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Neurotransmitters – The Great Communicators

NeurotransmittersJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Neurons are specialized nerve cells that receive, process and convey information to other neurons and bodily cells. These information messengers use electrical impulses and chemical signals to transmit, boost and balance information between different areas of the brain, as well as between the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Nerve cells produce enzymes that synthesize most neurotransmitters, signaling chemicals that affect a wide variety of physical and psychological functions. Without the work of neurons and their support cells, the human body could not thrive in homeostasis. In fact, our brains rely on the smooth, fast and efficient release of neurotransmitters to regulate heart rate, sleep, appetite, and mood, as well as enable breathing, learning, reasoning, memorizing, concentration and movement.

Generally neurons do not touch one another and instead communicate by releasing neurotransmitters across a tiny gap, or synapse, transmitting signals that either stimulate (excite) or inhibit (calm) the receiving cells. A neuron can simultaneously receive many impulses, both excitatory and inhibitory from other neurons. Known as summation, a receiving neuron compiles or consolidates multiple signals, firing and calling other neurons into action when more excitatory signals are received. If the sum of the signals is inhibitory, the neuron does not fire and does not influence the activity of other neurons.

Malfunction of these processes has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s; gastrointestinal disorders, including diverticulitis, irritable bowel, Crohn’s and celiac disease; and disorders such as anxiety, depression, epilepsy and autism. Some of the more well known neurotransmitters are:

GABA: The brain’s main inhibitory chemical messenger, GABA contributes to vision and motor control and plays a major role in reducing neuron excitability and anxiety regulation, as well as relaxation and calmness.

Glutamate: The most plentiful excitatory neurotransmitter found in the nervous system, glutamate plays a role cognition, memory and learning and helps to balance the effects of GABA.

Glycine: The main inhibitory neurotransmitter of the spinal cord, glycine is vital for maintaining healthy central nervous and digestive system functions, as well as the synthesis of nucleic acids. It may also inhibit neurotransmitters linked to seizures and hyperactivity.

Endorphins: Produced naturally by the body, endorphins inhibit the transmission of pain signals and promote pleasurable feelings. Endorphin production can be triggered by physical activities, such as aerobic exercise.

Epinephrine: Better known as adrenaline, epinephrine functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain and as a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands.

Norepinephrine: This neurotransmitter plays a major role in the body’s fight or flight response, boosting alertness and mobilizing the body and brain to act during times of stress, fear or danger.

Histamine: Produced as part of the immune system’s response to pathogens, histamine plays a role in allergic reactions and the inflammatory response.

Dopamine: Dopamine is involved in reward and motivation and plays an important role in body movement coordination.

Serotonin: Serotonin helps to regulate and modulate mood, sleep, anxiety, sexuality and appetite, and helps to balance excessive excitatory neurotransmitter effects in the brain.

Adenosine: This brain neuromodulator is involved in cellular energy transfer, signal transduction and the synthesis of RNA. As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, adenosine can act as a central nervous system depressant, promoting sleep and suppressing arousal.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP): Present in all living tissue, ATP provides energy for physiological processes, including muscle contraction, chemical synthesis and nerve impulse transmission.

Nitric oxide: Nitric oxide relaxes smooth muscles, allowing for blood vessel dilation and increased blood flow.

Carbon monoxide: Generally known for its toxic effects when exposed to high levels, carbon monoxide produced naturally by the body acts to modulate the body’s inflammatory response.

Acetylcholine: Found in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter associated with motor neurons and muscle movements. It plays a role in memory, learning and sleep as well.

Professional Supplement Center offers many high quality formulations in support of overall health and function:

Gaba 750 mgGABA 750 mg by Integrative Therapeutics®: One capsule provides 750 mg of GABA in support of healthy brain cell function and neurochemical balance. Free of sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation.


Calm GCalm G by NeuroScience™: Calm G provides a blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, CoQ10 and other nutrients important for the regulation of glutamate activity, stress reduction, metabolic health and mitochondrial function.


Glycine 500 mgGlycine 500 mg by Douglas Laboratories®: This amino acid formula supports glutathione and nucleic acid synthesis, as well as bile production. Glycine may also support neurological, gastrointestinal and connective tissue health. Free of yeast, wheat, gluten, soy protein, dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch and artificial coloring, preservatives and flavoring.


SeratoninSeratonin™ by Allergy Research Group: This patented formula is designed to support neurotransmitters involved in healthy mood, sound sleep and a balanced stress response.


DopaPlusDopaPlus by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula provides neurotransmitter precursors to boost, balance and promote dopamine production in support of enhanced daily mental function, emotional wellness and positive mood. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.


D-Ribose with Peak...D-Ribose with Peak ATP® by Progressive Laboratories®: D-ribose is a critically important sugar molecule and essential component of ATP, the source of cellular energy. Peak ATP®, developed through a proprietary fermentation process, delivers the exact molecule the body needs to create energy.


Nitric Oxide Ultra...Nitric Oxide Ultra Stick Packs by Pure Encapsulations®: This great tasting powdered formula combines clinically researched ingredients for enhanced nitric oxide production, healthy blood flow and vascular health. Hypoallergenic, gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.


