Do You Have the Low Neurotransmitter Symptoms? | Podcast #180


Welcome to another functional medicine video with Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand! In this video, they talk about low neurotransmitter symptoms. Learn the factors that cause low neurotransmitter and some essential takeaways from it.

Stay tuned for some more knowledge bombs!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

02:52   Catecholamine Issues

08:20   Gut Bugs and Mental Issues

14:25   Digestive Issues Affects Neurotransmitters

15:25   Dopamine-Caused Versus Serotonin-Caused Depressions

34:50   Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphin, GABA, Glutamine


Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey, guys. It’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani. Hey! It’s Tuesday. We typically don’t do podcast on Tuesday but we’re here. I even did a live Q&A yesterday, Monday afternoon. Trying to mix it up for you guys, you know. Trying to keep you on your toes. I got a new Logitech camera here, so I’m trying to work it out. If you can give me uh— a thumbs up or some feedback in the comments if you like it, that’s great. Trying to get some better quality going. Evan, help me uh— get the image centered. He said I was— It was like the bird’s nest cam. He was up here, looking down at me. So, glad we got that figured out, Evan. How are we doing, man?

Evan Brand: Oh, I’m doing good. Life is good. The sun is shining today. So, I’m— I’m feeling— I’m feeling happy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I got this new Little Lemon shirt on, man. I just love Little Lemon. It’s just like, I don’t have to like iron stuff. It just fits good every time. I— We’re talking about getting them as a sponsorship. I got to reach out to them again.

Evan Brand: You should. I’ve— I’ve got this uh— this— It’s like— kind of like a hoodie, but it’s a shirt. Oh, actually, no. This one doesn’t have the hood. But, I— I just wear nothing but wool now. That’s like my whole wardrobe is wool. And this company called Ibex that I was wearing, uh— they— They went out of business but hopefully they reopen. They’re talking about reopening again. Kind of a small company and they make all wool clothing. Dude, wool is so good as a base layer. You never get hot but you never get cold. It’s like the perfect temperature regulator. Now, I’ve also got a wool comforter on my bed. And I don’t sweat at night. You know, like some people, they have to stick their foot out under the covers just to get that perfect temperature and then you gotta put your foot back in because it gets cold. With wool you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to play the little footsie game.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, I love that. Also, I’m looking at the uh— the chilly pad. Have you heard of that?

Evan Brand: I have. Uh— There’s several people in our space that use it but [crosstalk] I just don’t know. I just— It’s like, “Do you really need that?”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, for me— you know— being in Austin, when it gets hot— I mean, just for the listeners. Chilly pad is like uh— a mattress pillow top but there’s a little layer of water in between, and you can control the temperature on that water between 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 105. So, when it gets really hot in Austin, I’m just like, “Oh. That could be really nice to go under the covers and have a nice 55-degree kind of cold— coldness in there. It’s saving my AC bill a ton.

Evan Brand: That the— No. The AC bill thing— that is smart.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [grin] Totally.

Evan Brand: That’s really smart.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, I may look t— I’m gonna probably try biohacking that out and see uh— how it works and I’ll come back to everyone here listening, or report back and let you know what I think.

Evan Brand: Please. That sounds good.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright.

Evan Brand: Cool. So, let’s chat about neurotransmitters. Uh— We already have a question here from Charlie, which we will get into. “How do you know the lack of transmitters due to Dopamine or Serotonin, or Mitochondria related?” And the answer Charlie would be that we test for it. Which is why Justin and I don’t really like to guess and check so much. I mean, we will use some supplements that are sort of like a quick fix based on symptoms, which we’ll discuss today, but thi is why we utilize Organic Acids Testing. ‘Cause you get a read into the Mitochondria but you also get a read into neurotransmitters. So, that’s how you know— is you test. But, what we wanted to discuss today uh— may— maybe, Justin, let’s— Let’s start with Dopamine because so many people have issues with Dopamine. This is gonna be a part of your Catecholamines. Your Catecholamines is your Noradrenaline, or if you call it, Norepinephrine, and your Epinephrine or your Adrenaline, and then Dopamine. That’s the whole class called Catecholamines, and that’s really responsible for your energy, your drive, your focus, getting things done. And many people, including children, and especially teenagers that are addicted to video games, they have issues with Dopamine. And the parents will tell you, “Hey. My kid can’t get stuff done in school. He doesn’t do his homework, and he’s addicted to video games. What are you drinking there?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, I got a nice little green drink. Organic…

Evan Brand: Oh!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …Green Devotion. So, it’s got Celery, Cucumber, Spinach, Lettuce, Kale, Lemon, Parsley, Berry. No added sugar from any fruits so just those veggies.

