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Brain Chemistry

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Brain Chemistry is a term used to describe the state of neurotransmitters in the brain and their relationship to specific brain regions and subsequent bodily systems – remember, the body acts as a whole machine in unity. The human brain is both a chemical and an electrical organ consisting of more than 100 billion individual nerves called neurons [1].  

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Neurons have mini-storage units called vesicles that store brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, and these neurotransmitters travel between brain neurons serving as chemical messengers which activate specific receptors on brain neurons [2].  Excitatory neurotransmitters increase electrical activity in brain neurons, while inhibitory neurotransmitters decrease electrical activity in brain [2].  This is an important concept to understand as it will be used many times throughout the site.

A simple neurotransmitter analysis coupled with an amino acid assay can reveal a multitude of indications in the brain which can be grouped into two categories – overactive and underactive. The cells and neurotransmitters of these brain regions play a crucial role in a multitude of disorders, which are discussed below.

You can suffer from both an overactive and underactive brain simultaneously; although seemingly counterintuitive; because the brain is broken down into regions with specific functions, however, you will see how this can be true.  It is the stance of this site to provide an educational background on its beliefs, concepts, diagnostics, and treatments; however all treatment pages will be separate from the diagnostic educational pages.   

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Overactive Brain

Although there are many regions of the brain which play a role in health ailments, there are two primary regions, the anterior cingulate gyrus and deep limbic system. Both play a tremendous role in the diagnostic process as well as possible treatment choices, especially when it comes to an overactive brain. An overactive brain is one where the brain is exhibiting too much electrical activity resulting in too much voltage throughout the brain and body (too much excitatory neurotransmitters).

Many individuals suffering from an overactive brain feel as though their brain is plugged into an electrical socket; some even say they have widespread pain or tingling in their legs and arms. Many have suffered from these conditions for such a substantial period of time; they have learned to live with these ailments. Below are just a handful of questions that can reveal an over-electrified brain.   

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Do you continually go back to your car or house to make sure it is locked?

All of us may do this at times; however, why can some of us keep moving and some must go back? Why? – Your over-electrified brain is causing feelings of worry and a heightened sense of fear causing you to go back to your car.

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Do you overreact about a situation or a test that hasn’t been graded?

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Do you have trouble calming down?

Then remove yourself and count to ten – just kidding, does that ever work?  Not with the majority of us. Additional UCDTM concepts of calming the brain must be employed.

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Do you feel as if you are gasping for air at times – like you can’t catch your breath?

You may have gone to a doctor and they look at you as if you have some mental issues because your SpO2 levels are normal; however, the carbon dioxide levels in your blood is probably alkaline and your excitatory chemicals are most likely elevated. 

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Do you have a short fuse and get mad when people even look at you the wrong way?

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Do you have road rage?

We all do at times; however, it’s all about prevalence.  This is usually accompanied by an underactive brain region as well. 

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Do you have high blood pressure?

Excess adrenaline and noradrenaline (norepinephrine and epinephrine – both excitatory neurotransmitters) can cause high blood pressure. As your brain becomes electrified, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels tend to constrict causing shortness of breath and/or elevated blood pressure.

These are just a handful of overactive brain questions, but we are confident many of you answered yes to multiple questions above. Your brain is overactive (and yes there are many more questions we could ask and you’d probably answer yes to those also). Don’t panic because there many solutions, however you must start looking for answers now.

An overactive brain can cause a multitude of ailments, but many are unaware that these extra surges of electricity must be balanced because if these signals are not mediated it can lead to destruction of the brain.  The great Albert Einstein said, “Geniuses don’t solve problems, they prevent them.” Do not wait until the destruction is so damaging that it results in a neurodegenerative or neurological disease such as Parkinson’s or Neuropathy.  The brain must not be left in a state of increased electricity. Scroll down past some of the science below to see the “diagnosed” conditions associated with an overactive brain.  

