Last updated on October 10, 2022.
Edited and clinically reviewed byPatrick Alban, D.C.. Written bydean alban.
As a stress hormone and neurotransmitter, norepinephrine plays a key role in many mental illnesses. It is important to keep your norepinephrine levels balanced.
As a stress hormone, norepinephrine gets much less attention than the other stress hormone, cortisol.
cortisolIt is known for the damage it causes.
But norepinephrine is also a neurotransmitter that may play a role in depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental illnesses.
Let's take a closer look at its role, and then see what you can do to naturally balance your norepinephrine levels.
What is norepinephrine? What are you doing
Norepinephrine is a dual-purpose chemical messenger that acts as both a stress hormone and a neurotransmitter.
It is sometimes called norepinephrine, mainly in the UK, but here in the US the preferred term is norepinephrine.
Norepinephrine is produced in the brain, central nervous system, and adrenal glands.
Its name literally means "near the kidneys" and refers to its synthesis in the adrenal glands above the kidneys.
Norepinephrine, along with epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), triggers our fight-or-flight response to danger or extreme stress.
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It helps us think and act quickly in an emergency.
It increases heart rate and blood pressure, diverts blood flow from the skin to the muscles, and triggers the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Norepinephrine differs from cortisol in that it is produced on demand and quickly dissipates after a perceived danger or stressful situation has passed.
Cortisol, on the other hand, stays in the body where it accumulates.contribute to diseasesuch as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
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The link between norepinephrine and depression
No one, including the experts, fully understands the biochemical causes of depression.
However, it is known that norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters belonging to a group of compounds known asmonoamines— play a role in mood regulation.
"With any neurotransmitter, its levels can be too high or too low, but none is more important to balance than norepinephrine.
The most popular theory of depression is that it is caused by low serotonin levels.
For this reason, the most popular pharmaceutical antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which aim to increase serotonin levels.
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Other theories postulate that depression is caused by brain inflammation, low dopamine, orlow norepinephrine.
The main symptoms of depression based on low norepinephrine levels are feelings of lethargy, brain fog, and a lack of enthusiasm for life.
These symptoms are very similar to depression associated with low dopamine levels.
This makes sense, since these two compounds are extremely similar in structure and function.
Both are formed from the same amino acid precursors, tyrosine and phenylalanine, and both are essential for maintaining alertness, concentration, and motivation.
mostDifferences between dopamine and norepinephrineare that they are formed in different areas of the brain and act on different receptors.
Effects of antidepressants on key neurotransmitters
Most prescription antidepressants work by increasing serotonin levels, but some work with dopamine or norepinephrine or a combination of these.
WellbutrinFor example, it blocks the reuptake of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
sauceris an aerotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that increases norepinephrine and serotonin.
tricycline, some of the oldest antidepressants, work by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine while blocking the effects of acetylcholine, the memory and learning neurotransmitter.
It's easy to see why antidepressant prescriptions can be tricky and why no one prescription antidepressant works for everyone.
Norepinephrine deficiency and ADHD
Another common disorder related to norepinephrine is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The traditional treatment for ADHD is a prescription stimulant such as Ritalin or Adderall, possibly accompanied by behavioral therapy.
MostADHD medicationthey are based on the assumption that people with attention deficit disorder lack dopamine or norepinephrine.
If you can't focus or sit still, taking a stimulant might seem counterproductive, but that's how it works.
these drugsstimulate the release of dopamine and norepinephrineand slowing down its reuptake rate, allowing more neurotransmitters to properly bind to its receptors.
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This allows better utilization of available norepinephrine and dopamine.
These medications can make you feel more alert, focused, and mentally clear, whether you have ADHD or not.
Adderall and Ritalin are sometimes used off-label (and often illegally) as smart drugs by college students and people in high-pressure jobs looking for a mental edge.
But you don't have to rely on drugs that increase norepinephrine to treat ADHD.
John Ratey, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and bestselling authorSpark: the revolutionary new science of movement and the brain, has spent decades studying the effects of exercise on the brain.
He found that exercise effectively reduces ADHD symptoms by increasing both norepinephrine and dopamine, thus regulating the attention system.
Norepinephrine imbalance and other mental disorders
Norepinephrine is associated with a significant number of mental disorders.
With any neurotransmitter, its levels can be too high or too low, but none is more important to balance than norepinephrine.
When you have high norepinephrine levels, you are prone to anxiety and insomnia.
A sudden outburst can trigger a panic attack.
On the other hand, a norepinephrine deficiency can leave you tired and depressed, with little interest in life.
People with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome often have low levels of norepinephrine.
Bipolar disorder, characterized by excessive mood swings, is associated with anorepinephrine imbalance.
High levels are believed to trigger the manic phase, while low levels trigger the depressive phase.
weakeningmigraineit can also be a norepinephrine-related disorder, triggered when the norepinephrine stores of the sympathetic nervous system are depleted.
parkinson, a motor control disorder, is often associated with the death of neurons in the area of the brain that produces dopamine.
However, there is evidence that the problem may also be related to norepinephrine.
Onorepinephrine lossmay explain some of the still symptoms of this disease, such as: B. Fatigue and irregular blood pressure.
Norepinephrine deficiency may also be a contributing factor to Alzheimer's disease.
Norepinephrine normally suppresses brain inflammation, which is a suspected underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease.
But Alzheimer's patients experienceminimal anti-inflammatory effectof norepinephrine since, in his case, evenLost 70% of cells that produce norepinephrine.
Balance norepinephrine naturally with food, supplements, and more
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may suggest a norepinephrine-altering medication, such as SNRI, Wellbutrin, or Adderall.
