Balancing the Mind's Neurotransmitters
Most mental health disorders in both adults and children can be effectively addressed through Integrative Medicine. There are several approaches to balancing the neurotransmitters of the brain that are helpful and in combination can provide valuable input into the multidimensional treatment of disorders of the mind.
Pfieffer and Bill Walsh Institute, MINDD and DAN approaches are just some of the regimes that can be combined to devise effective neurotransmitter balancing regimes to treat a range of disorders including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, ADHA and autism, amongst others.
Feeding the Brain
The brain like the rest of the border requires suitable nutrition to create a healthy balance of neurotransmitters. Most neurotransmitters are created by only a few biological steps from essential amino acids attained through a healthy diet. Nutrients such as tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine and glutamine feed forward to become the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, histamine, GABA, glutamine as well as the endorphin neuropeptides. Selective use of amino acids can therefore be an important aspect of balancing the brain’s neurotransmitters.
Providing Key Nutrients
To make this transition from amino acid to neurotransmitter, key nutrients are required to assist in the chemical transformation. The use of these key nutrients such as B6, zinc and magnesium form the foundation of a regime of treatments that address physiological imbalances such as pyrrole disorders. Treating these imbalances can form an important part of any programme to balance the neurotransmitters.
Methylation is a chemical reaction that helps to turn on and off genes. It is important throughout the brain but is particularly necessary to balance neurotransmitter function. Both over and undermethylation can significantly affect the balance of the key neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that manifest into mental health conditions. Treatment approaches using B6 and zinc can be important in managing methylation imbalances.
How do I know if I have Neurotransmitter Imbalances?
Your particular set of signs and symptoms are a good indication of what neurotransmitter imbalances you make be experiencing. This is why a comprehensive assessment is important. Special tests such as kryptopyroles and zinc to copper rations may also help choose which nutritional approach will be most effective.
Can Fish Oils help?
Fish Oils can be extremely important as they help with many aspects of cellular health and, in particular, the function of the receptors within cell membranes that interact with neurotransmitters. Additionally growing evidence suggest a role of inflammation in mental health conditions and this is where high dose fish oils can be very effective.
What about Herbal treatments?
Treatments such as St Johns Wort for Depression and Magnolia officianus and Phellodendron amurense for Anxiety can be effective additions to a treatment programme. However with all protocols interactions must be evaluated, particularly if you are taking pharmaceutical medicines.
Do Drugs have a place?
Pharmaceutical medications can be effective for many people, mainly those with severe depression, yet others have significant side effects including, ironically, an increased risk of suicide. For this reason many less risky therapies should be trialled either prior to or in coordination with the use of anti-depressant drugs in order to avoid or minimise their usage unless you have severe Depression.
An important concern with the anti-depressant drugs (e.g. the SSRI drugs, MAO inhibitors) is the risk of drug-nutrient-herb side effects. This is another instance where you must consult with your doctor when taking either nutrients and/or herbs (e.g. St John’s Wort, tryptophan) with anti-depressant drugs as you may otherwise be put at risk.
What about Diet?
A variety of diets can be helpful depending upon the mental health condition being considered. Improving amino acid intake, nutrient balance, reducing toxin load and inflammation, food intolerances and stimulants are all relevant to creating a healthy brain environment. What diet si most important and practical for you will differ and is worked out from your assessment.
And the Gut Environment?
Growing evidence amazingly demonstrates that the balance of good and bad gut bugs can have a powerful effect on the health of the brain particularly in childhood conditions such as ADHD and Autism. Yet another factor to consider when addressing the complex needs of brain health.
Does Exercise help?
Certainly, it is one of the most important needs of the brain. A balanced mind needs both mental stimulus and physical health to remain healthy itself. Exercise is therefore one of key additions to any diet and nutrition programme in balancing up the brain.
Can the brain become toxic?
The brain is actually very susceptible to a toxic environment and, in particular, the heavy metals aluminum, lead, cadmium and mercury. Detoxification can therefore be an important addition to any neurotransmitter based programme.
And recreational drugs?
Recreation and some pharmaceutical drugs can have a major impact on mental health in both the short and long term. Again this often occurs as a result of their effect on neurotransmitter balance.
And what about Stress and Lifestyle?
Of course. The brain is a behavioural organ after all and is shaped by its experiences. Nutritional and neurotransmitter imbalances shape behavior but behavior itself can change neurotransmitter balance. The brain does not work in isolation. You can read about stress and lifestyle changes in the appropriate condition section with more information throughout this site.
Looking to improve your Mental Health? Make an appointment with Dr Lily Tomas at the Beach Street Centre.