Neurotransmitter testing can help

February 27, 2012

ADD/ADHD, Anxiety

A neurotransmitter is a substance that carries an impulse from a nerve to another nerve or cell.

by Dr. Denise Grobe — 

If you are having long-term problems with fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, uncontrollable food cravings or mild-to-moderate depression, or if your current treatment for these symptoms is not working, then neurotransmitter testing may be the piece that completes the puzzle to your good health and happiness.

What is a neurotransmitter?

A neurotransmitter is a substance that carries an impulse from a nerve to another nerve or cell. Neurotransmitters are essential for communication between the body’s organs and glandular system. Their function affects behavior, and a link has been established between neurotransmitters and disorders such as ADD, anxiety, depression, insomnia and fatigue.

Neurotransmitters are either inhibitory or excitatory — they either decrease or increase activity and consist of amino acids, monoamines and other active substances.

Examples of neurotransmitters are serotonin and dopamine.

• Serotonin: an inhibitory monoamine that regulates appetite, mood, sleep and body temperature. Research has shown a connection between serotonin imbalance and depression, hot flashes, migraines, anxiety, insomnia and anger.

• Dopamine: an excitatory monoamine that is involved in energy, motivation, mental focus and the stress response. Research indicates that dopamine function has a connection to fatigue, hyperactivity, insomnia, weight management and attention issues.

How do you test neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitter levels can be evaluated through the testing of urine. Parameters for measuring depend on the neurotransmitters being tested. Research has indicated that urinary neurotransmitter measurements correlate with neurological conditions. The results of this testing can be used to develop a treatment plan or to determine the effectiveness of existing and ongoing treatments.

The results of neurotransmitter testing, along with other test results deemed necessary by your health care provider, will help guide appropriate treatment for long-term relief of recurrent symptoms. By identifying deficiencies or excesses and implementing the proper treatments, balance can be restored. Neurotransmitter testing has been used for many years in research settings and applications, but only recently have these testing procedures been applied clinically.

How are neurotransmitter imbalances treated?

Treatment for balancing neurotransmitters is based on test results and symptoms, and is different for every patient. Treatment is accomplished through the combination of neurotransmitter precursors, modulators and enzymatic cofactors that specifically target the spectrum of neurotransmitter balance. This means that the substances necessary for the body to balance neurotransmitter levels are provided through supplementation. Drugs have also been developed to affect neurotransmitters; these include antidepressants, antiemetics and psychedelics.

Ask your health care provider if neurotransmitter testing is appropriate for your symptoms and health concerns.

 

Dr. Denise Grobe is a naturopathic physician at the Center for True Harmony Wellness & Medicine in Mesa, Ariz. 480-539-6646 or www.trueharmonywellness.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 6, Dec 2009/Jan 2010.

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