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22

 Functional Assessment of Urinary Neuro-biogenic Amines—A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

located on neurons in multiple

areas of the brain. Estrogen

increases the concentration of

catecholamine neurotransmitters

(dopamine, epinephrine,

norepinephrine) and modulates the

rate of neurotransmitter turnover.

Estrogen also seems to promote

the expression of neurotransmitter

receptors. Estrogen inhibits

monoamine oxidase (MAO).

Estrogen is considered anti-

inflammatory, which may protect

the brain. Estrogen levels are

associated with changes in mood

and behavior in women. Particularly

after menopause, low estrogen levels

have been associated with increased

depression.

Progesterone has multiple

functions in the central nervous

system; it regulates cognition,

mood, mitochondrial function,

neurogenesis and neuro-

regeneration. These functions are

mediated by progesterone receptors

found in the brain and on all neural

cell types.

Nutrient Cofactors

Nutrient status, from diet or sup-

plements, may affect neurotransmitter

synthesis and metabolism, and thereby,

nervous system functions. Studies in-

dicate a correlation between increased

mental health disorders and the adop-

tion of a Western diet (high in saturat-

ed fats, red meat, and simple carbohy-

drates). Western diets tend to be higher

in processed “empty-calorie” foods and

low in fruits, vegetables and fiber.

Deficiencies in essential nutrients have

been associated with mood, behavior

and psychiatric disorders. Nutrient sta-

tus may also affect medication dosing.

Research is ongoing to determine how

nutrient therapies may affect biochem-

istry, physiology, mood, behavior and

cognitive functions. At least one study

has correlated improved nutrient sta-

tus with better Global Assessment of

Functioning (GAF) scores in patients di-

agnosed with psychiatric disorders.

A review by Booij, Van der Does, and

Riedel (2003) on the effects of acute

(short-term) amino acid precursor de-

pletion in healthy and psychiatric pop-

ulations indicates that there may be spe-

cific effects based upon which precursor

amino acids are depleted in the volun-

teer’s plasma. The effects of amino acid

depletion were modified by both the

length of time in symptom remission

and the presence or absence of psychi-

atric medications, such as selective se-

rotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), etc.

Not all patient populations were studied

with every type of amino acid depletion.

Very few placebo effects were reported

from the control populations. The re-

view reported that in multiple studies:

The effects of amino acid

depletions – tryptophan, tyrosine

or phenylalanine/tyrosine – were

neurochemically specific and

affected specific neurotransmitter

systems rather than general brain

metabolism

Tryptophan depletion

tended to lower mood in

depressed patients being treated

with SSRI medications and in

patients considered recovered

diminished memory executive

functions in psychiatric patients

but not in healthy controls

decreased REM sleep and

melatonin secretion