Neurotransmission. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/neurotransmission/neurotransmission
Neurotransmitters: How Brain Cells Use Chemicals to Communicate. https://www.brainfacts.org/archives/2011/neurotransmitters-how-brain-cells-use-chemicals-to-communicate
Neurotransmitters. https://allpsych.com/psychology101/neurotransmitters/
Neurotransmitters: The critical modulators regulating gut-brain axis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772764/
Identifying a Neurotransmitter. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-neurotransmitter-2795394
Neurotransmitter and receptors. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/human-biology/neuron-nervous-system/a/neurotransmitters-their-receptors

All About GABA

gabaJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

As the body’s major inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA is widely distributed and utilized throughout the central nervous system. Glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, is the most common neurotransmitter and the metabolic precursor of GABA. GABA works to calm overexcited neurons, counterbalancing glutamate’s effects and helping to keep anxiety and brain overstimulation in check. While some neurotransmitters have dual functions–both excitatory and inhibitory–GABA functions solely as a calming agent, supporting optimal brain function and reining in fear and anxiety. In fact, pharmaceutical medications designed to alleviate anxiety work by targeting the GABA system, binding to GABA receptors in the brain, and enhancing GABA’s natural relaxing effects.

As GABA is the main inhibitory and glutamate the main excitatory neurotransmitter, GABA and glutamate have a complex and interconnected relationship. Each must perform a delicate dance to provide a stable, steady and well-functioning brain environment under normal conditions. Glutamate must be present in the right concentration and be in the right place at the right time for proper functioning. As the major mediator of excitatory signals, glutamate is responsible for many aspects of normal brain functioning including cognition, memory and learning. In addition, glutamate must also mediate the information that regulates brain development and cellular survival. When there is either excess or insufficient glutamate, mental wellness and physical health are affected.

Although glutamate is one of the most abundant and powerful neurotransmitters, it is almost exclusively located within the brain’s nerve cells, where it remains relatively inactive until extracellular glutamate binds with receptors. When glutamate levels are abnormally high or receptors are oversensitive, nerve cells activated by glutamate become overexcited, which can lead to glutamate toxicity, neurological inflammation and cellular exhaustion. Chronic glutamate toxicity can affect nerve cell survival and brain function and is believed to play a role in numerous neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases.

GABA’s primary function is to prevent overstimulation. An imbalance of GABA and glutamate can leave you feeling depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, restless, nervous and sleepless. Low serotonin levels result in low GABA levels, as serotonin is a positive regulator of the interaction between GABA and GABA receptors. Factors that contribute to GABA insufficiency include genetics, inadequate diet, and prolonged stress. In addition to a healthy diet, that includes green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fermented foods, and citrus fruits. Certain supplements, including the amino acid taurine, can support GABA receptors and encourage GABA formation. Exercise, such as yoga, is believed to help to increase GABA production, which may help to explain its calming and stress relieving effects.

Just like all cells, organs and metabolic processes, neurotransmitters require vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytonutrients for effective function:

Taurine – As an amino acid, taurine freely crosses the blood brain barrier and is a positive GABA modulator with no side effects. Taurine has been shown to prevent neuronal damage, that can occur through increased glutamate levels, and significantly reduce neuron death associated with overstimulation.

L-Theanine – This plant-based amino acid found in tea increases brain levels of GABA, while enhancing receptor response. Studies have shown that L-theanine is useful for improving sleep quality, calming the central nervous system, and counteracting the toxic effects of stress.

Magnesium – Magnesium binds to and activates GABA receptors helping to relieve anxiety, insomnia, irritability and nervousness.

Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is key to GABA synthesis and is used to help regulate GABA levels. GABA is formed from glutamic acid, utilizing B6 as a cofactor.

5-HTP – As a precursor to serotonin production, 5-HTP can help increase GABA activity. Adequate serotonin is needed for proper GABA function.

While researchers continue to study the effects of supplementation, scientists have studied GABA’s effects on brain waves. One study concluded that GABA significantly increased alpha waves and decreased beta waves, denoting that GABA effectively induced relaxation and reduced anxiety within one hour after supplementing. Another study showed that in addition to   encouraging relaxation and diminishing anxiety, GABA may enhance immunity under stressful situations.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products to support overall wellness.

NeuroAdrenal...NeuroAdrenal Essential by Pharmasan Labs – This at-home test kit measures cortisol and select neurotransmitters, including GABA, glutamate, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Simply collect urine and saliva specimens in the privacy of your home and send them off in the prepaid packaging. Laboratory results are typically available within 7-10 days. A 15-minute follow-up consultation with our registered nurse is included with the test kit.


Calm GCalm G by NeuroScience – Calm G, formulated with neuron protecting ingredients, is used to reduce anxiousness, promote sleep and support healthy GABA levels. Calm G helps to modulate GABA-glutamate levels to calm overstimulation. Gluten, soy and yeast free formulation.


Trancor®Trancor® by Metagenics – This GABA-glutamate balance formula supports tranquility by modulating the balance between these two neurotransmitters. Supplies NAC, vitamin B6, magnesium, taurine, and green tea catechins. Gluten free formulation.


Gaba 750 mgGABA 750 by Integrative Therapeutics – One serving provides 750 mg of GABA in support of healthy brain nerve cell functions and healthy neurochemical balance. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegetarian  formulation.


Taurine 1000 mgTaurine 1000 mg by Designs for Health – This sulfur containing amino acid is essential for glucose metabolism and healthy heart, immune, and nervous system functions. Gluten, soy and dairy free formulation.

GABA Receptor Physiology and Pharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK28090/
Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16971751
GABA and glutamate in the human brain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12467378
Glutamate as a Neurotransmitter.  http://neurotransporter.org/glutamate.html
Glutamate Toxicity. http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/about-glutamate-toxicity/
Chronic Glutamate Toxicity in Neurodegenerative Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4679930/