This is the second blog post on the topic of natural medicine and addiction.
The topic this time is neurotransmitters and addiction. There are various environmental factors which can affection neurotransmitter function and such factors are things like poor diet, energy imbalance and toxins. Below is a list of where the main neurotransmitters are and their function:
Used with permission from www.rn.org
As you can see with the diagram above. (When you click on the pictures, they come up full size in a separate window.) The Dopamine and Serotonin receptors are both synthesised in the raphe nucleus and got their own locations in the brain, but they are the main neurotransmitters found in addiction, along with GABA or gamma – amin0butyric acid, endorphin and enkephalin.
Taken from Ref. 2
The chart above is showing the different parts we are referring to, with the areas in the brain they are most likely to be found. Ventral Tegemental Area (VTA), and Substantia nigra are often noted in cocaine addiction. The Nucleus Accumbens (NAc) is often seen in heroin addiction. I thought I had a post on it! It has got lost somewhere, I had a blog on addiction and the brain and it has vamooshed!
“Modified from brain illustration: http://prorecovery.blogspot.com“
Figure 2 from Ref. 2
The diagrams above are taken from another paper by Blum, but, Blum and other scientists studying this topic have all found that the level of dopamine found in the brain of addicts is lower than normal. We also know about the other neurotransmitters as well, and they are in other posts on this blog.
In the last post of this series, we were talking about genetic factors and even if these factors were in play with the initial addiction onset, the ingestion of the alcohol and drugs, or the injection of drugs, the neurochemistry then starts to have an effect as the receptor pathways respond to the drugs. If the person is a chronic alcoholic, then they should have a reduced action or a deficiency in action of the following neurotransmitters: dopamine; serotonin; GABA, endorphin and finally enkephalin.
To combat these deficiencies naturally, it is common practice to have doses of amino acids, or their precursor – which is quite a common practice, varying strength depending on each case seen. They can be administered either by oral (pills) or by intravenous (injection) routes. Thus correcting the deficits and t0 aid the functioning of the neurotransmitters, however, depression, anxiety, withdrawal symptoms being the main ones being corrected using the amino acid method of treatment. The fact that the addiction can be corrected using this method shows that addiction has a neurotransmitter balance which is completely out of sync.
Further to that finding, it can often indicate that there is a amino acid deficiency at the heart of the addiction. Sometimes, it can be that the amino acid measure is only obtaining temporary results, in this case, it would be advisable to have regular treatments over a longer term, thus indicating a major deficit in the neurotransmitter concerned, or a cocktail, if the addiction has been long term.
The next post in the series will be about nutrition deficiencies and addiction.
- Marohn, Stephanie (2004) The Natural Medicine Guide to Addiction, PP 30 -31.
- Blum, Kenneth, Oscar-Berman, Marlene, Stuller, Elizabeth, Miller, David, et al. (2012) “Neurogenetics and Nutrigenomics of Neuro-Nutrient Therapy for Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS): Clinical Ramifications as a Function of Molecular Neurobiological Mechanisms.” Journal of addiction research & therapy, 3, p. 139. [online] Available from: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=3733258&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract