Neurotransmitter Systems, Imbalances, and Treatment Protocols (Genetic Testing, MTHFR, etc)

By Dr. Ryan Wood DC NDCompiled & Adapted by Alec Eagon (January 2020)

This post is meant only to be a brief informational overview of particular neurotransmitters related to the methylation cycle and genetic SNPs such as the MTHFR genetic defect. It is a compilation of research from a patient pamphlet by Dr. Ryan Wood DC ND. It is not meant for self-diagnosis or to be a substitute for objective testing (i.e. blood work, DNA tests, etc) and consultation with a physician. This post will be amended and added to in the future in order to achieve a more thorough overview of the symptoms and treatment protocols related particularly to MTHFR.

If the symptoms related to the neurotransmitters below correlate to your health journey in a significant way highly recommend doing the 23andMe Health saliva test, downloading your genetic data, uploading it to GeneticGenie.com to see if you have an MTHFR genetic SNP (defect), and then consulting with a specialist on potential supplementation protocols to rebalance your body’s methylation cycle. For a great, succinct overview of MTHFR, please watch this video.

All good neurochemical systems depend on excellent genetics.”

Acetylcholine:
What It Is: Neurotransmitter associated with Alzheimer’s, autism, anxiety, ADHD, depression,movement,cortical excitability,arousal and sleep, cognition and reward, learning and memory. It is the primary neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system. It promotes concentration, memory, mood stability, attention, cognition and concentration.

Imbalance Symptoms: Forgetfulness, attention problems, difficulty concentrating, diminished comprehension

Acetylcholine Boosters:
• Phosphatidylserine 300 mg/d
• Acetyl-l-carnitine 250-750 mg/tid and affects serotonin pathways – research says 500mg x3 is effective.
• Huperizine A 50-200 mcg/D
• Omega-3 fatty acids
• Gingko biloba

GABA:
What It Is: Neurotransmitter associated with anxiety, relaxation, sedation, and fibromyalgia. It promotes a calm and balanced state, stability, reliability, patience, nurturance.

Imbalance Symptoms: Anxiousness, feeling overwhelmed, dread, persistent worrying, restlessness, insomnia, fearful, physical aches and pains, headaches, IBS, difficulty turning off the mind.

GABA Boosters:
• GABA: 100-1000 mg/day (not very well absorbed)
• L-theanine: 50-200 mg prn (not more than 600 mg/6hrs) – clinically more effective
• Inositol: 1000-1500 mg at bedtime
• Melatonin: 300 mcg-3 mg at bedtime
• Valerian
• Passiflora

Treatment Notes:
GABA – may be working on neurotransmitter action on the gut
Phenibut – crosses blood brain barrier
L-Theanine – clinically more effective

Serotonin:
What It Is: Neurotransmitter most closely associated with depression. Helps to regulate mood, anxiety, sleep, body temperature, appetite, sexual behavior, movement, intestinal mobility, cardiovascular function, nociception (through numerous 5HT receptor subtypes). Promotes well-being and enjoyment (in activities, friends, food), balance and calm, a healthy sleep-cycle, and. modulates pain.

Imbalance Symptoms: Painful depression with anxiety, loss of enjoyment in pleasurable activities, disrupted sleep, increased aggressiveness and irritability, negativity, edginess, self-destructive thoughts, and feeling internally overwhelmed.

Serotonin Boosters:
• L-tryptophan and 5-HTP (co-factors Vitamin B-6: 25-50 mg, Mg: 200-600 mg, Zn 25-50 mg)
• Hypericum perforatum
• Rhodiola
• Augmentation with: SAM-e, Folate (L-methylfolate)

Treatment Notes:
• 5-HTP short term – more rapid onset
• L-tryptophan may have longer lasting results
• SAM-e
• Pushing serotonin with L-tryptophan, or 5-HTP or St Johns Wort can lead to Serotonin syndrome

Dopamine:
What It Is: Neurotransmitter associated with depression, Parkinson’s disease, psychosis and addictions. It promotes pleasure and reward (and reinforcement), boosts motivation, controls energy and excitement, plays a role in learning and generating new ideas.

Imbalance Symptoms: Depression with physical tiredness and lack of energy and motivation, comfort eating, risk behaviors, no enthusiasm, slowed thinking and lack of concentration.

Dopamine Boosters:
• Tyrosine: 500-2000 mg/d – first thing in AM
• L-phenylalanine: (150-1500 mg/d) or DL-phenylalanine (150 2000 mg/d) afternoon
• B-complex (25-100 mg/d) [What Has Completely Changed My Life (See Testimony Below)]
• Phosphatidylserine: 300 mg/d
• Gingko biloba
• Rhodiola rosea

Norepinephrine:
What It Is: Neurotransmitterthat influences arousal, selective attention, and emotional behavior. Along with epinephrine it is the primary neurotransmitter of sympathetic nervous system.

Opiate:
What It Is: Neurotransmitter related toanalgesia (inability to feel pain), decreased intestinal motility, euphoria, and sedation.

Endocannabinoid:
What It Is: Neurotransmitter related to analgesia, calmness, dream-states, drowsiness, and hunger.

Glutamate:
What It Is: Neurotransmitter related to pain, memory, excitability, development, and learning. It plays a key role in epilepsy

My MTHFR Story:
Last Spring (2019) I discovered I have the rarest form of MTHFR. Hereafter a decade-long healing journey from hypo and hyperthyroidism, two near-death traumas (including a traumatic brain injury and lacerated connective tissue in my spine and concurrent chronic pain, parasympathetic fight/flight, hypersensitivity, and chronic insomnia), and doing many cutting edge regenerative and wholistic/functional healing protocols, my treatment related to MTHFR (taking a pre-methylated B vitamin complex) has arguably been singularly the most profound of them all and not to mention the simplest to implement. Though it is difficult to compare characteristically different treatment protocols, I say that my taking of a B vitamin complex for my MTHFR has been the most profound, firstly and fundamentally, because it addressed an underlying genetic defect that I’ve carried since birth that has undoubtedly incalculably influenced my recovery from my thyroid issues and traumas, but secondly, because of the surreal instantaneous effect I felt the very first time I took a high quality pre-methylated B-vitamin complex (Douglas Labs B Vitamin Complex with Metafolin) and the exponential effect it has had on the fundamentals of my well-being since. Within an hour of taking this complex I felt like I had just taken something with the power of intravenous morphine, or more relevantly, I felt like I had dopamine (see below) in my brain for the first time after many years. In some ways, it felt like I had the amount of dopamine my brain really needed for the first time in my life.

[Quick note: for most people with MTHFR defects that I’ve known or known of, it takes much longer for them to feel the effects of supplementing methylated B vitamins]. 

Since this initial experience, I have taken the same B vitamin complex once only every 72 hour in the AM and it has had an incalculable effect on my life and well-being. I am sleeping the best I have in my entire life (I also had insomnia on and off throughout my adolescence and teenage years). I feel like I’m standing on a foundation that I never knew existed, even throughout the year and the changing seasons, and even amidst the darkened winter in Portland, Oregon as I write this. 

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