Evan Brand: Oh, good. Cheers. So, uh— what I was saying is these neurotransmitters, the Catecholamines as a whole, typically, they’re gonna be low together. So, on the organic acids, you’ll see the markers for…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Evan Brand: …Dopamine. And then, you’ll see the markers for Adrenaline and then Noradrenaline. The thing that’s cool about this is there’s an adrenal component too. And so, we often find on our adrenal testing that the adrenals are low. And then, when the adrenals go low, you’re also low with the Adrenaline, the Noradrenaline, Cortisol maybe low. So, the whole thing just falls apart. And we’re gonna talk about some remedies and things you could do to support this. But you’ve always got to make sure you’ve got the full puzzle piece because…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: …if you’re just working with the practitioner that does amino acids, which is great, that’s still a limited approach.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: A hundred percent, right? So, you mentioned earlier, we have some of the testing we’re we look at some of the metabolites. We look at— like— the 5-Hydroxyindoleacetate, which is a marker for Serotonin. We can look at the Homovanillate, which is a marker for Dopamine, and we can look at the Vanilmandelate, which is a marker for Adrenaline. These are important. Now, the thing is, when we look at Adrenaline and Dopamine, they’re kind of intimately connected because if we look at the hormonal or we look at the neurotransmitter cascade, we have Phenylalanine, which goes to Tyrosine, and then, Tyrosine goes to L-Dopa. And then, Dopa, it goes to uhm— Dopamine. But then, it also can go downstream into Norepinephrine, right, which is your Catecholamines or your Adrenaline. Right? It’s like three things that are the exact— three different names for the same thing.

Evan Brand: Yep.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Adrenaline, Noradrenaline, Norepinephrine, Catecholamines— They’re kind of in that Adrenaline category, right? Noradrenaline, Adrenaline— They’re just kind of derivatives. Norepinephrine, Epinephrine— They’re just derivatives. So, the more stressed you are, the more you’re gonna burn up your Dopamine. So, if you’re doing like you kind of alluded too earlier, like a lot of intense video gaming. A lot of like addiction behavior, a lot of extreme sports, like you— you’re really pushing that Catecholamine level up, which you will start depleting your Dopamine levels. And, sugar’s one of the biggest culprits. You— The more refined sugar you eat— that increases Dopamine or L-Tyrosine cross in the blood-brain barrier, which then increases your Dopamine and your brain, which is that “I love you” kind of neurotransmitter feeling. So, that can really add stress and burn up your Dopamine. So, we can even see it high on the Organic Acid Testing or we can even see it low. We’re— we’re kind of in this more depleted kind of state.

Evan Brand: Yeah. So, long story short, neurotransmitters— They have a Goldilocks zone to them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: You don’t want to low Dopamine because then your having an issue with concentration, focus, drive, getting things done. But also, you don’t want too high Dopamine because that’s when you start to seek out— like uh— bad behavior, and you make it aggressive. Now, Great Plains has an article on this, and uh— I just sent you the link.So you can look at it. It’s in the— the gmail chat that we had going. It’s a link where Great Plains discusses and they have this really picture about neurotransmitters and how you can actually have a buildup of Dopamine due to gut bugs. So, the Clostridia, the C. difficile, and then other Clostridia species. You can have an elevation of 4-cresol or HPHPA, which are two organic acids that Justin and I measure on the urine. And if you have those elevated, those gut bugs, what happens is it inhibits this enzyme called Dopamine beta-hydroxylase. And when that happens, you get a build up of Dopamine and then basically, you’re just going crazy. You’re just off your rocker. You’re just raging. And— you know— we’ve worked with children and teenagers where we’ve seen these gut bugs, like Clostridia, and the kids are acting up in school or the adults are road raging and they’re just crazy. And you treat these gut bugs, and all of the sudden that enzyme starts working. It breaks down the excess Adrenaline and Dopamine. And then, all of the sudden, the person’s calling again. So, you can be on either end of the spectrum with Dopamine, and you don’t want to be on the ends. You want to be somewhere in the middle.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: A hundred percent.

