How Neurotransmitters Affect Your Thyroid & The Story of Your Two Brains

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Your Body has Two Brains:
The Gut is considered the Second Brain.

Did you know that many diseases could be traced to a breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract? Do an internet search for neurotransmitters and the common result will be: “Neurotransmitters are biochemicals produced in the brain that affects us mentally, emotionally and physically.”  Despite the fact that Ninety nine (99%) percent of the neurotransmitters in your body are actually created in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract or your Second Brain), and every brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter is found there.  Doing some quick math, this means that the majority are focusing on the the 1% formed in the brain and ignoring the 99% made in the gut.

For proper thyroid function, 20% of the thyroid hormone in your body must be converted into its active form, which is done in the GI tract. The secretion of TSH is inhibited by elevated levels of dopamine, and stimulated by elevated norepinephrine. Conversely, a study published in 1987 in the “European Journal of Endocrinology” found that low levels of dopamine were associated with elevated thyroid hormone levels in patients with Graves’ Disease. The effect of Serotonin pathways remained an open question. This means the GI tract, or gut, plays a very important role in achieving optimal thyroid health.

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Neurotransmitters & Thyroid Interactions

Serotonin & Thyroid Interactions

  • Thyroid hormone levels are directly related to platelet serotonin levels.
  • Low thyroid hormone levels (especially T3) dampens cerebral bioenergetic metabolism which has been directly correlated to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
  • Thyroid hormones activate 5-TH2A serotonin receptors
  • Serotonin is used as a messenger to relaese TSH from the pituitary
  • Serotonin is involved with modualting intracellular T3 prodction via type II 5’deiodinase

Dopamine & Thyroid Interaction

  • Dopamine levels in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) stimulate the paraventricular nucleus
  • The paraventricular nucleus stimulates the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis
  • The HPT Axis modualtes TSH and T3 prodcution

Acetylcholine & Thyroid Interaction

  • Thyroid hormone levels affect the activities of AChE in the
    • frontal cortex
    • hipocampus
    • cerebellum
  • Hypothyroidism leads to a global loss of cholinergic activity, but with the greatest potential to develop cerebellum degeneration.

GABA & Thyroid Hormone Interactions

  • Thyroid hormones
    • modulate GABA Release
    • Activate the conversion of glutamate to GABA
    • Enhances GABA receptor sensitivity
  • GABA Issues
    • Low levels and/or low receptor sensitivity leads to anxiety

Melatonin & Thyroid Hormone Interaction Read More

  • Normal melatonin stimulates TSH production in pituitary
  • Short day and long nights increase melatonin production
  • Melatonin is immune stimulating in Autoimmunity
  • Increased melatonin levels suppress TSH production through:
    • Short days and longer nights
    • Melatonin supplementation
    • Free T3, T4 and TSH levels are lower with melatonin supplementation
53 year old woman with undiagnosed Hashimoto's. Changing thyroid medication made no difference in TSH. In the past two months has been having increasing numbers of cytokine storms (hot flashes, unable to sleep, severe fatigue, swelling, joint pain, reacts to all foods)

53 year old woman with undiagnosed Hashimoto’s. Changing thyroid medication made no difference in TSH. In the past two months has been having increasing numbers of cytokine storms (hot flashes, unable to sleep, severe fatigue, swelling, joint pain, reacts to all foods)

Seventy (70%) percent of your immune system resides in this area – your gut, and the GI tract has many important functions for your health including digestion, nutrient absorption, elimination, detoxification, hormone metabolism and energy production.

What Are Neurotransmitters and How They Affect Your Life?

Just like hormones govern many chemical functions in the body, the nervous, endocrine and immune system (NEI Supersystem) chemical functions are governed by messengers called neurotransmitters. Read More …

Nearly every chemical that controls the brain is also located in the gastrointestinal region, including hormones and neurotransmitters such as Serotonin, Dopamine, Glutamate, GABA and Norepinephrine. The gut contains 100 million neurons – more than the spinal cord. But there are also two-dozen small brain proteins; major cells of the immune system; one class of the body’s natural opiates; and native benzodiazepines.