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Anterior Cingulate Gyrus (ACS) and Deep Limbic System (DLS)  

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Gray727_anterior_cingulate_cortex.png

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The ACS [pictured above] is located near the corpus callosum (divider between the left and right hemispheres of the brain) is responsible for a wide variety of functions [3].  The ACS’s involvement in mood changes, depression and anxiety disorders, pain perception, and many other cognitive and emotional functions is now well established [3]; however, many diagnostic tools do not focus on this brain region. 

In the UCDTM protocol, neurotransmitter testing can help reveal the state of these brain regions and help establish causality that is directly linked to your current health status.

The deep limbic system (DLS) is a walnut sized region located in the midbrain that serves as our emotional center and can be seen below [4].  The deep limbic is called the emotional center because it stores our emotionally charged memories from childhood on [4].  The deep limbic system is actually slightly largely in females than males, making the associated ailments more exemplified in females [5].  

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Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) scans, although not widely accepted in the medical community, do reveal overactive and underactive regions in the brain.  However, enough scans have been performed to link quantitative neurotransmitter and amino acid values with patient cues; thus you do not need to expose yourselves to the radiation of the scan (nor the $3500.00 cost).  We have proven that neurotransmitter testing coupled with the other biomarkers tested in the UCDTM protocol prove to be adequate in revealing the current state of your brain and the aforementioned brain regions. Below are the associated diagnoses with an overactive brain.

Overactive Associated Diagnoses

-          Addiction

-          Anxiety

-          Bipolar Disorder

-          Chronic Pain

-          Fibromyalgia

-          Insomnia

-          OCD

-          Seizures  

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The medical community accepts these ailments as diagnoses; however, there are true causes for these conditions, one of which is overactive brain chemistry (additional causes discussed later). These diagnoses serve merely as another tool to help find true underlying causes. Now, even overactive brain chemistry must be further questioned because it stems from an actual underlying cause such as toxicity, infection, and/or genetics.

Specific brain regions can be pinpointed; however, brain scans can only serve as a guide, but not a direct diagnostic tool. Enough research with brain scans has been performed to link symptoms with quantitative data.  It's sufficient nowadays to listen to the patient and analyze their biomarkers which will provide the basis for any patient care.

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Underactive Brain

As with the overactive brain, there are two primary regions associated with the underactive brain.  These two regions are the nucleus accumbens (pleasure center) and the pre-frontal cortex (PFC – executive functioning, personality). Once again, we will start with a few questions.

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Do you have trouble falling asleep? Are you awake, thinking and planning the entire next day?

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Do you find it difficult to enjoy events that others find joyful?

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Do you drink alcohol regularly?

Alcohol releases dopamine from the PFC and NA (see below).

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Do you do drugs regularly?

Most drugs release dopamine from the PFC and NA (see below).

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Do you smoke cigarettes?

Cigarettes releases dopamine from the PFC and NA (see below). Actually, cigarettes release more dopamine than heroin and cocaine.

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Are you eccentric?

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Are you a Type A personality?

Many people with a high motor activity typically are dopamine deficient, mostly in the PFC.

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Nucleus Accumbens

The nucleus accumbens serves as our brain’s reward center [6].  In addition this brain region functions as our pleasure center, hunger center, and sex drive center [6-8]. When underactive, one finds it difficult to get excited or even smile, usually suffering from symptoms of depression [9]. In addition, since food releases dopamine, many will seek refuge in excess eating to boost their reward center to feel more “normal” [7].   

http://www.mayoclinic.com/images/image_popup/c7_pet_depression.jpg

Activities become dull and uneventful.  Many will stop exercising and taking care of themselves; depression can lock individuals into a seemingly endless loop of “going through the motions,” never feeling a sense of accomplishment regardless of the magnitude.

