Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD
Table of Contents:
Although serotonin, dopamine, and GABA may be the most widely known, there are over 150 neurotransmitters affecting how we feel, sleep, and behave.1
Although serotonin, dopamine, and GABA may be the most widely known, there are over 150 neurotransmitters affecting how we feel, sleep, and behave.1
The focus on prescription antidepressant drugs as therapeutic agents has been troubled by disappointing results both in the treatment of mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Despite claims of “restoring neurochemical imbalances”, research has determined that prescription drugs, such as SSRIs, actually deplete and impair neurochemical expression and functionality.1,2,12
That is why Alternative to Meds chose to become a world leader in methods of treatment that do not rely on prescription medications for restoring natural mental health. Our methods are highly successful, as shown by independent research tabulating the success of our clients.
Neurotransmitter therapy is the process of restoring the proper function of neurotransmitters by means of multiple therapy techniques, including probiotics, prebiotics, amino acids, correction of diet and nutrition, neurotoxin and heavy metal removal, psychological therapies, and more. Our approach to neurotransmitter rehabilitation is unique in that it is comprehensive and unique to each client’s needs. After a preliminary evaluation, including lab testing, we tailor a program to fit the needs of each patient individually. Learn more about this revolutionary approach to the recovery of natural mental health below.
When you break a bone in your foot, the injury impairs the use of your foot. You cannot walk, stand, or do many things your body is meant to do when it is functioning properly. In time, by maintaining efforts to protect the foot from reinjury, that bone will heal. With careful exercise and gentle rehabilitation, you can gain the full function of your foot again. However, applying pain medications alone will only mask the real issue and exacerbate your true injury.
This is also true of the neurotransmitter system that is responsible for communication between all the cells of the body. With proper therapy, neurotransmitters can return to optimal function. We aim to rehabilitate neurotransmitters through a natural and holistic approach to treatment that does not subject our patients to further damage from prescription drugs.
The delicate balance of neurotransmitters is necessary for mental and physical well-being. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that serves as a messenger, sending and regulating signals between neurons and other cells and organs in the body. Neurotransmitters pass along these messages throughout the body and are essential coordinators of normal body functions such as muscle movement, hormone regulation, emotions, sleep, mood, digestion, appetite, and thousands of other functions.
In patients with substance use disorder, neurons can become dysfunctional and disabled. Messages can be halted, routed to the wrong receptors, or abnormally augmented, with disastrous results. The addition of psychiatric drugs to the mix can worsen the consequences of drug or alcohol use.2
In addition to the thousands of other functions they perform in the body, neurotransmitters play an important role in regulating mood. Neurochemical impairment can lead to mood disturbances. Serotonin is thought to play a role in feelings of well-being, contentment, and happiness, while dopamine is related to motivation, reward, and pleasure. Norepinephrine is involved in alertness and arousal and is also thought to influence mood.
When these neurotransmitters become dysfunctional or disabled, it can lead to depression, anxiety, and other symptoms. 3 Mental health disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), chronic depression, schizophrenia, and more may have many contributing causes, including genetics, trauma, and more. And neurotransmitter dysfunction may play a key role in each of them.
Unfortunately, many people with mental health symptoms and diagnosed disorders resort to using substances like alcohol and drugs in an attempt to either numb the symptoms themselves or escape the realities of a dysfunctional life. Prescription medications may further disrupt neurotransmitter function. People with mental health symptoms, particularly those using psychopharmaceuticals, could be over 4 times more likely to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate – often with devastating consequences.11
We offer a more comprehensive and natural approach to regaining natural mental health, including neurotransmitter rehabilitation, combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation and mindfulness, other Traditional Chinese medicine practices, and lifestyle changes, including exercise and cleansing.
Patients who come to us to participate in our comprehensive neurotransmitter therapy program have access to a number of different therapies. These therapies are designed to regain and maintain healthy homeostasis within the body, which contributes to long-term success after medication use or other factors that compromise one’s mental wellness.
