Substances and the Brain

Acetylcholine was the first neurotransmitter to be discovered. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 27. NY:Scribner, 1997.)

Acetylcholine is a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that can increase speed of transmission when it works with one type of receptor, and as a modulator when it works with a different type. Disruption of acetylcholine in the neocortex may be a factor in Alzheimer’s disease. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 58-59. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Acetylcholine is one of five brain chemicals that act together to call the brain to attention and produce a sharp attentive state (the other four are dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin). Any imbalance in production or distribution of any of these will zap the brain’s ability to act alertly. Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine act on all of these except acetylcholine. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 30-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Acupuncture helps to reduce pain by stimulating the release of endorphins into the cerebrospinal fluid. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p. 276. NY: Scribner, 1997.)

Amphetamine-type drugs that raise the level of excitatory neurotransmitters in the cortex can reduce symptoms of ADD. Drug treatment for ADHD stimulates underactive areas, causing the brain to concentrate and focus. (Carter, Rita, Ed. Mapping the Mind. p 185. CA: University of California Press, 1998.)

Adolescents with ADHD are at twice the risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem. Reasons for drugs use include attempts to decrease feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and poor self-image. Others use drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines to help them focus. (Restak, Richard, MD. The Secret Life of the Brain. p 79.Washington D.C.: The Dana Press and Joseph Henry Press, 2001.)

Study: Blood flow through the placenta can be reduced by up to 38% in pregnant women who smoke (e.g., can result in changes to the fetal brain such as lowered IQ and an increased risk for developing ADD/ADHD). (Williams, Jill Schlabig. NIDA NOTES. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Volume 18, Number 6, Feb, 2004. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Two studies have linked ADHD with a deficiency of dopamine in the brain. This may be one reason for higher risk for substance abuse in people with ADHD as they attempt to self-medicate their brains. (Amen, Daniel, MD. The Brain in the News, Amen Clinic Newsletter. August, 2007.)

Conclusions from a groundbreaking study conducted by a team at the University of Central Florida indicate that some children (e.g., those diagnosed as ADHD) really DO need to move (fidget) in order to learn. The current educational model of sit down, be still, and be quiet does not work for these individuals. (Shrieves, Linda. Kids with ADHD need to fidget. http://www.physorg.com/news162554898.html)

Ritalin, a mild central nervous stimulant, may work by stabilizing the neurotransmitter dopamine. This can help people to focus better. Also discusses another alertness-enhancing drug: Provigil may also be alertness-enhancing for some individuals. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 150-151. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

An addictive brain can be defined as a brain that has been altered by a drug to the point that it is no longer easily in command of its own operation.(Bragdon, Allen D., and David Gamon, PhD. Brains that Work a Little Bit Differently. p 28-32. NY: Barnes and Noble Books, 2000.)

Refer to Addictive Behaviors and the Brain for additional information.

Adrenaline as one of the internal chemicals that is associated with the sensation of being “in love.” It can cause increased heart rate and alertness. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 156-157. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

Adrenaline can stimulate the release of fat cells into the bloodstream (e.g., provides extra energy for a real emergency). If no real emergency exists, the liver converts the fat into cholesterol. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 2-3. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Adrenaline or norepinephrine can inhibit the production of melanin (the pigment that cause eye color) in the melanocytes, the cells that produce and hold pigment in the iris. (Ornstein, Robert, PhD. The Roots of the Self. p 5, 40-45. NY: HarperCollins, 1995.)

Acetylcholine is one of five brain chemicals that act together to call the brain to attention and produce a sharp attentive state (the other four are dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin). Any imbalance in production or distribution of any of these will zap the brain’s ability to act alertly. Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine act on all of these except acetylcholine. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 30-39. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Advanced glycation end products are aberrant cross-linked proteins that accelerate aging. Risk of creating destructive AGEs rises with a diet high in simple sugars (e.g., excessive fructose may be even worse than eating sucrose or glucose). (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. p 135-136. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000.)

Avoid foods that spike blood sugar. As blood sugar levels rise, increases in insulin and inflammation produce glycation (sugar molecules bind to proteins), which create free radicals known as AGEs. They can cause degeneration of nerves and brain. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. p 138-148. NY: Warner Books, 2004.)

Alcohol is directly toxic to the brain (e.g., every time you drink enough to “feel good,” you’ve likely destroyed a few thousand brain cells. (O’Brien, Mary, MD. Successful Aging. p 85-86. CA:Biomed General. 2007.)

Alcohol is the oldest and most widely used anxiety-reducing drug. This is an undesirable solution for severe or chronic anxiety because alcohol is intoxicating and addictive. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 5, 282. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Some brain damage from alcoholism may be reversible. CAT scans of recovered alcoholics show regeneration of some brain cells after just 3 weeks of abstinence. (Wonder, Jacquelyn, and Priscilla Donovan. Whole Brain Thinking. p 117. NY:Ballantine Books, 1984.)

Alcohol requires no digestion, reaches the brain within 60 seconds, interferes with frontal lobe functioning, slows down activity of the central nervous system, depresses brain’s production of antidiuretic hormone, prevents REM sleep, and can cause destruction of brain cells (even with only 1-2 drinks per day). (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 180-182. NY:Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Alcohol is toxic to brain cells. (Chopra, Deepak, MD. Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. p 206-210. Books, 1993.)

Specific factors can influence a brain that was genetically destined for brilliance to be cognitively impaired instead (e.g., mother ingests excessive alcohol during pregnancy, a child has a diet deficient in specific nutrients). (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 5, 282. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Alcohol impacts the right hemisphere more than the left, initially and long-term. The right brain gets drunk first and loses its usually superior visual and motor functions. Then this normally mute hemisphere intrudes upon the left’s speech style (e.g., speech loses its precision). (Wonder, Jacquelyn, and Priscilla Donovan. Whole Brain Thinking. p 117. Ballantine Books, 1984.)

Alcohol has such a simple chemistry that it passes directly into the bloodstream much like a simple sugar; even though (except for cordials or after-dinner drinks) alcohol contains little sugar in its pure form. (Appleton, Nancy, PhD. Lick the Sugar Habit, Sugar Counter. p 21. NY Avery Penguin Putnam, 2001.)

The liver and stomach make an enzyme (alcohol dehydrogenase) designed to convert alcohol from its active form into a second chemical (acetaldehyde). A person who is drunk will remain intoxicated until the body converts much of the alcohol into acetaldehyde. Males and females both produce this enzyme but females have much less of it in their stomach so are at a disadvantage for alcohol consumption. (Hopkins, Gary, MD, Dr.p.H. and John V. Stevens, Jr., JD. Is Alcohol Really Good for You? p 18. Vibrant Life, Sep/Oct issue. MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998.)

Alcohol consumption increases 50% among people in the 40-65 age bracket compared to those in the 30ish age group. (Conway, Jim. Men in Midlife Crisis. p 77. IL: David C. Cook Publishing, 1978, 1980.)

Reshaping of the DNA scaffolding that supports and controls the expression of genes in the brain may play a major role in alcohol withdrawal symptoms, particularly anxiety, that make it so difficult for alcoholics to stop using alcohol. These "epigenetic" changes are minor chemical modifications of chromatin, dense bundles of DNA and proteins called histones. (Brain DNA Remodeled in alcoholism. http://medicine.physorg.com/sub_Research/, 2008. http://www.physorg.com/news126353910.html)

It can be dangerous to ingest alcohol in combination with benzodiazepines. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 5, 282. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Data from the 1994 USDA nationwide survey (CSFII) on 190 non-smoking males (aged 20-29) were used to propose a method for adjusting total water intake for the diuretic effects of caffeine and alcohol: Under the assumption that subjects were in water balance at the start of the survey day, water losses due to caffeine were 1.17 ml/mg caffeine and due to alcohol were 10 ml/g alcohol. (http://grande.nal.usda.gov/ibids/index.php?mode2=detail&origin=ibids_references&therow=417001; http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/klu/ejep/1999/00000015/00000002/00197217)

Specific substances (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates) definitely impact the brain and brain function. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power. p 90-94. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

Drugs that impact behavior (e.g., heroin, marijuana, Librium, PCP or angel dust) create an altered state of consciousness in the users, and can precipitate a radical change in their emotional state. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 30. NY: Scribner, 1997.)

