Posts Tagged ‘Dopamine’

Treating Pet Behavior Problems Holisticly With Amino Acid Therapy

At Woodside Animal Clinic we have been having increasing success managing fearful, aggressive, and destructive behavior with minerals, anti anxiety herbs, homeopathics, flower essences, essential oils, nutritional and dietary changes and especially “neurotransmitter therapy”. Often several of these supplements are used in combination and then combined with behavior modification techniques.    The use of the neurotransmitter therapy along with dietary modification and nutra -ceuticals appears to place an animal in a state where they are calmer, less dominant, and less fearful so they are easier to manage and train.

Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals derived from specific amino acid precursors. The brain produces four primary neurotransmitters which in turn produce distinctly different brain states.   These different states of mind create a mood which affects the rest of the body thru both nerve pathways and endocrine (hormonal) connections.  Neurotransmitters appear to be the master conductors of the body.    Of course there are other neurotransmitters besides these major four but , for the sake of space, I will limit my discussion to these four.

Communication between the brain and the body, between the various endocrine organs, and between various cells of the body is necessary to maintain balance and have all parts of the body work in harmony. Think again of an orchestra with its many different instruments playing their distinct parts each of which must harmonize with the whole.    In order for this to happen there must be a conductor to guide the individual orchestral sections.    The conductor not only cues the various instruments he also calls for greater or lesser volume, and maintains the tempo depending on what the music calls for.    Of course the orchestra we call a living body is much more complicated and therefore a   much more sophisticated line of communication is needed. In the paragraphs to follow I will discuss neurotransmitter and how they conduct the bodies vast communication network.

Whether you are a human being or a pet your brain produces 4  major neurotransmitters each of which cause the brain to operate at distinctly different frequencies which in turn produces distinctly different mental  states or moods.  Below is a chart listing  these 4 distinctions as they relate to humans.   Since the  brains  of animals are anatomically similar and produce these same neurotransmitters   we can only assume that they experience similar  mental states.   The basic personality differences we find in young  animals may be a result of excesses or  deficiencies in these chemicals.  ie. shy fear biters or aggressive dominance etc.  As  we learn more about these 4 major neurotransmitters we may be able to adjust or  balance them in  people and pets in order to correct basic personality  disorders.

Neurochemical      Frequency         Brain wave        Amino acid                      Mental state       Function                                                                                                                                                                                               .

1) Dopamine (12-16 hertz)                   Delta waves         Tyrosine                           Sleep                       Voltage

2) Acetylcholine   (8-12 hertz)          Theta waves       phosphotidylserine

3) GABA (4-8  hertz)                                  Alpha waves       Glutamine                      Daydreaming       Rhythm

4} Serotonin (1-4  hertz)                        Beta                        Tryptophan                     Thinking

These brain states,  however, are not limited to the brain,   they affect the  entire body via  their connection to the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and secretion of  information molecules.    Here is where  the body- mind  connection is born.

If any one the nutritional precursors (amino acids) used to manufacture these 4 major  neuro chemicals is  deficient then the   associated neurotransmitter will  be deficient and the body’s mental state  will be affected.  Adding one or more of the above amino  acids to the  diet can help correct a neuro-transmitter deficiency and re establish balance between  these 4 neuro chemicals.    The 4 amino acid precursors tryptophan,  tyrosine,  phosphatidylserine, and glutamine  can be  used to change an animal’s or person’s overall tone and personality.

Allow me to give you a very quick course in neurotransmitters.  The nervous system is made up of individual cells called neurons.   They act more or less as the body’s wiring.   Electrical nerve impulses pass down  this wiring.   When a nerve impulse reaches the end of a neuron it is able to jump over to the next neuron using chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.    These neuro-chemicals are stored in tiny sacs at the end of each neuron.   When the nerve impulse reaches the end  of the neuron it triggers a response which causes these sacs to empty there contents into the gap that separates one nerve from another.   These spaces are known as synapses.     When the secreted neurotransmitters  reach the other side of the synapse they cause the next neuron to fire and the impulses continues down the nerve accordingly.

Now lets talk in more detail about the four major neurotransmitters:

GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid) is the brain’s natural Valium.  It is synthesized in the body from its precursor amino acid Glutamine.  Vitamin B6  and pyridoxine 6 phosphate are also  precursor needed to form GABA.   GABA is involved in the production of endorphins which produces the GABA quality of calmness.     GABA is also the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter and the major controller of brain rhythm.  A rhythmic brain creates and receives electricity in a smooth and even flow as contrasted with bursts.   Rhythm determines how we handle life’s stresses.   GABA hinders the transmission of impulses from one neuron to another and slows neuronal transmission.  It has a calming and quieting influence which provide relaxing, anti anxiety and anti convulsive effects.    Inositol enhances the effects of GABA.

Serotonin is the brains natural Prozac.  The body manufactures Serotonin from the precursor amino acid tryptophan.   By increasing the amount of tryptophan in the diet you can elevate the serotonin levels thereby producing the same effect as Prozac.    Balancing the brain means synchronizing the right and left hemispheres.  When our hemispheres are “in sync” we feel peaceful and secure.

Dopamine is the 3rd major neurotransmitters.   Dopamine manages brain voltage .  The nervous system manufactures dopamine from the amino acid precursor Tyrosine.  Tyrosine is converted to L Dopa and then to Dopamine.   Dopamine has many important roles in behavior including sleep, mood, attention and learning.  It is associated with stimulation of the  pleasure centers of the brain .  Deficient dopamine is linked to attention deficit disorders  and loss of creativity in humans.  Dopamine has been associated with the processing of pain such that decreased levels of dopamine encourage painful conditions such as fibromyalgia in people.  Insufficient dopamine can cause  Parkinsons , in which the body loose its ability to execute smooth controlled movements.   It is important to point out that we must always balance Serotonin with Dopamine.   If we just add tryptophan with out tyrosine to the diet we will drive down the dopamine neurotransmitters and loose brain voltage.

Acetylcholine is the  4th major neurotransmitter.   Acetylcholine  works primarily at the synapse and allows for the transmission of nerve impulses across the synapse or space between two nerves or at the neuromuscular junction.    If too little of the amino acid precursor, phosphatidlyserine , is present in the diet there will eventually develop a deficiency of acetylcholine.  Such a deficiency will cause nerve transmission to slow down and consequently communication between different parts of the brain and body will be affected   Providing   increased levels of either choline or phosphatidylserine  in the diet will stimulate the production of acetycholine in Alzheimers patients and dogs with cognitive disorders..   It  helps them to think more clearly.  Choline loading has been used with senior pets to help them remain more aware, reduce urinary incontinence and help prevent seizures. This form of therapy is known as “choline loading.”  We have had good success treating urinary incontinence and senility in dogs and cats by stimulating acetylcholine production.

Anxiety and depression problems can be treated with neurotransmitter therapy combined with one or more of the following supplements:  B vitamins especially niacinamide;  Minerals primarily magnesium;   Herbs such as valerian, St Johns Wart, kava kava, and chamomile;   Essential oils such as Lavender;  flower essences and homeopathics; laser therapy, electro crystal rebalancing and acupuncture.


Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio