Neurotransmitter Testing- A Window to the Brain
Anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia are issues that plague many in the world today. They get little help from modern medicine as they struggle to figure out what’s behind these issues. Here at NOVA Headache we offer the patient a way of finally understanding the root causes of their issues via neurotransmitter testing. Neurotransmitter testing can identify imbalances in the body and brain chemistry that is often the cause of these symptoms and, perhaps more importantly, it can provide you with the next steps to help get you back on the path to optimal health and feeling well again.
Objective testing in the field of mental health is rarely done before pharmaceutical medications that have potentially dangerous side effects are prescribed. Most often, a patient is asked subjective questions by a psychiatrist, and then placed on a medication on a trial basis to see how they respond to it. In no other field of healthcare are drugs prescribed in this way- without any lab testing. Even if you have something as common as high blood pressure or cholesterol, there are specific objective lab and diagnostic tests that are done before medication is prescribed. Patients suffering from depression, ADD/ADHD, anxiety, mania, bipolar disorder, etc. often are suffering from neurochemical imbalances. Lacking the proper balance of neurotransmitters, the patient often finds that they are simply incapable of making progress conventional treatment.
A SIMPLE TEST IS ALL IT TAKES!
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that facilitate the transmission of signals from one neuron to the next in the brain, or from a neuron to target cells such as muscles or glands. Neurotransmitters are produced in the brain, but also in other areas of the body. For example, our intestines have a vast network of neurons that produce neurotransmitters to help coordinate digestion and healthy intestinal function. Neurotransmitter Testing provides a measurement of whole-body neurotransmitter production by assessing the byproducts neurotransmitter metabolism (breakdown). Research has shown that the levels measured in urine correlate directly with both mental and physical symptoms.
You can think of neurotransmitter testing like you would your auto emissions test. In the case of the automobile, a sensor analyzes the tailpipe emission and evaluates how efficiently your car is burning its fuel. With “perfect” combustion, the fuel should yield only two byproducts - Water and Carbon Dioxide. Poor or incomplete combustion will leave poisonous gas such as Carbon Monoxide and other pollutants. In the same way, here a patient’s urine (emission) is evaluated for how the brain and body have properly used its “fuel”. We expect to see certain established levels of “perfect fuel combustion”, and any deviation from this ideal will allow us to uncovering imbalances in the brain.
Neurotransmitter testing is a window to our brain function that no other testing can provide. Ideally, people would also test their hormones along with their neurotransmitters, because hormones are also key players in both mood and energy. Hormone studies are performed utilizing saliva rather than blood. Blood testing shows the level of circulating hormones, whereas salivary testing shows what is actually being utilized by the tissues.
How are hormones and neurotransmitters related?
Both hormones and neurotransmitters powerfully influence mood and energy levels. It is advisable to have hormones and neurotransmitters tested simultaneously. Hormones can strongly influence neurotransmitter levels, and vice versa. For example, the hormone estrogen can increase the activity of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, while the hormone progesterone increases the calming action of the neurotransmitter GABA. Neurotransmitters can influence hormone production via their communication with the pituitary gland in the brain, which in turn controls hormone production in the body.
When properly balanced, neurotransmitters and hormones work in harmony to sustain good mental and physical health. Imbalances in neurotransmitters and hormones play a significant role in contributing to and perpetuating the symptoms of: cognitive disorders, depression, anxiety, diminished sex drive, fatigue and sleep difficulties, cravings, addictions, and chronic pain.
How does identifying these imbalances help me on a path to health?
Here at NOVA Headache, we are able to analyze, evaluate and recommend the targeted natural products such as: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and hormones that are necessary to rebalance our brain chemistry. Our understanding of neurotransmitters has advanced so much that we now know which nutrients are needed as cofactors for the enzymes that create, or break down, each neurotransmitter. Vitamin B6, for instance, is needed for the conversion of the amino acid 5-HTP into serotonin. Therefore it is essential for individuals who have low serotonin to also be taking in sufficient levels of Vitamin B6. Amino acids are not only the building blocks of proteins, but also of neurotransmitters, which means that we can use specific amino acid supplementation to support and enhance the production of certain neurotransmitters. For example, we know that L-Theanine is an amino acid precursor to the neurotransmitter GABA. Therefore, taking appropriate doses of theanine supports and enhances GABA production in the brain. Our understanding of how hormones and natural medicines influence brain biochemistry can also help us to balance neurotransmitters.
Who should have this test done?
This test is especially valuable for individuals who have mental and emotional symptoms that evade identification with conventional testing or that have been unresponsive or slow to respond with other therapies or medications. Some examples of symptoms which are suspect for neurotransmitter imbalances are:
Loss of mental focus
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Addiction or dependency
Loss of appetite control
Altered pain response
Poor mental performance
Many individuals who suffer from these symptoms will compound their health issues by using food, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, nicotine, medications, and other neuroactive substances to try to obtain relief from their symptoms. When functioning properly, there is a balance between the excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters allowing peace and tranquility of the mind. Restoring this balance can help individuals enjoy life again and feel like themselves. For many, this can be a life changing experience.
How much does this cost? Does insurance cover it?
Insurance does not cover these tests. The two different tests we offer are:
Neurobasic Profile which includes analysis of 10 Neurotransmitters: Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Glutamate, Histamine, PEA and Creatinine for $209.00
Neurohormone Complete which includes the 10 Neurotransmitters above PLUS 8 hormone tests: Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA, and Cortisol x 4 for $339.00
Do you know someone who could benefit from this testing?
Kits are available at the office or online. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Dr. Green at email@example.com