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Fight or flight...survival or anxiety?

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

Excitatory neurotransmitters are the opposite of inhibitory neurotransmitters. Look below to see how they function.

Day 18: Excitatory Neurotransmitters

Excitatory neurotransmitters allow the potential for action after a signal has been fired from a brain neuron rather than blocking it like inhibitory neurotransmitters do. Both are necessary and both can lead to significant consequences if left unbalanced. A way of looking at it is to think of a see-saw. Too many signals and you are feeling all kinds of emotions at great intensity; but, not enough signals or firing of neurons, and you are left feeling flat, unable to concentrate with poor sleep.

Norepinephrine and epinephrine are two common excitatory neurotransmitters. Interestingly, they are also both hormones. They are associated with stress and the "fight or flight" response. Epinephrine, also called adrenaline, greatly affects your heart rate and glucose production in an attempt to bring extreme awareness to the situation at hand. Norepinephrine, also called noradrenaline, acts similarly to epinephrine, but focuses slightly more on constricting the blood vessels in times of stress. It has other roles, like assisting in liver function and sustaining cognitive function, like attention to detail and tasks, processing, and other frontal lobe functions involved in executive functioning. This is where common ADHD symptoms occur as a result of neurotransmitter imbalances. Of course this requires a formal diagnoses by a licensed healthcare provider. However, laboratory results can aid in that diagnosis by identifying these healthcare markers and can assist your physician with medical management and your psychologist with behavior management and insight.

Factors contributing to low levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine are: poor nutrition, chronic stress, some medications, and some health conditions. If you are experiencing sleep issues, anxiety, depression, changes in blood pressure or heart rate, low blood sugar, and/or migraine headaches, getting your neurotransmitters tested could be a very valuable investment!

As with inhibitory neurotransmitters, these too can be balanced naturally without dependence on medications but needs to be done in tandem with your healthcare team, such as your primary care physician, coach, and dietitian (aka US!) Click below and let us "check under your hood" and then tailor a specific program for optimal health customized for YOU.

DISCLAIMER: Supplements of any kind are not evaluated or approved by the FDA. Our advice is also to not "self-diagnose" and to verify your biomarkers while working with an integrated team who can help you understand your individual profile and execute a targeted, unique plan for you. While it may cost you to have the testing and to have those results reviewed by our Medical Director or your physician, it will save you money in the long run and produce better, more sustainable results.

Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD

Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director

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