Almost a third of a century after discovery of a link between alcohol consumption and certain types of cancer, scientists have reported the first human research evidence of how the popular beverage may be carcinogenic. As the human body metabolizes alcohol in beer, wine, and hard liquor, acetaldehyde is produced. Acetaldehyde attaches to DNA in humans in a way that results in the formation of a ‘DNA adduct’ that is linked to an increased risk of cancer. Most people have an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which quickly converts acetaldehyde to acetate, a relatively harmless substance. About thirty percent of people of Asian descent, however, (almost 1.6 billion people) have a variant of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene and are unable to metabolize alcohol to acetate. That genetic variant results in an elevated risk of esophageal cancer from alcohol drinking. Native Americans and native Alaskans have a deficiency in the production of that same enzyme. Study results were reported at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. (https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en.html)

The evidence that all types of alcoholic drinks increse the risk of a number of cancers is now stronger than it was in the mid-1990s (although modest amounts may have some protective cardiovascular benefits). There is convincing evidence that alcohol increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and breast (as well as colorectal cancer in men). Alcoholic drinks also probably increase the risk of colorectal cancer in women as well as liver cancer. (http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/recommendations-for-cancer-prevention/recommendations_06_alcohol.html?gclid=CJuSh6HavLECFUkbQgod7mYAig)

A strong association exists between alcohol use and cancers of the esophagus, pharynx, and mouth, whereas a more controversial association links alcohol with liver, breast, and colorectal cancers. Cancer Facts and Figures. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 1993. (http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa21.htm)

Even a few drinks a week is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women. This risk may be especially high in women who do not get enough folate (a B vitamin) in their diet or through supplements. Alcohol can affect estrogen levels in the body, which may explain some of the increased risk. Drinking less alcohol may be an important way for many women to lower their risk of breast cancer. (http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/DietandPhysicalActivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer)

Alcohol (likely the ethanol component) is a known cause of several types of cancers (e.g., mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, breast, and maybe pancreas). The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. (http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/DietandPhysicalActivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer)

Five brain chemicals act together to call the brain to attention and produce a sharp attentive state: acetylcholine, dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Any imbalance in production or distribution of any of these will zap the brain’s ability to act alertly. (Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine act on all of these except acetylcholine.) (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 30-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Exposure to specific environmental toxins may be related to the triggering of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. It may be important to reduce exposure to aluminum. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 210-212. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Studies: no link was found between amount of amalgam in the mouth and function on 8 different cognitive tests; no difference in mercury levels in brains of Alzheimer’s patients and brains of healthy controls; no relationship between number of dental fillings and level of mercury in the brain. (Snowdon, David, PhD. Aging with Grace. p 166-167. NY: Bantam Books, 2001.)

Amphetamines, like cocaine, increase the concentrations of dopamine in the synaptic gap. This heightens the response of the post-synaptic neuron. Also like cocaine, the altered dopamine function contributes to the addictiveness of amphetamines. (Kuczenski, R and D. Segal, D. Effects of methylphenidate on extracellular dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine; Comparison with amphetamine. J Neurochem 68 (5): 2032–7. 1997.)

Specific substances (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates) definitely impact the brain and brain function. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power. p 90-94. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

Amphetamines (e.g., uppers or speed) boost norephinephrine as well as dopamine levels, both of which can stimulate the production of testosterone. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. Why We Love. p 84-85. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004.)

Acetylcholine is one of five brain chemicals that act together to call the brain to attention and produce a sharp attentive state (the other four are dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin). Any imbalance in production or distribution of any of these will zap the brain’s ability to act alertly. Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine act on all of these except acetylcholine. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 30-39. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Refer to Addiction and the Brain for additional information.

Androgenic steroids are hormones that increase muscle power and a competitive, aggressive drive. In females these substances may cause masculinization of personality, voice, and genitals as well as increases in energy and libido. In males the body reduces its own supply of androgens to compensate for those from the outside. This can lead to genital atrophy, breast development, and infertility. (Wilson, Glenn. The Great Sex Divide. p 121-122. England: Peter Owen Publishers, 1989.)

Drugs that reduce anxiety can also reduce arousal and wariness when you see a menacing situation. It has been claimed that the increased use of such drugs in New York City is correlated with increased muggings and ER visits. The drugs suppress anxiety but hijack your monitoring system and feeds the interpeter bad infomration. (Gazzaniga, Michael S. Who's in Charge? p 97-98. NY:HarperCollins Publishers, 2011)

Artificial sweeteners can contribute to compulsive eating, an increased craving for sweets and fatty foods, and an increase in weight. Examples: Aspartame’s ingredients compete with Tryptophan and can block its conversion into serotonin; saccharin can cause an increase in one’s consumption of sweets. (Ross, Julia, MA. The Diet Cure, pp 36-37. p 36-37. NY:Penguin Books, 1999.)

Artificial sugar substitutes have some potential risks. These include the following substances:

  • Saccharin (Sugar Twin, Sprinkle Twin, Sweet ’n Low) is 300 times sweeter than table sugar.
  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste) is 180 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose)
  • Acesulfame-K (Ace K, Sunnett, Sweeet One) is 200 times sweeter than sucrose
  • Stevia is 15 –300 times sweeter than sucrose
  • SucaFlore (combination of FOS, soy extract, and potato startch)
  • Sucalose (Splenda) is 600 times sweeter than sucrose
  • Sugar alcohol (Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, Maltitol).

(Appleton, Nancy, PhD. Lick the Sugar Habit, Sugar Counter, p 17-20. NY Avery Penguin Putnam, 2001.)

Symptoms of using Aspartame and NutraSweet (e.g., impaired learning, headaches, seizures) may show up only after prolonged use of the sweetener. Females may be affected more than males. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Endangered Minds. p 166-168. NY:Simon & Schuster, 1990.)

Too much aspartame (NutraSweet) may cause fluid retention and slow down weight loss in people who are trying to lose weight. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p 86. NY:Vantage Press, 2001.)

There is an inverse, dose-dependent relationship between lust and attachment. (e.g., increase in testosterone can decrease vasopressin and oxytocin, increased vasopressin can decrease testosterone, increased oxytocin in both males and females can decrease the impact of dopamine and norepinephrine). (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. p 90-100. NY: Random House, 1999.)

These drugs “sedate” brain function by enhancing the sensitivity of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors on cells in the cortex. GABA receptors decrease or inhibit brain-cell action. In higher doses, the result can be mental depression and/or impaired ability to think clearly. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 33-39. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

It can be dangerous to ingest alcohol in combination with benzodiazepines. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 5, 282. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

The substance known as Botox is a neurotoxin. It temporarily paralyzes muscles to smoother out wrinkles and expression lines. There are questions about its long-term safety. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. p 6-7. NY: Warner Books, 2004.)

Recommends avoiding supplements made from bovine (cow) parts as a way to reduce risk of contracting mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 183-184. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Specific factors can influence a brain that was genetically destined for brilliance to be cognitively impaired instead (e.g., mother ingests excessive alcohol during pregnancy, a child has a diet deficient in specific nutrients). (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 5, 282. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Study: Cocaine interferes with the transfer of nutrients and can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the fetus (e.g., can negatively impact growth of the body and the brain). (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 28-29. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

Caffeine is the most widely used behaviorally active drug in the world and produces very different reactions in different individuals (e.g., some are actually intolerant as their brains metabolize caffeine differently). It can cause disruptions in normal sleep patterns and quality of sleep. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. 186-190. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000.)

Caffeine stimulates the neurons in the cortex to fire more actively. This usually lasts for only a short period of time. (Bragdon, Allen D., and David Gamon, PhD. Brains that Work a Little Bit Differently. p 118. NY:Barnes and Noble Books, 2000.)

Caffeine mimics a neural chemical that the body produces naturally. Continuous use of caffeine can cause the body's own system to quit making the neural chemical. (Nunley, Dr. Kathie F. The Caffeine Craze of Youth. http://help4teachers.com/caffeine.htm)

Caffeine is a mood-altering drug. Functions as a stimulant by blocking adenosine, a sedative-like neurotransmitter. It may aggravate health problems (e.g., ulcers, heart disease, high blood pressure, anemia). (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 145-148. NY:Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Caffeine may be the most widely used drug. Coffee containing caffeine initially raises blood sugar and you get a lift. As soon as insulin levels override the blood sugar, you get a let-down feeling. (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health. p 298-299. PA: Rodale Press, 1992.)

