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Neurotransmitter Testing


Neurotransmitters and Your Health

The Nervous System is incredibly complex and contains many important chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are amino acid based molecules that relay signals between major systems of the body. Neurotransmitters define our moods, actions, and health. The importance of them transcends their role in the brain. They act as messengers between the: immune, endocrine, digestive, and nervous system. They are present throughout the body and required for proper brain and body functions. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. Neurotransmitters are also necessary for memory and thinking, feeling, sleeping, and your energy. Scientific literature has established the link between neurotransmitter imbalances and clinical symptoms.

What are some symptoms of Neurotransmitter Imbalance?

Stress, anxiety, mood swings, depression, irritability, agitation, apathy, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, developmental delays, attention issues, memory decline, sleep disturbances, headaches, weight issues, food (carbohydrate) cravings, fatigue, addiction, decreased sex drive, hormonal imbalance & PMS, digestive troubles, autism, and immune system problems.

What causes Neurotransmitters to be out of balance?

Because the nervous system is always active, a healthy well balanced nervous system depends on a constant and adequate supply of the various neurotransmitters. Medical research has shown that many factors associated with today’s fast-paced lifestyle deplete our pool of neurotransmitters and hormone levels. Of the many factors affecting neurotransmitter balance, four stand out as the most prevalent. These four include: chronic stress, diet, neurotoxins, and genetics.

Chronic stress is the primary contributor to neurotransmitter imbalance. Stress, both emotional and physical, can cause neurons to use up large amounts of neurotransmitters to help us cope with the situation. Chronic daily stress, from a busy career, a stressed relationship, or a bacterial or viral infection, will tax the nervous system, and over time, deplete neurotransmitter supplies.

Second, poor dietary habits lead to nervous system imbalance, especially if the poor diet is combined with high stress. The body synthesizes neurotransmitters from nutrients obtained in the diet or through supplements, primarily amino acids and protein. Diets with insufficient proteins or too many high glycemic carbohydrates will increase excretion of neurotransmitters. Also, diets low in Omega-3 fatty acids will lead to poor neuron function because our brain cell membranes are composed primarily of lipids and Omega-3 fats help to stabilize these membranes.

The third major factor to neurotransmitter imbalances is neurological toxins. There are a vast amount of environmental toxins, not to mention the use of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine that also affect brain chemistry and nervous system health. The importance of cleansing is paramount for everyone but especially for those with neurotransmitter imbalances.

The last major influence is genetics. Some individuals are metabolically predisposed to neurotransmitter deficiencies or excesses. Certain health conditions, such as depression and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, are found to run in families.

The combined effect of chronic stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, and genetics is neurotransmitter imbalance.

There is good news----Neurotransmitter levels can be measured. So now individuals can find out their levels of: serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA, histamine, glutamate, glycine, phenylethylamine.

Also, hormones such as cortisol, are can also be measured to determine a person’s unique level.

Addressing Neurotransmitter Imbalances

Once a person’s neurotransmitter imbalances have been identified through testing, the next step is to address the imbalances. There are two options: pharmaceutical medications or a holistic approach that encompasses dietary changes, cleansing, and specific all-natural remedies targeting the imbalanced neurotransmitters.

Pharmaceutical Approach:

The pharmaceutical industry has developed hundreds of psychiatric drugs designed to treat individuals. The three main classes are: re uptake inhibitors, monamine oxidase inhibitors, and receptor modifiers. A major drawback of many neuro-active drugs is that they only affect the transmission or release of existing pools of neurotransmitters in the body. If the diet does not provide sufficient amounts, then there may not be enough neurotransmitters to properly relay signals within the nervous system even if drugs are used. Side effects and re-occurrence of symptoms are common as well, therefore long-term results to these drugs is unpredictable since it fails to address neurotransmitter depletion.

Naturopathic Approach:

Simply, once we figure out what neurotransmitter imbalances exist in the individual, then we suggest all-natural ways to restore your balance. Targeting specific neurotransmitter imbalances in an individual helps to personalize their treatment and helps them synthesize their own neurotransmitters. Amino acid therapy has come a long way since its introduction back in the 1950’s. In its infancy, researchers and clinicians began using single amino acids to alter one or two neurotransmitters. While the positive results these pioneers achieved cannot be denied, their primitive approach lacked many important considerations that have recently elevated Targeted Amino Acid Therapy™ to one of the most exciting applications in integrative medicine. Current research in this field, especially the advent of cost-effective testing, has led to developments that allow the practitioner to truly fine-tune an individual’s nutritional program.

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