You hear the word neurotransmitters pretty often. But do you actually know what they are?
Let's go over some theory.
Neurotransmitters are simply the body's chemical messengers. They come in the form of molecules used by the nervous system to transmit messages between neurons (e.g. nerve cells) or from neurons to muscles.
The communication between two neurons happens in the synaptic cleft, which is a small gap between the synapses of neurons. Here, electrical signals that have travelled along the axon are converted into chemical ones through the release of neurotransmitters, causing a specific response in the receiving neuron.
Neurotransmitters can either be excitatory, inhibitory or modulatory.
Excitatory neurotransmitters have an excitatory effect, meaning they increase the likeliood that the receiving neuron will fire an action potential. (Examples of excitatory neurotransmitters include epinephrine and norepinephrine)
Inhibitory neurotransmitters may slow down nerve transmission, as they decrease the likelihood that the receiving neuron will fire an action potential.
In Calm Nootropic , we have included 2 key ingredients to support to 2 key inhibitory neurotransmitters, Serotonin and GABA.
L-Tryptophan in Calm to help support Serotonin & Melatonin
Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and hormone which appears to play a role in mood, emotions, appetite and digestion. It is also a precursor to Melatonin, a hormone which helps to regulate your circadian rhythm or what is known as your sleep-wake cycles and "body clock".
L-Tryptophan is a key amino acid used in Calm and it is the pre-cursor to 5-HTP and Serotonin. L-Tryptophan is a natural pre-cursor that may help your body create more of this neurochemical as needed.
Unlike 5-HTP, L-Tryptophan does not bypass the rate-limiting step for the conversion into Serotonin, and thus supplementing with it will not necessarily outright increase Serotonin drastically in the body, which could have potential negative side effects including down-regulation of Serotonin receptors with long term use.
Thus, supplementing with L-Tryptophan may help your body create a feeling of calm due to the creation of Serotonin and may support sleep due to the eventual conversion into Melatonin.
GABA in Calm
Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA is an amino acid that also acts as the body's main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.
GABA contributes to vision, motor control and plays a role in the regulation of anxiety.
It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that limits nerve transmission, and is therefore used as a mild sedative to help reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
GABA can be supported by directly supplementing with it, as it is in Calm Nootropic. Although it seems that GABA cannot cross the blood-brain barrier when supplemented, it does seem to have an effect on the body, which indicates it may bind to receptors in the gut and enteric nervous system to exert its effect.
Most people know the affects of GABA through the use of drugs such as Benzodiazepines which directly activate or agonise GABA receptors or increase the receptors sensitivity to GABA (known as positive allosteric modulators of the GABA-A receptor). These include drugs like Valium and Xanax. These drugs can lead to downregulation of the receptor site over time and thus the effectiveness of the drugs can reduce over time. They are not a sustainable option.