Norepinephrine functions as a neurotransmitter and hormone that regulates the “fight or flight” response and elevates blood pressure and heart rate, stimulates wakefulness, and reduces digestive activity.
Norepinephrine is an excitatory neurotransmitter.
Neurotransmitters are divided into two basic categories:
– Excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate the brain and body.
– Inhibitory neurotransmitters calm the brain and body.
Just as levels of individual neurotransmitters are important in maintaining optimum health, so is the proper balance between your excitatory and inhibitory systems.
Norepinephrine is synthesized from dopamine by means of the enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase, with oxygen, copper, and vitamin C as co-factors. Dopamine is synthesized in the cytoplasm, but norepinephrine is synthesized in the neurotransmitter storage vesicles. Cells that use norepinephrine for formation of epinephrine use SAMe as a methyl group donor.
Norepinephrine acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter and modulates neuron voltage potentials to favor glutamate activity and neurotransmitter firing.
Low levels contribute to a decrease in mood, energy, focus, motivation and memory.
Norepinephrine functions both as a neurotransmitter and a hormone, participating in the body’s fight or flight response. Norepinephrine increases alertness, focuses attention, fine-tunes vigilance, increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood glucose, reduces digestive activity, pain and sleep, prevents bladder emptying, and regulates body temperature. The adrenal gland produces approximately 20% of norepinephrine with 80% produced by the sympathetic nerve fibers. Research shows that urinary norepinephrine is reduced in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinically, low norepinephrine is implicated in anorexia, attention impairment, depression, fatigue, hypotension, lack of motivation, lethargy, low mood, memory issues, slow pulse rate, and weight issues.
In addition low levels of norepinephrine can be related to:
– Lack of energy
– Lack of focus
– Lack of motivation
– Attention impairment
– Low mood
Can also be seen in:
– Alzheimer’s disease
If norepinephrine is low, precursor supplementation with tyrosine or phenylalanine, or cofactor support with ascorbic acid, iron, tetrahydrofolic acid, and vitamin B6 may be beneficial. Consult your doctor before starting any supplementation.
Elevated norepinephrine activity seems to be a contributor to anxiousness. Also, brain norepinephrine turnover is increased in conditions of stress. Interestingly, benzodiazepines, the primary anxiolytic drugs, decrease firing of norepinephrine neurons. This may also help explain the reasoning for benzodiazepine use to induce sleep.
High levels are associated with aggression, anxiety, emotional lability, hyperactivity, mania, stress and suppression of the immune system.
In addition high levels of norepinephrine can be related to:
– High blood pressure
– Anxiety and depression
– Bipolar disorder
– Obstructive sleep apnea
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