Dopamine is neurotransmitter (a substance that nerves use to send messages to one another). Depending on the dopamine receptor to which it binds, it can be either an excitatory or inhibitory neurotransmitter. It is derived from the amino acid L-Tyrosine. Dopamine is the precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine, which are all catecholamine neurotransmitters. The function of dopamine is diverse but plays a large role in the pleasure/reward pathway (addiction and thrills), memory, and motor control. Dopamine, like norepinephrine and epinephrine, is stored in vesicles in the axon terminals of nerves in the brain.
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Norepinephrine is one of a variety of catecholamines, which are hormone and neurotransmitter chemicals produced by the adrenal medulla as well as neurons in the brain and central nervous system. Norepinephrine plays a significant role in the sympathetic nervous system, where it is necessary for heightened alertness, attention, focus and mental and nervous system sharpness. Excessive amounts of Norepinephrine causes restlessness, anxiousness and insomnia. A deficiency can cause fatigue, apathy, lack of usual interest and excitement, mental dullness, inability to concentrate and depression.
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Epinephrine (Adrenaline), also known as Adrenaline, is an excitatory hormone and neurotransmitter derived from Norepinephrine. As a hormone, Epinephrine is secreted along with Norepinephrine from the adrenal glands. Heightened secretion can occur in response to fear or anger and will result in increased heart rate and blood pressure. This reaction, referred to as the "fight or flight" response, prepares the body for strenuous activity. Elevated levels of epinephrine can be factors contributing to restlessness, anxiety, sleep problems. Low Epinephrine levels will can be due to adrenal stress (a pattern in which the adrenal output is suppressed due to chronic stress), leading to general fatigue. Low levels of epinephrine can also contribute to weight gain.
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Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found primarily in the brain, pineal gland, central nervous system, blood platelets and the digestive tract. It is derived from the amino acid 5-Hydroxyryptophan (5HTP). It acts as a calming or inhibitory neurotransmitter and a vasoconstrictor (a substance that causes blood vessels to narrow). A lack of serotonin is associated with causing muscle tension, anxiety, depression, compulsive disorders, poor concentration, learning and memory problems, sleep dysfunction, excessive appetite and decreased sex drive.
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Melatonin is produced from Serotonin primarily at night after sunset and facilitates the onset and continuation of normal sleep patterns. Working late in front of a computer, watching television late at night, working night shifts, travel across multiple time zones, stress and aging all cause changes in sleeping patterns that are likely to have adverse effects on Melatonin secretion patterns. Altered patterns or reduced levels of Melatonin secretion cause sleep disturbances, insomnia and fatigue. A deficiency of Melatonin can be found in depression, schizophrenia, amenorrhea, anorexia, and breast cancer.
Sufficient amounts of Melatonin can relax your muscles, relieve tension, reduce stress and anxiety (especially at night), and lower your blood pressure. It calms you and provides a sense of serenity. Supplementing Melatonin can effectively synchronize the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is also a powerful anti-oxidant and at normal levels provides protection from the oxidative damage of free radicals that may cause cancer.
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Gama Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It regulates the excitability of virtually all neurons in the brain. GABA affects the body's signaling system by decreasing neuron activity and prevents nerve cells from over firing. It can be viewed as the "braking system" in the brain that stops excitatory transmissions and restores balance and calm to the system.
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