For those of you that haven't visited the other pages on this site that have information about dopamine agonists, I'll first introduce some basic information about dopamine and dopamine agonists before I go into the various natural agonists that you can try.
Mild elevations in Dopamine are associated with addictions. Nicotine, cocaine, and other substances produce a feeling of excited euphoria by increasing Dopamine levels in the brain. Too much of these chemicals/substances and we feel "wired" as moderate levels of Dopamine make us hyperstimulated - paying too much attention to our environment due to being overstimulated and unable to separate what's important and what is not.
In an ADHD child, low levels of Dopamine don't allow the child to focus or attend to anything in the environment, looking very physically hyperactive when running about the room or switching from activity-to-activity due to their lack of focus. As Dopamine levels increase above the normal range, our ability to focus increases to the point of being paranoid. Mild elevations make the environment overly stimulating and excited.
Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D. "Dopamine: Parkinson's Disease and ADHD to Smoking and Paranoia" eNotAlone.com www.enotalone.com/article/4115.html
Most research on the disease mechanism of Restless Legs Syndrome has focused on the dopamine and iron system. These hypotheses are based on the observation that iron and levodopa can be used to treat RLS, levodopa being a medicine for treating hypodopaminergic (low dopamine) conditions, and also on findings from functional brain imaging (such as positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging), autopsy series and animal experiments.
R. Allen, "Dopamine and iron in the pathophysiology of restless legs syndrome (RLS)". Sleep Med. 5 (4): 385-91. (July 2004) doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2004.01.012. PMID 15222997.
S. Clemens, D. Rye and S. Hochman "Restless legs syndrome: revisiting the Dopamine hypothesis from the spinal cord perspective". Neurology 67 (1): 125-130. (2006). doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000223316.53428.c9. PMID 16832090. www.neurology.org/cgi/content/abstract/67/1/125.
CJ Earley, P Barker, A. Horska and RP Allen, "MRI-determined regional brain iron concentrations in early- and late-onset restless legs syndrome". Sleep Med. 7 (5): 458-61. (August 2006). doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2005.11.009. PMID 16740411
Most medications on the market compensate for the loss of dopamine in the brain by introducing levodopa, a substance that is chemically very similar to the body's natural neurotransmitter. Taken by mouth, levodopa is converted to dopamine in the brain's basal ganglia and acts like dopamine in the brain's movement centers. Levodopa can produce dramatic results, especially in reducing rigidity and tremor and improving movement. People with mild symptoms can return to near normal. Levodopa is generally taken in combination with carbidopa, which keeps the levodopa from being broken down in the digestive tract before it reaches the brain. It also permits a lower dose of levodopa and reduces side effects, which can include nausea and flushing.
After taking levodopa drugs for five years or more, many people find that the effectiveness begins to wear off, and more than half suffer "on-off syndrome," in which they rapidly cycle between being fairly mobile and being severely impaired as dopamine levels in the brain fluctuate. Taking lower, more frequent doses can control on-off syndrome for a while, but even this strategy begins to lose its effectiveness after 15 to 20 years.
Sinemet is one of the most widely prescribed dopamine-replacement treatments for Parkinson's disease. Side effects that may occur include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lightheadedness and dizziness and sleepiness. Sinemet may turn your urine, sweat, and saliva a dark-brown or red color, which is not harmful. If you experience sudden involuntary movements on the drug, you may need a lower dose.
Stalevo contains three active ingredients: levodopa, carbidopa and entacapone. Side effects may include diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and insomnia. If you experience sudden involuntary movements, you may need a lower dose. Patients taking the combination should be advised that, occasionally, saliva, urine, or sweat may turn a dark-brown or reddish color, and garments may even become discolored.
"Parkinson's Disease." U.S.News & World Report (April 11, 2006). health.usnews.com/health-conditions/brain-health/parkinsons-disease/treatment
A dopamine agonist is a compound that activates dopamine receptors in the absence of dopamine. Dopamine agonists activate signaling pathways through the dopamine receptor and trimeric G-proteins, ultimately leading to changes in gene transcription.
Some medical drugs act as dopamine agonists and can treat hypodopaminergic (low dopamine) conditions; they are typically used for treating Parkinson's disease and certain pituitary tumors (prolactinoma), and may be useful for restless legs syndrome (RLS). Both Requip (Ropinirole) and Mirapex (Pramipexole) are FDA-approved for the treatment of RLS.
"Dopamine Agonist" WikiPedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine_agonist
Its mechanism of action is to work on dopamine receptors so that they are stimulated. This is different than adding dopamine to the body, which would stimulate the receptors, and it's also distinct from preventing the body from taking up (reuptake) free dopamine so there is more in use. Instead, it's something like a substitute for dopamine that can fool dopamine receptors into working, even when the body lacks a good supply of this neurotransmitter.
