The Dr. Lam Show

Correcting Neurotransmitter Imbalance

July 18, 2021 Dr. Lam
The Dr. Lam Show
Correcting Neurotransmitter Imbalance
Show Notes Transcript

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that help your cells communicate with each other. Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle seems designed to cause neurotransmitter imbalances and lots of associated problems. If you experience these kinds of issues, then here’s what you need to know

1:15 - Dopamine and the Reward Center
2:15 - Norepinephrine and Alertness
3:05 - Epinephrine and Stress Response
4:30 - Acetylcholine and Parasympathetic Response
6:15 - Parasympathetic Nervous System and Calming down
7:35 - Serotonin and the Gut
10:10 - Causes of Neurotransmitter Imbalance
11:05 - Reactive Sympathetic Response
13:20 - Adrenal Breathing Exercises (Find app here: Apple - https://apps.apple.com/us/app/adrenal-breathing/id1120140322 | Android - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.development.adrenal)
16:15 - How to balance Neurotransmitters naturally

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Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

Are you experiencing strange symptoms that don't seem related to any specific organ? Then it may be something to do with your neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that allow you to communicate with each other. This is the Dr. Lam show. And we're here to empower you to take control of your health. I'm Dr. Jeremy Lam, and I focus on chronic disease, and how to address them holistically.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

I'm Dr. Carrie Lam, and I am board certified in family medicine, regenerative medicine and anti aging. I like to take a more integrative approach to issues like this. Today, we're going to be talking about neurotransmitters, what they are, what can happen when your levels are unbalanced. Make sure you like and subscribe to this show, if you would like to share, so more people can benefit from what we're talking about. Let's start with an introduction to some of the most common neurotransmitters. Dr. Jeremy, which would you like to talk about first today?

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

Well, let's start with dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is in charge of your reward center. So anytime you feel rewarded, whether you bite into a piece of chocolate, or you did something really good, or you have sex, dopamine gets fired, and it makes you feel rewarded. Dopamine is also the chemical precursor to two other substrates called norepinephrine, and epinephrine. So dopamine is essentially the grandmother, if norepinephrine is the daughter. Norepinephrine is a very important neurotransmitter because it acts both as a messenger as well as a stimulant. So Dr. Carrie, tell us more about norepinephrine.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

So norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter that keeps you alert. Like we know street drugs like amphetamines, or medications like Adderall can keep people alert. So norepinephrine causes brain alertness and also has a hormone function in other parts of the body, which we won't talk about today. And as we said, it is formed from dopamine, and then becomes norepinephrine. And together dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are closely related. Dr. Jeremy, tell us a little about epinephrine.

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

So epinephrine, comes from the adrenals and that's why it's a hormone, with its own pathways. So rather than the norepinephrine, which comes from dopamine, epinephrine comes from the adrenals. It makes your heart pound, makes you ready to fight, makes you get ready to run away for your life, during a life threatening encounter. So, if there's a robbery or a car accident, the epinephrine makes you to be alert and excited so that you can handle these situations and the acute stress.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

Norepinephrine also helps with circulation and helping us stand up, your heart pound and breathe better. So both neurotransmitters are needed when you have a stress response, both norepinephrine and epinephrine. Then the body tries to self balance with the dopamine in the reward system. Again, there is the parasympathetic nervous system and so what is the main neurotransmitter on that side, Dr Jeremy?

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

Acetylcholine is the main neurotransmitter on the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps calm your body and is responsible for flight response or not the fight response. Mainly calming your body when you encounter stress. If you have a lot of epinephrine running through your body with adrenaline rushes, then the acetylcholine is going to calm your body. So it is a very careful balance between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. And when it's imbalanced, that's when you start to develop symptoms and clinical ramifications.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

Some of those symptoms can be adrenaline rushes. If you've been under a lot of chronic stress. For example, your boss shouting, being chased by a dog, even little triggers like opening the fridge door, change in temperature, or watching a horror movie can make you have an adrenaline rush. This causes norepinephrine and epinephrine to have a much higher output than normal. So if you're feeling some of these symptoms associated with neurotransmitters, and it sounds a little familiar, and you don't know how to deal with them, it could be that your adrenals are fatigued. And if you're struggling, and you need help, call our team for a free initial phone call, okay 714-709-8000, and learn about how we can use holistic health to deal with this neurotransmitter imbalance. So we left off at acetylcholine and we want to talk a little more about the parasympathetic system. Dr Jeremy, tell us a little more about that.

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

So the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the rest and digest, to balance the fight or flight. Acetylcholine is very important because it helps calm you down, helps you breathe slowly. It's also a key modulator of our mood. So if, acetylcholine is meant to really calm things down, and that's the ultimate target of the neurotransmitter response, acetylcholine help the parasympathetic nervous system. Now, another neurotransmitter, called serotonin found in brain and gut, and is responsible for how we feel good, and our moods. So when you have low moods that's been linked to low levels of serotonin. And Dr. Carrie, tell us a little bit about serotonin in the gut.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

So you have serotonin receptors in your gut. If you are having gut problems, whether it's bloating, constipation, diarrhea, your neurotransmitters might also be imbalanced. Your microbiome which is the good bacteria in your small and large intestines, are in charge of producing the precursors to neurotransmitters like serotonin. So if you have an imbalanced gut, dysbiosis, bad bacteria or bacterial overgrowth, then you might not be having a good balanced way of producing neurotransmitters. We talk a lot about these technical terms. All you definitely want is to make sure you have a good gut. The gut is your second brain, because it produces neurotransmitters, like serotonin, and produce other neurotransmitters from precursors in the gut microbiome. Kind of how you say you can feel butterflies when you're nervous, or when you feel panicky or irritable. your gut is feeling that too, right, because it's your second brain. You're digesting not only foo , but also the feelings and the knowledge. So if you're thi king that this is normal to fee anxious or depressed, and you low mood is low, then it is not normal. You have to get down to he root cause. It may be due to lot of stress that you're dea ing with, or an unhealthy gut that needs looking at. So it' important to bring make sur you're looking at all parts o your body.