Some will look to other entities such as drugs or alcohol to help boost and “self-medicate” their problems as these substitutes readily boost dopamine in the nucleus accumbens [10, 11]. Sometimes, even receiving gifts and presents doesn’t bring joy to oneself. Associated neurotransmitters involve primarily dopamine, however many neurotransmitters including GABA and serotonin provide strong roles as well.  

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Pre-frontal Cortex (PFC)

This brain region is the executive center of the brain, and has also been shown to relate to cognitive and social behavior, as well as the planning of thoughts and goals.  “The prefrontal cortex guides behaviors, thoughts, and … working memory” [12] The PFC serves as the executive center for the brain. In other words it aids in, “the ability to inhibit inappropriate behaviors and thoughts, regulate our attention, monitor our actions, and plan and organize for the future” [12]. Although numerous neurotransmitters are involved, the primary neurotransmitter is dopamine.  

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Underactive Associated Diagnoses

-          ADD/ADHD

-          Addiction

-          Brain Trauma

-          Chronic Fatigue

-          Depression

-          Obesity  

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As with the overactive diagnoses, these above ailments are actually indicators of true underlying causes (see final paragraph of the overactive section)

Many who suffer from these conditions think that it’s their fault, and their choices are the root cause of these ailments.  The mind plays a significant role in determining choices; however, without the proper tools (neurotransmitters, hormones, amino acids, etc), these decisions become exceedingly difficult.  Many of you may find it difficult to get out of bed and some remain there for hours. Some cannot fall asleep as you are plotting the entire next day – from start to finish. Some overeat or “self-medicate” with drugs or alcohol to help compensate for the lack of dopamine, to help stimulate these underactive brain regions.  Nicotine releases an abundant amount of dopamine, and it is common to see an underactive brain region stimulated through smoking cigarettes.  All of these conditions suffer in great part from an imbalance in Brain Chemistry, specifically an underactive brain.  All of these conditions will coincide with your quantifiable brain chemistry biomarkers.

Another topic of interest in the field of medicine, especially the brain, is Brain Trauma. Since the brain remains the most unknown organ of the body, it’s extremely difficult to correct the abnormalities seen in Brain Trauma. However, an abundance of other health ailments are also associated with this issue as well, that remained substantially overlooked.  Many of these ailments can be diagnosed easily and addressed before the trauma is ever treated. The quality of life can be improved through the guidelines outlined on this site, regardless of the ailment.

Re-growing neurons in the brain, especially with individuals suffering from brain trauma, proves to be the most difficult thing to achieve in the medical community; however, much is being done to help heal the brain.  The brain expertise discussed and documented throughout this site shows how a multitude of issues can be solved.  It would be interesting to see the results of one’s brain recovery, if all UCDTM methods and, treatment protocols outlined on this site were implemented; thus addressing the true underlying causes.  

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Associated Neurotransmitters – Underactive and Overactive

There are a bevy of neurotransmitters that can reveal the state of one’s brain; however, the most important chemicals that have been directly correlated with be shown below. The neurotransmitters that play a major role in an overactive and underactive brain have been identified as both excitatory and inhibitory (calming) chemicals. 

Through thousands of correlated neurotransmitter profiles, the excitatory chemicals that exhibit the majority of the role in overactive and underactive brain regions are primarily glutamate, histamine, dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), epinephrine (adrenaline), GABA, serotonin, and taurine.

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Glutamate

Glutamate is the brain’s number one chemical (in quantity), encompassing almost half of all neurons, and is the primary excitatory chemical in the brain [2].  Excess glutamate causes excess calcium influx into the cell, and in turn causes more voltage to be sent throughout the brain and subsequently the body [13].  It is the most dangerous excitatory chemical and has been linked with every health ailment on the planet; including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and Huntington’s as well as neurological conditions such as depression and anxiety [13-15].  If glutamate is in excess for a prolonged amount of time, it will cause cell death and can contribute to brain damage, in addition to the aforementioned health ailments [15]. 