Evan Brand: Do you see that picture? Did you see that link I sent you?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [pause] Which one?

Evan Brand: It’s, but I put it— I put it to you in the chat on the—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh!

Evan Brand: …the Google Chat we had.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Great. I’ll go grab that. That’s perfect.

Evan Brand: But it’s got a picture and maybe we can put this picture in the show notes. But what it shows is how neurotransmitters— Everything works good until you have gut bugs. But then, if got these Clostridia issues, what happens is the Tyrosine is actually converted into 4-cresol. And then that messes up the enzyme. And then all the sudden Dopamine goes sky high and then you’re really aggressive. And so, what they talked about is, “Okay. Hey, look! Now, you’ve got to look at these people with autoimmune diseases, ADHD, Autism. You have to consider gut bugs as a factor for their mental health issues.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right, exactly. So, let me just go share my screen here so we can get a window of that. That’ll be— That’ll be awesome.

Evan Brand: That would be cool.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’ll do a Screenshare here, real quick, for everyone. Alright, cool. Let’s share.

Evan Brand: There it is.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You see it there?

Evan Brand: I can see it. Yep. [pause] T— Try to zoom in a bit on that picture if it will let you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So, let’s go here, for instance. So, anyone listening to this, if you’re listening on the podcast, you should go click on the video link below, or Subscribe on our YouTube site,, or go Evan’s site as well. But you can see, we have Tyrosine, right? Tyrosine’s our amino acid building block. And Tyrosine— again, comes from Phenylalanine. But you can see, what happens is Tyrosine can go over here into Dopa, and then Dopamine. And then, this is one of the metabolites we look at, the Homovanillate, which gives us a window into Dopamine, like I mentioned earlier. And then, we have Norepinephrine and Epinephrine so it always goes Norepinephrine to Epinephrine. So, Norepinephrine’s the precursor to Epinephrine. So, one of the questions was, “What’s— How’s Noradrenaline and Adrenaline different?” Well, Noradrenaline is the— another word for saying Norepinephrine. Adrenaline’s another name for saying Epinephrine. So, it goes Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and then this VMA, Vanilmandelate. And you can see, what happens is, this Phenylalanine can really go downstream, and become more of these metabolites of the Clostridium. That’s why they— they talk here about how Clostridia can interact with the neurotransmitters and really affect some of the Dopamine levels. Do you want to comment on that, Evan, more?

Evan Brand: Yeah. So, basically, if you’re looking at this, you’re like, “Okay. What does this mean to me? Well, this means that if you have mental health problems, you really need to look at the gut. Because oftentimes, you can add in amino acids. You know— Charlie asked us the question about, well, “For low Dopamine, should you take DLPA or L-Tyrosine?” The answer is, you technically could take either or of them. DLPA would be great because the uh— that’s called DL-Phenylalanine. That can actually get converted over into Dopamine, as well. And that actually can get converted into Norepinephrine-Epinephrine, I believe, too. I believe the whole conversion process. Uh— So, I guess, let’s look at the chart right there, Justin. So, like, if we’re doing DLPA, we’re basically hitting that Phenylalanine button right there at the top so, that Phenylalanine can get converted into Tyrosine. But then, if that other process is working, that can also boost Norepinephrine and Epinephrine, which is your Endorphins.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. What I understand is DLPA tends to go more down the Endorphin pathway than it does the Dopamine pathway.

Evan Brand: Yeah. I would— I would agree, and I think, maybe— I don’t know— if we could divide it up as a pie chart, like 80 percent Endorphin…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Nice.

Evan Brand: Twenty percent Tyrosine. I don’t know if it’s that black and white or not.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Then again, with beta-Endorphin, like the big thing we see with that is gonna be like sensitivity to pain. Uh— we’re also gonna see a lot of cravings and like very emotional, like incredibly emotional. Tends to have some addictive— addictive tendencies to Opiate kind of compounds. On the Tyrosine side, it tends to be more energy. It tends to be more focused, more concentration, more drive, more sweet cravings, more caffeine, more chocolate— those kind of things. So, we can look at some of those symptoms. If people have Chronic pain issues— you know. We’ll definitely look at giving them some DLPA that provides some building blocks to that pathway. But you can see here that the kind of take home is that having the— the Clostridium is—issues can really affect the building blocks that go downstream to your Dopamine and your Adrenaline, which can make it harder for you to focus and have a healthy stress response. Would you agree?