But finding the right cocktail is a blessing, and these drugs often have unwanted side effects.
Here are some ways to naturally balance your norepinephrine levels.
Foods that increase norepinephrine
The amino acid tyrosine is the building block of norepinephrine.
You can eat foods that contain tyrosine or phenylalanine, an amino acid that is converted to tyrosine.
Almost all animal products are good sources of tyrosine and phenylalanine.
Foods that increase norepinephrine are very similar to those that increase dopamine.
[For a complete list of foods that increase dopamine, check out our article How to Increase Dopamine Naturally (Complete Guide).]
here are someFoods known to specifically increase norepinephrine:
- beans and legumes
- fish and shellfish
Norepinephrine Elevator Supplements
Norepinephrine is not available as a dietary supplement or as a medication in pill form.
Doctor,intravenous norepinephrineis used to raise dangerously low blood pressure in emergency situations, e.g. B. when a patient goes into shock or has a heart attack.
But you can take supplements that increase the synthesis of norepinephrine.
L-tyrosine, a precursor to both norepinephrine and dopamine, is a good natural option to consider if you suffer from norepinephrine-related depression, and it can work surprisingly quickly.
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Human studies have repeatedly shown that tyrosine is excellent at counteracting the effects ofextremely physicalmipsychological stress.
Phenylalanine is the main precursorwhich is converted to norepinephrine, tyrosine, dopamine and epinephrine.
Phenylalanine supplements are available in "d" or "l" form.
L-phenylalanine is the natural version, while d-phenylalanine is synthesized in the laboratory.
Some dietary supplements combine both and are called d,l-phenylalanine or DLPA.
Another amino acid, L-carnitine, is an excellent stimulator of brain function and a natural antidepressant that works by increasing levels of norepinephrine and serotonin.
If you decide to give it a try, be sure to use it.Acetyl-L-Carnitine(ALCAR), a highly bioavailable form of L-carnitine that readily penetrates the brain.
4. Arctic Root
arctic root(Rosenwürz) is a popular adaptogenic herb that may alleviate symptoms of depressionas well asAntidepressants.
It works by lowering cortisol levels.Increased levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
velvet bean or kidney bean (Mucuna Juckreiz) is an herbal remedy that contains L-Dopa, a precursor to dopamine.
It is useful to treat Parkinson's disease;found a studythat was as effective as typical drugsmiit worked faster, with fewer side effects.
Velvet bean seeds are also arich source of norepinephrine and epinephrine.
Do not take mucuna if you have low blood pressure or are taking medicine for high blood pressure.cause blood pressure to drop too low.
6. Asian Ginseng
Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is one of the most powerful natural remedies in the world.
It has been used in Asia for thousands of years as a tonic believed to confer long life, strength, and wisdom.
Now we understand how it works.
Reduces the stress hormone cortisol while strengthening the adrenal glands.
exclusive ginseng compounds,ginsenoside, the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain increase.
while i wouldNeverThey recommend smoking to get nicotine, low-dose nicotine patches are foundRelieve symptoms of depression, even in non-smokers, stimulating the release of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
Many college students, biohackers, and seniors are already self-medicating with this isolated form of nicotine to improve mental performance.
Surprisingly, nicotine turns out to be asafe brain boosterOshows promise in the treatment of numerous brain disorders, including ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Before using nicotine in any form for any of these conditions, talk to your doctor first.
More tips to increase norepinephrine
In addition to food and supplements, here are some other tips to increase your norepinephrine intake.
We've already seen how exercise increases feel-good chemicals in the brain.
If you feel like it, you can enhance the effects of your training by finishing with a dip in the cold water.
jump in cold waterincreases norepinephrine levels two to three times in a matter of minutes.
If extreme cold doesn't sound tempting, head to the sauna.
sitting in a saunasignificantly increases norepinephrine, up to three times.
Dietary supplement to reduce elevated levels of norepinephrine
Most neurotransmitter imbalances are on the low side, but this is not always the case.
If you are among the people with high levels of norepinephrine, it can greatly affect your life.
Signs of high norepinephrine levels include racing thoughts, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
If your friends have called you an adrenaline junkie or a drama queen, or you're prone to addiction, you may have high norepinephrine levels along with high dopamine levels.
While there aren't many natural remedies that lower norepinephrine, here are some options that use common natural remedies in unexpected ways.
5-HTP is a popular dietary supplement for depression, insomnia, and anxiety.
It works primarily by increasing serotonin, but it is believed to do this as well.deplete some other neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine.
You can use this "side effect" to your advantage by lowering your norepinephrine levels.
Melatonin is your body's natural sleep hormone and a common sleep aid.
a reliabledecreased norepinephrineoccurs after taking melatonin, but strangely it only occurs if you take it andso lie down.
Simply getting up and moving causes noradrenaline levels to rise again.
One of the more unusual tips I've found to lower norepinephrine is to use baking soda, commonly known as baking soda.
While this may sound like a baseless wives' tale, this tip is listed in the US National Library of Medicine's online database.
Research shows thatConsume Baking Soda After a Workoutcan decrease norepinephrine levels by up to 30%.
Balancing Norepinephrine: Taking the Next Step
Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter that helps the body respond to dangerous and stressful situations.
Norepinephrine levels can be too low, leading to depression and ADHD, or too high, contributing to anxiety.
Norepinephrine is closely related in function and structure to epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine.
Common medications, such as antidepressants and stimulants, work by changing norepinephrine levels, but finding the right medication for your specific situation is a matter of trial and error.
Fortunately, there are many natural ways to balance norepinephrine levels through diet, supplements, exercise, and other lifestyle adjustments.
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