Glutamate gives rise to such vast amounts of electricity that its suppression is the primary priority in the treatment of any ailment. DO NOT MESS with glutamate, it is by far the most damaging neurotransmitter in the brain. For more information see Glutamate and the NMDA Receptor.

Histamine

The second primary excitatory chemical, histamine, is a vital inflammatory chemical that indicates not only excess electricity, but high inflammation in the brain and the body [18].  The release of histamine is also a primary indication of several allergic symptoms, as it contributes to an inflammatory response and causes constriction of smooth muscle [18]. Inflammation is a damaging effect of toxins and pathogens, and it could have been one of the four main acquired abnormalities; however, inflammation is a broad terms and can be directly linked with imbalances of the aforementioned four acquired abnormalities.

Histamine, the body’s primary inflammatory chemical, serves as a biomarker that triggers the release of inflammatory markers such as white blood cells and cytokines. Histamine can cause inflammation directly as well as indirectly [18] and when suboptimal, infections can run their course without activation of immune markers to ward off the invasion.  This primarily occurs with prolonged and untreated toxicity.

This chemical is also responsible for the apparent redness that appears on your chest, just below you neck. The larger the area, or the more widespread the redness; the higher the histamine excess.  You can press and release your fingers on your chest to see the severity of your histamine excess. Histamine also contributes to high blood pressure through inflammatory mechanisms.  

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Dopamine

Dopamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter [16].  When dopamine is released from the brain's storage units, it increases electrical energy in brain neurons [16].  Dopamine is considered our "happy brain chemical" because it activates our brain’s reward center, the nucleus accumbens [17]. Our nucleus accumbens serves as our pleasure center, hunger center, and sex drive center [6-8]. 

Dopamine deficiency often causes depression, obesity, and the inability to achieve orgasm.  Dopamine deficiency also causes diminished cognitive function and fatigue [17].  When elevated, the brain is susceptible to excess electrical voltage which can contribute to a variety of symptoms including anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and fear of public speaking.

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Norepinephrine

Norepinephrine acts as both a hormone and neurotransmitter, and is synthesized from dopamine [19].  It’s also known as noradrenaline and along with epinephrine is responsible for the body’s fight or fight response, increasing ones heart rate, as well as increasing blood flow [19].  When elevated, it also plays a vital role in increasing blood pressure [19].

If prolonged elevation occurs, epinephrine can begin to decrease and lead to additional symptoms.  When suppressed, due to prolonged elevation from toxins, pathogens, and stress; chronic fatigue and depression can ensue.

Epinephrine

In addition to norepinephrine, epinephrine is one of our primary excitatory chemicals [20].  More commonly known as adrenaline, epinephrine is a hormone just like norepinephrine. Increases in epinephrine, due to toxins and pathogens as well as emotions such as anger or fear, can promote epinephrine release which causes increases in blood pressure and heart rate [20].

This causes the brain to become more electrified and overactive which makes it more susceptible to incoming pain signals. Prolonged elevation as well as prolonged toxicity can lead to epinephrine suppression which then leads to chronic fatigue and depression.
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GABA

GABA is the brain's primary inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitter; therefore, when released, it helps to calm electrical activity in the brain [2].  When glutamate rises, GABA attempts to correct the elevation in electricity by increasing its release [21].  However, with the prolonged elevation of glutamate, GABA production becomes exhausted thus interfering with the natural balancing mechanism for the brain’s electricity.  GABA’s depletion causes anxiety and insomnia [22, 23].

There is much attention given to GABA as many drugs including benzodiazepines and gabapentin target this chemical, as it has been proven to cross the blood brain barrier; however, without the use of pharmaceuticals drugs, this chemical is extremely difficult to balance.  Most of the natural treatment of GABA comes by treating other inhibitory chemicals and balancing the see-saw effect between GABA and the ever deadly glutamate.  