Drinking more than three cups of coffee a day can be a problem when trying to maintain a healthy brain. Caffeine can decrease blood flow to the brain, especially to the temporal lobes. (Amen, Daniel G., MD. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. p 240-242. NY:Times Books, 1998.)

Study at Duke University: 500 mg of caffeine (e.g., amount in 4 cups of coffee) taken no later than 1:00pm. The effects were undiminished until bedtime (e.g., slightly higher blood pressure, an average of 32% more of the stress hormone epinephrine, and higher stress levels). (From Psychosomatic Medicine as reported in Vibrant Life. p 5. MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Sept/Oct, 2002.)

Caffeine typically takes 30 minutes to be absorbed. Its metabolization half-life is approximately 6 hours. One unfortunate side effect, caffeine can inhibit memory retention and ability to focus. Studies have shown that people under the influence of caffeine perform worse in word-recall tests. (http://www.betterbrain.org/index.php?n=Substances.Caffeine)

Caffeine is a stimulant. It can increase the amount of sugar in the bloodstream and provide a temporary “lift.” The rush of insulin, however, causes the sugar level to subsequently fall below normal resulting in extreme fatigue. It may be hours before the body’s chemistry returns to normal. (Appleton, Nancy, PhD. Lick the Sugar Habit. p 116-118. NY:Avery Penguin Putnam, 1996.)

Caffeine has a half-life of up to six hours. Up to 70% of all carbonated soft drinks contain caffeine. Physical dependence can occur in three days. The body habituates quickly, needing higher doses to obtain the same effect. (Kluger, Jeffrey. The Buzz on Caffeine. p 52. NY: Time Inc., Time. Vol 164, No 25, Dec 20, 2004.)

Young people are at risk for experiencing symptoms of caffeine withdrawal (provides a list of examples) because of their intake of chocolate and caffeine-containing beverages such as colas or coffee. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. p 186-190. NY:HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000.)

More than half of all American adults consume more than 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine every day, making it America's most popular drug by far. (Brain, Marshall. How Caffeine Works. http://www.howstuffworks.com/caffeine.htm)

Caffeine may make tense-tiredness even worse due to its arousing effects. This may be especially problematic among consumers of more than 10 cups of coffee per day (or their equivalent in tea or caffeine-containing sodas). (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 132-133. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Green tea is a great option for endurance athletes because it provides enough caffeine to do the job, but still only has about half of what is in a cup of coffee. (Lee, Yishane, A Better Buzz. http://www.lifescript.com/channels/food_nutrition/food_for_thought/lesser_known_caffeine_benefits.asp?page=2 Runner’s World Magazine, April 2007.)

Side effects of caffeine ingestion include sleep deprivation, nausea, cramping, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal instability. For athletes, caffeine may adversely impact performance. (Anderson, Douglas, DC. Caffeine and Sports. http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/09/05/04.html Dynamic Chiropratic, Vol 09, Issue 05, March 1, 1991.)

When caffeine is ingested, it acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system. Within a few moments you begin to feel more alert and awake. (Rhodes, Samantha, Effects of Caffeine on Your Body. http://www.lifescript.com/channels/food_nutrition/food_for_thought/the_effects_of_caffeine_on_your_body.asp?)

Data from the 1994 USDA nationwide survey (CSFII) on 190 non-smoking males (aged 20-29) were used to propose a method for adjusting total water intake for the diuretic effects of caffeine and alcohol: Under the assumption that subjects were in water balance at the start of the survey day, water losses due to caffeine were 1.17 ml/mg caffeine and due to alcohol were 10ml/g alcohol. Source. (Stookey, J.D. The diuretic effects of alcohol and caffeine and total water intake misclassification. http://grande.nal.usda.gov/ibids/index.php?mode2=detail&origin=ibids_references&therow=417001 http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/klu/ejep/1999/00000015/00000002/00197217 European Journal of Epidemiology, Vol 15, No. 2, pp. 181-188, Feruary 1999.)

Caffeine is a mild diuretic. It tends not to affect water replacement in habitual caffeine users, however. Consequently, caffeinated beverages may be ingested during the day by non-caffeine-naïve athletes. (Casa, D. J, et al. American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable on Hydration and Physical Activity: Consensus Statements. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2005: 4:115-117.)

Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant, Caffeine is consumed by 90% of the people in the world. A diuretic, it prompts the body to lose water through urination and can lead to dehydration. It is suggested that you add 8 ounces of water for every cup of coffee you drink. (University of Rochester, Health Promotion Office. http://www.rochester.edu/uhs/healthtopics/nutrition/caffeine.html)

Mixed model analyses demonstrated that urinary output and natriuresis were significantly increased by caffeine (mean differences 243 ml and 27 mmol; both p < 0.001) and that there were no such effects of taurine (mean differences 59 ml and −4 mmol). (http://www.springerlink.com/content/r65705188vn11867/)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) presently lists caffeine as a banned substance.... Urinary test results above 12mg/liter (8 cups of coffee) is perceived by the IOC as a deliberate attempt by an athlete to gain an advantage on the competition. (http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/food/caffeine.html)

Refer to Guarana below for more information.

Cannabinoids are a family of endogenous chemicals that help control mental and physical processes in the brain/body including memory and perception, fine motor coordination, pain sensations, immunity to disease, and reproduction. (Research Report, Marijuana Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.)

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (https://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Refer to Marijuana for additional information.

Champagne contains a chemical that can cause an increase in the level of testosterone. Other alcohol-containing beverages do not appear to contain this chemical. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 236. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

Also known as Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathy (HMSN), this peripheral neuropathy affects motor and sensory nerves outside the Central Nervous System. It is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders. Symptoms may include foot and lower-leg weakness, and atrophy of hand muscles. (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. NINDS Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Fact Sheet. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/krabbe/krabbe.htm. Accessed 2007.)

Chemicals in chocolate may mimic the psychoactive effects of marijuana including heightened sensations and euphoria (e.g., contains serotonin-boosting sugar, mind-soothing fat, phenylethylamine that stimulates the CNS, and chemical cousins of anandamide that bind to the same cannabinoid receptors). (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain.p 168. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000.)

Chocolate contains a chemical, phenylethylamine, associated with the sensation of being “in love” (e.g., can trigger dilation of eye pupils, sweaty hands, increased heart rate, and butterflies in the stomach). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 156-157, 236. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

Study: Blood flow through the placenta can be reduced by up to 38% in pregnant women who smoke (e.g., can result in changes to the fetal brain such as lowered IQ and an increased risk for developing ADD/ADHD). (Wiliams, Jill Schlabig. NIDA NOTES. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Volume 18, Number 6, Feb, 2004.)

Epigenetics not only may create transmissible memories to biological offspring but also can alter the way the genes themselves are expressed. NIDA Notes recently reported on studies by Dr. Fair M. Vassoler and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili at Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers found that male rats’ cocaine exposure affects their offspring’s drug responses. “The 'sires’ cocaine exposure induced epigenetic alterations to one or more of their genes, and the sires transmitted the alterations to their offspring via their sperm. Epigenetic alterations change the expression of a gene without changing the underlying DNA sequence. The gene produces the same protein as it did before alteration, but in greater or lesser quantities than before.” (http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/08/male-rats-cocaine-exposure-affects-their-offsprings-drug-responses?utm_source=Updates&utm_medium=ConstantContact&utm_content=08.28.2013&utm_campaign=NIDANotes)

Specific substances (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates) definitely impact the brain and brain function. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power. p 90-94. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

Cocaine constricts cerebral blood vessels diminishing the blood supply of critical oxygen and nutrients and thereby injuring brain cells. Short-term and long-terms changes in brain cell function have been reported even months after cocaine addicts become drug-free. (Glenmullen, Joseph, MD. Prozac Backlash. p 100-101. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

Study: In a mouse brain a single exposure to cocaine can establish long-term potentiation, a key brain mechanism for registering learning and remembering. (Amphetamines, morphine, nicotine, and alcohol trigger similar changes; non-addictive medications do not.) Altered cellular activity may be the first step toward cocaine addiction. (Zickler, Patrick. Addictive Drugs and Stress. p 1, 6-7. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol. 18, No. 5, Dec 2003. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Study: Cocaine interferes with the transfer of nutrients and can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the fetus (e.g., can negatively impact growth of the body and the brain). (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 28-29. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

Study: Cocaine use can increase the abuser’s risk of illnesses/infections due to suppression of the immune system (e.g., interleukin-6). (Zickler, Patrick. NIDA NOTES. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, p 5. National Institutes of Health, Volume 18, Number 6, Feb 2004.)

