical to a condition, if not the condition itself. Functional medicine recognizes that the human body is not always as clear as black and white in its functions. There might be times of ambiguity; hence, Dr. Adonis approaches each case individually and assess it on its own merits.
Protecting against neurotransmitter imbalance may prove rather difficult. A trained, qualified medical practitioner or neurologist will be able to run certain tests, apprise you of any imbalance, and advise the best course of action.
Maintaining Good Neurotransmitter Health
Functional medicine advises certain methods to prevent an imbalance in the neurotransmitters:
Keep the Gut Healthy
The gut is extremely important in maintaining good health since most neurotransmitters are produced here. Intestinal health plays an important role in behavior and moods and can also be the cause of several conditions like autism. The gut and the brain are also closely related. Ailments of the gut can directly affect the brain and its functioning. A condition known as the leaky gut can cause certain inflammatory substances to flow into the blood. These then flow directly into the brain, giving rise to a condition known as the leaky brain, another inflammatory disorder. Both these combined cause inflammation in the body. Maintaining gut health with the right foods and supplements can ensure that both gut and brain health are maintained.
Manage Stress Better
Stressors, both internal and external, can be rather damaging to the body. Stress can arise from lack of sleep, over-exertion, stressful thoughts, and relationships. Although it is impossible to prevent stress, there are ways you can cope with it better. Stressors contribute to imbalance in the neurotransmitters and eventually cause health disturbances. The key lies in getting adequate sleep, using the sauna regularly, reading books on self-help, and practicing meditation techniques. You may even opt for exercises or pursue a hobby if that helps you beat the stress.
Foods high in antioxidants are great for the gut and brain. All berries are extremely high in antioxidants and are wonder foods as far as neurotransmitter health is concerned. Other good sources of antioxidants include chocolates, nuts like pecans, artichokes, and kale.
Given the nature of the conditions brought about by neurotransmitter imbalance, food that elevates the mood may seem ideal. Sugars lift the mood and bring about a sudden burst of energy almost immediately. However, a downward spiral follows the sugar rush and can cause a crash as quickly as the sugar kicked in. Avoid artificial sugars and sweeteners and stay away from mood-enhancing foods like caffeine, aerated drinks, and foods rich in carbohydrates. Instead, focus your energies on getting to the root of your problem and finding sustainable ways to address them.
Several doctors recommend supplements to restore neurotransmitter balance and align deficient or increased levels of chemicals. While supplements are great options, it is important to ascertain that the supplements are natural to prevent long-term damage and side effects. Dr. A insists that natural supplements and herbs can go a long way in restoring neurotransmitter balance in the body and alleviating disturbing symptoms. Some supplements essential for neurotransmitter synthesis and regulation include GABA and St. John’s Wort. Other vitamin supplements that can be included are vitamins B, C, and D, iron, zinc, and omega 3.