A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger used by neurons (nerve cells) to communicate in one direction with other neurons or receptors in the NEI Supersystem. These neurotransmitters are either excitatory or inhibitory. Think of them as text messages or emails between the nervous, endocrine (hormone) and immune system.

Inhibitory neurotransmitters are the system’s “off switches”, decreasing the likelihood that an excitatory signal is sent. Inhibitory transmitters regulate the activity of the excitatory neurotransmitters, much like the brakes on a car. Physiologically, the inhibitory transmitters act as the body’s natural tranquilizers, generally serving to induce sleep, promote calmness, and decrease aggression.

55 year old woman with H. pylori, dental infection and pinworms, Hashimoto's suffering uncontrolled cytokine storms.

55 year old woman suffering for several years. Lab testing showed she currently has H. pylori, dental infection and pinworms, and Autoimmune Hashimoto’s suffering uncontrolled cytokine storms. Eating healthy “High Lectin” diet provoking TH17 immune responses.

Excitatory neurotransmitters are the system’s “on switches”, increasing the likelihood that an excitatory signal is sent. Excitatory transmitters can be likened to the accelerator of a car, regulating many of the body’s most basic functions, including thought processes, higher thinking, and sympathetic activity, i.e. stimulates heartbeat, raises blood pressure, dilates the pupils, dilates the trachea and bronchi, stimulates the conversion of liver glycogen into glucose, shunts blood away from the skin and viscera to the skeletal muscles, brain, and heart, inhibits peristalsis in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and inhibits contraction of the bladder and rectum. Physiologically, the excitatory transmitters act as the body’s natural stimulants, generally serving to promote wakefulness, energy, and activity.

Microbe hackersSpecial molecules in the nerves and on the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and hormone producing glands are called receptors. They are shaped to receive only one type of neurotransmitter, which fits it like a key in a lock. The result is that if an excitatory neurotransmitter reaches the specific receptor, the cell tends to stimulate a response. If an inhibitory neurotransmitter reaches the receptor, the cell shuts down or does not respond.

Call today! 530-615-4083

Neurotransmitters in Short Supply

If neurotransmitters of either type are in short supply, or if they are blocked from reaching their proper receptors, (as a result of either genetics and/or chemical use) cell function tends to be abnormal. The lack of neurotransmitter function then results in unsuitable or counterproductive performance. Microbes are not the dumb little paramecium we studied in junior high biology. We now know microbes have evolved strategies to survive in our bodies and evade detection or avoid provoking an immune response. Microbes can hack into the NEI Supersystem disrupting neurotransmitter communication and at the same time over producing gasotransmitters. This cause certain neurotransmitters to be either under or over produce as the body tries to re-establish control of the the NEI Supersystem. Read More …

Read More: Gasotransmitters

Imagine trying to communicate with a family member by text messages while hackers are in your computer. You are trying to tell them to turn off the oven. Your family member will have trouble receiving your message because the system is being overwhelmed with spam. You have a limited number of texts before the bill gets really expensive. Or you send the message and it is blocked by the spam filter. Any number of scenarios can occur simultaneously throughout this very complex system.

Actually, 95% of all serotonin in the body is in the gut, where it triggers digestion. Nerve cells in the gut also use serotonin to signal back to the brain. This information can train us not to eat certain foods by communicating pain, gas and other terrible feelings.

Two brains are better than one.

Two brains are better than one. At least that is the rationale for the close – sometimes too close – relationship between the human body’s two brains, the one at the top of the spinal cord and the hidden but powerful brain in the gut known as the enteric nervous system.

Just as the cranial brain can upset the gut, the gut can also upset the brain.

The cranial brain is protected by the blood-brain barrier.

The abdominal brain is protected only by the intestinal lining. When threatened will begin directing the immune cells to defend itself.

The gut has no such protection.

In fact, anyone who has ever felt butterflies in the stomach before giving a speech, a gut feeling that flies in the face of fact or a bout of intestinal urgency the night before an examination has experienced the actions of the dual nervous systems.

The Second Brain in the gut, known as the enteric nervous system, is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, and plays a key role in human emotions. But few know the enteric nervous system exists, and therefore gut health is often overlooked. Symptoms from the two brains can get confused, and just as the brain can upset the gut, the gut can also upset the brain.