Cocaine was part of the original formula for coca cola. (Brynie, Faith Hickman. 101Questions Your Brain has Asked About Itself but Couldn’t Answer Until Now. p 69-79. CT: Millbrook Press, 1998.)

First use of cocaine may increase rush of pleasure 500 times that of the brain’s normal experience of dopamine. Second use the pleasure may drop to 200 times. Third use the brain may release only 100 times the amount of dopamine in response. The promise of pleasure entices but the pleasure is less each time the drug is used. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning. p 265. CA:The Brain Store, 1995, 2000.)

Studies of consequences of chronic cocaine abuse: impaired attention, learning, memory, reaction time, and cognitive flexibility. The degree of cognitive deficits is related to treatment drop-out rate (e.g., the more impaired the more likely to stop treatment). (Mann, Arnold. Cocaine Abusers’ cognitive Deficits Compromise Treatment Outcomes. . p 4-6. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol 19, No 1, April, 2004.)

Cocaine impacts the human brain in several ways, one of which involves the inhibition of dopamine reuptake. Interference with dopamine reuptake explains cocaine's addictive properties, as dopamine is the critical neurotransmitter for reward. (Heikkila, R E; et al. Motor activity and rotational behavior after analogs of cocaine: correlation with dopamine uptake blockade. Commun Psychopharmacol 3 (5): 285–90. 1979.)

Dopamine is the critical neurotransmitter for reward. Cocaine administration increases metabolism in the substantia nigra (SN), which can explain the altered motor function seen in cocaine-using subjects. However, cocaine is even more active in the dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) than the substantia nigra. (Joan M. Lakoski, Joan M., et al. Cocaine. Telford Press, 1991.)

Dr. Daniel Amen has recommended to parents that children spend no more than 30 minutes a day playing video games. This is because (according to brain imaging studeis), video games impact the same area of the brain as cocaine and methamphetamine. When you play video games your brain really likes it because the process increases the amount of dopamine being released in the brain. "When you try to take those games away from them (the kids), they get really upset. In fact, some even go through withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t allowed to play.) According to Dr. Amen, this is because playing video games release much dopamine that there isn’t enough of the chemical available for the little things in life. Other activities and relationships that would normally make your children happy leave them feeling nothing at all. (Amen, Daniel, MD) (http://www.amenclinics.com/blog/3500/how-video-games-are-like-cocaine/)

Coffee is acidic and has negative consequences: dehydrates the skin, increase the levels and effects of cortisol (e.g., lowers blood flow to brain, suppresses immune system, increases BP and insulin levels). (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. p 125-130. NY: Warner Books, 2004.)

All colas contain caffeine (so should be avoided before sleep). Diet colas may be even more problematic for two reasons: Sugar, the carbohydrate that would help exert a sedating influence, is absent; the artificial sweeteners act as a direct stimulant to the brain. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 114. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels. The hippocapus is very rich in cortisol receptors so increased cortisol and disconnect existing neural networks, decrease capacity to learn, and contribute to memroy loss. (Goleman, Daniel Jay, PhD. The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights. p 46-50. MA:More Than Sound, 2011)

Aerobic exercise helps to dissipate cortisol that is released during stress, but high levels of stress can nullify some of the effects of aerobic exercise. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for The Brain. p 158-159. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

The level of cortisol in the body tends to diminish in the presence of positive emotions and achievement – appropriate play provides both, while TV and video games provide little of either. (Hartmann, Thom. The Edison Gene. p 129-130. VT: Park Street Press, 2003.)

The oversecretion of cortisol may destroy synapses in some parts of the brain, particularly in the orbitofrontal system, an area involved in reading emotional responses in others. The chronic overactivation of neurochemical responses to threat can result in lifelong states of either dissociation or hyperarousal. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 167-168. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

High levels of cortisol due to chronic stress impair immune system function, impair memory and learning, and destroy brain cells. You can learn to decrease cortisol by changing your perceptions and emotions. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 55, 204. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Any substance that creates dependence (e.g., opium, nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana) does so by exerting direct pharmacologic effects on the brain, specifically on areas involved in mood. (Restak, Richard, MD. The Brain has a Mind of its Own. p 41-44. NY:Crown Publishers, Inc. 1991.)

The hormone DHEA is released during sexual activity. DHEA can help to strengthen the immune system, build bones, and improve cognition. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 198-200. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

An essential hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Known as the “vitality hormone” because of its anti-aging properties, it is the body’s natural antagonist of the glucocorticoid family of hormones that includes cortisol. Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 266-267. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Dopamine is the critical neurotransmitter for reward. Cocaine administration increases metabolism in the substantia nigra (SN), which can explain the altered motor function seen in cocaine-using subjects. However, cocaine is even more active in the dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) than the substantia nigra. (Joan M. Lakoski, Joan M., et al. Cocaine. Telford Press, 1991.)

Five brain chemicals that act together to call the brain to attention and produce a sharp attentive state (dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, acetylecholine, and serotonin). Any imbalance in production or distribution of any of these will zap the brain’s ability to act alertly. Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine act on all of these except acetylcholine. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 30-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

First use of cocaine may increase rush of pleasure 500 times that of the brain’s normal experience. Second use the pleasure may drop to 200 times. Third use the brain may release only 100 times the amount of dopamine in response. The promise of pleasure entices but the pleasure is less each time the drug is used. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning. p 265. CA:The Brain Store, 1995, 2000.)

Two studies have linked ADHD with a deficiency of dopamine in the brain. This may be one reason for higher risk for substance abuse in people with ADHD as they attempt to self-medicate their brains. (Amen, Daniel, MD. The Brain in the News, Amen Clinic Newsletter. August, 2007.)

Conclusions from a groundbreaking study conducted by a team at the University of Central Florida indicate that some children (e.g., those diagnosed as ADHD) really DO need to move (fidget) in order to learn. The current educational model of sit down, be still, and be quiet does not work for these individuals. (Shrieves, Linda. Kids with ADHD need to fidget. http://www.physorg.com/news162554898.html)

Psychadelics (e.g., LDS, MDMA or Ecstasy, PCP, Special K) initially enhance dopamine and serotonin release in the brain. With chronic or high-dose usage however, the brain “spaces out” due to depleted levels of serotonin and a toxic effect on dopamine neurons. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 33-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Dr. Daniel Amen has recommended to parents that children spend no more than 30 minutes a day playing video games. This is because (according to brain imaging studeis), video games impact the same area of the brain as cocaine and methamphetamine. When you play video games your brain really likes it because the process increases the amount of dopamine being released in the brain. "When you try to take those games away from them (the kids), they get really upset. In fact, some even go through withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t allowed to play.) According to Dr. Amen, this is because playing video games release much dopamine that there isn’t enough of the chemical available for the little things in life. Other activities and relationships that would normally make your children happy leave them feeling nothing at all. (Amen, Daniel, MD) (http://www.amenclinics.com/blog/3500/how-video-games-are-like-cocaine/)

Refer to Neurons and Neurotransmitters for additional information.

SPECT studies: damage from substance abuse is immediately apparent. The normal brain is smooth, symmetrical, and full.

  • Heroin – decreased activity throughout
  • Cocaine – multiple small holes across cerebral cortex
  • Alcohol – shriveled tissue
  • Marijuana – areas eaten away (e.g., temporal lobe regions)

(Amen, Daniel G., MD. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. p 242-245. NY:Times Books, 1998.)

Drugs, legal and illegal, can interrupt feedback loops that allow the psychosomatic network to function in a natural, balanced way. They can set up conditions for somatic and mental disorders. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 273-274. NY:Scribner, 1997.)

Studies at UC San Francisco: Addiction is caused by more than the pharmacological effects of a given drug, Drug addiction is a life-long disease. Although drug-taking behaviors may be absent, the ‘memory’ makes relapse not only possible but likely. (Science News. Cocaine Addiction Linked To Voluntary Drug Use And Cellular Memory, Study Shows. 2008 likely. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080730155352.htm)

Studies: Ecstasy is neurotoxic. It can destroy nerve cells and affect areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory (e.g., damage can persist up to 7 years after its use, including permanent damage to neurons that produce serotonin). (Restak, Richard, MD. The Secret Life of the Brain. p 86. Washington D.C.: The Dana Press and Joseph Henry Press, 2001.)

