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A Holistic Approach to Depression, Anxiety, AD(H)D and Neurotransmitter Related Disorders
Neurotransmitters are messenger chemicals in the brain. Many neuropsychological conditions such as anxiety and depression are directly related to the imbalance of neurotransmitters. Common neurotransmitters include acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin etc. Serotonin is the most frequently discussed neurotransmitter because of the popularity of the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). Serotonin is secreted from a neuron into the space between neurons called synapse to signal other neurons by binding the post-synaptic receptors. After the signaling, serotonin is dissociated from the receptors and recycled through the reuptake ports from the first neuron. SSRI blocks the reuptake ports and creates a temporary high serotonin level within synapse. Some patients do feel better with SSRI. But the effect could be temporary. Many of them have to add and/or change different medications to achieve longer benefit. A reasonable concern about using SSRI is that the blockage of the recycling serotonin causes further depletion of serotonin in the neuron because the serotonin in the synapse may undergo degradation by MAO system. This explains why the SSRI effect is temporary.
From a holistic point of view, to balance neurotransmitters we should look at the problem beyond neurotransmitters in the brain. It is suggested that serotonin is made from tryptophan and the process may start from digestive system. Protein digestion, tryptophan absorption, availability of the enzymes and cofactors synthesizing serotonin all play roles in serotonin metabolism. Blockages related to any of these factors may cause deficiency of the end product, serotonin. Based on some clinical observation overall serotonin deficiency in the body may be the reason causing anxiety and depression. Simply changing population of serotonin in the brain with SSRI may not solve the real problem. There are a few laboratory tests available to check urine neurotransmitter levels. Although the test is still experimental, it provides important information on changes in serotonin levels. Besides, serotonin receptor also plays a role in nerve conduction. It is suggested that neurotoxins such as heavy metals and toxins from pathogens may bind and damage the receptors and cause neuropsychological problems. The blockage of serotonin metabolism and receptor malfunction may be a result of autoimmune response as well. There have been more and more reports that shows autoimmune response in the nervous system is one of the major causes for neurological and psychological problems. Further study on this area may open a door to develop autoimmune related therapies for anxiety and depression.
It believes that toxin accumulation in the body is one of the main reasons causing autoimmune response. The toxins include endogenous metabolic toxins, environmental toxins and toxins from pathogens. Our immune system is sensitive to the presence of toxins and will do everything to eliminate them. If the toxins are hidden inside tissue and cells for a long time, autoimmune response is developed to the tissue and cells hosting the toxins. This could be the root problem for many toxin-immune related diseases. Therefore, helping the body’s detoxification and calming the immune system down become the major goal of the therapy. However there are not many conventional therapies available for this condition. On the other hand, energetic medicine opens a door to treat these conditions and is worth to explore further.
Based on energy medicine, all diseases have connections to the body’s self healing abilities. Because of the blockages of the energy pathways and malfunction of the associated organs, the body’s self healing energy is compromised. Unblocking those pathways make the healing ability stronger and heal the disease eventually. Detoxification process requires that the energy pathways and related organ systems perform at optimal condition. From this point of view, traditional Chinese meridian balancing therapy definitely helps the body’s detox function. Meanwhile homeopathy plays a major role in energetic detox therapy. Modern homeopathic formula not only provides specific nosode detox but also address drainage system and organ function. Chinese meridian therapy and homeopathy complement each other and form a perfect energetic program to help the body detox and heal.
Autoimmune response is another important factor causing neurotransmitter imbalance. The response can be either in energy level or in biochemical level. The targeted area can be either the neurotransmitter itself or any factors associated with the production of the neurotransmitter, such as amino acids, receptors on intestinal lining for amino acids etc. Solving the autoimmune response to neurotransmitter and its production pathway in the energy level helps to balance the neurotransmitter level for those patients with a chaotic immune system. Immune System Reprogramming technique is a good way to address this issue and help other therapies to address other problems further down in the road.
