ARE YOU A DOPAMINE JUNKIE ?
Some of you might know that I have a year long membership group where I teach other practitioners on how the dots are connect and the best ways to uncover the root cause/s in difficult cases. This week’s topic was all about Neurotransmitters and the effects of high or low neurotransmitter function on our physical and mental health.
So this week, I thought I would share with you and focus on Dopamine.. No pun intended! Why because I am seeing the struggle in clinic on a daily basis. I also hear from parents that they are also struggling to support their kids you are also struggling with balance and a lack of focus. Teenage kids with mental health challenges have risen dramatically over the last few years!
WHAT IS DOPAMINE
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, and “feel good hormone” that plays a crucial role in the body and brain. It is involved in a wide range of physiological functions and associated with various aspects of behavior, mood and cognition.
Dopamine is about pleasure. It is also about pain. Most important, it’s about how to find the delicate balance between the two. Now more than ever finding balance is essential. We’re living in a time of unprecedented access to high-reward, high-dopamine stimuli: drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting . . . The increased numbers, variety, and potency is staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. As such we’ve all become vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption.
KEY FUNCTIONS OF DOPAMINE
Here are some key roles of dopamine in the body:
- Reward and Pleasure: Dopamine is heavily involved in the brain’s reward system, which reinforces behavior by providing feelings of pleasure and motivation. It’s released when we engage in pleasurable activities like eating, socializing, or engaging in activities we enjoy. We have trained our bodies and our brains to want more and instant gratification. We have addictions to all kinds of things these days not just sex, drugs and alcohol.
- Movement and Motor Control: Dopamine plays a critical role in coordinating smooth movements and motor control. A dopamine deficiency in certain areas of the brain can lead to motor symptoms like tremors and Parkinson’s Disease.
- Mood Regulation: Dopamine is involved in regulating mood and emotions. It helps modulate feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward, which are essential for experiencing positive emotions and motivation. Imbalances in dopamine levels have been linked to mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, pain, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADD.
- Cognitive Function: Dopamine is essential for various cognitive processes, including memory, attention, learning and decision-making. It helps in maintaining focus, enhancing working memory and facilitating the transfer of information between different brain regions.
- Hormone Regulation: Dopamine also acts as a hormone that regulates the release of other hormones, such as prolactin. In the hypothalamus, dopamine inhibits the secretion of prolactin, which is involved in lactation and reproductive functions.
While dopamine plays a crucial role in these functions, its actions are complex and interconnected with other neurotransmitters and systems in the body.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MODULATE DOPAMINE
- NOTE: Dopamine and Serotonin use the same enzymes for example 5-HTP, so working with a health practitioner is important. Otherwise you support one and the expense of the other.
- Most Neurotransmitters are broken down in the Sulfation Pathway in the Liver and require similar products to help regulate. So supporting the Liver and Methylation pathway is a good first step.
- 90-95% of the Brain’s Serotonin is found in the GUT. Neurons in the Gut communicate via axions in the GI lining that influence behaviors: The Triggers are sugar, Fatty Acids and Amino Acids. Inflammation in the Gut means inflammation in the brain.
- Amino Acids are the co factors for some important Neurotransmitters. They also need co factors to work EG: B complex or a Multi/ Vitamin that has B’s. Tyrosine is the main Amino Acid involved to make Dopamine.
A good foundational support program would be:
- Liver Support: Milk Thistle, Liverplex and KL Support from Cell Core
- Magnesium for calming and supporting enzyme production
- A methylated B complex: I like the Apex Formula
- Digestive Enzymes like Enycore or Enzymix Pro and if need a more comprehensive GI protocol
- Mucuna pruriens has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine to support optimal brain function and health. While Mucuna is a well-known natural source of levodopa (L-dopa) a precursor of Dopamine.
- Amino Acid support. My go to would be making sure you eat clean and lean proteins and digest them .. see point #4 and if needed support with Protefood.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO BALANCE DOPAMINE
It is all about balance. Instant gratification that leads to long term pain or discomfort should be addressed.
- Start by taking inventory of the things that you do that are not supporting health longterm.
- What are the most important things on that list that would if you could modulate would provide a long term gain. Start by making adjustments to those first. Perhaps it is letting go of alcohol, putting the phone down, going on a sugar detox, or fast food detox, etc etc .
- Add the support mentioned above to help you through the transition
- Use your body to over ride the mind by going for a walk/ movement but not too much can be incredible useful to help you reset.
- Breathwork and Meditation are also useful as natural calming methods and they also connect the body and the mind.
- Balancing Blood Sugar is key. Start your day with savory and set your self up for success.
- Sleep. If you are struggling with putting down the phone or turning off the telly or getting to sleep due to racing thoughts… here are some tips.
- Eat lots of mineral rich and colorful Veggies as minerals are calming. Consume good fats as the brain is made of fat and good fats stabilize blood sugar. Add Digestive enzymes to absorb those good nutrients.
- Let go of foods that contain MSG, Aspartame etc… are they are excito-toxins and damage the brain.
- Lastly get support and ask for help. This Book might also be helpful:
I hope this article has been helpful. Please feel free to share with others.
My best and here’s to adding more balance and speaking of balance stay cool out there!!