Studies: ecstasy users are at risk for dehydration, hypertension, hyperthermia, and heart or kidney failure. The drug can damage nerves in the brain’s serotonin system, and appears to produce long-term deficits in memory and cognition. (Williams, Jill S., Contributing writer. Prenatal Exposure to Ecstasy May Impair Memory and Cognition. p 8-9. NIDA NOTES, National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

MDMA or ecstasy can destroy axon terminals of neurons that contain 5-HT, a substance involved in learning and memory. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power. p 167. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

Studies: Ecstasy stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain, producing a euphoric high and weak LSD-like effects that can last several hours. Habit-forming and subject to compulsive abuse, it can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels. Long-term use can cause sharp increases in body temperature, leading to kidney and liver failure. (Restak, Richard, MD. The Secret Life of the Brain. p 86. Washington D.C.: The Dana Press and Joseph Henry Press, 2001.)

Studies: Brain imaging showed an association between ecstasy abuse and decrease in gray matter in areas of the brain that affect breathing, heartbeat, language, and movement. Heavy use may be associated with persistent deficits in problem-solving and speed of mental processing. (Eisner, Robin, Contributing writer. Study Suggests Cognitive Deficits in MDMA-Only Drug Abusers. p 10-11. NIDA NOTES, National Institute on Drug Abuse. Volume 19, Number 5, January 2005. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Studies by Berk of Loma Linda University: Beta-Endorphin and Human Growth Hormone increase are associated with both the anticipation and experience of mirthful laughter. Reported April 3, 2006. (Berk, Lee S. PhD. Paper presented in an American Physiological Society session at Experimental Biology, 2006. http://www.bigmedicine.ca/)

Drugs (e.g., alcohol, artificial drugs legal and illegal) weaken you and lower your body’s energy level. (Dyer, Wayne, PhD. The Power of Intention. p 73-80. CA: Hay House, Inc., 2004.)

Refer to Energy and the Brain for additional information.

Epinephrine is excreted by the adrenal glands, which actgivates the sympathetic nervous system. Among other things it increases the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and produces anxiety. (Gazzaniga, Michael S. Who's in Charge? p 88. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011)

Estrogens are sex hormones that can profoundly effect neural transmission and other brain functions. The mood-altering effects of monthly variation in estrogen levels in females are widely discussed. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 59-60. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Estrogens are hormones (higher levels in the female) that aid memory and contribute to a calming effect. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 157-158. NY:Broadway Books, 1998.)

Compounds known as excitotoxins play a role in many neurological disorders. They include MSG, aspartame, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, etc. Avoid ingesting them. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. p 25-30. NY:Warner Books, 2004.)

GABA is an inhibitory transmitter. Without GABA inhibition, neurons would send out action potentials continuously under the influence of glutamate, and would eventually ire themselves to death, literally. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. 53-56. NY:Penguin Books, 2002.)

Studies by Dr. Andrew Scholey, director of the Human Cognitive Neuroscience unit at the University of Northumbira: a single dose of the herbal extract gingko (which is thought to boost blood flow and increase glucose metabolism in the brain) improved the attention of students for up to six hours. (Seenan, Gerard. Oxygen and Sugar Boost Brain Power. 2001. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2001/apr/highereducation.education)

Glutamate is the main transmitter in projection neurons. It helps to detoxify ammonia and is a building block in the construction of peptides and proteins. Overactivity of glutamate and resulting injury to neurons can play an important role in strokes, other vascular disorders of the brain, epilepsy, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 53-56. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

A major excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamete in kill nerve cells in too high a quantity (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s diseases and epilepsy, stroke, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). L-Theanine appears capable of blocking this type of cell death. (Sharpe, Ed. L-Theanine. The Delano Report. http://www.delano.com/Articles/Theanine-Sharpe.html)

Guarana is a climbing plant (Paullinia cupana) that is native to the Amazon basin. As a dietary supplement, guarana has been found to be an effective stimulant as it contains about twice the caffeine levels found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans). Experimental models, in addition to in vitro assays, have described several biological effects that guarana shares with green tea such as antioxidant and antibacterial effects. It also has been shown to contribute to the onset of seizures in some people. Guarana is a (Gray, Nathan. Guarana intake associated with reduction in metabolic disorders: Study. http://www.nutraingredients.com/Product-Categories/Phytochemicals-plant-extracts/Guarana-intake-associated-with-reduction-in-metabolic-disorders-Study)

Enzymes on cell surfaces don’t appear to work on some exogenous information substances (e.g., morphine and heroin are not susceptible to enzyme action and their effects last until they are metabolized by the liver). (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. NY: Sound Ideas, 1997.)

Five brain chemicals act together to call the brain to attention and produce a sharp attentive state (dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, acetylecholine, and serotonin). Any imbalance in production or distribution of any of these will zap the brain’s ability to act alertly. Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine act on all of these except acetylcholine. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 30-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Most homosexual orientation develops during gestation. Patterns tend to be firmly in place by age 5. Discusses lack of success of change therapies (e.g., push bisexuals to confine behaviors to opposite sex only, or enforce celibacy, or push the individuals to attempt suicide). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 171-186. NY:Broadway Books, 1998.)

The trauma of growing up gay in a world that is run primarily by straight men is deeply wounding in a unique and profound way. Straight men have other issues and struggles that are no less wounding, but they are quite different from those of a gay man. (Downs, Alan, PhD. The Velvet Rage. Overcoming the Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. p 5-6. NY:Da Capo Press, 2005. 2006.)

Refer to Sexual Orientation and the Brain for additional information.

Hormones are modulating substances that typically are released from body organs (e.g., adrenals, pituitary, sex glands) into the bloodstream and that can influence many parts of the brain/body simultaneously. Due to differences in numbers of receptor molecules in specific areas, considerable specificity can be achieved by hormonal modulation. In the brain they can alter the efficacy of gluatamte or GABA transmission. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 59-60. NY:Penguin Books, 2002.)

Originally used as an animal anesthetic and now used as a short-acting anesthetic in humans, Ketamine is mediated directly through neurons in the hippocampus (involved with memory functions). This drug “doesn’t just zap memory a bit—it wipes it out completely for most of the ‘trip’.” (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 56-57. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Krabbe disease is a rare, incurable genetic disorder caused by a deficiency of an enzyme that is necessary for myelin metabolism. This can cause deterioration of the myelin sheath and death of brain cells. It affects both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Symptoms may appear during the first six months of life, during adolescence, or adulthood. (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. NINDS Krabbe Disease Information Page. Accessed 2007. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/krabbe/krabbe/htm)

Studies on human volunteers: L-theanine creates a sense of alert relaxation about 30-40 minutes after ingestion via at least two different mechanisms: directly stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation; is involved in the formation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which influences the levels of dopamine and serotonin. (Perrini, Carolyn, CLS, CNC. L-Theanine: How a Unique Anxiety Reducer and Mood Enhancer Increases Alpha Waves and Alertness. http://www.web-us.com/l-theanine_anxiety_reducer.htm)

L-theanine is the most predominant free amino acid found in green tea. Reported benefits include:

  • capable of blocking cell death from an excess of glutamate
  • can stimulate the release of nerve growth factor (NGF)
  • can calm both PMS and menopausal symptoms
  • can increase focused attention and improve learning
  • helps to relieve nicotine addiction
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • triggers release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin
  • promotes sleep

(Sharpe, Ed. L-Theanine. The Delano Report. http://www.delano.com/Articles/Theanine-Sharpe.html)

L-theanine, a nonessential amino acid, has been found to reduces stress and anxiety without the tranquilizing effects found in many other calming supplements. The brain absorbs it within 30 minutes of ingesting and its effects can last for hours. (Thankachen, Jasmin. Destress with L-Theanine. Natural Health, Oct-Nov, 2002. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NAH/is_8_32/ai_92283902)

