Mental health illness, know your neurotransmitter profile
Mental health illness, such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks is very common in young as well as old population.
Functional medicine approach is successfully handling these issues without prescribing drugs and addressing the underlying causes of these illnesses.
Now we have a very -specialized test which can identify the levels of these neurotransmitters for a very precise targeted nutritional support and detoxification therapies.
Here are few basic neurotransmitters and their role in our mental health and well being:
Generally regarded as the happiness molecule, serotonin has calming effects and contributes to the feelings of well-being. Serotonin elevates mood, decreases anxiety, appetite, and improves libido, improves sleep and memory, eases depression, and helps regulate body temperature. Most of the serotonin in the human body is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, where it stimulates gut motility. Research shows that urinary serotonin levels are reduced in patients with depression. Clinically, low serotonin is associated with anxiety, depression, changes in appetite, cravings, excessive worry, heightened sensitivity to pain, hot flashes, hunger, low mood, migraine, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, sleep disturbances, and worsened PMS symptoms.
GABA (Gamma amino butyric acid)
The brain’s major inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA functions as the off switch in the brain. GABA is essential to limiting excitation so that input signals are balanced and not overdone. GABA prevents anxiety, improves mood, promotes sleep, lowers blood pressure, acts as a muscle relaxant, increases insulin secretion and decreases blood glucose levels. Clinically, low GABA levels are implicated in anxiety, depression, headaches, menopause symptoms, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep difficulties. Low GABA levels may also be associated with adrenal distress and HPA axis dysfunction, and disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome.
Glycine plays a dual role as a neurotransmitter and a building block of proteins. Glycine serves as an anti-inflammatory agent, calms aggression, improves sleep quality, regulates motion, stabilizes blood sugar, and modulates excitatory signals in the brain.
The brain’s major excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate (also known as glutamic acid) functions as the on switch in the brain. Glutamate regulates appetite, thinking (cognition), increases gut motility, optimizes learning, modulates memory, improves libido, decreases sleep and contributes to oxidative stress. Chronic stress maintains high levels of glutamate in the brain which may lead to excitotoxicity and even neuronal damage. Research shows that urinary glutamate levels are high in patients with celiac disease and with hyperthyroidism. Clinically, high glutamate is suspected in anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, and impulsivity, inability to focus (racing thoughts), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, sleep difficulties, and stroke. When glutamate is high, calming GABA, L-theanine, and taurine may be beneficial to counter glutamate actions.
Plays a dual role in the body as a neurotransmitter and a modulator of the immune system. Histamine has anti-pain properties, plays a neuroprotective role in the brain, and contributes to the optimal maintenance of cognition and memory. Histamine stimulates wakefulness and decreases sleep, stimulates gastric acid production, increases metabolism, suppresses appetite, and prevents weight gain. Histamine is a potent vasodilator and a pro-inflammatory agent.
Phenethylamine ( PEA)
Promotes energy elevates mood and regulates attention. PEA also contributes to aggression, serves as a biomarker for ADHD, and prolongs the signaling of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Urinary PEA levels increase in the following disorders: bipolar disorder, phenylketonuria, schizophrenia, postpartum and in severe anxiety and insomnia. High PEA is suspected in the etiology of anxiety, inflammation, inability to focus (racing thoughts), sleep difficulties, and toxicity.
Improves attention, focus, and motivation, helps with decision making, modulates movement control, promotes lactation, increases blood pressure, urine output and sodium excretion, and allows for feelings of reward and pleasure. Additionally, the quest for dopamine stimulation plays a central role in the etiology of addiction. Dopamine also serves as the parent precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine. Research shows that urinary dopamine levels are reduced in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia nervosa, anxiety with depression, fibromyalgia and periodic limb movement disorder. Clinically, low dopamine is implicated in addiction, apathy, cravings, depression, fatigue, impulse control issues, increased sensitivity to pain, low libido, low mood, memory issues, sleep disturbances, and weight control issues.
Norepinephrine functions both as a neurotransmitter and a hormone, participating in the body’s fight or flight response. Norepinephrine increases alertness, focuses attention, fine-tunes vigilance, increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood glucose, reduces digestive activity, pain, and sleep, prevents bladder emptying and regulates body temperature. The adrenal gland produces approximately 20% of norepinephrine with 80% produced by the sympathetic nerve fibers. Research shows that urinary norepinephrine is reduced in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Clinically, low norepinephrine is implicated in anorexia, attention impairment, depression, fatigue, hypotension, lack of motivation, lethargy, low mood, memory issues, slow pulse rate, and weight issues.
Epinephrine also called adrenaline, functions both as a neurotransmitter and a hormone, participating in the body’s fight or flight response. Epinephrine increases alertness, focuses attention, fine-tunes vigilance, increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood glucose, reduces digestive activity, pain, and sleep, prevents bladder emptying and regulates body temperature.
Freedom age now brings you extensive testing of all your neurotransmitters from a very reputed international laboratory to address the underlying cause of all mental health illnesses.
Dr. Kalpana Shekhawat M.D.
Functional Medicine Specialist