Dopamine: The Chemical That Gives You Zest For Life.

December 30, 2019

Written by

Lucas Aoun

Founder @ Ergogenic Health

So I’d imagine that you’ve probably come to realise that you have LOW dopamine levels.

It’s really not your fault.

Look at the kind of environment that we currently live in.

From push notifications, easy access to porn, video games and social media, we are being depleted of our precious dopamine every single day.

The unfortunate reality is that most of us complain of:
-Low motivation.
-Low sex-drive.
-Low confidence.
-Cravings for stimulants.
-Sugar cravings.

All of these symptoms above are critical issues with dopamine signalling and production in the brain.

People exposed to a lifetime of psychosocial stress may have an impaired ability to produce the dopamine levels needed for coping with acutely stressful situations.

This may help explain why long-term exposure to psychological stressors and abuse increases the risk of mental illness and addiction.

STRESS DESTROYS OUR DOPAMINE:
To address this question, Dr Bloomfield and his colleagues used an imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET) to compare the production of dopamine in 34 volunteers exposed to an acute stress. Half of the participants had a high lifetime exposure to psychosocial stress, while the other half had low exposure. All of them undertook the Montréal Imaging Stress Task, which involved receiving criticism as they tried to complete mental arithmetic (R)

Two hours after this stress task, the participants were injected with small amounts of a radioactive tracer that allowed the scientists to view dopamine production in their brains using PET (R)

The scans revealed that in those with low exposure to chronic adversity, dopamine production was proportional to the degree of threat that the person perceived (R).

In people with high exposure to chronic adversity, however, the perception of threat was exaggerated whilst their production of dopamine was impaired (R)

So what is a powerful solution to low Dopamine I asked myself?

Well, it doesn’t just happen straight away. We need to ensure we are addressing the many different elements of our lifestyle choices, such as:

-High-quality sleep.
-Optimal intakes of all micronutrients and vitamins.
-Exercise.
-Stress management.
-Reducing artificial blue light.

But I wanted to formulate something that people can use on a daily basis to support dopamine production and feel at their best every single day, with compounding benefits over time.

But my criteria was strict.

It had to be something that was:
1. Non-addictive.
2. Neuroprotective.
3. Has compounding benefits over time.
4. Improves one’s sensitivity to coffee/caffeine.
5. No major side effects/minimal toxicity.
6. Naturally derived.

With these critical factors in mind, I set myself on a very difficult mission.

Having trialled many different herbs and compounds for 2+ years, I finally found what I was looking for.

It was a blend of modern science and Ancient Brazilian wisdom.

I named it BrainX.

So what are the ingredients?

Basic Ingredient Breakdown:
Catuaba Bark:

Catuaba is an aromatic bark native to Brazil. It assists with age-related cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction. Catuaba strengthens and nourishes the dopamine system, promoting a clean, euphoric buzz.

Muira Puama Extract:
Muira puama is considered by many Amazonian tribes to be adaptogenic (helps the body deal with stress). It is traditionally a herb used to fight “nervous weakness’, which encompassed symptoms such as lassitude, general lack of interest/motivation and sexual exhaustion.

Uridine Monophosphate:
Uridine monophosphate is found in all living organisms ranging from humans to bacteria. It plays a pivotal role in many different neuroregulatory processes, and especially for Dopamine function. It is used to support short and long term memory, learning, attention and executive function.

D-Ribose:
D-ribose is a naturally occurring sugar in the body, that is involved in producing energy (ATP) and also forms the structural basis of DNA and RNA. However, it does not raise blood glucose levels like other sweeteners. The body preserves D-ribose for vital work — to power the heart, muscles, brain, and every other tissue in the body.

