Happiness a State of Mind or a State of Brain Chemistry?

By Dr. Barbara Custer

There are safe, natural substances that can elevate your mood, reestablish good sleeping patterns, and give you a positive sense of well-being and energy

There are natural things that you can take to keep you brain happy and healthy. We all think about going to the gym to keep our bodies fit, but many of us don’t know how about keeping our brains fit and healthy too.   

How Does the Brain Work?

Did you know that 50- 60% of the brains overall weight is pure fat? The rest is a mixture of protein and carbohydrates. Since the brain is mostly a fatty organ all fish and vegetable oils are important for proper brain functioning.  The brain has the consistency of hard whipped butter. The fatty tissue of the brain insulates and protects billions of nerve cells called neurons. These neurons control bodily functions by sending information along super speedways in the body. They tell the lungs to breath, the heart to pump, and the stomach to digest. Nero-transmitters are liquid brain chemicals like Serotonin, Gaba, and Tyrophane. They regulate sleep, mood, energy, sex drive, concentration, and memory. Brain chemistry is like baking a cake from scratch. You need the right balance of ingredients for the magic to happen. It is the same way with the delicate balance in the brain.  

Interaction between hormones and brain chemistry

Men and women nearing and over 40 are having subtle changes in reproductive, endocrine, and sex hormones. These hormones are progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and dhea. They do not only affect fertility and reproduction, they also affect the total amount of body energy, sexual energy, brain functioning and mood. The decline of these hormones are part of the natural aging process and affect all fatty tissue in the entire body as well as the brain. These hormones have a very intimate connection with neurotransmitters. For instance if you are going to bungee jump off the side of a cliff your heart rate goes up because the fear response signals adrenaline and epinephrine. These are hormones and brain chemicals that signal back and forth to each other.

This signaling goes on all day in many more subtle ways. For instance, when you want to go to sleep at night certain chemicals in the brain calm down to start a chain of events so that sleep happen. These chemicals and hormones together dramatically affect, mood, sleep, anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue and depression.
                    
While some of the western drugs can be very effective for serious clinical conditions, these drugs may have many side effects and may be very had to withdraw from. High levels of stress and hormones changes can cause acute and chronic anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Natural products, Chinese herbs, and acupuncture, are proven to be very effective treatment. They may also be able to rebuild the systems that are deficient and causing the problems to begin in the first place.

Natural products that really work and can be purchased in Health Food Stores or Health Care Practitioners

Essential Fatty Acids: All seeds and nuts are essential fatty acids. These oils break down and make all sex and adrenal hormones. They are the good fats that help and stabilize all brain functioning. Flax seed, olive oil, avocado oils, and fish oils are the most common.

5-HYDROXYTRYPTOPHAN (5HTP): 5HTP is an amino acid that makes serotonin. Seritonin is one of the most important feel good hormones that regulate feeling happy and regulating sleep. 

Taurine is an amino acid that can be used during the day to feel calm and peaceful.  

Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in green tea and has been well documented for its calming affects. It can be used during the day and also at night to aid with sleep.

Tyrosine is an amino acid that stimulates energy, elevates mood, and stabilizes blood sugar

Melatonin controls the wake and sleep cycles. It can be used at night to help with sleep.

Dhea is produced by the adrenal glands and makes many other adrenal hormones. It may help with total amount of body energy, stop fatigue and greatly increase sexual energy especially for women.

 Progesterone has been described as the “feel good” hormones. It is very effective in treatment of sleep, anxiety, pms, and irritability.

Chinese Herbal Formulas: There are many famous Chinese herbal formulas used to enhance and stabilize mood, energy, depression and sleep.  These are best prescribed by a licensed practitioner who will decide which formula is best for you.

Now allhormones and amino acidscan be accurately tested though saliva, blood and urine testing. It helps to take the guesswork out of where the deficiencies are.  Some of the top labs will also make suggestions as to which supplements are recommended according to lab test results.   

A healthy lifestyle, with a lot of attention paid to proper diet and exercise are of course the best way to regulate all body and brain functions. If you find that this is not enough, there are safe natural substances that can be tested and used to help with some of these acute and chronic problems. In my practice I have found that monitoring and regulating these substances make the natural treatment of mood, sleep, and energy, highly successful.