Sunday, December 17, 2006

What Are Neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are made up in many ways, and perform the critical functions of the brain. They cause cells to open as information travels toward the cell, or to close in an inhibiting action. As we age, the substances that make up our neurotransmitters decline. We can counter this and trigger continued brain growth by adding acetylcholine, or lecithin, to our diet. Lecithin is easily obtained, inexpensive and digestible. Several other brain chemicals can be supplemented in the diet and include alpha-lipoic acid, GABA, and CoQ10.

For those of you craving the raw scientific explanation, I offer the following descriptions of neurotransmitters:

Any of a group of substances that are released on excitation from the axon terminal of a presynaptic neuron of the central or peripheral nervous system and travel across the synaptic cleft to either excite or inhibit the target cell. Among the many substances that have the properties of a neurotransmitter are acetylcholine, noradrenaline, adrenaline, dopamine, glycine, y aminobutyrate, glutamic acid, substance P, enkephalins, endorphins and serotonin.

The three major categories of substances that act as neurotransmitters are (1) amino acids (primarily glutamic acid, GABA, aspartic acid & glycine), (2) peptides (vasopressin, somatostatin, neurotensin, etc.) and (3) monoamines (norepinephrine, dopamine & serotonin) plus acetylcholine. The major "workhorse" neurotransmitters of the brain are glutamic acid (=glutamate) and GABA. The monoamines & acetylcholine perform specialized modulating functions, often confined to specific structures. The peptides perform specialized functions in the hypothalamus or act as co-factors elsewhere in the brain.

See you soon,

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