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