L-theanine, a non-protein amino acid mainly found naturally in tea leaves, is involved in the formation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). GABA influences the levels of two other neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. In addition it stimulates the production of alpha brain waves that can help to control anxiety, increase mental focus, improve concentration, improve memory and learning ability, and promote creativity. It exerts protective effects on the brain by antagonizing glutamate toxicity. (L-Theanine. Vitamins and Health Supplements Guide. http://www.vitamins-supplements.org/amino-acids/theanine.php)

L-theanine, an amino acid found in the leaves of green tea, it has been reported to benefit both the brain and the immune system. It can cross the blood-brain barrier. Benefits include: promotes alpha wave production, and increases the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA in the brain. (Multiple studies cited and references listed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theanine) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generally_recognized_as_safe) (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/GenerallyRecognizedasSafeGRAS/GRASListings/ucm153810.htm)

Perhaps one of the most extensively researched and documented nutritional ingredients, L-theanine has demonstrated safety and efficacy in many applications. For example: promoting relaxation with drowsiness; improving learning and concentration; heightening mental acuity; supporting the immune system; lowering cholesterol; and reducing stress and anxiety. (L-Theanine. NutriScience Innovations, LLC.) (http://www.nutritionalconcepts.com/supplements/L-Theanine.htm)

MSG does enhance flavors by plugging into taste receptors on the tongue but it is potentially neurotoxic. L-Theanine functions in the same way but has none of the reported side effects of MSG. (Sharpe, Ed. L-Theanine. The Delano Report. http://www.delano.com/Articles/Theanine-Sharpe.html)

Refer to Laughter and the Brain for additional information.

A natural hormone, leptin alerts the brain that the body has sufficient fatty tissue. Study: sleep deprivation is associated with lower levels of leptin, a signal to the brain that more calories were needed. This hormonal imbalance triggered by lack of sleep could favor weight gain. (Gorman, Christine. Why We Sleep. p 46-59. NY:Time Inc., Time. Vol 164, No 25, Dec 20, 2004.)

Romantic love is entwined with lust and attachment; all are impacted by brain chemicals. Lust is associated with testosterone, romantic love with dopamine (and perhaps norepinephrine and serotonin), and attachment with oxytocin and vasopressin. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. Why We Love. p 78-85. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004.)

LSD can fit into (bind with) serotonin receptions and completely disrupt the serotonin system. (Ornstein, Robert. Multimind. p 141. NY: Doubledday, 1986.)

Studies: In males heavy usage can cause a reduction in sperm count, a reduction of well-shaped sperm, breast enlargement, and (in prepubescent or pubescent boys) interference with the development of the reproductive glands. In females heavy usage can cause disruption in the menstrual cycle and cessation of ovulation and menses. (Stump, Jane Barr, PhD. What’s the Difference? p 124. NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985.)

The age at which a brain is exposed to marijuana may result in different effects to the brain’s white matter. Typically, marijuana use begins during adolescence and early adulthood. This is a particularly dangerous age because the brain is still developing and cannabis receptors are still abundant in white matter pathways. Researchers at Oxford University found impaired axonal pathways in the hippocampus and portions of the bridges (e.g., corpus callosum, commissure) that connect the two hemispheres in the brain of regular cannabis users. The amount of impairment to these brain areas was directly associated with the age at which the individual began regular use of marijuana. Study results suggest that long-term cannabis use is hazardous particularly to white matter in the developing brain of adolescents and young adults. Delaying the age at which regular use begins may minimize the severity of microstructural impairment. White matter alteration has been linked with several health concerns including cognitive impairment; vulnerability to psychosis, depression, and anxiety disorders; and clinical outcomes in schizophrenia. (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/766633?src=journalnl)

When marijuana is used THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain/body and overstimulates them (e.g., can impair the receptors, can produce permanent adverse effects, contributes to addiction) producing marijuana intoxication. (Research Report, Marijuana Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.)

Like a sedative, marijuana has the ability to relieve anxiety (e.g., triggers an initial increase in dopamine, wipes out the brain’s ability to concentrate). Cannabinoid receptors found in many areas of the brain (e.g., cortex, hippocampus) are activated by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol in marijuana. Long-term use affects brain efficiency (e.g., rats who are given THC have difficulty navigating mazes for up to several months after their last dose). (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 33-39. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Study: Individuals who regularly use marijuana showed reduced blood flow to the posterior cerebellum, associated with memory, language, and a sense of time. Long-term use had a noticeable effect on memory and brain function. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 223. NY:Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Marijuana’s mind-altering effects (that can be addictive) are caused by THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, also the psychoactive ingredient in hashish. Affects to cardiovascular system (e.g., increased heart rate, enlarged blood vessels in the eyes). Affects to brain (e.g., euphoria, changes in perception of colors and sounds, posture imbalance, toxic psychosis including hallucinations, delusions, a loss of the sense of personal identity). The risk of toxic effects are increased when a strong dose of THC is consumed in food or drink rather than smoked. (New Research Report presents Marijuana facts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA NOTES, Volume 17, Number 3, p 15. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the USA. More than 83 million Americans (37%) age 12 and older have tried marijuana at least once, according to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). (Research Report, Marijuana Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (https://www.drugabuse.gov/)

When smoked, THC in marijuana moves rapidly from the lungs into the bloodstream. When it reaches the brain, THC connects to cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells. Higher numbers of cannabinoid receptors are found in portions of the brain related to pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. (Refer to Cannabinoids.) (Research Report, Marijuana Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.)

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (https://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Marijuana’s begins to affect the brain immediately after the drug enters it. Effects last from 1-3 hours. If consumed in food or drink, the short-term effects begin more slowly (usually in 30 minutes to 1 hour) and last for as long as 4 hours. (Research Report, Marijuana Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.)

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (https://www.drugabuse.gov/)

THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and hashish. THC can trigger a perception of increased intensity of sensations, colors and sounds. (New Research Report presents Marijuana facts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA NOTES, Volume 17, Number 3, p 15. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Melatonin is the principal hormone secreted by the Pineal gland in the brain and regulates many neuroendocrine functions. The maximum amount of melatonin released in the bloodstream of the elderly is only half of that in young adults. Positive correlations have been found with aging, sleep, jet-lag, cancer, and stress. (Dean, Ward, M.D., and John Morgenthaler and Steven Wm. Fowkes. Smart Drugs II, Melatonin Chapter. Smart Publications. 2000. http://www.ceri.com/melaton.htm)

Refer to Sleep and the Brain for additional information

Study: evidence that at least some of the negative brain effects related to methamphetamine abuse may be reversible with 9-17 months abstinence. Describes positron emission tomography (PET). (Zickler, Patrick. Long-Term Abstinence Brings Partial Recovery from Meth Damage. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol 19, No 4, Dec 2004. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Monoamine is a molecule containing one amino group. These modulators (e.g., serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) are produced primarily in the brain stem, but their axons extend throughout the brain. Prozac prevents the removal of serotonin from the synaptic space; cocaine and amphetamines affect norepinephrine and dopamine levels; LSD acts on serotonin receptors. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 58-59. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Males tend to have lower levels of MAO (flavin-containing). This substance plays a role in risk taking and is a calming agent. Seeking thrills/taking risks is associated with lower levels of MAO. Females are generally more cautious when seeking thrills. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. p 42-43. NY:Random House, 1999.)

MSG can increase the amount of glutamate in the body and trigger headaches, ringing ears, and other physical symptoms. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 53-56. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

MSG does enhance flavors by plugging into taste receptors on the tongue but it is potentially neurotoxic. L-Theanine functions in the same way but has none of the reported side effects of MSG. (Sharpe, Ed. L-Theanine. The Delano Report. http://www.delano.com/Articles/Theanine-Sharpe.html)

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – often referred to as “natural flavors” MSG dilates blood vessels in the cortex and excites glutamate receptors. Avoid foods containing MSG often called “natural flavors.” Eventually this excitotoxin can result in brain cells becoming tired, worn, out, and eventually destroyed. MSG can also negatively impact hypothalamic neurons responsible for sexual drive/behavior. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 39-40, 92-93. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Monosodium glutamate, a Japanese taste-enhancer, has been added to American foods since the late 1940's and its use has doubled every decade since. (It was voluntarily removed from baby food in America in 1969 due to concerns about negative impact to developing brains.) It is often added to foods in disguised form (e.g., hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural flavorings, spices, vegetable protein) that may contain from 12%-40% MSG. These substances contains three powerful brain-cell toxins (glutamate, aspartate, and cysteic acid) as well as several known carcinogens. Glutamate and aspartate are neurotransmitters that are needed for effective brain function but when they get out of balance brain cells can die. (Blaylock, Russell L., MD. Excitotoxins, the Taste that Kills. p 31-40. NM:Health Press, 1997)

Mood-altering drugs are emotional anesthetics; they numb feelings. When people stop using the drugs the previously numbed emotions tend to surface and be experienced. (Twerski, Abraham, MD. Addictive Thinking. p 51-54. CA: Harper & Row, 1990.)