A significant number of neurotransmitters are produced in the gastrointestinal tract. For example, it is estimated that 90% of the “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the gut.4
We have found that numerous dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors can deplete and disrupt the function of essential neurotransmitters. Because the gut plays such a critical role in neurotransmitter health, conditions that negatively impact the gastrointestinal tract, such as a burden of accumulated toxicity, inflammation, and candida overgrowth, can directly impair a person’s neurochemistry. In fact, the diet has a primary role in neurotransmitter health. A poor diet can create toxic gastrointestinal conditions, while nutrient-rich foods support a healthy gut environment. For example, amino acids, found in protein, are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. For these and other reasons, diet directly affects neurotransmitter levels and, in turn, impacts both physical and mental health.5
Alternative to Meds Center understands the importance of neurotransmitter rehabilitation. In terms of diet, we serve a menu and a supplement regimen designed to support robust nutritional levels and a healthy gut. A gluten-free, chemical-free, sugar-free, probiotic-rich diet helps rid the gut of candida and provides the raw materials needed for proper functioning neurotransmitters. And, as we have found that stimulants such as caffeine can deplete neurotransmitter levels and disrupt blood sugar levels, caffeine is eliminated from the daily diet.5
Psychobiotics (probiotics and prebiotics that have the potential to impact mental health due to the relationship between the gut and the brain) are very important components of healthy neurochemistry.6
Probiotics are living organisms like bacteria and yeasts that exert a positive effect on the digestive system, both by modulating the way the nervous system influences gut movement and aiding in the digestion of essential nutrients. Ultimately, these organisms help the gut process and move nutrients to their destinations and expel waste and toxins. Probiotics can also replace harmful bacteria with good bacteria, restoring gut balance.
Prebiotics are essential companions to probiotics, as they serve as the primary food source for good bacteria. These nutrients must be able to survive digestion in order to reach probiotic organisms in the large intestines and colon. Once there, they not only support probiotic life but also regulate bowel movements to expel toxins and waste, aid in immune and anti-inflammatory response, stimulate hormone production, and enable key neurotransmitters.
Our approach to the restoration of proper neurotransmitter production via the gut-brain axis includes a diet rich in essential prebiotics. Each individual receives a personalized consultation with the goal of creating a unique diet and supplement plan to address psychobiotic health.
Amino acids are also a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to neurotransmitter rehabilitation because they are the precursors to naturally manufactured neurotransmitters in the healthy body. For example, amino acids such as tryptophan are precursors to serotonin. This is why adequate protein is essential in the diet.7
Using an orthomolecular medicinal approach, we implement an amino acid-rich supplement protocol that will provide these building blocks essential to neurotransmitter production. Each resident is evaluated by our clinical and medical teams and is given an individualized supplement plan to address their specific needs.
In addition, we recommend designing a diet that supports the production of neurotransmitters. Specific foods are recommended over others because of their contribution to the regulation of neurotransmitters in the body.
Some of the foods that are good sources of building blocks for the adequate production of common neurotransmitters are listed below.14
Our thorough lab testing of blood provides us with a window into understanding a person’s neurochemistry landscape. This informs treatment and allows us to provide targeted therapies that work together best to meet the needs of each individual client.
In assessing the various test results, we are often able to find a correlation to mental health symptoms. Specific nutrient deficiencies are associated with certain symptoms. Similarly, we often find heavy metal toxicity presenting with substance use disorder. These test results play a role in developing an effective, holistic treatment plan that supports natural mental health.
The true key to neurotransmitter rehabilitation lies in our detoxification protocol. Often, environmental toxins such as heavy metals bind onto neuroreceptors preventing neurotransmitters from performing correctly. So, even providing the body with essential amino acids and a diet conducive to gut health will not, by themselves, necessarily clear up issues related to neurotransmission. This is because neurotransmitters can’t do their job properly if toxins impair their proper transmission.8
For that reason, sauna detoxification is at the core of the Alternative to Meds Center treatment regimen. Before they enter the sauna, residents take supplements called chelators that bind to the toxins that are blocking proper neurotransmission.9 These chelators capture toxins so they can be eliminated. Residents also take conjugators, which make the toxins that have been captured more water-soluble, so they can be flushed from the body through sweat or normal elimination channels without burdening the liver or other internal organs. A concurrent regimen of glutathione in the nebulized form contributes to the safe elimination of toxic metals, protecting against free radical damage.10
Through a diet that restores gut health, a protocol rich in amino acids, and an effective detoxification regimen, the residents at Alternative to Meds Center can experience great relief, which in turn helps to resolve many of the physical and mental symptoms they had when they arrived at the center.