Advanced Research:
Catuaba Bark:
-Increases mood, motivation and alertness via increasing the activity and release of dopamine in the brain (1).
-Supports positive mood and emotional outlook via increasing the release and reducing the reuptake of serotonin, one of our feel-good brain chemicals (2).
-Catuaba can act as an adaptogen, helping the body deal with stress and fight fatigue (3).
-Supports memory, focus and concentration via acting on the acetylcholine system of the brain — it inhibits the enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that breaks down acetylcholine (3).
-May enhance memory via acting on the hippocampus, which is a key area of the brain responsible for memory (4).
-Increases neurotransmitters due to its ability to (concentration-dependently) reduce the activity of Monoamine Oxidase A (MAO-A) (5).
-Synergizes very well with Muira Puama, according to ancient use (6).
-Has anti-inflammatory properties, think similar to Curcumin (7).
-Catuaba can improve fatigue after running on the treadmill and improve grip strength after exercise in mice (8).
-Is neuroprotective and reduces brain damage (9).
-Catuaba (Trichilia catigua) prevents against oxidative damage induced by in vitro ischemia-reperfusion in rat hippocampal slices (27).
-Trichilia catigua A. Juss. (Meliaceae) is a species known as catuaba and used in folk medicine for the treatment of fatigue, stress, impotence and memory deficit (28).
-Catuaba has aphrodisiac-inducing properties. For example, in rabbit models, catuaba has been reported to improve libido.
-Due to its ability to increase Nitric Oxide (NO), catuaba has vasorelaxant effects and may help with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) (29)
-Although it increases dopamine, catuaba is reported to not have an amphetamine-like effect (at doses of 200 and 400 mg/kg) (30).
-Catuaba can increase Acetylcholine (ACh), the primary neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory — by reducing Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity (31).
-Pre-clinical studies with catuaba extracts have identified many pharmacological properties, such as anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antinociceptive, pro-memory and neuroprotective (28)
-The main phytochemical compounds identified in the barks of catuaba are:
Flavan-3-ols (procyanidin B2, epicatechin, catechin) — Epicatechin is also highly abundant in Dark chocolate.
Flavalignans (cinchonains Ia, Ib, IIa, IIb, catiguanins A and B, apocynin E)
Phenylpropanoid derivatives (chlorogenic acid)
These phytochemical compounds are stronger than vitamin C and E in antioxidant activity and have shown to help prevent cellular damage triggered by oxidative stress in acute and chronic neuropathological conditions (32).
-In Brazilian folk medicine, catuaba is known for its neuroactive potential as memory stimulant (33).
-By activating dopaminergic and opioid pathways, catuaba can reduce the sensation of pain (34).

Muira Puama:
-Regarded as a mild brain-tonic, that improves alertness and energy through acting as a dopamine D(1) agonist (10).
-Increases Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), similar to Lion’s mane, which promotes the growth, as well as the maintenance, proliferation, and survival of nerve cells (neurons), thereby enhancing cognitive function (16).
-Increases wakefulness and arousal through acting as a mild GABA-A antagonist, thereby fighting fatigue (14). “Pharmacological blockade of GABAA receptors can also induce burst firing of DA neurons (Paladini et al., 1999, Paladini and Tepper, 1999), although this is likely because spontaneous excitatory activity onto DA neurons becomes dominant (i.e., disrupted excitatory/inhibitory balance).
-An Amazonian/Brazilian plant, known traditionally as a nerve tonic, and aphrodisiac (11).
-Stimulates the central nervous system through Beta-Adrenergic agonism complementing the above (12).
-Stimulates memory, mood and focus through increasing acetylcholine activity in the brain (13).
-Restores memory in mice with brain damage (15).
-Increases sex-drive via acting on the brain, through acetylcholine and dopamine release (17).
-Studies have shown that activation of the D1 receptor can inhibit eating in mice.

