Norepinephrine and dopamine are utilized in brain circuits which regulate all
body functions, mood, emotions, and cognitive abilities. These transmitters are
made from amino acids, supplied as proteins in foods or as free amino acids in
formulas such as Alpha ENF. Phenylalanine and tyrosine are first converted to
l-dopa, then dopamine, which can be converted to norepinephrine and epinephrine.
Norepinephrine is widely distributed in the brain and is the neurotransmitter
in neurons that determines consciousness, sleep rhythms, attention, and
vigilance. NE cell clusters within the brain's arousal complex (locus coeruleus)
organize sleep patterns. In rats, painful, uncontrollable electrical shocks
induce “depression” and are associated with early depletion of NE in the locus
of NE may lead to depression. Some antidepressants, especially imipramine,
selectively alter the synthesis of NE, but paradoxical experimental results tell
us that therapeutic changes are not achieved by just increasing one transmitter
but rather influencing the net arousal balance in the mesh of arousal circuits.
Imipramine, the grandmother of the family of tricyclic antidepressants, has
at least a triple action on NE, acetylcholine, and histamine circuits.
Imipramine's cousin, amitriptyline, works more on the serotonin neurons and also
has marked anti-acetylcholine activity. Both drugs are also good antihistamines.
The substrates of NE, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and l-dopa are not powerful
antidepressants, but they may have a contributing role in a well thought-out
neurochemical recipe. Stimulants, including caffeine, cocaine and amphetamines
act in a NE-increasing mode with temporary increase in psychic energy and a
sense of well-being. They also influence the dopamine system.
Repeated use of these drugs leaves the over stimulated brain circuits in a
state of confusion, with disturbances of psychic energy, thinking, feeling, and
behaving. Withdrawal from these drugs is associated with other marked
Amphetamines will induce agitated, paranoid, and violent states in
susceptible people. As street drugs, amphetamines have major antisocial
consequences. Antidepressants of the MAO-inhibitor group (parnate, nardil)
increase norepinephrine levels but not serotonin.
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