Neurotransmitters and Your Health
What are neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are small molecules used by nerves for communication. Many commonly prescribed medications work by altering neurotransmitter levels; Lexapro and Zoloft boost serotonin activity.
Neurotransmitters are small molecules used primarily by the nervous system, but are also used by the immune system for communication purposes. They are targeted by many medications for the treatment of common health issues including insomnia, fatigue, depression, anxiety, attention issues, and hypertension. Neurotransmitter imbalances are often the result of an infection or chronic inflammation. Bringing neurotransmitters back into balance addresses numerous symptoms simultaneously while also restoring functionality to the neuro-immune systems. Finally, neurotransmitter imbalances are typically manifested as insomnia in Lyme disease patients and over time this lack of sleep becomes a major obstacle is achieving better health. By addressing neurotransmitter imbalances and supporting quality sleep, patients can restore immune vitality and repair damage nervous tissues.
What causes imbalances?
Neurotransmitter imbalances can be causes due to poor diets, lifestyle choices, stress, trauma, infection, chronic inflammation, environmental toxins and genetic predispositions. Once the nervous system is out of balance it is difficult to “reboot” itself resulting in a domino effect other body systems affected including the endocrine (hormones) and immune systems. This is why people with chronic diseases have higher incidence rates of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Limitations to the pharmaceutical approach
Pharmaceutical medications, designed to alter neurotransmitters levels, have inherent limitations preventing them from being effective longterm and are not intended to address root causes behind those imbalances. This often results in a form of dependency when people try to stop them, often times due to side effects, but find stopping them very difficult.
Pharmaceuticals typically increase neurotransmitter activity (think SSRIs, NRIs, SNRIs) at the expense of your body’s stored neurotransmitter levels. Pharmaceuticals also manipulate neuronal membrane structures to prefer the medication over the body’s own neurotransmitters by down-regulating (making less) important cellular structures such as neurotransmitter receptors and transporter structures which makes getting off the medications difficult at times.
For example, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a first line therapy for depression (also commonly used for anxiety, insomnia, and hot flashes) because they increase circulating levels of serotonin at the expense of their recycling back into cells for use later. By preventing serotonin from being reused it reduces cellular storage levels thereby creating greater intracellular imbalances and a type of drug dependency. This why many people need to switch their antidepressant medications on a regular basis and eventually may require prescriptions with different mechanisms of actions that typically increase risks of drug side-effects.
At the end of the day, pharmaceuticals are not designed to increase the bodies overall neurotransmitter levels which limits their long-term effectiveness. They do effectively alter neurotransmitter levels in the short-term and may be a very important part to a treatment protocol (short and long term), but they inherently do not address your total physiological needs.
The brain-body connection
Most conventional treatment to depression, anxiety and insomnia are limited to the alteration of brain chemistry with little-to-no attention paid to the health of the rest of the body. The brain is still a part of our bodies, although there is still a persisting believe that the brain is an isolated, privileged, organ with little affect from other organ systems. Gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, IBD, celiac, Crohn's and SIBO have been shown to significantly increase your risk and severity of depression and anxiety. Autoimmune diseases, infections, chronic disease, diabetes and heart disease all contribute to imbalances that increase risks for mood disorders.
The nervous and immune systems are intimately intertwined, using many of the same regulating chemicals; neurotransmitters and cytokines. 80% of the immune system is housed within the intestines and if your gastrointestinal system is not optimal, resulting inflammation, immune activation, hormonal imbalances and nutrient deficiencies will alter brain chemical levels.
Address the root cause(s)
Before we create a treatment plan, our doctors first gather laboratory data from multiple body systems in order to personalize treatment and rule out undiagnosed root causes. Additionally, labs will be performed at certain health milestones to track progress and further adjust your therapies as your imbalances improve. Specialty ab testing commonly ordered includes: urinary neurotransmitters, 4-point cortisol and genetics. Serum tests is typically run through your private insurance and include comprehensive assessments of the immune, cardiovascular, metabolic, nutritional and endocrine status.
We live in a complex world and sometimes it can overwhelm us. Divorce, the death of loved one, work, traumatic events, or excessive wear and tear of performing at a high level can result in nervous system imbalances. Stress by itself, absent of any other organic or genetic causes, may lead to the onset of a mood disorder. Antidepressant and anxiolytic medications are typically helpful in the short-term, but then may lead to further neurotransmitter depletion that prevents the body to restore itself to normal. Our holistic approach addresses these depletions and can make titrating off medications easier.
Our clinic are experts in drug titrations incorporating natural treatments along with pharmaceuticals to improve your condition before starting a strategy of titrating down off the prescriptive medications. For some people, reducing medications can be very difficult and possibly dangerous so we work with where you are at. We often work with compounding pharmacies to incorporate liquid versions of popular medications to allow for very slow titrations. Intravenous IV's may also be useful in reestablishing nutritional status and calm the nervous system.
New hope for what troubles you.
We’re one of the only natural medicine clinics with a focus on mood disorders, ADHD, insomnia and other psychiatric complaints. Our clinic takes a holistic, yet scientific approach to diagnostics and treatments for improved outcomes.
Pharmaceuticals alone are often self-limiting.
Treat your depression, anxiety, insomnia with broad spectrum nutritional support.
Neurotransmitter imbalances can be identified through laboratory testing, having a detailed medication history, and interpreting some standardized questionnaires.
Medications often manipulate neurotransmitters for short-term benefits.
Neurotransmitters help keep your life in balance.
Testing is done through a non-invasive, at-home test.
Laboratory testing is an essential part of a work-up for depression, anxiety or any psychiatric issue.
Neurotransmitters . Adrenal Hormones . Sex Hormones . Genetics . Inflammation . Allergies . Autoimmunity . Infection . Metabolics . Nutritional . Food Sensitivities
Integrating urinary neurotransmitter
testing for better results.
We have over 17-years experience, innovating the clinical usage of neurotransmitter testing.