Center for Emotional Balance 
Nourish ~ Balance ~ Thrive  
(530) 518-7231 


Natural Approaches

Natural Approaches to Balance Brain Chemistry

What is Neuro Nutrient Therapy?

NeuroNutrient Therapy is a treatment approach focused on providing the brain with the nutrition it needs to have adequate levels of critical neurotransmitters. Our neurotransmitters are important for generating optimal moods and feelings of balance and well-being.

Many of our clients don’t want to take psychiatric medications or they want to stop taking them due to decreased effectiveness or negative symptoms. While psychiatric medications work to increase the activity of specific neurotransmitters, they do not increase the amount of neurotransmitters.

Each of our neurotransmitters requires specific amino acids (or protein molecules) along with vitamins and minerals. These neuronutrients are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. A healthy diet with adequate protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and avoidance of foods that deplete our neurotransmitters is vital for the production of these important brain chemicals.

When diet alone isn’t enough, we work with specific Amino Acids. Amino Acids are the building blocks for our neurotransmitters and for every cell. They work to restore levels of neurotransmitters leading to our feeling emotionally balanced and happy. And they are only needed for a relatively short period of time. Once the neurotransmitters are restored, you maintain them by eating healthy nutrient-dense food. And you no longer crave foods, alcohol or substances in an attempt to balance your brain and moods.

Also, once a client experiences balanced brain chemistry, they are more able to participate in therapy and work on the underlying issues that brought them into therapy in the first place.

What depletes our Neurotransmitters?

We can inherit genetic deficiencies in one or more neurotransmitter area. It is not uncommon to see a family history of depression, anxiety, alcohol use and/or insomnia in clients that come in for services.

In addition, chronic stress depletes all of our neurotransmitters leading to mood imbalances.

And a poor diet lacking in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals along with the use of caffeine, artificial sweeteners, drugs and alcohol further depletes our neurotransmitters.

How do you assess Neurotransmitter Deficiencies?

First we take a complete health and mood history including a family history to gather information on genetic deficiencies, life stressors, and current diet and substance use.

Next we look at symptoms related to each of the neurotransmitter areas of the brain.

Then we conduct an in-office trial of specific amino acids to determine their effectiveness for each individual client. The supplements take effect within 10 to 20 minutes so we can very quickly assess what will benefit a client.

What are the different Neurotransmitter areas you assess?

We assess Serotonin, the Catecholamines (Norepinephrine), GABA, the Endorphins, and Blood Sugar.

Following is a list of symptoms associated with deficiency in a particular neurotransmitter along with the symptoms associated with healthy levels.

Serotonin is our sunshine chemical. It governs happy moods and a positive sense of humor.

Low Serotonin Optimal Serotonin
  • Negativity, Depression
  • Worry, anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Obsessive thoughts/behaviors 
  • Winter blues
  • Irritability, rage
  • Panic attacks, phobias 
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Fibromyalgia, TMJ, migraines and heat
  • Afternoon or evening cravings for 
  • sweets, starches, alcohol, marijuana
  • Insomnia – difficult sleep onset and/or disturbed sleep
  • Positive “sunny” outlook
  • Emotional stability
  • Self-confidence
  • Sense of Humor
  • Emotional and Mental
  • Flexibility
  • Normal Appetite
  • Tolerance to dark weather
  • Good Sleep

Catecholamines are our “get up and go” neurotransmitters. They affect our ability to focus, concentrate and feel motivated.

Low Catecholamines Optimal Catecholamine
  • Apathetic Depression 
  • Lack of Energy 
  • Lack of Drive 
  • Easily Bored 
  • Lack of focus, concentration 
  • ADD
  • Thrill-seeking behavior
  • Cravings for stimulation from caffeine, chocolate, aspartame, marijuana, tobacco, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, sugar
  • Alert
  • Energetic
  • Mental Focus
  • Drive, Motivation
  • Enthusiasm

GABA is our brain’s natural valium. Having optimal GABA enables us to feel calm, relaxed and able to handle stress.

Low GABA Adequate GABA
  • Stressed and burned out 
  • Unable to relax or loosen up 
  • Stiff or tense muscles 
  • Often feel easily overwhelmed
  • Crave carbs, alcohol, tobacco, Marijuana or drugs for relaxation like Ativan, Xanax, Valium
  • Calm
  • Relaxed
  • Stress tolerance

Endorphins are our natural painkillers. When our endorphins are adequate we can tolerate emotional and physical pain.

Low Endorphins Adequate Endorphins
  • Sensitive to emotional or physical pain
  •  Cry or tear up easily
  • "Love" certain foods, behaviors, Chocolate, exercise, alcohol, and Drugs like marijuana, painkillers, heroin, etc.
  • Psychological and physical pain relief and tolerance 
  • Pleasure 
  • Reward 
  • Experience loving feelings 

Hypoglycemic Symptoms result when the blood sugar is too low. Low blood sugar can be mistaken for other disorders like anxiety and ADD.

Low Blood Sugar Adequate Blood Sugar
  • Irritable, shaky – especially if you go too long between meals 
  • Over-stressed, mood swings 
  • Violence
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Inattentiveness
  • Powerful cravings for sugar, starch or Alcohol/drugs (especially when meals are missed, delayed, or inadequate in protein and fat)
  • Sense of Stability 
  • Sense of Groundedness 
  • Blood sugar balance 

What is the effectiveness of this approach?

In The Mood Cure, Julia Ross reports that of a random selection of 100 clients who came into her clinic with significant mood problems, 98 had reported major improvements in mood within 2 weeks, most within 24 to 48 hours, using the amino acids, basic nutritional supplements, and the good-mood foods. 12 weeks later, 83 had sustained or exceeded these improvements. The Depression, Anxiety, Oversensitivity, and Stress that had brought them to her clinic in the first place had disappeared!

Also from The Mood Cure, Eli Lilly (the manufacturer of Prozac) did a study combining 5-HTP with Prozac. Serotonin activity was increased 150% on Prozac alone. It increased 615% after 5-HTP was added. In addition, the 5-HTP studies showed NO sexual dysfunction and few side-effects. In one study, 5-HTP had fewer side effects than the placebo!

What are the risks and precautions with Amino Acid Therapy?

There are precautions with Amino Acid therapy, so it is important to consult with a knowledgeable practitioner before trying amino acids. There are risks of Serotonin Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition, when combining L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP with serotonin medications. There is caution when using L-Tyrosine, DL-Phenylalanine or L-Phenylalanine with High Blood Pressure, Migraines or Mania. There is caution with using GABA with Low Blood Pressure. There is caution with using L-Glutamine with Mania. There is caution using Melatonin with Asthma or severe Depression.

For Further Information:

For Addiction Recovery:

The Mood Cure by Julia Ross
The Diet Cure by Julia Ross
Depression-Free Naturally by Joan Mathews Larson
Seven Weeks to Sobriety by Joan Mathews Larson