Tricia Ellis-Christensen, "What Is a Dopamine Agonist?" wiseGEEK www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-dopamine-agonist.htm
Some of the common side effects of dopamine agonists include:
* Causing or worsening psychosis
* Orthostatic hypotension
* Increased orgasmic intensity
* Weight loss
* Unusual tiredness or weakness
* Dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, or fainting
* Twitching, twisting, or other unusual body movements
* Pathological addiction (gambling, shopping, internet pornography, hyper-sexuality)
"Dopamine Agonist" WikiPedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine_agonist
Research by Judith Wurtman, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has focused on how certain foods alter one's mood by influencing the level of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. While many other factors influence the level of these chemicals, such as hormones, heredity, drugs, and alcohol, three neurotransmitters-dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin have been studied in relation to food, and this research has shown that neurotransmitters are produced in the brain from components of certain foods.
How does diet play a role? The foods that increase the production of serotonin in the brain are high in carbohydrates. Many kinds of foods carbohydrates, such as candy, cereal, and pasta, can produce a temporary increase in brain serotonin-and a subsequent calming or anxiety-reducing effect. This explains why people may feel drowsy in the afternoon after eating a large meal of pasta, since a rise in serotonin in the brain can also lead to drowsiness. Carbohydrates affect brain serotonin because they increase the amount of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is the amino-acid precursor of serotonin.
The two other important brain chemicals that appear to be influenced by foods, dopamine and norepinephrine, produce a feeling of alertness, an increased ability to concentrate, and faster reaction times. There are two possible mechanisms for how this happens: (1) serotonin production is blocked by the consumption of protein-rich foods, resulting in increased alertness or concentration, or (2) levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are increased by the consumption of protein-rich foods.
Circadian rhythms also affect eating and performance. These rhythms influence when individuals are more active, and when they are more likely to be sleepy. Research indicates there are different eating patterns for individuals with different rhythms. These eating patterns can enhance energy levels and performance. For example, "morning people" are usually at their best and most focused during the early hours of the day. Although breakfast is important, what foods these people eat becomes more important at lunch and throughout the afternoon. The energy level of a morning person begins to drop during the afternoon, and evening is their least alert and productive time. Thus, what they choose to eat at lunch and for snacks can make a difference in how they feel later in the day.
Most neurotransmitters are made from protein or its subunits, amino acids. Eating adequate amounts of dietary protein is critical. The average person requires 40-70 grams (up to 90 grams for a very active athlete) of protein daily.
Catherine Christie, "Mood-Food Relationships." Internet FAQ Archives www.faqs.org/nutrition/Met-Obe/Mood-Food-Relationships.html
Wurtman, J. (1989) "Carbohydrate Craving, Mood Changes, and Obesity." Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 49 (Suppl.) 37-39.
Wurtman, R. J., et. al. (1986) "Carbohydrate Cravings, Obesity and Brain Serotonin." Appetite 7 (Suppl.): 99-103.
Wurtman, R. J., and J. J. Wurtman (1989) "Carbohydrates and Depression." Scientific American (January): 68-75.
"How to Balance Neurotransmitters." Power Discovery www.powersupplements.com/craniyums-less3.html
On the web page "Scientific evidence proving that there is a relationship between RLS remedies and dopamine levels." you will find a wealth of information on the many vitamins, minerals and herbs that can help to naturally balance out or increase your dopamine levels.
If you're taking Requip or Mirapex and are considering trying out this remedy, make sure to read up on the benefits of Omega 3, Vitamin B6 and Curcumin. They will be especially effective in helping your dopamine level to reach and maintain a balanced state.
Education is crucial. If you have any concerns about the affects of ANY of the supplements, vitamins, minerals or herbs listed, please consult your pharmacist. Because of the rapidly growing popularity of natural cures, pharmacists are more educated than ever on how supplements interact with various medications.
Here are some other foods and supplements to consider to help raise your dopamine level:
Chicken: Like eggs, chicken contains complete protein that increases levels of the excitatory neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Chicken is also a good source of coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10), which increases the energy generating potential of neurons.
Cheese: A well known protein food. Protein provides amino acids, which help produce dopamine and norepinephrine.
Cottage Cheese: One of the "must eat" foods on every expert's list, cottage cheese is recommended as a substitute for other soft cheeses and dairy products. Cottage cheese provides the protein that can help boost mood and energy levels, without some of the fat of hard cheeses.
Eggs: Research from the University of California, Berkeley suggests that people who suffer from depression have low amount of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in their brains. One natural antidepressant is to increase dopamine by eating protein-rich foods. such as eggs for this purpose, because they are versatile and appeal to some people who choose not to eat meat.
Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, especially mackerel, salmon, striped bass, rainbow trout, halibut, tuna, and sardines. These fatty acids may have many jobs in the body, including a possible role in the production of neurotransmitters. Fish have easily digestible protein, many trace nutrients, high quality essential fatty acids, low cholesterol levels and low saturated fat levels.
French scientists have shown that rats deficient in omega-3 fatty acids had more receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin and a corresponding decrease in dopamine in the frontal cortex.
Watermelon: Watermelon juice is fat free and loaded with vitamins A, B6, and C! Vitamin B6 is used by the body to manufacture neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Vitamin C also enhances the immune system while protecting the body from free radicals.
