Balancing Your Neurotransmitter Systems Naturally

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A balanced and healthy nervous system requires a sufficient level of neurotransmitters. 

There are a number of neurotransmitters that have been identified and are typically classified as:

  • Amino acids
  • Monoamines
  • Peptides

Another classification of neurotransmitters is whether they are inhibitory or stimulatory.  For purposes of this article, four main neurotransmitters are examined:

  • Stimulatory
    • Acetylcholine
    • Dopamine
  • Inhibitory
    • GABA
    • Serotonin

The Table below lists the four major neurotransmitters and their certain characteristics:

Neurotransmitter Systems

SystemAcetylcholineDopamineGABASerotonin
SystemCholinergicCathecholamineGABAergicSerotonergic
TypeStimulatoryStimulatoryInhibitoryInhibitory
Lobe of the BrainParietal lobesFrontal lobesTemporal lobesOccipital lobes
BrainwaveAlphaBetaThetaDelta
Brain MeasurementSpeedVoltageBalance (Calm)Synchrony (Rest)
CharacteristicsLubricant to neuronsPowerCalmnessHealing
BalancedCreativeBlood pressureStabilityNourishment
Fast thinkingMetabolismEven moodSatisfied feelings
Feelings of wellbeingDigestionMake good decisionsSleep deeply
Voluntary movementThink rationally
Intelligence
Abstract thought
Goal setting
Long term planning
CharacteristicDecreased brain speedDecreased brain powerHeadachesDepression
DeficiencyBrain fogFatiguePalpitationsSleep disorders
DementiaAddictionSeizuresEating disorders
AlzheimersLoss of attentionAnxietySensory processing
dysfunction
Dietcholine-rich: almonds; artichokes; lean beef; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; cabbage; fish; pine nuts; tomato paste; wheat bran; toasted wheat germ.high-protein: meat, poultry, cottage cheese, wheat germ; eggs; yogurt; walnuts; dark complex carbohydrates: Brown rice; broccoli; lentils; almonds; bananas; whole grain oats; oranges; spinach; walnuts; whole grain wheat..tryptophan-rich: turkey; chicken; sausage; avocados; cheese; cottage cheese; ricotta; eggs; granola; oat flakes; luncheon meats; wheat germ; whole milk; yogurt.
Supplementsphospatidylcholine powder; choline powder; huperzine A; phosphatidylserine; dopa bean; Ginkgo biloba; piracetam; omega-3 fish oil; pregnenolone. Phenylalanine; tyrosine; methionine; rhodiola; pyroxidine; B complex; DHEA; phosphatidylserine; Ginkgo biloba; green tea extract. Inositol powder; thiamine; tryptophan; passionflower; melatonin; magnesium; glutamic acid; niacinamide; pyridoxine; valerian root.tryptophan; calcium; fish oil; 5-HTP; magnesium; melatonin; passionflower; pyridoxine; SAM-e; St. John’s Wort; zinc.

To achieve a healthy nervous system, the stimulatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters should be balanced as much as possible.  Sometime this is not as easy as it sounds.  However, it is important to achieve a synergistic energy between the stimulatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in which they work together to create balance in the nervous system.

An imbalanced neurotransmitter system can be characterized by a low level of all four neurotransmitters or a low level of a few neurotransmitters and an excess of other neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitter imbalances can lead to a number of symptoms and pathologies.  Such imbalances are linked to:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Addiction or dependency
  • Adrenal dysfunction
  • Anxiety
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite control
  • Loss of mental focus, or cognitive fog
  • Low libido
  • Migraines
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Poor sleep
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight Issues

The cause of neurotransmitter imbalances can be defined by many different factors, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine usage
  • Dietary deficiencies
  • Digestive imbalances
  • Drug use (prescription and recreational)
  • Food intolerances
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Medication use, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety, sleep and migraine medications
  • Neurotoxins
  • Poor eating habits
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stress
  • Toxic burden

Stress is often times the primary contributor to neurotransmitter imbalance. The nervous system uses up large amounts of neurotransmitters in order to cope with the ongoing stress.

A number of tests have been developed that may determine what neurotransmitters are low or imbalanced:

Dr. Braverman, M.D. of Path Medical in New York City has designed two interesting tests that can be taken quickly to determine your neurotransmitter dominance and neurotransmitter deficiency:

Another test is offered by Integrative Psychiatry and is used to determine neurotransmitter deficiency:

In addition to the written tests to determine neurotransmitter deficiencies, there are also medical lab tests that can be prescribed by a health care professional.  These medical tests include:


For a more in-depth analysis of each of the four neurotransmitters and how to enhance these neurotransmitters and create a balanced nervous system, please read the following articles below:

Acetylcholine

Dopamine

GABA

Serotonin


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