What are Neurotransmitters?
It would be hard to overstate the complexity of the vast network of specialized cells that make up your nervous system. The average human brain houses over 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) with each connected to 10,000 or so other cells which, if you do the math, equals approximately 1000 trillion connections in your brain. This means you have, even on a slow day, roughly 10,000 times more connections in your brain than there are stars in the Milky Way.
Everything we do – all of our movements, thoughts, and feelings - is the result of these nerve cells talking with one another via electrical and chemical signals.
Neurons are not in direct contact with each other; in order to communicate with each other, they rely on highly specialized chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that coordinate the transmission of signals from one nerve cell (neuron) to the next. These all important brain chemicals interact with target sites called receptors located throughout the brain (and body) to regulate a wide variety of processes including emotions, fear, pleasure, joy, anger, mood, memory, cognition, attention, concentration, alertness, energy, appetite, cravings, sleep, and the perception of pain.
Additionally, neurotransmitters chemically link the brain and spinal cord with the rest of your body: muscles, organs, and glands. Thus, our brain is not only an array of wires (nerve cells/neurons) but also a highly evolved chemical soup (neurotransmitters). Neurotransmitters affect every cell, tissue, and system in your body. And because neurotransmitters are functionally integrated with the immune system and the endocrine system (including the adrenal glands), neurotransmitter imbalances can cause widespread health problems such as:
Brain fog – loss of mental focus, ADD, ADHD, impaired memory, poor decision making
Insomnia – difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both
Pain – migraines, fibromyalgia
Obesity – metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and diabetes
Mood disorders – depression, mood swings, irritability
Anxiety – panic, obsessions, PTSD
Attention and Concentration - as seen in ADD/ADHD
Behavioral disturbances – addictions, binge eating, compulsions impulsivity, gambling, autism
Hormonal imbalances – PMS, estrogen dominance, low testosterone, hypo-thyroidism
The good news is that for each neurotransmitter we discover is out of balance, there are usually natural remedies such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, or homeopathy that can help restore proper balance.
If you are showing signs of neurotransmitter imbalance, the best thing to do is to get your neurotransmitter levels tested.
5 Reasons You Should Consider Neurotransmitter testing:
Neurotransmitters control communication throughout your body and brain. Neurotransmitters are complex chemical messengers that coordinate communcation between neruons, which in turn affect every cell, tissue, and system in your body.
Symptoms (and even diagnoses) don't tell the whole story.
Although you can articulate a long list of symptoms, you can't identify the underlying imbalances causing those symptoms. Neurotransmitter testing gives me more information than your symptoms alone can.
You are unique, your symptoms are not.
Many symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain, anxiousness, and sleep disturbances can have strikingly different underlying causes. While your poor sleep may be due to low serotonin, someone else's may be related to high glutamate. Neurotransmitter testing can identify your specific biochemical imbalances.
Complex health conditions require an integrated approach.
Today's Diseases of Civilization demand a unified approach that conceptualizes nervous, endocrine and immune functions as an integrated system. Neurotransmitter testing helps me as a clinician uncover adrenal and immune issues that affect proper neural balance.
Testing biomarkers helps us provide customized patient care.
Most importantly, once we have the personalized, integrated information from your unique lab results, we can better address underlying imbalances. The promise of such an approach is increased care effectiveness and decreased care expenses.
Putting It All Together
Testing of neurotransmitters allows us to identify "upstream" causes of some of the most "downstream" symptoms encountered in contempory society. Without such testing, no matter how educated, we are merely guessing. Personalized treatment requires personalized evaluation of neurotransmitters, and, for that matter, hormones, adrenal output, and inflammation.
If you are showing signs of neurotransmitter imbalance, the best thing to do is to get your neurotransmitter levels tested. Call us to schedule your appointment.