By incorporating a unique treatment plan that includes the above approach to neurotransmitter therapy, as well as a broad range of holistic therapies, recovery tools, and psychotherapy, we are better able to help our clients recover by focusing on root causes and contributors to lingering and troubling symptoms. Using investigative methods like lab testing, we can discover the underlying neurochemistry in need of treatment and address the true cause of symptoms without further disrupting neurotransmitter balance with psychiatric drugs. Our clinicians, holistic therapists, and researchers work together to apply the best science-based and alternative therapies to improve every aspect of wellness, including substance use disorders.
If you are considering a neurotransmitter therapeutic approach to eliminate unwanted symptoms for yourself or a family member, contact Alternative to Meds Center as soon as possible. We are confident That Alternative to Meds Center’scomprehensive neurotransmitter therapy can help you change your life. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help you.
1. Bismuth-Evenzal Y, Gonopolsky Y, Gurwitz D, Iancu I, Weizman A, Rehavi M. Decreased serotonin content and reduced agonist-induced aggregation in platelets of patients chronically medicated with SSRI drugs. J Affect Disord. 2012 Jan;136(1-2):99-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Sep 4. PMID: 21893349. [cited 2023 June 11]
2. Greenshaw A. J. (2003). Neurotransmitter interactions in psychotropic drug action: beyond dopamine and serotonin. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience : JPN, 28(4), 247–250. [cited 2023 June 11]
3. Sheffler ZM, Reddy V, Pillarisetty LS. (2022). Physiology, Neurotransmitters. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. [cited 2023 June 11]
4. Fung, T.C., Vuong, H.E., Luna, C.D.G. et al. Intestinal serotonin and fluoxetine exposure modulate bacterial colonization in the gut. Nat Microbiol 4, 2064–2073 (2019). [cited 2023 June 11]
5. Briguglio, M., Dell’Osso, B., Panzica, G., Malgaroli, A., Banfi, G., Zanaboni Dina, C., Galentino, R., & Porta, M. (2018). Dietary Neurotransmitters: A Narrative Review on Current Knowledge. Nutrients, 10(5), 591. [cited 2023 June 11]
6. Sarkar, A., Lehto, S. M., Harty, S., Dinan, T. G., Cryan, J. F., & Burnet, P. W. J. (2016). Psychobiotics and the Manipulation of Bacteria-Gut-Brain Signals. Trends in neurosciences, 39(11), 763–781.[cited 2023 June 11]
7. Rao, P., Yallapu, M. M., Sari, Y., Fisher, P. B., & Kumar, S. (2015). Designing Novel Nanoformulations Targeting Glutamate Transporter Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2: Implications in Treating Drug Addiction. Journal of personalized nanomedicine, 1(1), 3–9.[cited 2023 June 11]
8. Oves et al., (2016). Heavy Metals: Biological Importance and Detoxification Strategies J Bioremed Biodeg, 7:2 [cited 2023 June 11]
9. Flora, S. J., & Pachauri, V. (2010). Chelation in metal intoxication. International journal of environmental research and public health, 7(7), 2745–2788. [cited 2023 June 11]
10. Sears M. E. (2013). Chelation: harnessing and enhancing heavy metal detoxification–a review. The Scientific World Journal, 2013, 219840. [cited 2023 June 11]
11. Awad, A. G., & Voruganti, L. L. (2015). Revisiting the ‘self-medication’ hypothesis in light of the new data linking low striatal dopamine to comorbid addictive behavior. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 5(3), 172–178. [cited 2023 June 11]
12. Moncrieff J, Cooper RE, Stockmann T, Amendola S, Hengartner MP, Horowitz MA. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry. 2022 Jul 20. doi: 10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35854107.[cited 2023 June 11]
13. Al-Sheraji, S. H., Ismail, A., Manap, M. Y., Mustafa, S., Yusof, R. M., & Hassan, F. A. (2013). Prebiotics as functional foods: A review. Journal of functional foods, 5(4), 1542-1553.[cited 2023 June 11]
14. Briguglio, M., Dell’Osso, B., Panzica, G., Malgaroli, A., Banfi, G., Zanaboni Dina, C., Galentino, R., & Porta, M. (2018). Dietary Neurotransmitters: A Narrative Review on Current Knowledge. Nutrients, 10(5), 591. [cited 2023 June 11]
Originally Published Feb 12, 2020 by Lyle Murphy
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.