Evan Brand: Yep. I agree. Well said. Well, cancel your Screenshare so we can see your pretty face again.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: H— One last thing. Let me hide this over here for you. So, here’s the Serotonin Spectrum. So, you can see we have Tryptophan, 5-HTP, Serotonin, and then, Melatonin So, you can see, when we have issues breaking down our amino acids over here, that can affect— Just having digestive issues, that can affect, ultimately, getting Serotonin. And Serotonin’s important for mood. And— And then, obviously, the sleep, and sleep s really important for repair. So, of course, you can have the Anxiety, Mood issues, Depression, and poor sleep. This is the Serotonin spectrum. And then, on the Dopamine side, you can see we have Phenylalanine, Tyrosine. So, when we support people on the amino acids, we give them Tyrosine but we also give them L-Dopa, as well, to provide those building blocks And then, you can see Dopamine goes into Norepinephrine, then Epinephrine. This is the precursor. So, the more stressed you are, you’ll pull downstream to make more of your Adrenaline, and that pulls from Dopamine.So, of course, on the Dopamine spectrum, we have addictions like smoking and overeating and excess sugar to the extreme of Parkinson’s over here, which is— which is pretty interesting. Now. I want to show you one more- one more thing over here. This is interesting ‘cause if you look at— This is like people talk about MTHFR. This is basically the cycle that has a major effect on that. So, we have our Folic acid cycle or our Folate cycle, which then turns the cycle of Methionine, win healthy B6, B12, methylated B12— Ideally, we need activated L-MTHF folate, if we have an MTHFR issue and we can’t metabolize Folic acid. But, look, right? Look over here. We have Norepinephrine. Remember it goes Dopamine then Norepinephrine. So, Norepinephrine and Epinephrine, that conversion involves lots of Sulfur amino acids. So, if we have poor digestion of our Sulfur amino acids and a lot of our healthy anima products, that can have a major effect with our stress response. Because these Sulfur amino acids help activating our neurotransmitters for stress.. But also, look. These same sulfur amino acids go down here and become what? They become Cysteine and Glutathione, and Glutathione helps with toxicity. And so, if we don’t have enough Glutathione, we get exposed to lots of Roundup or Pesticides. Well, guess what. That‘s going to cause more damage to the same neurotransmitters we’re trying to support to begin with.

Evan Brand: Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Does that kind of drive the point home? So, digestive issues can affect it on the Clostridium side, the C. diff side, Clostridium difficile. Uh— Also, we have nutrients over here that involve B6, B12, Folate. We also have the proteins, the Tyrosine, and the Serotonin, and the 5-HTP, which we need healthy digestion, and then also, the Sulfur amino acids here, to activate our— our Adrenaline and Noradrenaline, and also our Glutathione. So, I’ll—

Evan Brand: Yeah. It’s a trip and I’ve seen too that, just like you mentioned, the SAmi activating the Norepinephrine-Epinephrine. It also helps like deactivate. So, I’ve read about people that are just stressed out like crazy and they’ve got a buildup of those Endorphins. You can have too much that SAmi can act as a methylator to kind of detox you, if you will, from excess adrenaline. And I felt it. When I take SAmi, I can kind of feel the— I don’t know— maybe the Adrenaline getting out of my body. [crosstalk] And I’ve heard Magnesium…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Evan Brand: …can help do that too.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent. Hundred percent. You want to add anything there?

