The Functional Medicine Approach to Disorders of Mood, Attention, and Sleep
The family of biological molecules that determines our moods, our ability to concentrate and sleep, and how our different body functions are balanced is called the neurotransmitters. In spite of their central importance in “calling the shots” they are amazingly small and simple molecules in comparison to others. With one exception they are made from amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. It is now possible to measure levels of these molecules in the urine.
Although neurotransmitter levels do not have a direct correlation to the levels in the brain (or gut – another place where their role is central) they can help guide replacement therapy, based on the understanding that providing extra amino acids the neurotransmitters are made of will help the body restore the reservoir of those with low levels. It is uncommon to find individuals with isolated or single neurotransmitter imbalances or insufficiencies. This may explain why some individuals do not respond to medications that are “selective” – targeted at influencing functional levels of a single neurotransmitter such as serotonin. In general, using amino acids for these disorders instead of medications is associated with many fewer side effects.
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