One Approach to Maintaining Well-being for the Body, the Mind and the Spirit is to Copy Nature

By Dr. Deedra Rae Mason

Natural approaches to general wellbeing often utilize a diverse combination of vitamins, botanicals and amino acids to promote healthy lifestyles. Vitamins, like a complex of B’s and vitamin C, omega three fatty acids and minerals like magnesium are all natural building blocks for the neurotransmitters Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine and GABA. Furthermore the combination of amino acids like tyrosine, phenylalanine and glycine are “the backbone” of the same neurotransmitters.  An individual’s relative access to these natural building blocks may be limited when you consider the increased physical and mental demands of our jobs, our social life and our family life. Often these three parts of our life are at odds with each other, and yet each is so necessary to complete us as social beings, especially during the holidays. Sugar over-load and lack of quality sleep are also thieves of your neurotransmitters and again, much more prevalent during the holiday season.

Naturally derived ingredients like L-tryptophan, Quatrafolic and B-6, as well as the amino acid tyrosine are used more and more as a conventional approach to managing day to day stress.(1) These elements or substances have decades of research to determine their efficacy and safety as an option for supporting one’s general mental and emotional wellbeing. The neurotransmitter Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer and also helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting. Even the mildest of stressors can influence the production and adequacy of serotonin, imagine the effect the stress of the holidays may have.  The precursor to Serotonin creation is the essential amino acid Tryptophan. Tryptophan found in beef, poultry and fish, as well as nuts/seeds and legumes. The advantage to dietary sources of tryptophan is that these sources are naturally rich in other building blocks like Vitamin C, B-6 and magnesium. (2)

Serotonin levels in the brain are strongly dependent on access to transport molecules to enter the central nervous system. Both B-6 and curcuminoids are shown to clinically enhance, first the availability of L-tryptophan with B-6’s help, and second crossing the blood brain barrier with a curcuminoid’s help. When these other natural ingredients are present, other neurotransmitters are likely to increase because the antioxidant curcumin’s activity can free up transport molecules for complimentary neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine and ultimately GABA. (2)

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. (3)  Remember this as we approach a happy yet stressful time of year, even if you are fortunate enough to avoid any physical ailments, your overall wellbeing requires a delicate balance between all three. Keep steady in knowing there are a variety of nutritional methods to support your health, whatever you and your practitioner decide.

(1) L-Tryptophan: Basic Metabolic Functions, Behavioral Research and Therapeutic Indications. Dawn M Richard, Michael A Dawes, Charles W Mathias, Ashley Acheson, Nathalie Hill-Kapturczak, Donald M Dougherty Int J Tryptophan Res. 2009; 2: 45–60. Published online 2009 Mar 23.

(2) How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Simon N. Young. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 Nov; 32(6): 394–399.

(3) World Health Organization. Constitution of the World Health Organization. In: Basic documents, forty-fifth edition, supplement. 2006. Available: www.who.int/governance/eb/who_constitution_en.pdf (accessed 2007 Oct 3).

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.