NEUROTRANSMITTERS are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. They relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.” The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted many ways. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. Stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, genetic predisposition, drugs (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine usage can cause these levels to be out of optimal range.
There are two kinds of neurotransmitters – INHIBITORY and EXCITATORY. Excitatory neurotransmitters are not necessarily exciting – they are what stimulate the brain. Those that calm the brain and help create balance are called inhibitory. Inhibitory neurotransmitters balance mood and are easily depleted when the excitatory neurotransmitters are overactive.
Acetylcholine acts as a neuromodulator in the CNS and PNS. Rather than engaging in direct synaptic transmission between specific neurons, neuromodulators act on a variety of neurons throughout the nervous system. In the central nervous system, acetylcholine acts as part of a neurotransmitter system and plays a role in attention and arousal. In the peripheral nervous system, this neurotransmitter is a major part of the autonomic nervous system and works to activate muscles.
DOPAMINE is a special neurotransmitter because it is considered to be both excitatory and inhibitory. Dopamine helps with depression as well as focus, which you will read about in the excitatory section.
DOPAMINE is our main focus neurotransmitter. When dopamine is either elevated or low – we can have focus issues such as not remembering where we put our keys, forgetting what a paragraph said when...