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

It is important to look at the whole body holistically. That's what makes the transmitter problem so hard to identify and correct, because you have to look at the body holistically to determine whether any imbalances exists. Then you can learn how to correct them safely, gently and naturally. If this sounds like something your body needs, then contact our team at 714 709 8000 for more information. So, now that we know what neurotransmitters are, let's take a look at what can make them imbalanced. We see a lot of people coming in with adrenal issues along with neurotransmitter and mood imbalance. Some days they're irritable, some days they are calm, or just over the moon and other days, they are down in the dumps. And oftentimes, it's intertwined with anxiety, or really bad panic attacks, and also inability to sleep. And when you put this whole picture together, it shows that the body is very irritable, and unsteady. And you know, just like when the wind blows, they can fall over. And so, you know, why is this like Dr Carrie, that happens with the body.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

When you undergo chronic stress, your body has the neuro endo metabolic stress response. Your body can get used to having this autonomic reactive, sympathetic response. Your HPA axis wants to produce more cortisol, which is the anti inflammatory hormone produced by adrenals. It reduces the sympathetic response because norepinephrine and epinephrine can be very inflammatory to your body. Epinephrine is produced to help you run away, it constricts your heart and blood vessels to get most of the blood to your heart so they can pump and you can run fast. That's what you do in CPR, where not only do you do chest compressions, but also give epinephrine so that all the blood is pumped from the heart into your brain. But long term, it can really also constrict so much that there is less than circulation in your extremities. That can be very inflammatory, if you are under chronic stress. Therefore, you have to really think about how your body is coping with that chronic stress, then puts out cortisol. It a natural steroid that your adrenals release, to reduce that inflammatory response. Over time, though, your adrenals can get tired of releasing cortisol, and epinephrine, and therefore it just gets tired. And you get more and more sensitive to all these little signals from the epinephrine and norepinephrine. Whether it's getting excited or running away, or a dog barking, something you're just not used to can trigger you. People get a little more sensitive with their reactive sympathetic response. So, it's very important to be able to make lifestyle changes and also practice breathing. Dr. Jeremy, can you go into a little more about breathing?

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

The way you are actually breathing is going to help control the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. We recommend adrenal breathing exercises to our patients, which you can look up on YouTube, to how to perform it. That's going to activate the vagus nerve, and help calm your body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

There are also a lot of other things that can be toxic to our neurotransmitters. What are some of those things Dr. Jeremy?

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

Environmental toxins can be quite toxic to neurotransmitters. For example, if you're using laundry detergent with harmful chemicals, or pesticides in the food then that can interfere with neurotransmitters. Other things like heavy metals are toxic and can also affect the neurotransmitter function. The most important contributor is stress, because stress puts the body in an excitation mode all the time and your body perceives it as a threat to survival. So the only way is to keep on firing the adrenaline, norepinephrine and epinephrine and you feel like your body is on overdrive all the time until it burns out.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

Also things that are artificially stimulating can trigger neurotransmitters to be produced like coffee and tea. Caffeine stimulates you to have more energy but too much of it is oxic to your HPA axis because ou're artificially stimulating our adrenals to work harder. ther toxins like alcohol, or ny bad foods can really destroy our gut. As the gut is your econd brain, you should make to ave a good diet and good ifestyle, stress meditation and reathing is important as part f the whole body approach to ealing with neurotransmitter alance.

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

A neurotransmitter imbalance can cause a whole range of problems and symptoms and are affected by many factors as well. So that's why you should never try to identify imbalances on your own. Instead, get expert help, by talking to our team at 714-709-8000 to identify the cause of your problem and the best ways to fix it. Now, we've discussed neurotransmitter imbalances, so let's finish up on how to balance neurotransmitter and how to live with it. Firstly, to minimize the intake of caffeine and other stimulants. We drink coffee and tea to activate the sympathetic nervous system and fire those neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters would go overboard, and there may not be enough inhibitory neurotransmitters to calm you down. If you've been taking coffee for a long time, don't go cold turkey and quit to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Go slow when you are trying to quit coffee.

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:

There are also other recommendations like eating food higher in amino acids and vitamin B's. It's good to modulate nutritional deficiencies, as that might be causing feeling blue and low moods, So you might be taking vitamin B to helps stimulate and give you energy, but always be careful about even vitamins as it can stimulate you artificially if you're not doing it for the right reasons. If you have adrenal fatigue, and your body's not strong, it can trigger adrenal crash. Amino acids are also stimulating even though they are the building blocks for neurotransmitters. So you always want to make sure that you're doing it for the right purpose, under the right influences. There are many types of herbs, glandulars ashwagandha, green tea, adaptogens, that can cause imbalances either by stimulation or calming. They're called adaptogens. So you always want to be careful before you start if you have adrenal fatigue, and not just take something like ashwagandha. Many people are found to be sensitive to ashwagandha which brings the opposite reaction, stimulating them, making then anxious and tired and it has an opposite reaction. So you have to always be careful about adaptogens depending on your stage of adrenal fatigue.

Dr. Jeremy Lam, MD:

That's all that we have for today on the Dr. Lam show. We hope that you found this information helpful, and get answers to some of the burning questions that you may have about neurotransmitters and your health. Please don't forget to subscribe to the show if you found it useful. This really helps the doctor I'm sure we'll get found by people who might have neurotransmitter imbalances, but can't get to the right information or help from sources. See you next time and remember that we're always here to empower you to take control of your health.

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