Evan Brand: I will. So, let’s— let’s just recap like symptoms. You know— You hit on the Serotonin piece so you had read some off but I want to uh— just read them back to people again. This would be like depression, uh— but the depression you get from low Serotonin…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Evan Brand: …is different from the depression you get with low Dopamine. Dopamine depression is more like a lack of energy. I can’t get off the couch. And maybe the Serotonin depression’s that same way but a lot of times there’s also gonna be Worry. You mentioned the Anxiety. Low Self-esteem could happen. And then, like winter depression and then could be Irritability, could be Rage, Panic, Night Owls, hard to get to sleep. Those are all Serotonin symptoms, Whereas the Dopamine is more of just, “I can’t focus. I can’t concentrate. I can’t get anything done.” Serotonin’s

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: …more like, “I’m emotional. I have negative self-talk.” That type of stuff. And you could be— People may say, “Well I resonate with both of those symptoms.” We see it all the time that you’re low in Dopamine and Serotonin.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I agree. I agree. So— I mean, what’s the take home message there, where we can use to kind of help gauge us? Mood issues, we can use motivation issues, focus issues, concentration issues. We can use Anxiety, right? We didn’t really even touch about GABA. Did you want to highlight a little bit more about GABA?

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: GABA’s kind of that inhibitory neurotransmitter so it kind of helps us turn off. So, think about it like this. When we get wound up, it’s really hard to come down from that and wind down. And GABA’s really important because it helps kind of— Think about it as you’re driving a standard car. You’re on fifth gear. You’re on the highway. You’re going 60-70 miles per hour. You need to now slow down. Imagine if you just keep it in fifth gear. You can’t downshift from fifth— five— to fourth. You know— three to two, two to one, so you can go back at normal speed for driving on the street. You’re kind of stuck in that fifth gear and you know what happens when you got a really small fifth gear and you’re trying to accelerate. Uh— On the street, you can’t do it ‘cause the gear’s too small. It’s the same thing. We’re just wound up too much so we need that GABA to be able to come down.

Evan Brand: Yeah. Well said. GABA’s changed my life. I mean, I carry a formula called GABA Chews, which is just a PharmaGABA, and it’s a natural form of GABA that is…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Evan Brand: …actually a bit more effective than just straight GABA. So, I recommend people look into a GABA supplement and have it on hand. I keep them in my coat pocket. Like, if I’m gonna go travel, I’ll have like a little bag here, something of just a few GABAs in my pocket and I’ll just chew that up, like before I go on an airplane. And it can be really relaxing. It can help with sleep, as well. If you take a little bit of GABA…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: …before bed.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great feedback. Anything else you want to add here so far?

Evan Brand: Well, let’s look at the questions. We had a couple coming in. Uh— Kim asked, “How do you feel about Mucuna…” She was talking about the Mucuna pruriens, which is I believe it’s a seed, a seed extract. “…for Parkinson’s?”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. It comes— It comes from uh— the Velvet beans, so— That’s actually pure L-Dopa so in my Dopa Replete Plus product, we— we actually use that.

Evan Brand: Cool.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: What do you feel about it for Parkinson’s?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh— I think it’s great. I mean, again, they’re given the Sinemet drug, right? The Carvit or the— the Levodopa. So, they’re giving a lot of that. The problem is, is when you give medications like that, yo— the enzyme amino acid decarboxylase— That enzyme is upregulated. So then now, you’re also gonna be burning up a lot of the building blocks for Serotonin. So, you can create functional Serotonin deficiencies when you’re giving Sinemet or— or uh— Levodopa. So, then, a lot of these people that have Dopamine issues, they tend to also have a lot of Serotonin symptoms. So, if you give the L-Dopa, you want to be giving at least a little bit of the Serotonin support so you could support both sides of it and you don’t create a Functional Serotonin Imbalance.

