Posted by Bobbie P. (184.108.40.206) on November 22, 1999 at 00:01:02:
In Reply to: brain chemistry and addictions and clusters posted by Sonya on November 21, 1999 at 18:02:09:
I wasn’t going to get into this discussion today because of time commitments, but Sonya your post was too interesting for me to pass up.
The exact chemical mixture of neurotransmitters in the brain is what determines our mood at any given time. What we eat and substances that we put into our bodies has an effect on brain levels of the neurotransmitter of serotonin. We know that serotonin has a calming effect. When we eat an overabundance of certain foods such as starches and sweets, it can cause an overproduction of serotonin, which in turn would give you an overstated sedative effect. In 2-3 hours the levels decline again. Now add to this mix, the neurotransmitter nor-epinephrine. Protein foods elevate levels of this chemical in the brain. Nor-epinephrine acts a stimutant, helping us to stay alert and full of energy. When we partake of large amounts of coffee, cola, chocolate, and nicotine, nor-epinephrine levels skyrocket and we end up with the shakes, increased anxiety, “butterflies” in the stomach etc. I will add alcohol here as both a stimulant and sedative. What we are making is a cycle of brain chemical “ups and downs” created by our food and substance intake. Those of you who suffer from low blood sugar should be able to relate very well to this phenomena. (This too may be part of the package)
Now, you may very well be asking yourself what the “H” this has to do with Cluster headaches. Hang on, I have to think back for a minute to try and remember…Uh yes! If we have supposedly low levels of serotonin in our brains, (or if it is argued – high levels of serotonin) then might one suppose that our bodies would try to increase (decrease) those levels by increasing (decreasing) consumption of the serotonin activating foods? If we miscalculated and ate too much (too little) or ate the wrong type of foods we may have needed to regulate the damage by adding caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol etc. to the stew. Then like a junkie we end up on a cycle of high and low cravings with neurotransmitters being pushed to levels higher than normal. In this instance our misuse of certain substances and foods to regulate our serotonin may inadvertently trigger for our headaches. Don’t get me wrong though., we still have the original glitch in our brain that caused the serotonin imbalance. That my dear Watson is the thing we still have to figure out! What say you Bob P.?
Boy, it felt good to get rid of that, my brain feels so much lighter now. Thanks for letting me share that with you.
Wishing everyone a PFN!
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