How to Balance Neurotransmitters
In Lesson 2 we learned that many factors can cause a neurotransmitter deficiencies. In this lesson we
will review some ways we can increase and balance neurotransmitter levels.
Help! I have low neurotransmitter levels - what can I do?
Don't worry - advances in science have made it possible to increase neurotransmitter levels. Here are
some of the different approaches you can take:
Traditional Medicine Treatments
As recently as the l970’s the neuro-chemical pathways of the brain were not very well
understood. There was very little in the way of successful treatments for mood disturbances. Electroconvulsive
or “shock” therapy
(ECT) was about the only effective treatment for resistant severe depression. We were unaware then
of exactly how this therapy worked but now realize ECT works by artificially shocking neurotransmitters
out of neurons. This flood of neurotransmitters results in marked improvement of depression.
Advancements in neurochemistry in the l980’s fortunately lead to the discovery and understanding of
many more neurotransmitters and their mechanisms of action. Now in a new era of neuropharmacology, more
options for treatment are available and researchers continue to develop even better ones.
The most commonly prescribed medications for abnormal moods (dysphoria) are the serotonin re-uptake
inhibitors, called SRI’s. These include: Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Serafem, Serzone, Celexa
and Lexapro. SRI’s prevent serotonin from reabsorbing back into storage vesicles. More serotonin
then stays in the synapse, reattaching to receptors and stimulating more neurons.
Alternative Medicine Treatments
Many alternative methods aimed at raising neurotransmitter levels have been widely used with
reportedly good success, especially in Asia and Europe. These include acupuncture, hypnosis, massage,
reflexology, meditation, yoga and herbal remedies. Neurotransmitter measurements of meditating
Tibetan monks, showed increased levels of serotonin, the “serenity” messenger. With scientific data
like this now supporting the benefits of these ancient treatments, more Western medical disciplines
are becoming convinced and integrating them into their practices.
Nutritional Ways to Support Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitter health must be maintained with a balanced diet that includes adequate amounts
of protein, carbohydrates and fats. No food group can be eliminated since they are all critical
for proper neurotransmitter production and function. Dietary neurotoxins, like excess caffeine, nicotine
and alcohol decrease production and should be avoided.
Most neurotransmitters are made from protein or its subunits, amino acids. Eating adequate amounts
of dietary protein is critical. The average person requires 40-70 grams (up to 90 grams for a
very active athlete) of protein daily.
Serotonin originates from the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is the least common amino acid in food.
It is also the most difficult to absorb into the brain. These make serotonin synthesis more
difficult. Although tryptophan is mainly found in fish, meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts and
wheat germ, eating these does not substantially increase serotonin. This is because these foods
contain other amino acids that compete with tryptophan for absorption. Tryptophan “loses out” to
the other amino acids.
Surprisingly, eating carbohydrates raises serotonin levels but eating protein decreases
serotonin levels. Carbohydrates cause an insulin response that favors tryptophan absorption over
other amino acids. This explains why many people who need more serotonin (like being overly-stressed
or depressed) start to “self-medicate” by eating more sweets or starchy carbohydrates. As tryptophan
absorption rises, so will serotonin production.
Studies from Harvard, MIT and Oxford medical universities demonstrate that women on
high protein/very low carbohydrate diets lower their serotonin levels, making them more prone
to weight gain relapse, depression, excessive craving, bingeing, bulimia, severe PMS and
seasonal affective disorder.
Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine. Eating high protein foods promote dopamine production.
Tyrosine is abundant and is found in chicken, fish, dairy products, almonds, avocados, bananas,
legumes, soy products, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Dietary carbohydrates play a critical role in brain health. Women, especially, are vulnerable to
how carbohydrates affect their moods. Serotonin, the main neurotransmitter for mood and appetite
regulation, depends on carbohydrates for synthesis.
Dr. Judith Wurtman from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has published many articles
linking serotonin deficiency conditions to low dietary carbohydrate intake. Women normally have
one third less serotonin than men. Diets that severely restrict carbohydrates will result in
even lower serotonin levels. Dr. Wurtman found that women on high protein/very low carbohydrate diets
were at greater risk for depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), carbohydrate crave/binge
disorder and severe premenstrual syndrome.
About two thirds of our brain is made of fat (lipids). Lipids are incorporated into the brain cell
walls promoting membrane flexibility and strength. A filmy fat layer covers the branches of
neurons allowing proper electrical transmission of brain signals.
Most lipids can be made directly by the body. But two lipids can come only from food. These fats
are called essential fatty acids (EFA). The cell membranes of neurons are made from the
essential fatty acids: alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA).
Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) belongs to the “omega-3” fatty acid family. Main food sources of
omega-3 ALA include flax seeds, walnuts, sea plants and green leafy vegetables.
Linoleic acid (LA) belongs to the “omega-6” fatty acid family. LA is found in the oils of
seeds and nuts. Main food sources of omega 6 LA include expeller cold-pressed sunflower, safflower,
corn and sesame oils.
The most abundant fat in the brain is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid. Good
dietary sources of DHA come from high-fat, cold water fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and
trout. DHA made from microalgae is also available in supplement capsules.
Dietary Supplement Method:
Neurotransmitter Precursor Therapy
Dietary corrections are important for restoring healthy brain function, but may not be enough to
correct a significant neurotransmitter deficiency. Foods vary in their concentrations of amino acids
and intestinal absorption can be unpredictable. The amount of protein needed to replace depleted
neurotransmitters is not practical, nor healthy. For example, one would have to eat a 32-ounce steak
or 3-dozen eggs every day to keep up with the amount of amino acids needed to improve PMS symptoms
caused by low neurotransmitter levels.
Practical ways to naturally increase neurotransmitters with dietary supplements are now
being utilized. A new class of supplements, neuro-nutraceuticals (such as CraniYums), has shown remarkable
This method provides the brain with adequate amounts of basic building blocks (neurotransmitter
precursors) needed for neurotransmitter production. Recently published studies support the
validity of using supplements to raise neurotransmitter levels*. Laboratory measurements and
clinical studies have documented predictable rises in neurotransmitter levels and symptom improvements.
|Advantages of CraniYums™ Dissolving Lozenges
- Clinically proven to safely increase levels of dopamine and serotonin at doses recommended.*
- Patent-pending formulas developed by a medical physician for her clinic patients.
- USP and equivalent pharmaceutical grade products guarantee purity, dose, and potency.
- Direct, immediate delivery to the brain through the oral membranes (sublingual) improves
symptoms faster and at lower doses than pill form supplements.
- Dissolvable route bypasses digestion, eliminating time constraints around meals.
- Sublingual absorption minimizes stomach and intestinal upset commonly experienced with
capsule or tablet forms.
- Delicious tasting lozenges do not affect blood sugar levels and are safe for diabetics. Does
not promote dental decay.
Combined use of prescription medications like SRI’s with neurotransmitter precursor therapy has
shown therapeutic advantages in current studies. Adding the dietary precursors boosts production
of neurotransmitters while the medications allow more efficient use of them. This combined treatment
approach may permit lowering of medication doses. Individuals are advised however, not to attempt
reducing, adjusting or discontinuing their medications without first consulting with their physician.
There have been some reports of serious serotonin reactions in individuals taking tryptophan
supplements with certain antidepressants. Medical advice is recommended before using any
supplement with a prescription medication.
In Lesson 4 we will examine the medical doctor who developed the CraniYums supplements...
Lesson 4 - The Dr behind CraniYums