Serotonin is probably the neurotransmitter that most of us are most familiar with.  Serotonin affects our mood, sleep cycles and anxiety levels.  The most familiar medications for depression (Prozac, Wellbutrin, etc.) are designed to increase serotonin levels in the system.  According to the book "5-HTP" by Michael Murray, N.D., if serotonin levels are low, the following symptoms may be apparent:  Depressed, anxious, irritable, impatient, impulsive, abusive, short attention span, scattered, flying off the handle, reactive, craves sweets and high carb foods, insomnia and poor dream recall.  Along with the above symptoms, according to the author, the following conditions are also associated with low serotonin levels:  Aggression alcoholism, attention deficit disorder, bulimia, chronic pain disorders, epilepsy, headaches, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, obesity obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, premenstrual syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder and suicidal thoughts and behavior.  This long list makes it apparent as to why so many people are turning to medication to feel better.  When the above issues become chronic, they affect daily life and the quality of that life.  Many times, low serotonin levels can be hard to determine, because each person displays different symptoms and concerns.  Fortunately, we don't have to suffer with the above issues.  I would recommend seeing a natural health practitioner or your regular doctor to determine what the best solution is for you.  Have a great day - Shanna




I am still reading the book "The Edge Effect" by Eric Braverman, MD.  This book focuses on the brain to improve health and longevity.  GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to calm the brain.  According to the author, if you are experiencing a GABA deficiency, you may begin to feel anxious, nervous, or irritable.  Many of us experience these symptoms regularly due to stress, so of course, GABA would not be the only deficiency we may be experiencing.  Other indicators of a GABA deficiency from the book "The Edge Effect" are as follows:  Feelings of dread, blurred vision, protein cravings, cold or clammy hands, feeling of a lump in the throat, dizziness, TMJ, phobias, PMS, mood swings and more.  A lack of GABA can lead to numerous physical and mental health concerns.  If you find that you are struggling with personality, memory or attention issues, it may be worth checking out your GABA levels.  The author recommends adding foods with glutamine, which is a precursor of GABA to balance a GABA deficiency.  The following is the list of foods recommended:  Almonds, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, halibut, lentils, oats, oranges, potatoes, spinach, walnuts and whole wheat and whole grains.  Many times, if one neurotransmitter is deficient, others may also be deficient.  Many times, it is necessary to look at imbalances in the entire system in order to feel better, and improving our diets is a great place to start.  Have a great day!  Shanna
I am back to neurotransmitters. I am currently reading a couple of books that focus on this topic - both for mood and for weight loss.  Acetylcholine is not a neurotransmitter that we hear a lot about.  More familiar ones are serotonin and dopamine.  Interestingly, a lack of acetylcholine in the system can lead to a person isolating him or herself from human interaction.  According to Eric Braverman in his book "The Edge Effect", a person with balanced acetylcholine has the following attributes:  hardworking, detail-oriented, devoted and exacting.  He also states that perfectionism and self-discipline are the hallmarks of this personality type - qualities that can be pluses or minuses depending on the extent of brain imbalance.  It is interesting to me to see this profile.  More and more people that I know are perfectionistic.  This is positive for some, but almost debilitating for others.  Life can be very difficult if we perceive that everything has to be perfect.  The author also states that the perfectionist is a person who maintains self-control at the expense of relaxation, enjoyment, and warmth.  This can affect the work environment in in ways such as having difficulty transitioning from one task to another, or accepting that something is done "good enough".  It this tends to be your nature, and you feel out of balance, some foods with choline that may be helpful in restoring balance are almonds, broccoli, eggs, peanut butter, and many kinds of fish.  Another indicator that you need more choline may be a craving for fatty foods.  More on neurotransmitters next week.  Have a great day - Shanna
I apologize for not following up with neurotransmitters.  I returned the book to the library, so I will continue with that topic at another time.  I have been scanning through a book called the "100 Best Ways to Stop Aging and Stay Young" by Julia Maranan.  The topic that caught my attention was the immune system. I think this is an area that we neglect as we age.  Many times, the only preventative action that is taken to stay healthy is to get a flu shot, rather than focusing on avoiding illness through strengthening the immune system.  Following is a list of ideas from the author on how to keep your immune system strong:
  • Do not hold a grudge
  • Do things that you enjoy - this will help reduce stress
  • Listen to music
  • Get enough sleep
  • Use the power of touch for lifelong immunity
  • Think positively
  • Exercise in moderation
  • Eat immune boosting foods - colorful fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, garlic, nuts, and green tea are all beneficial foods.
  • Take supplements to boost the immune system
  • Improve the air quality in your environment
The stronger our immune systems, the more likely we are to fight off both acute and chronic illnesses.  If you find that you pick up every virus or infection that is going around, you may want to focus more attention on your immune system.  Have a great day - Shanna