Neurotransmitter health and balance: GABA for being Zen

GABA is a brain hormone that promotes feeling of calmness and alert relaxation. The GABA system is at the center of fighting anxiety and keeping feelings of overwhelm at bay.

The very fact that anti-anxiety medicine like clonazepam, diazepam and alprazolam are some of the most frequently prescribed drugs,  indicate that GABA system dysfunction is very prevalent today.

 

Symptoms associated with decreased GABA or imbalances in the GABA system:

  • Feelings of anxiousness or panic without reason
  • Feelings of dread
  • Inner tension, easy excitability and inner restlessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed without reason
  • Restless mind
  • Cannot turn off your mind when it is time to relax or sleep
  • Concern or worry about things that are not significant
  • Anxiety and inability to concentrate due to your mind jumping around

Drinking teas, black or green, and eating fermented foods help boost GABA activity in the brain, and focused supplementation has been shown to make a tremendous difference not only in calming feelings of anxiety and restlessness, but increasing brain levels of GABA.

GABA system dysfunction is dependent upon many modern lifestyle factors, which can be identified and corrected with appropriate lifestyle and focused GABA system specific nutrients for a steady and calm emotional state.

Neurotransmitter health and balance: Dopamine for contentment

Dopamine is the hormone of contentment and feeling centered. Feelings of discontent, hopelessness, decreased stress tolerance and volatile temper is a sure indication that your dopamine system may not be functioning as well as it should to ground you.

Adventure seeking, habitual overuse of anything – chocolate, sugar, alcohol or other substances – may also be related to low dopamine.

Dopaminergic neurons in the spinal cord are important in pain modulation and have been found dysfunctional in conditions like fibromyalgia with much body pain.

Movement disorders like Parkinsons disease are strongly linked to low dopamine levels in the central nervous system.

 

Symptoms of low dopamine or decreased dopamine activity include:

  • Decreased motivation for tasks
  • Trouble starting and finishing tasks
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Losing temper over small things
  • Can’t handle stress
  • Anger and agression while under stress
  • Tendency to isolate yourself
  • Lack of concern for people you are close to

The body makes dopamine from the amino acid L-Tyrosine, then turns it into L-Dopa, which is the direct precursor to dopamine.

Iron is essential for effective formation of dopamine in the brain, iron is needed to convert tyrosine into DOPA, in addition, you need Vit B6, folic acid and oxygen.

If you are iron deficient or anemic, you may want to optimize your iron levels in addition to supporting dopamine pathways with precursors.

Testing in addition to thorough symptomatic analysis may help you diagnose dopamine deficiency, which can be treated through a systems based approach, correction of nutritional deficiencies and other factors influencing dopamine system dysfunction.

 

Werner Vosloo ND, MHom

Neurotransmitter health and balance: Serotonin for joy

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter of pleasure and enjoyment, feeling good. Serotonin is the main hormone associated with good mood, feeling happy, enjoying your life, family and friends. If you do not feel happy, get pleasure from things you used to enjoy or feel down when its winter and gray, continue reading.

Symptoms of low serotonin or impaired serotonin activity:

  • Loss of pleasure and enjoyment in hobbies and activities you enjoyed previously
  • Feelings of sadness and depression
  • Demotivation
  • Feelings of inner rage and anger
  • Not finding joy from things that should give you pleasure
  • Depression in winter or when it is cloudy
  • Not enjoying your favorite foods anymore
  • Less pleasure in friendship and relationships
  • Tendency to isolate yourself
  • Not falling asleep and experience deep restful sleep

 

Serotonin system dysfunction or low serotonin can be determined through symptomatic analysis and laboratory testing, which goes hand in had with multi system analysis as blood sugar, brain oxygenation and gender hormones like estrogen balance affect serotonin system function tremendously.

 

Werner Vosloo ND, MHom

 

Neurotransmitter health and balance: Acetylcholine for cognition

Neurotransmitters and brain hormones play an important role in how we feel, behave and determine our emotional and intellectual lives.

Much of these hormones, like serotonin and dopamine are found in the digestive tract, making digestive tract health essential for healthy central nervous system function.

In addition to maintaining gastro-intestinal health, you can support specific areas of your brain and neurotransmitter health.

This is a helpful exercise in understanding the basics of brain hormones, how they shape our life and how to identify dysfunctions and deficiencies.

Both symptomatic and laboratory testing can help determine if you would benefit from a focused systems based analysis and also focused neurotransmitter specific protocols.

 

Acetylcholine is the hormone of the mind and cognition and is especially important for the conversion of short term memory to long term memory.

Acetylcholine levels are measurably changed in conditions like Alzheimers disease where visual and verbal memory is impaired. One of the signs of low acetylcholine impairment is that you may not recall exactly what you had for breakfast or lunch the day before yesterday, but you can remember details about your drivers license examination many decades ago.

“Senior moments” = impaired acetylcholine.

 

Symptoms of low or impaired acetylcholine activity:

Loss of visual memory Loss of memory for things you heard / verbal memory

Memory lapses

Impaired creativity

Decreased understanding of concepts, meanings

Difficulty calculating numbers

Less able to recognize faces and objects

Slower intellectual or mental responsivity

Difficult spacial orientation and with sense of direction

Getting lost and confused with directions

 

Foods high in building blocks for acetylcholine are eggs, animal flesh foods and healthy fats especially plant fats like lecithin.

Werner Vosloo ND, MHom

Low Carb, High Protein diet slows cancer growth.

A low carb high protein and moderate fat diet is clearly very beneficial in

1) slowing tumor progression

2) tumor penetration/initiation of new tumors.

In addition, mice on a low carbohydrate diet maintained normal body weight and exceeded normal life span.

 

Low Carb, high protein slows cancer progression and prevents initiation

Since cancer cells depend on glucose more than normal cells, we compared the effects of low carbohydrate (CHO) diets to a Western diet on the growth rate of tumors in mice. To avoid caloric restriction–induced effects, we designed the low CHO diets isocaloric with the Western diet by increasing protein rather than fat levels because of the reported tumor-promoting effects of high fat and the immune-stimulating effects of high protein. We found that both murine and human carcinomas grew slower in mice on diets containing low amylose CHO and high protein compared with a Western diet characterized by relatively high CHO and low protein. There was no weight difference between the tumor-bearing mice on the low CHO or Western diets.

Additionally, the low CHO-fed mice exhibited lower blood glucose, insulin, and lactate levels. Additive antitumor effects with the low CHO diets were observed with the mTOR inhibitor CCI-779 and especially with the COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex, a potent anti-inflammatory drug. Strikingly, in a genetically engineered mouse model of HER-2/neu–induced mammary cancer, tumor penetrance in mice on a Western diet was nearly 50% by the age of 1 year whereas no tumors were detected in mice on the low CHO diet. This difference was associated with weight gains in mice on the Western diet not observed in mice on the low CHO diet. Moreover, whereas only 1 mouse on the Western diet achieved a normal life span, due to cancer-associated deaths, more than 50% of the mice on the low CHO diet reached or exceeded the normal life span. Taken together, our findings offer a compelling preclinical illustration of the ability of a low CHO diet in not only restricting weight gain but also cancer development and progression. Cancer Res; 71(13); 4484–93. ©2011 AACR.