Wheat Germ: Wheat Germ is a good source of Phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid found in the brain and blood plasma that can convert in the body to tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesize dopamine. A healthly, balanced diet is rich in whole "natural" and unprocessed foods. It is especially high in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts. Fruits are vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that protect the body cells from damaging. They also help raise serotonin levels in the brain.
Beans and legumes: Rich in protein and are healthful boosters of both dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, Protein Meat, Milk, Eggs, Cheese, fish and other seafood are very healthy, high-protein, dopamine-and-norepinephrine-booster food.
"Foods that Increase Dopamine Naturally." Med Help www.medhelp.org/tags/health_page/45/Addiction/Foods-that-Increase-Dopamine-Naturally?hp_id=594
Include ripe bananas as part of your daily diet. As a banana matures, it produces dopamine quinine, a naturally occurring form of dopamine. Although small brown areas on the fruit indicate bruising, these portions also contain the highest levels of dopamine.
Pack a handful of raw almonds or sunflower seeds for your morning break instead of eating a candy bar. In addition, sprinkle sesame seeds on salads and sandwiches for a jump-start to your dopamine levels.
Purchase natural amino acid supplements to get a dopamine boost. Available at health food stores or online, these products offer a concentrated dose of the amino acids naturally found in a healthy brain.
Supplement your diet with foods rich in antioxidants. Free radicals lower dopamine levels in the body, and antioxidants eliminate free radicals. Most vegetables and fruits contain some antioxidants, with red beans, blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, prunes and strawberries topping the list.
Glyn Sheridan, "How to Naturally Increase Dopamine Levels". eHow www.ehow.com/how_4617145_naturally-increase-dopamine-levels.html
Russell Brooks, "How To Naturally Increase Dopamine Levels." How to Do Things www.howtodothings.com/health-fitness/how-to-naturally-increase-dopamine-levels
"How to increase Dopamine Levels Naturally?" (Feb 1, 2011). Itechtalk blog.itechtalk.com/2011/how-to-increase-dopamine-levels-naturally
Theanine: gamma-glutamylethylamide, or 5-N-ethyl-glutamine is a glutamic acid analog or amino acid derivative commonly found in tea (infusions of Camellia sinensis), and also in the basidiomycete mushroom Boletus badius. In 1950 the Tea laboratory of Kyoto successfully separated theanine from Gyokuro leaf, which has the highest theanine content among all teas. Theanine is an analog to glutamine and glutamate, and can cross the blood-brain barrier. It is sold in the US as a dietary supplement and is FDA confirmed as Generally recognized as safe (GRAS). The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare approved the use of L-theanine (the levorotary enantiomer of theanine) in 1964.
"Theanine." Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theanine
Casimir J, Jadot J, Renard M (1960). "[Separation and characterization of N-ethyl-gamma-glutamine from Xerocomus badius.]". Biochim Biophys Acta 39: 462-8. doi:10.1016/0006-3002(60)90199-2. PMID 13808157.
Yokogoshi H, Kobayashi M, Mochizuki M, Terashima T (1998). "Effect of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on brain monoamines and striatal dopamine release in conscious rats". Neurochem Res 23 (5): 667-73. doi:10.1023/A:1022490806093. PMID 9566605.
"FDA confirms GRAS status of Suntheanine". NutraIngredients-USA.com. March 22, 2007. http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Industry/FDA-confirms-GRAS-status-of-Suntheanine.
Perrini, Carolyn. "L-Theanine: How a Unique Anxiety Reducer and Mood Enhancer Increases Alpha Waves and Alertness". Okinawa Tea Company. http://www.okinawateacompany.com/html/pdf/mood_3.pdf.
Tyrosine or 4-hydroxyphenylalanine, is one of the 20 amino acids that are used by cells to synthesize proteins. It is a non-essential amino acid with a polar side group. The word "tyrosine" is from the Greek tyros, meaning cheese, as it was first discovered in 1846 by German chemist Justus von Liebig in the protein casein from cheese.
Tyrosine, which can be synthesized in the body from phenylalanine, is found in many high protein food products such as soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Tyrosine can also be obtained through supplementation.
It is an amino acid found in the diet that is a precursor to numerous important substances in the body, most notably the catecholamines dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE). Certain supplements may improve the results from tyrosine supplementation, depending on the purpose it is being used for. Vitamin B6 is sometimes recommended because it is involved in the conversion of tyrosine into dopamine, although there is not yet scientific support for the contention that it will increase the effects of tyrosine supplementation.
"Tyrosine." Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrosine
"Tyrosine". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Infoplease.com - Columbia University Press. 2007. www.infoplease.com/ce6/sci/A0849873.html.
Douglas Harper (2001). "Tyrosine". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=tyrosine.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Feb;73(2):276-82. "Tyrosine requirement of healthy men receiving a fixed phenylalanine intake determined by using indicator amino acid oxidation." Roberts SA, Thorpe JM, Ball RO, Pencharz PB.
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