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Questions for Dr. Kennedy
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Neurotransmitter levels
Posted by: Ted
Date: November 21, 2000 3:15 PM

Regarding those who lack sufficient levels of neurotransmitters in their brain. I recently read that a certain alternative health practitioner prescribes certain amino acids (the precursors of neurotransmitters), combined with vitamins B6 and C, to generate extra neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine. Sounds like a plan, maybe? I realize exercise can boost neurotransmitters, but do you think it's safe to try amino acids + vitamins to get neurotransmitters. I can't otherwise get by exercise? Also, what is your opinion of 5-HTP? My pharmacist recommended it.

RE: Neurotransmitter levels
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, MD
Date: November 23, 2000 12:13 PM

Of course, you can overdose yourself with anything, including water. However, used in doses in the recommended range, amino acids and vitamins are very safe. 5-HTP is a precursor of serotonin and melatonin and increases levels of those items. It is usually taken only at bedtime and should not be used before driving or anything else for which full alertness is required. As to the mechanism of action of anti-depressants, the latest research suggests they stimulate the proliferation of neurons in the hippocampus (the part of the brain which relays signals to and from the cortex - sort of the switchboard) and that this may be their mechanism of action.



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