Herbs & dopamine

Written by angela brady
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Herbs & dopamine
Too little dopamine can cause depression. (thinking depressed image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from Fotolia.com)

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for many favourite feelings and also plays a role in many diseases, including depression, attention deficit disorder and Parkinson’s disease. Many medications used to treat these conditions are derived from herbs that alter dopamine levels in the brain, resulting in a state of balance.

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Normal Dopamine Levels

Dopamine is responsible for alertness, movement, coordination, emotion and pleasure. It balances the brain’s activity and regulates the transmission of information from one area of the brain to another.

Too Much Dopamine

People whose dopamine levels are too high are at risk for psychosis, hyper-aggression, paranoia, schizophrenia and anxiety. Medications for these conditions work to lower dopamine levels in the brain.

Not Enough Dopamine

Depression and Parkinson’s disease are two conditions that result from low dopamine levels. These patients may also feel sluggish, lethargic and uncoordinated, and may benefit from medications to raise dopamine levels.

Herbs to Lower Dopamine

Many antipsychotic medications contain herbs that lower dopamine levels, including graviola, moonseed and magnolia bark, and kava. These herbs may also be taken as supplements by some patients.

Herbs To Raise Dopamine

There are many herbs that raise dopamine levels in the brain and can often be used as a supplemental therapy alongside prescription medication. SAMe and St. John’s Wort have long been used to help treat and prevent depression and may be better tolerated than antidepressants by some patients. Ginseng, peppermint and dandelion are often used as instant “pick-me-ups” as they quickly elevate dopamine levels for a short period of time.

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