Read More: The Enteric Nervous System: The Brain in the Gut

Brain-based neurologist will correctly say neurotransmitters cannot be lab tested. This is due to the blood-brain-barrier that protects the brain. Very little can cross that membrane and if it is you are likely heading for the hospital. However, gut-based splanchnologist (those who study the viscera AKA: organs) know you can use neurotransmitter testing for the Second Brain. There are two types of testing that can be done effectively. One type of test measures the neurotransmitter levels. The other measures the pre-cursor components to determine which neurotransmitters are or are not being made. For more information on neurotransmitter testing call 530-615-4083 or email dpeterson@stlwa.com.

Call today! 530-615-4083

The human brain is very capable of automatically manufacturing the quantity of chemicals it needs if it is given the raw materials (nutrients from foods) to do so. However, while the normal diet supplies enough of the raw materials the brain needs to manufacture the needed level of neurotransmitters with a healthy, normally functioning gastrointestinal tract. Microbes make significant contribution not only to imbalanced neurotransmitters but also to the creation of a Ghetto Gut. Those with a Ghetto Gut are not capable of providing nourishment for the body or the production of neurotransmitters. Additionally, stress, worry, chemical use, poor nutrition, pollution and other factors of modern life are known to deplete neurotransmitter levels.

The role of the enteric nervous system is to manage every aspect of digestion, from the esophagus to the stomach, small intestine and colon. The Second Brain, or gut brain, accomplishes all that with the same tools as the big brain, a sophisticated nearly self-contained network of neural circuitry, neurotransmitters and proteins. The independence is a function of the enteric nervous system’s complexity.

Have you ever wondered how a quadriplegic can digest food when the rest of the body is unable to communicate with the brain? Answer: The Second Brain

When someone skips lunch, the gut is more or less silent. Eat a pastrami sandwich, and contractions all along the small intestines mix the food with enzymes and move it toward the lining for absorption to begin. If the pastrami is rotten, reverse contractions will force it – and everything else in the gut – into the stomach and back out through the esophagus at high speed.

In each situation, the gut must assess conditions, decide on a course of action and initiate a reflex. The gut monitors pressure. It monitors the progress of digestion. It detects nutrients, and it measures acid and salts. It’s a little chemical lab. The enteric system does all this on its own, with little help from the central nervous system.

But 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is housed in the gut, where it acts as a neurotransmitter and a signaling mechanism. The digestive process begins when a specialized cell, an enterochromaffin, squirts serotonin into the wall of the gut, which has at least seven types of serotonin receptors. The receptors, in turn, communicate with nerve cells to start digestive enzymes flowing or to start things moving through the intestines.

Serotonin also acts as a go-between, keeping the brain in the skull up to date with what is happening in the brain below. Such communication is mostly one way, with 90 percent traveling from the gut to the head.

The enteric and central nervous systems use the same hardware, as it were, to run two very different programs. Serotonin, for instance, is crucial to feelings of well-being. Hence the success of the antidepressants known, as S.S.R.I.’s that raise the level of serotonin available to the brain by blocking serotonin receptors in the gut.

Many of those messages are unpleasant, and serotonin is involved in sending them. Food sensitivities cause serotonin to be released in the gut, leading to pain, gas and other terrible feelings. The gut is not an organ from which you wish to receive frequent progress reports. These constant updates deplete the serotonin levels leading to symptoms of:

  • Low mood
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Weight difficulties
  • Cravings/poor impulse control
  • Headaches
  • Hot flashes
  • Intestinal complaints
  • Low libido

Serotonin is also implicated in one of the most debilitating gut disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, or I.B.S., which causes abdominal pain and cramping, bloating and, in some patients, alternating diarrhea and constipation. Therefore, a healthy stomach is essential to keep the precise balance of chemicals for optimal mental and physical health.

For more information on neurotransmitter testing call 530-615-4083 or email dpeterson@stlwa.com.

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7 thoughts on “How Neurotransmitters Affect Your Thyroid & The Story of Your Two Brains

  1. Pingback: Rosacea – Hashimoto’s – Helicobacter pylori | Living Wellness

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  5. Excellent article. You have a lot of really important information here. I am sharing this around on various social media b/c I really want people to be able to see this.

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