This is often referred to as ‘neurotransmitter testing’ although that term does not properly describe the extent of the test. As we discussed earlier, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers; when neurotransmitter levels are too low or imbalanced, the messages get garbled and symptoms of disease or disorders develop. The way to correct this is by restoring proper neurotransmitter balance by providing the body with the nutrients it needs to restore proper neurotransmitter function. However, it isn’t quite as simple as giving the body the nutrients and having it ‘make’ the necessary neurotransmitters.
The primary determinant of neurotransmitter levels in the body is the functional status of molecules called transporters. Transporters, which are molecules in the cell walls, facilitate the movement of neurotransmitters in and out of the cells, including the neurons.
Neurotransmitters cannot cross the walls of the neurons on their own as they are water-soluble and the cell walls are made of fat. Water and oil (fat) do not mix. The transporters remedy this by escorting the neurotransmitters in and out of the neurons.
When there is damage to the neurons, a signal is sent throughout the body to all the transporters that tells them to alter the flow or neurotransmitters in a way to try and compensate for the problem. When the damage is minor, the transporters can compensate for neurotransmitter imbalances by utilizing nutrients from a healthy diet. However, when significant damage occurs, properly balanced amino acid therapy needs to be used to correct the problem.
Organic Cation Transporter Optimization
A special transporter called the ‘organic cation transporter (OCT) is primarily responsible for the transport of serotonin and the catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) as well as their amino acid precursors across the cell wall. These transporters are found throughout the body in many tissues, including the kidneys, gut, liver as well as the brain and function similarly in all tissues throughout the body. This means that if we affect change to the OCTs with amino acid therapy it affects all the OCTs throughout the entire body. This is very important.
When we run a ‘neurotransmitter test’ what we are really doing is determining the functional status of these OCTs in the kidneys in relation to a given amount of amino acids. By giving the body properly balanced amino acid therapy we can define the exact amounts of neurotransmitters and amino acids needed to restore proper functioning of the OCTs in the kidneys. However, because this also affects the OCTs in all the other tissues, including the brain in exactly the same way, testing the urinary excretion of neurotransmitters while taking a known amount of balanced amino acids allows us to restore proper functioning within the brain. This restores the flow of electricity in the neurons and leads to the relief of symptoms.
So what we are really doing is using amino acid therapy to help optimize the function of the OCTs in the neurons to facilitate proper signaling. (11) This is akin to unscrambling the messages so that the brain gets the proper signals. When the signals are no longer crossed, your body sends the right signals, your symptoms disappear and you get your life back.
Organic Cation Transporter (OCT) Assay Interpretation is a mouthful, but it is the proper name of the “neurotransmitter test” that is clinical useful. To my knowledge, it is only being conducted by one lab in the United States – DBS Labs, in Duluth, MN. This simple urine test allows us to measure your unique response to your amino acid therapy so that we can customize your amino acid therapy specifically to you. The beauty of these tests is that they allow us to pinpoint your exact amino acid needs so you can be assured you are getting everything you need and nothing you don’t.
If this explanation is too much science for you, don’t worry. Amino acid therapy works whether or not you understand why it works. The only thing you have to do is make sure that you are working with a practitioner that is properly trained in the use of amino acid therapy and OCT Assay Interpretation. You can contact us for more information or contact Alvin Stein, MD to get a referral for a practitioner in your area.
Amino acid therapy works whether or not you understand why it works.
NOTE: For those that are scientifically orientated that would like more information about urinary neurotransmitter testing or OCT Assay Interpretation, there are a number of peer-reviewed articles available including the following: