Proper Neurotransmitter Balance

Neurotransmitter Metabolism – Simple in Concept, Complex in Application

Everything seems pretty easy and straight-forward up until this point – it would seem that if you give the body amino acid precursors, it should make the respective neurotransmitters in a relatively straightforward fashion:

Illustration taken from Marty Hinz, MD.

However, achieving proper neurotransmitter balance can be very difficult to do. This is because there are several steps during the conversion of amino acids into their respective neurotransmitters and in the degradation (or breakdown) of neurotransmitters where there is a competition of sorts for precious resources.

Figure 1 shows how tyrosine is converted into dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine and how tryptophan is converted to serotonin. The important thing to see is that the enzyme needed for these conversions is the same (i.e., aromatic amino acid decarboxylase). This means that tyrosine competes with tryptophan (or 5-HTP) to be converted into dopamine or serotonin, respectively. This may not seem like that big of a deal in theory, but in practice it often makes the difference between not seeing any results or the complete resolution of symptoms.

Figure 1: The synthesis of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline) from amino acid precursors.

Here’s why: because tyrosine and 5-HTP compete with each other for this enzyme taking the improper balance of either amino acid can cause a substantial imbalance in their respective neurotransmitters. Said differently, if you take only 5-HTP or L-tyrosine they will compete with and inhibit the synthesis of the opposite precursor because they compete for this enzyme. This means that if you take only 5-HTP (to increase serotonin) or only L-dopa or L-tyrosine (to increase dopamine levels) you will decrease the synthesis of the other neurotransmitter (dopamine or serotonin respectively).(1) Over time, this will lead to or increase the neurotransmitter imbalances present.

In addition, there are many interactions noted in the literature between amino-acids and neurotransmitters:

Illustration taken from Marty Hinz, MD.

One look at this figure and you can easily see that even though 5-HTP and L-tyrosine are made into serotonin and dopamine, respectively, they also have a number of other effects. Because of this, the odds of a person guessing the correct blend of amino acids necessary to address their specific issues are virtually zero.

This is why it is so important to work with a health care professional that is trained in the proper use of amino acid therapy: you have to take properly balanced amino acids when you are attempting to improve neurotransmitter function. If you take only one amino acid precursor, the administered amino acid will dominate the enzyme and compromise proper production of the other system’s neurotransmitters, creating further imbalance, which can lead to more and greater symptoms. The same is true if you take an improperly balanced amino acid formula. This is where conducting proper urinary testing can become very important.

6 Comments

  1. Can I confirm that if one keeps serotonin in balance (competative i hibition state) with dopamine, increases in L Dopa will therefore not be necessary??

    Reply
    • Hi Carry,

      That is correct – if serotonin and dopamine can be optimized using only 5-HTP, L-tyrosine and the necessary cofactors, additional L-dopa will not be necessary.

      Hope that helps!

      Dr. Chad

      Reply
  2. What is the average cost of the products regarding amino acid treatments?

    Reply
    • Hi Wanda,

      Thanks for your question. If a person begins with the NeuroReplete and CysReplete products, they typically run about $180/month. After that, each person’s dosing is completely customized to their needs (via test results).

      I hope that helps!!

      Dr. Chad

      Reply
  3. I’m currently spending approximately 200.00 a week on the protocol? About 8 months in ,and getting close to a final dosage.There’s got to be a more reasonable way to provide”common ” amino acids? It’s vague , expensive and inconvenient , but seems to work. I’d like to hear from some long term users as to their success.

    Reply
    • Hi Jay – thanks for posting. The main insight and value with the CHK products is that they provide all the precursors and cofactors needed in the correct ratios to correct imbalances between the serotonin and catecholamine system. If you’d like to learn more, please visit: http://www.neurosupport.com. I will post your request here, but I would encourage you to follow up with your current health care provider to get you in contact with some of there long-term clients that are successfully using amino acid therapy –

      Sincerely,

      Dr. Chad

      Reply

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