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Serotonin

Serotonin is one of the brain's most potent inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitters [2].  As with GABA, when serotonin is released it helps to calm the brain and decrease electrical activity [2].  Similarly, as the brain becomes electrified, the brain uses more serotonin; therefore, with a prolonged increase in electrical voltage, the serotonin storage unit becomes depleted much quicker.  

This depletion results in anxiety, depression, and insomnia.  Since the GABA levels are extremely difficult to increase directly, serotonin enhancement (through biochemical intermediates) becomes vital in the treatment for these ailments.  

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Taurine

Because of GABA’s difficulty in increasing its level to an acceptable range, the brain needs supplementation to help restore electrical activity.  As with serotonin, taurine is easily supplemented as in binds to many positive cations such as magnesium and calcium [24]. 

Magnesium is the best choice because it serves an additional purpose to prevent calcium influx into the cell and thus decreasing electrical activity [25].  Taurine also serves as one of the heart’s primary amino acids [26].  Suppressed taurine leads to anxiety and insomnia.  

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Works Cited

[1] "Brain Facts and Figures." Brain Facts and Figures. University of Washington, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[2] Boeree. "Neurotransmitters." Neurotransmitters. Shippensberg University, n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.

[3] Luu, and Posner. "Brain." Anterior Cingulate Cortex Regulation of Sympathetic Activity. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[4] Amen. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print

[5] Amen. Healing ADD. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print

[6] Bardo, Michael. Neurophrmacological Mechanisms of Drug Reward: Beyond Dopamine in the Nucleus Accumbens. Clinical Reviews in Neurobiology 1998, 12(1&2): 37-6

[7] Lawrence, Lawrence, Parkinson, and Hinton. "Nucleus Accumbens Response to Food Cues Predicts Subsequent Snack Consumption in Women and Increased Body Mass Index in Those with Reduced Self-control." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[8] "Sexual Behavior Increases Dopamine Transmission in the Nucleus Accumbens and Striatum of Male Rats: Comparison with Novelty and Locomotion." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[9] "Neurochemistry of the Nucleus Accumbens and Its Relevance to Depression and Antidepressant Action in Rodents." National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2014

[10] Chiara. "Alcohol and Dopamine." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[11] "Addiction Science: From Molecules to Managed Care." Nearly All Drugs of Abuse Increase Dopamine Neurotransmission. National Institute of Drug Abuse, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[12] Arnsten, and Li. "Neurobiology of Executive Functions: Catecholamine Influences on Prefrontal Cortical Functions." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[13] Hugon, Vallat, and Dumas. "Role of Glutamate and Excitotoxicity in Neurologic Diseases." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1996. Web. 30 Dec. 2013

[14] Kolnick, and Paul. "Glutamate and Depression: Clinical and Preclinical Studies." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2003. Web. 30 Dec. 2013

[15] Phan, and Cortese. "The Role of Glutamate in Anxiety and Related Disorders." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[16] [16] Pareda, Triller, Korn, and Faber. "Dopamine Enhances Both Electrotonic Coupling and Chemical Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials at Mixed Synapses." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2013

[17] "Dopamine, Learning, and Reward-seeking Behavior." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[18] "Histamine." Histamine. Davidson College, n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2013

[19] "Norepinephrine." Rice University, n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2014

[20] "Epinephrine." Epinephrine. University of Delaware, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[21] "Beyond the Reward Pathway." Beyond the Reward Pathway. University of Utah, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[22] Nemeroff. "The Role of GABA in the Pathophysiology and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[23] "Cortical GABA Levels in Primary Insomnia." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014.

[24] Huxtable, Franconi, and Giotti. The Biology of Taurine: Methods and Mechanisms. Vol. 217. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print

[25] "Effect of Magnesium on Calcium Influx Activated by Glutamate and Its Agonists in Cultured Cerebellar Granule Cells." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

[26] "Physiological Roles of Taurine in Heart and Muscle." Journal of Biomedical Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2014

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