In addition to neurotoxin and autoimmune response, overall serotonin deficiency is another major factor affecting neuropsychological function. It leads to another focus in holistic medicine, digestive health. Many diseases start with problems in digestive system. Because of modern life styles such as busy schedule, emotional stress and environmental toxins, digestive function is often compromised. High stress and toxins cause reduction of digestive enzymes and weak immune function in digestive system. Over growth of Candida yeast and bad bacteria in digestive tract leads to further damage to the lymphatic tissue and receptors on the intestinal lining. All of the above cause food indigestion, malabsorption of nutrients such as vitamins and amino acids, and blockages of neurotransmitter production. Solving digestive issues becomes number one goal for neurotransmitter related conditions.
There are quite a few amino acid formulas available to treat neurotransmitter related conditions. The common formulas include 5-HTP, Tyrosine and Taurine etc. I believe that the basic rule is similar. Those formulas somehow increase neurotransmitter production and change their balance in the brain. The common problem in taking those formulas is digestive symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea and vomit etc. Some patients go through a tough time and get better in a few weeks some others give up the therapy. My experience is that the digestive symptoms may be a result of immune response to amino acids or cofactors in the formula, which is the same reason causing neurotransmitter imbalance in the first place. Without solving the root problem, which is the nutrient intolerance, allergies and malabsorption, amino acid formula only provides excess amount of nutrients and pushes the body to make more neurotransmitters. For some patients this method well compensates the deficiency and the body eventually balances its neurotransmitter and heals the root problems. But for other patients, especially for those who are sensitive to everything, will never get over with the digestive side-effects and will not benefit using the formula.
There are two ways to deal with deficiency related clinical problems, the functional therapy and supplementation therapy. After finding out that the patient is deficient in calcium, for example, the clinician faces the choice of supplementation with calcium or finding out what causes the deficiency. Most of the clinicians choose to supplement because it is easy to do and may see a result faster. However, supplementation may not solve the real problem and sometimes may lead to other problems in the further. Functional therapy describes the methods that focus on the cause of the problem and consider supplementation in a later stage of the therapy.
Focusing on the cause of the neurotransmitter imbalance is the first priority of our program. In the beginning of the therapy, balancing, detoxification and Immune System Reprogramming are used to open metabolic pathways for nutrients. After the body gets out of the initial chaotic stage and energetic and metabolic pathways are running normally, most of the clinical symptoms related to neurotransmitter imbalance might have been resolved already. For those patients who need a final push for neurotransmitter production and those who might have receptor damage and need a higher level neurotransmitter to maintain normal activities, a small dose of amino acid formula may be used. The common amino acid formula contain 5-HTP, Tyrosine, Taurine, Phenylalanine, Cysteine, etc. as well as cofactors such as vitamins and minerals.
Most of the female patients who suffer from anxiety and depression often complain that the symptoms get much worse before their monthly menstruation or during their menopause. Female hormone imbalance causes high inflammation in the body, which may make other symptoms worse. Balancing female hormones plays major role in the symptom control for female patients. Once their hormones are balanced, anxiety and depression may not be their major concern any more.
Thyroid hormone imbalance also causes anxiety and depression. Evaluating thyroid function is an important step to identify the cause of the symptoms. Supporting thyroid function makes a big difference for those thyroid originated depression cases. Low thyroid function can be a result of high adrenal stress or autoimmune response. Addressing root issues for the low thyroid function works much better for the patient than just supplementing with thyroid hormones.
Imbalance of Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) system is another cause for anxiety and depression. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are adrenal hormones and participate in signal transmitting among neurons. HPA function also plays roles in the production of other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine etc. This is the major reason why stresses may induce depression and anxiety and make the symptoms much worse. Successfully addressing HPA function helps to control depression and anxiety much easier.
Emotion can be a trigger to depression and anxiety attack. Emotional effect on depression and anxiety comes from either stressing HPA system or blocking meridians. Emotional stress can be a major stress for the HPA system. Helping emotions through energetic emotional therapy reduces the stress and tendency to have depression and anxiety.
Based on energy psychology, emotions can block meridians and cause physiological problems. On the other hand, specific meridian imbalance also leads to emotional blockages. Emotional blockage in meridian is the energetic base for anxiety and depression, while neurotransmitter deficiency and receptor damage describe biochemical bases for this disease. Solving emotional issue helps to reduce the severity and frequency of anxiety and depression. For more information, please read Dr. Hong's official website and Dr. Hong's Blog.
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