by Dr. Rodger Murphree
Most individuals who consult their medical doctor for mood disorders are placed on prescription medications. Many of these antidepressants are in the form of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI). These drugs (Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Celexa, and Zoloft) are supposed to help the brain be more efficient at using the serotonin it produces. It is analogous to a gasoline additive to help your car get more mileage out of the gasoline in your tank.
Unfortunately, many of these individuals don’t have any serotonin in their tanks and they are running on fumes. Since their brain isn’t making serotonin, an additive isn’t going to help.
Where do the neurotransmitters come from? Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that help relay electrical messages from one nerve cell to another. Neurotransmitters are produced from the amino acids in the foods we eat. Amino acids join together in different patterns to form a protein. Eating a protein rich food allows us to replenish our ongoing demand for the essential amino acids. Half of the amino acids are essential. This means our bodies can’t manufacture them and we must get them from the foods we eat (protein). Certain amino acids along with vitamins (B6, B3, C) and minerals (magnesium) produce the neurotransmitters. The amino acid 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) turns into serotonin. The amino acid phenylalanine turns into epinephrine. Amino acids are the raw nutrients needed to manufacture the neurotransmitters which regulate our moods.
What do neurotransmitters do?
Neurotransmitters help regulate pain, reduce anxiety, promote happiness, initiate deep sleep, boost energy, and mental clarity. The neurotransmitters that cause excitatory reactions are known as catecholamines. Catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline) are derived from the amino acid phenylalanine. Inhibitory or relaxing neurotransmitters include serotonin and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). The neurotransmitter serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan. GABA is produced from the amino L-glutamine.
Correcting the cause of mood disorders
No one is born with a Prozac deficiency. However, people can develop a serotonin deficiency. Using a SSRI doesn’t correct the cause. If someone is out of gas (serotonin) why would you use a gasoline additive (SSRI)? Why not fill the tank (brain) up with gas (serotonin) instead? I’ve been using amino acid replacement therapy for several years. I’ve found this approach to be far superior to using prescription medicines (in most cases) for treating mild to moderate mood disorders. I’ve treated thousands of patients with mood disorders.
A Good Night's Sleep
One study showed that college students who were prevented from going into deep sleep (REM sleep) for a period of a week developed the same symptoms associated with FMS and CFS; diffuse pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, stomach disturbances, and headaches. (P.Koch-Sheras and A. Lemley, The Dream Sourcebook ( Los Angeles: Loweel House). Serotonin is the neurotransmitter or brain chemical that is responsible for regulating your sleep (getting you to sleep), raising your pain threshold (decreasing your pain) and elevating your moods.
Many of our patients are on Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s). SSRI’s are supposed to help a patient hang onto and use their naturally occurring stores of the brain chemical serotonin. It’s like using a gasoline additive to help increase the efficiency of your cars fuel. Most of the patients I see are running on fumes and a gasoline additive won’t help. Using 5HTP is like pouring gasoline straight into your tank. You fill your brain with serotonin. No need for an additive when you can simply replace your serotonin stores anytime you get low. Years of poor sleep create an imbalance with a person's sleep regulatory system known as the circadian rhythm. The longer someone’s sleep cycle has been compromised, the longer it usually takes for them to experience lasting symptom relief. But just a few nights of consistent deep sleep will provide a tremendous amount of improvement for most patients.
Why are my Serotonin Levels so low?
We are all born with a stress-coping savings account. Each day we are bombarded by stress. This can be from physical, emotional, mental, or chemical stress; physical labor, an argument, guilt, depression, long work hours, over exercising, pollution, medications, food additives, and pesticides. The stress-coping savings account is filled up with stress-busting chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, magnesium, B vitamins, cortisol, and DHEA. These chemicals are released every time we are subjected to stress. We make countless withdrawals from this account every day.
We make deposits into our stress-coping savings account when we go into deep sleep. If you don’t go into deep restorative sleep (you should be dreaming at night) you’ll be making more withdrawals than deposits – this leads to bankruptcy. Once you’ve bankrupted your stress-coping savings account, poor health becomes a way of life. A vicious cycle emerges. You need high levels of serotonin to fall into deep sleep each night. Once in deep sleep, you make more serotonin. If you become depleted in serotonin, you don’t go into deep sleep–and you don’t make serotonin. This results in more pain, fatigue, digestive problems, headaches, and susceptibility to infections.
Why Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors don’t always work
Many of my patients are on anti-depressants known as Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s). SSRI’s (Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa, Zoloft, Effexor, etc.) are supposed to help a patient hang onto and use the serotonin in their brain. It’s like using a gasoline additive to help increase the efficiency of your car’s fuel. Most of the patients I see are running on fumes and an additive won’t help. There is no serotonin to re-uptake! If your brain is running on serotonin fumes, an additive isn’t going to help. This is why many people try one antidepressant after another in an attempt to find one that works. To see which brain chemicals you may be low in, take the Brain Function Test.
No one has a Prozac Deficiency
5-Hydroxy Tryptophan Works 99% of the time. For the last few years I’ve been using the amino acid Tryptophan or 5HTP. 5HTP, along with B6, B12, B3, and magnesium is what makes serotonin. People don’t have an antidepressant deficiency but they may have a serotonin deficiency. Increasing serotonin levels with 5HTP is like pouring serotonin straight into your brain. There is no need for an additive.
“I’d taken every sleep medicine there is. My doctor said I couldn’t sleep because I was depressed. I didn’t know why I wasn’t sleeping, but I knew I was exhausted. So, even though I didn’t think all of my problems were due to depression, I was willing to try Prozac. It seemed to help for awhile. Then, after about 6 months I was worse than when I started the medicine. I was then started on Celexa, but it wore off after about 3-4 months also. I then used Elavil for awhile. It helped me get to sleep, but I usually felt hung-over the next day. I felt I was in a downward spiral that I couldn’t get out of. I consulted a rheumatologist for my pain. He diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. He prescribed Ambien for my insomnia and Zanaflex for my pain. I felt better for awhile, maybe a couple of weeks. But the medicines made me feel drugged-out. I couldn’t take the Zanaflex during the daytime or I’d be out like a light. I felt hung over if I took Zanaflex on a regular basis and finally stopped taking it altogether. The Ambien worked for several months, but then I started needing a higher and higher dose until finally, it too stopped working. I then tried Sonata, but it would only work for 4 fours. I’d wake up at 3 in the morning wide-awake, and wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. I walked around for 4 years totally exhausted and in so much pain. I was losing all hope until I tried 5HTP. It, along with the other supplements Dr. Murphree recommended, allowed me to consistently fall asleep and wake up feeling rested. After about 4 weeks, I noticed my constant pain was getting better. It was less of an issue. I’m actually having several days of no pain at all.”
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