Uridine Monophosphate:
-Increases sensitivity and reduces tolerance to caffeine and other stimulants, thereby allowing the person the feel the stimulating effects to a stronger degree (18).
-Powerfully motivating and energising, reducing procrastination and enhances mental clarity through increasing dopamine receptor density (19).
-Increases memory and alertness through increasing phospholipids in the brain, thereby maintaining optimal cognitive function with age (20).
-Increases dopamine release directly, leading to mental clarity, motivation and drive (21).
-Strengthen memory consolidation and retrieval of memories through increasing neurite outgrowth and NGF (22).
-Dietary uridine enhances the improvement in learning and memory produced by administering DHA to gerbils (34).
-Uridine administration for seven days to healthy volunteers significantly increased brain PME levels — phosphocholine (PCho) and phosphoethanolamine (PEtn) — thereby supporting memory and learning (36).
-Oral administration of uridine to experimental animals increases the levels of phosphatides and synaptic proteins in the brain and per brain cell as well as the numbers of dendritic spines on hippocampal neurons (37).

D-Ribose
-D-ribose could potentially aid in maintaining or potentially lowering extra-cellular adenosine concentrations, aid in the flux of intracellular calcium, aid in intracellular energy production, and potentially lessen the perceived “crash” state felt by many (38).
-D-ribose with caffeine may be the substrate to aid in the potential intracellular energy demand, aid in lessening the perceived unpleasant side effects of caffeine, and still preserving the desired benefits of this stimulant consumed by all of us daily (38)
-Directly increases energy production in all cells of the body, through enhancing mitochondrial function (24).
-Improves energy regeneration quickly to muscles, allowing for greater physical performance (25).
-Reduces the rate of perceived exertion during physically demanding activities (26).
-D-ribose demonstrates performance, perceptual, and serum benefits in fitness adult subjects undergoing high intensity exercise. The stress of high intensity exercise has the potential to be benefited with supplementation of D-ribose around these exercise sessions (39).

References/Citations (More to come)
1. Antinociceptive Activity of Trichilia catigua Hydroalcoholic Extract: New Evidence on Its Dopaminergic Effects
2. Pharmacological and neurochemical evidence for antidepressant-like effects of the herbal product Catuama. — PubMed — NCBI
3. Antioxidant, anticholinesterase and antifatigue effects of Trichilia catigua (catuaba). — PubMed — NCBI
4. Subchronic administration of Trichilia catigua ethyl-acetate fraction promotes antidepressant-like effects and increases hippocampal cell prolifera… — PubMed — NCBI
5. In vitro multimodal-effect of Trichilia catigua A. Juss. (Meliaceae) bark aqueous extract in CNS targets — ScienceDirect
6. Muira puama — Ptychopetalum olacoides Database file in the Tropical Plant Database of herbal remedies
7. Inhibition of platelet phospholipase A2 activity by catuaba extract suggests antiinflammatory properties. — PubMed — NCBI
8. Antioxidant, anticholinesterase and antifatigue effects of Trichilia catigua (catuaba). — PubMed — NCBI
9. Trichilia catigua (Catuaba) bark extract exerts neuroprotection against oxidative stress induced by different neurotoxic agents in rat hippocampal slices — ScienceDirect
10. Antidepressant profile of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (Marapuama) in mice. — PubMed — NCBI
11. https://www.researchgate.net/public...nic_Ptychopetalum_olacoides_Marapuama_in_mice
12. Antidepressant profile of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (Marapuama) in mice. — PubMed — NCBI
13. https://www.researchgate.net/public...cetylcholinesterase_Isoforms_in_Brain_of_Mice
14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12164265
15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18695930
16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19095451
17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5422695/
18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8372096
19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29555238
20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020593/
21. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1385/JMN:27:1:137
22. https://www.researchgate.net/public...e_and_Promotes_Neurite_Outgrowth_in_Aged_Rats
23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19223125
24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5959283/
25. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0011393X02800546
26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5738882/
27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23001398
28. https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-018-2222-9
29. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/%28SICI%291099-1573%28199702%2911%3A1<32%3A%3AAID-PTR33>3.0.CO%3B2-C
30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15991001/
31. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874117327630?via=ihub
32. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0102695X16302022
33. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874111005083?via=ihub
34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3095233/
35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2574024/
36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020593/
37. https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article-abstract/68/suppl_2/S88/1867424
38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19223125
39. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0205-8