Dopamine (DA) neurotransmitter is reduced in a part of the brain (nucleus accumbens) in people with addictive behavior. This also occurs in animal models of drug-dependency to alcohol, opiates and cannabinoids. In human brain imaging studies of addicts to cocaine, heroin and alcohol, there is reduced production of DA in the brain. There is reduced DA activity in alcoholics, whereas normal subjects have increased DA. These facts support the hypothesis of the “dopamine-impoverished brain” of addiction.
An increase in DA may be therapeutic in addiction. There have been attempts to increase DA activity to reduce craving, relapses and drug use. Altered DA activity can be achieved by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and by pharmaceuticals. TMS is the use of electromagnetic fields (EMF) to the head to change the activity of the brain in order to alter addictive behavior. EMF can excite or inhibit neurons in the brain and be used for major depression, bipolar disease and schizophrenia. Significant improvements have been seen in treating the craving of drugs with the use of TMS.
Boosting DA activity by pharmaceuticals reduces symptoms of addiction and alcoholism. Bromocriptine, a DA agonist which increases DA activity should reduce drinking in alcoholics, but, studies of bromocriptine in alcoholics show little effect. A number of drugs have been shown to increase DA activity, but their use has been limited due to side effects.
CONCLUSION: Increasing DA activity reduces the symptoms of addictions. Studies of pharmaceuticals and TMS have been done to increase DA activity with some success.
NOTE: Parkinson’s disease is the result of insufficient DA activity in specific parts of the brain. Amino acids, tyrosine and phenylalanine are converted to l-dopa, which can cross the blood brain barrier and is medical treatment for Parkinson’s disease. L-dopa is converted to DA in the brain. The current treatments of Parkinson’s disease aim to increase DA levels in the brain and protect dopamine-producing brain cells.
Tyrosine and phenylalanine are needed to produce DA. Animals on a diet deficient of these amino acids become DA deficient. Phenylalanine and tyrosine are DA agonists. ECGC (an extract of green tea) increases DA in Parkinson’s disease, also. Kudzu protects DA-producing cells in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. Carbohydrate-rich diets are high in DA. Fava beans (Vicia faba) contain plant steroids which protect DA-producing cells in the brain and contain l-dopa, the treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
Celiac disease, a bowel disease caused by gluten, can cause psychiatric symptoms. A strict gluten-free diet can improve the psychiatric symptoms and improve blood levels of the DA agonist, tyrosine.
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Rainbow Grocery sells the following products: ECGC (green tea extract), fava beans, Kudzu capsules, phenylalanine, and tyrosine.
PMID: 22144966. nutrientmedicine