When music promotes pleasure, it triggers the release of endorphins similar to the high that long-distance runners experience. (Harris, Maureen. Music and the Young Mind. p 11. NY:MENC with Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2009.)

Refer to Music and the Brain for additional information.

Studies: three chemicals found in brown chocolate and cocoa can attach to cannabis receptors in the female brain and produce sensations similar to being high on marijuana. They are not found in white chocolate or coffee. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 236. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

Nerve gas works by disrupting acetylcholine transmission in muscle tissue, especially muscles required for normal breathing. Many insecticides have similar effects in bugs. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 58-59. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Neuropeptides are tiny chains of amino acids that are involved with our emotional experiences; bits of brain that float all over the body. (Pearsall, Paul, PhD. The Heart’s Code. p 10. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

Neurotoxic substances include: car exhaust, metals (e.g., aluminum, arsenic, manganese, mercury) especially if they are combined with lead. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Endangered Minds. p 164-166. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990.)

Studies: Nicotine does not improve your ability to think. Smokers do less well in tasks requiring understanding and problem solving than nonsmokers and abstaining smokers. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. p 15. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.)

Specific substances (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates) definitely impact the brain and brain function. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power. p 90-94. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

Avoid smoking. Nicotine can decrease blood flow to the brain, especially to temporal lobes. It can reduce activity across the entire cortex, especially in the temporal lobes and areas of pre-frontal cortex. Amount of brain damage can differ for different individuals. (Amen, Daniel G., MD. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. p 209, 240-242. NY:Times Books, 1998.)

Nicotine stimulates the neurons in the cortex to fire more actively. This usually lasts for only a short period of time. (Bragdon, Allen D., and David Gamon, PhD. Brains that Work a Little Bit Differently. p 118. NY: Barnes and Noble Books, 2000.)

Initially nicotine directs blood flow to brain cells that need to focus and acts like acetylcholine by stimulating cells involved in arousal and attention. Long-term negative effects far outweigh these initial benefits, however:

  • Increases free radical production
  • Promotes plaque formation
  • Causes excitotoxicity
  • Increases levels of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide
  • Reduces amount of oxygen

(Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 33-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Studies of fathers: Toxins in smoke can reduce sperm count and increase risk of fathering a child with learning deficits, hyrocephalus, or facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy). Of mothers with direct or side smoke: can reduce child’s stature, hearing, maturation rate, and IQ scores by average of 9 points. (Diamond, Marian, PhD, and Janet Hopson. Magic Trees of the Mind. p 78-80. NY:A Dutton Book 1998.)

Avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy may help prevent a higher risk of developing ADHD or similar behavior in offspring. Synergistic effects with female birth control pills: can double the half-life to approximately 12 hours. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/)

Studies suggest that the use of nicotine during teenage years, while the brain is still developing, may change the brain in ways that facilitate the addiction process. Early exposure to nicotine may also heighten response to other addictive drugs. (Early Nicotine Initiation Increases Severity of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA NOTES, July, 2004, Volume 19, Number 2. p 10. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Nitrites (often found in food such as hot dogs, cold cuts, and smoked products as sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite) interfere with the natural vasodilator nitric oxide, that is vital to sexual function. Viagra prompts nitric oxide to open blood vessels, nitrates block this effect. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD, and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 91-93. NJ:The Career Press Inc, 1999.)

Studies: High levels of norepinephrine constrict the diversity of available concepts; while low levels have the opposite effect. (Heilman, K. M. Creative Innovation: Possible Brain Mechanisms. 9(5):369-379. Neurocase. 2003.)

Studies: Alterations of norepinephrine and other neurotransmitters may affect the creative process. The minds of exceptionally creative people may be capable of regulating norepinephrine – to decrease levels during periods of creative innovation and pave the way for discovery of unanticipated associations. High levels of norepinephrine constrict the diversity of available concepts; low levels have the opposite effect. (Heilman, K. M. Creative Innovation: Possible Brain Mechanisms. 9(5):369-379. Neurocase. 2003.)

Baby monkeys whose mothers are exposed to a major stress while pregnant show the signs of that stress in their temperament, displaying an inhibited temperament reflected in their altered levels of noradrenaline and dopamine. (Quartz, Steven R., PhD, and Terrence J. Sejnowski PhD. Liars, Lovers, and Heroes. p 126. NY:HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2002.)

The video-based spinning woman illusion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_Dancer) has been making the rounds on the internet. Olivia Carter, a neuroscientist at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and her team, found that people's pupils dilate when they switch between two alternative ways of viewing an optical illusion (e.g., the woman seems to switch direction but in fact does not). The effect results from the viewer swapping how they view her. Eye pupils dilate in stressful situations as part of the "fight-or-flight" response. The reflex is mediated by the release of the hormone noradrenalin. Noradrenalin helps you to cement decisions toward which you are moving. Pupil dilation is an outward sign of this. (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527504.000-decisionmakers-betrayed-by-their-wide-eyes.html)

The long-term use of this artificial sweetener has been associated with headaches, depression (e.g., lowers serotonin), PMS, hunger, and sleep problems (e.g., it is a stimulant). (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 114-115. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Opiate receptors are found throughout the brain and body. There is a dense concentration of opiate receptors in the limbic system (emotional brain layer or pain/pleasure center). The densest concentration is in the frontal lobes of the human brain. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 123, 134-135. NY: Scribner, 1997; Pert, Candace, PhD Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind. CO: Sounds True, 2000.)

Specific substances (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates) definitely impact the brain and brain function. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power. p 90-94. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

The release of endogenous opioids (e.g., implicated in runner’s high and social bonding) likely causes the chills or shivers of pleasure experienced when one is listening to favorite music. A similar phenomenon may occur in the brains of animals. (Johnson, Steven. Mind Wide Open. p 160-162. NY: Scribner, 2004.)

Couples who are in love can transmit signals that trigger surges of oxytocin in one another’s brains. Oxytocin can alter hormone levels, cardiovascular function, sleep rhythms, immune system, promote bonding, and contribute to affectionate feelings. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. p 6-8. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)

Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus, ovaries, and testes. Birthing process and massage can trigger release in the brain. Can lower blood pressure, stimulate growth, enhance metabolic environment, and produce feelings of and relaxation. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. p 86-90. NY: Random House, 1999.)

Oxytocin is a hormone that can increase one’s desire to be touched. It is released in large amounts during sexual activity. A female’s oxytocin receptors are 10 times more sensitive than a male’s. Females are 4-6 times more likely to touch another woman in a social conversation than a man is likely to touch another man. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 34-38. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

Studies: The use of garden pesticides was tied to a 50% increase in risk for Parkinson’s Disease, and the use of in-home insecticides was linked to a 70% increased risk. Lists specific pesticides and alternative approaches. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 216-217. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Pesticides may be able to weaken and/or cross the blood-brain barrier. Adverse effects to the brain differ with different individuals. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Endangered Minds. p 164-167. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990.)

Phenylethylamine is an internal chemicals associated with the sensation of being “in love.” Found in chocolate and related to amphetamines, it can trigger dilation of eye pupils, sweaty hands, increased heart rate, and a butterfly sensation in the stomach. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 156-157. NY:Broadway Books, 1998.)

Progesterone is a hormone (higher levels in the female) that triggers nurturing and mothering feelings. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 157-159. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

Psychadelics (e.g., LDS, MDMA or Ecstasy, PCP, Special K) initially enhance dopamine and serotonin release. With chronic or high-dose usage however, the brain “spaces out” due to depleted levels of serotonin and a toxic effect on dopamine neurons. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 33-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

The Relaxation Responses has been found to be helpful in decreasing drug use (e.g., narcotics, nicotine, hard liquor, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, hallucinogens). (Benson, Herbert, MD, with Miriam Z. Klipper. The Relaxation Response. p 149-157. NY: Avon Books, 1975.)

