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Christian Hall
Christian Hall

Where To Buy Dopamine

Robert Sapolsky is a neuroscientist who studies dopamine in the brain. He trained monkeys to know that when a light comes on that is a signal. The monkeys knew that if they pressed a button 10 times, after the signal (after the light comes on), then on the tenth button press, a food treat would appear.

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In a second experiment, the monkeys received the food treat only 50 percent of the time after they pressed the bar. What happened to the dopamine in that situation? Twice as much dopamine was released when there was only a 50/50 chance of getting the food treat.

In the third and fourth experiments, Sapolsky gave the treat 25 percent of the time or 75 percent of the time. Interestingly, when the treat was given either 25 percent of the time or 75 percent of the time, the dopamine release was the same, and it was halfway between the 100 percent and 50 percent chance of getting a food treat.

Shopping addiction, which is also known as compulsive shopping disorder, is where the desire to make purchases or spend money becomes so great that it causes you to lose control over whether you act on these urges or not.

This composite image of brain scans shows two traits of a highly impulsive individual. The cool colors in the midbrain are indicative of a decrease in dopamine receptor levels while the warm colors show elevated levels of dopamine in a different part of the brain called the striatum. Joshua W. Buckholtz and David H. Zald hide caption

Joshua Buckholtz, a researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., thinks that the brains of impulsive people have too much dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical involved with many different brain functions, but in this case researchers are interested in drive. They believe high levels of dopamine are causing some individuals to behave rashly, perhaps by buying a food dehydrator they don't need.

To understand how dopamine could lead to impulsive behavior, Buckholtz and the Vanderbilt group looked at the midbrain, the lower-middle bit of the brain. The midbrain produces dopamine and pipes it out to other regions, where it creates the drive to get the things you want. Normally, sensors in the midbrain called autoreceptors keep dopamine at the right level.

"You can think of it as very similar to how a thermostat works," Buckholz says. In your house, the thermostat will tell your furnace to produce more heat or shut off, depending on the temperature. Similarly, the autoreceptors tell the midbrain to start pumping dopamine or stop, depending on how much of the chemical is already around.

The Vanderbilt researchers suspected that the dopamine thermostats of highly impulsive people are broken. To find out, they took 32 healthy volunteers with varying levels of impulsivity. They scanned their heads and found that on average, impulsive people had fewer thermostats. To test the idea still further, the team gave volunteers a drug that releases dopamine, then scanned their brains again.

But some researchers believe that there's more to impulsiveness than the dopamine thermostat. "This is not a very huge effect," says Ahmad Hariri, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. He thinks that other brain chemicals with their own thermostats also play a role.

"I think that there is a circuitry of self-control that's fundamental to many, many aspects of living," agrees Edythe London, a psychiatrist at UCLA. London says that understanding the dopamine thermostat and others may eventually lead to treatments for addiction and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Those treatments might be drugs, or they might be new therapies that reinforce the thermostats and improve their performance.

Other key neurotransmitters that carry signals throughout the body include serotonin and GABA. Many antidepressant drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by affecting levels of serotonin. In addition, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), like bupropion (Wellbutrin), affect dopamine directly.

Because dopamine is affected by several nutrients, food can have a significant impact on dopamine availability in the brain, explains Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef and nutrition specialist based in Boston and the author of "This Is Your Brain on Food."

Rather than actually containing dopamine, certain supplements may have some ingredients that increase dopamine in the brain by stimulating the absorption or release of dopamine, says KC Wright, a research dietitian and consultant in private practice based in New London, New Hampshire. However, it's important to take these supplements with a grain of salt.

Berberine, an active component found in certain plants used in traditional Chinese medicine, is known for anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects. In a 2018 study in rats with post-traumatic stress disorder, berberine increased dopamine levels and reduced anxiety. While it has successfully been shown to affect dopamine levels in animal studies, more research on humans needs to be done.

Caffeine has been associated with increased dopamine levels as it may enhance the dopamine receptors in your brain," says Lisa Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. "However, you can develop a greater tolerance for caffeine and therefore may need to increase your consumption to have a similar effect."

One study in rats demonstrated oregano extract had a positive effect on the levels of some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, in the body. Oregano is a plentiful spice in the Mediterranean diet and can also be found in oregano-infused oils and in supplement form.

Through the active ingredient curcumin, the spice turmeric may help the body release dopamine and confer some antidepressant effects. In a small study of patients with major depression, receiving curcumin in combination with a prescription antidepressant was safe, although similarly or only slightly more effective than taking the prescription drug alone, according to data published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.

Curcumin has been shown to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier and to help modulate the release of serotonin and dopamine, giving it an antidepressant effect. An Indian-food staple, turmeric can also spice up beverages like smoothies.

Used in traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years, ginkgo biloba has many health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving circulation and combating free radicals due to its strong antioxidant properties. There have been some smaller studies done on its effects on dopamine levels, but scientists don't yet fully understand it.

Ginkgo biloba supplements may increase dopamine levels in animal and test-tube studies," Young says. "However, more research is needed on humans. Some research in rats found that supplementing with ginkgo biloba increased dopamine levels, which helped to improve memory and cognitive function."

Fish oil provides omega-3 fatty acids, which have important anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and have been shown to improve depression symptoms. Several different omega-3s exist, but most of the focus is on alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In particular, DHA and EPA may play a role in increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Fatty fish like salmon and plant sources such as walnuts and chia seeds increase levels of omega-3.

L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in tea that promotes relaxation by reducing stress and anxiety levels. L-theanine has been shown to increase the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and GABA levels in animals. White, green, oolong and black tea all contain l-theanine, as do certain types of mushrooms.

Magnesium plays an important role in brain health. A magnesium deficiency has been linked to depression, as well as a decrease in dopamine levels, Naidoo says. While the mechanism for this magnesium effect is unclear, supplementing with magnesium has been shown to boost dopamine levels, as well as provide antidepressant effects in studies.

Growing evidence shows the involvement of microbiota-gut-brain signaling in dopamine release, synthesis and bioavailability. Disruptions to the balance of gut microbe diversity, such as with antibiotic usage, may influence dopamine transmission.

Saffron, a spice with anti-inflammatory effects, may also prevent reabsorption of the neurochemicals dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, making them more available to perform their functions. In a 2021 study of 56 healthy participants, taking saffron extract supplements versus placebo appeared to improve mild depression symptoms.

An amino acid that can be both made by the body and attained by eating certain foods, tyrosine is an essential building block for producing several neurotransmitters and hormones, including dopamine. It also supports the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands, where hormones are made and regulated. It is rare to have a tyrosine deficiency because the body produces it, and the amino acid is also naturally found in many foods, such as dairy products, soy products, meats, fish, avocados, bananas, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and poultry.

Before moving to supplements, try foods that can impact dopamine levels first, experts say. Not enough research has been done on exactly what combinations of nutrients and in what quantities are needed for the body to create dopamine or any neurotransmitters. Also, the nutrients that help the body fulfill its many functions are most bioavailable from whole foods.

Human action is strongly influenced by expectations of pleasure. Making decisions, ranging from which products to buy to which job offer to accept, requires an estimation of how good (or bad) the likely outcomes will make us feel [1]. Yet, little is known about the biological basis of subjective estimations of future hedonic reactions. Here, we show that administration of a drug that enhances dopaminergic function (dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine; L-DOPA) during the imaginative construction of positive future life events subsequently enhances estimates of the hedonic pleasure to be derived from these same events. These findings provide the first direct evidence for the role of dopamine in the modulation of subjective hedonic expectations in humans. 041b061a72


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