Ritalin, a mild central nervous stimulant, may work by stabilizing the neurotransmitter dopamine. This can help people to focus better. Also discusses another alertness-enhancing drug: Provigil may also be alertness-enhancing for some individuals. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 150-151. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (brain stem) produce serotonin. They have long projections that carry the neurotransmitter to the orbital prefrontal cortex. In suicide victims, the dorsal raphe nucleus sends less than normal amounts of serotonin to the orbital prefrontal cortex. Why? The Neuroscience of Suicide.” (Carol Ezzell. Scientific American, February 2003. Scientific American Inc, NY. ISSN # 0036-8733, pp 45-51)

Suicide may be a unique entity, reflecting the culmination of several complex processes (i.e., not simply depression, but also impulsivity, disinhibition, anxiety, executive functioning) including disregulation of serotonin. (van Heeringen, C. ‘Suicide, serotonin, and the brain.’ Crisis 22: 66-70)

Oniomania is the medical term for shopaholism. It is an addictive, obsessive disorder. Compulsive shoppers have been shown to be deficient in serotonin. (Lombard, Jay, Dr., and Dr. Christian Renna. Balance Your Brain, Balance Your life.)

Exercise increases levels of l-tryptophan which, in turn, increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin levels can also be released by eating foods rich in tryptopyhan (e.g., green peas, potatoes, mild, peanut butter, eggs, salmon, turkey, chicken). (Amen, Daniel G., MD. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. p 184-185. NY:Times Books, 1998.)

LSD can fit into (bind with) serotonin receptions and completely disrupt the serotonin system. (Ornstein, Robert. Multimind. p 141. NY:Doubledday, 1986.)

Five brain chemicals act together to call the brain to attention and produce a sharp attentive state (dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, acetylecholine, and serotonin). Any imbalance in production or distribution of any of these will zap the brain’s ability to act alertly. Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine act on all of these except acetylcholine. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 30-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Psychadelics (e.g., LDS, MDMA or Ecstasy, PCP, Special K) initially enhance dopamine and serotonin release. With chronic or high-dose usage however, the brain “spaces out” due to depleted levels of serotonin and a toxic effect on dopamine neurons. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 33-39. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Studies: Ecstasy stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain, producing a euphoric high and weak LSD-like effects that can last several hours. Habit-forming and subject to compulsive abuse, it can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels. Long-term use can cause sharp increases in body temperature, leading to kidney and liver failure. (Restak, Richard, MD. The Secret Life of the Brain. p 86. Washington D.C.: The Dana Press and Joseph Henry Press, 2001.)

Originally used as an animal anesthetic and now used as a short-acting anesthetic in humans, ketamine is mediated directly through neurons in the hippocampus (involved with memory functions). This drug “doesn’t just zap memory a bit—it wipes it out completely for most of the ‘trip’.” (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 56-57. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Studies: job stress led 34% of all American employees to consider quitting their jobs in 1990; 46% find their jobs highly stressful. Tend to turn to drugs and alcohol on the job in an attempt to dull the effects of job stress. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 81, 90-92. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Chronic stress or neglect can affect the development of the fetal or early infant brain much as do toxins. Early child abuse and neglect (e.g., lack of stimulation necessary for normal brain development ) can negatively impact learning. So can the loss of primary relationships, or breaks in caregiving. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 14-15. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

Refer to Stress and the Brain for additional information.

Tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and other mind-altering substances interfere with the body/mind’s ability to regulate its own moods. Chronic use will eventually cause the cells to stop manufacturing peptides, leading to a craving for higher doses of the artificial stimulant. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind (audiocassettes). CO: Sounds True, 2000.)

Discovered about 1930, Substance p is involved in the transmission of pain impulses from the spinal cord to the brain. Released in the skin, you feel pain; in the brain you feel anxiety and depression (opposite effects to Neuropeptide Y.) Capsaicin is a blocker. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. p 24-25. NY: Warner Books, 2004.)

Sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen can profoundly impact neural transmission and other brain functions. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 59-60. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Testosterone levels are inherited. Males and females with higher levels of circulating testosterone tend to engage in more sexual activity. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. Why We Love. p 80-85. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004.)

Males have 10-20 times more testosterone in the body. The desire for sex arises in the hypothalamus, stimulated by hormones (especially testosterone). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 183-200. NY:Broadway Books, 1998.)

Testosterone levels in males dramatically increase with a vigorous exercise workout; even more so after a competitive nonaerobic workout (e.g., handball as compared to brisk walking). Levels do not appear to increase in women with similar activities. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 163. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Testosterone impacts brain and body laterality. Higher levels of testosterone are associated with faster development of the right hemisphere and the right side of the body. (Baron-Cohen, Simon, Dr. The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain. p 107-109. NY:Basic Books, 2003.)

Studies have shown that music causes a biochemical expression (e.g., lowered testosterone levels) while listening to favorite music (e.g., diminishing the heightened testosterone levels necessary for fighting). It seems that music has the ability to either arouse (e.g., following the rhythmic beat of a call to fight) or to soothe and relax the mind and body. (Harris, Maureen. Music and the Young Mind. p 11. NY:MENC with Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2009.)

THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and hashish. Affects to the cardiovascular system (e.g., higher heart rate, enlarged blood vessels in the eyes). Affects to the brain (e.g., euphoria, changes in perception of colors and sounds, posture imbalance). The risks of toxic effects are increased when a strong dose of THC is consumed in food or drink rather than smoked (e.g., user may suffer toxic psychosis including hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity). (New Research Report presents Marijuana Facts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA NOTES, Volume 17, Number 3. p 15. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are toxins that can affect the developing fetal brain, or early infant brain. Chronic stress and neglect (lack of stimulation necessary for normal brain development) are toxins, as well. So is a loss of primary relationships, or breaks in caregiving. These are the precursors of the growing epidemic of violence. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 14-15. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

Conventional wisdom for years has expressed concern about the effect of tobacco/smokeless tobacco on brain function. When used over a long period, tobacco and related chemicals such as tar and nicotine have been found to increase one’s risk for blood clots, which may lead to aneurysms and strokes. Not good for the brain! There is every reason to quit. “Within 10 years of quitting your lung cancer death rate becomes similar to that of someone who never smoked; precancerous cells are replaced with normal cells; your risk of stroke is lowered, possibly to that of a nonuser; your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas all go down.” (Downs, Martin. Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco. NYT, Jan 2009. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/smoking-and-smokeless-tobacco/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier)

Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, neglect, and chronic stress are all toxins. Chronic stress or neglect can affect the development of the fetal or early infant brain; early child abuse and neglect can negatively impact learning; as does neglect/lack of stimulation necessary for normal brain development, loss of primary relationships, or breaks in caregiving. These are the precursors of the growing epidemic of violence. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 14-15. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

The hormone vasopressin is produced in the hypothalamus and the gonads. It triggers behaviors associated with attachment. In males it triggers the paternal instinct. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. Why We Love. p 88-90. NY:Henry Holt and Company, 2004.)

Many habitually used drugs initially stimulate the mind but eventually impair its ability. These include: aAlcohol, caffeine, marijuana, nicotine, psychedelics (e.g., LSD and PCP), sedatives (e.g., barbiturates, valium-like drugs called benzodiazepines), and stimulants (e.g., amphetamines, cocaine). (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 33-39. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Zonulin is a protein made by the human body that appears to impact the development of auto-immune diseases as well as those that involve blood-brain dysfunctions such as multiple sclerosis, HIV infection, and brain tumors. Zonulin acts as a gate-keeper for brain and body tissues. It can open junctions between cells known as zonula occludens, allowing some substances to pass through that ordinarily would be stopped. Exposure to gluten can increase Zonulin levels in patients with celiac disease allowing substances to pass thorugh the walls of the inestines. This phenomenon has been shown to occur not only in the intestines but also in the blood-brain barrier, a collection of tightly packed endothelial cells that line the blood vessels of the brain and prevent some substances in the blood from entering the brain while allowing others to pass through. Zonulin can bind with receptors in the B-B barrier and open the gates between cells in the blood vessels allowing some substances to pass through. (Korn, Dana, with contributions by Michelle Maria Pietzak MD, and Alessio Fasano MD. Wheat Free - Worry Free. p 333-340. CA: Hay House, 2002.)

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