Evan Brand: Wow. They are— That’s— That’s— That’s very great advice. We have another question here from Charlie. Uh— He was asking— For one, he was asking, uh— “Rhodiola and other Adaptogens affect neurotransmitters, too, right?” Yes. I believe they can support them. I’m not sure if you can say XYZ is going to crank up things, but for example, with Ashwagandha, we do know that Ashwagandha…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Evan Brand: …hits all the GABA receptor, right? So— So that’s good. And then, the other question he had was, “Once Dopamine levels are uh— replenished with Tyrosine, can you stop the supplements forever or will you always be genetically susceptible to low Dopamine. And then, he put in parenthesis, ADD symptoms.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think it comes down to a couple things. Uh— If you have Parkinson’s, then, there’s gonna be destruction in the midbrain area of the cells in the Substantia nigra. So, you’re ability to make Dopamine’s gonna be less. So, you may have to be on those forever, depending on if we can get regeneration. If we can’t get regeneration, then we got to make sure we increase the L-Dopa. We got to increase the Tyrosine to make sure there’s enough building blocks, number one. Number two, we got to make sure that there’s— there’s gut issues and digestive issues then we fix that. So, with Clostridium issues, or if we have malabsorption at all, we have to make sure we fix the gut, the sibo, the SIBO, the bacterial issues, the parasites. We can break down our proteins and fats and— or— you know— utilizing Hydrochloric acid and enzymes so we can break those foods down. And then, number three, We have to make sure stress is under control. So, I have a product that I use here. Brain Replete, which has a lot of the Tyrosine and 5-HTP in a 10:1 ratio, which is balanced. So, I’ll actually do some of these. I do about six capsules a day. I take it with a little bit of the Dopa Replete Plus, which it actually is uhm— It has the Mucuna in there. It’s got some N-Acetyl Tyrosine. And just gives me— I work 12 hours a day and I want to be on for my patient so, I take that partly because I had to do Organic Acid Testing that shows that I still need it. Of course, I try to make sure sleep is good. I mean, I had a newborn six months ago so sleep isn’t ideal but uhm— in general— In general, uhm— taking the amino acids are gonna be key. Higher up we always want to  make the diet and lifestyle changes. Wwe always want to fix the gut. We always want to make sure any underlying autoimmune stuff, where we have it addressed by— at fixing the leaky gut, fixing the infection, to getting on the an autoimmune template at least initially.

Evan Brand: Yep. Well said. And— I mean, how many— How many nursing homes are out there with hundreds and thousands of patients in there with Parkinson’s and other neurocognitive problems, and they’re just getting fed biscuits and gravy, and sugar and jello, and stuff like that for breakfast and lunch. I mean, the diet of a nursing home is typically just terrible. So, you’re not getting an— any of those amino acids from the diet to even try to manufacture neurotransmitters on your own. So, that’s just huge. And— you know— the diet piece— If you’re not— Like you spoke about the gut issues, for one, if you’re a vegetarian or a Vegan, you’re not getting animal…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Evan Brand: …proteins. You’re not gonna be getting the raw materials necessary to make these brain chemicals. Even if you are eating high quality meats, if your digestion’s compromised ‘cause you’ve got something like an H. pylori infection or parasites, it doesn’t matter how much grass-fed beef you eat. If you can’t digest, you’re not gonna be able to replenish these brain chemicals with diet alone. So, at some point, amino acids are a necessary step and maybe a temporary thing or they may be longer term, just depending on the case.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think that’s great. So, let’s look at here, a couple of other questions. Is there anything else you saw that you wanted to see. Uhm— Well, we got a lot of questions coming in here.

Evan Brand: Yeah. [crosstalk] Yeah. There was another question here uh— “GABA versus L-Theanine?”  So, L-Theanine can actually increase GABA.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: You can think of Theanine is maybe like a precursor to GABA, and you can find Theanine naturally in like a Matcha tea, which I love because it’s a Caffeine plus Theanine combo.So, Matcha tea is a good— great option. Or, you could just take straight Theanine. Uh— I don’t find Theanine works as good as GABA. Justin, what’s your take on Theanine?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think Theanine— I mean, again, I use a couple of products that have the GABA in it, and it have the L-Theanine combined with the GABA. So, when I typically do a GABA product, it has L-Theanine already in there. So, for me, I do it pretty good but I don’t typically take GABA alone. I take them in conjunction. I think it supports it. A lot of people that don’t do well on coffee tend to do well on green tea, because the green tea has a lot of the GABA-L-Theanine precursor. So they get relaxed while they have a little bit of that caffeine. So, I think slow caffeine metabolizers do really well on a green tea over a coffee, for that reason.

Evan Brand: Yep. Goods— good— good— good point there. Uh— Jeff had uh— just a comment and then a question. Yeah. He p— He said he— he thinks he’s had this challenge for a while. Uh— PTSD, so he’s had all sorts of Anger, Anxiety, Irratibility. Uh— Yeah. So— I mean, the aminos are great, but then, one other thing too, which I’ve used a lot with PTSD with veterans and such is the Magnesium L-Thre in a product. Because that Magnesium crosses the blood-brain barrier so it’s the only form of Magnesium that I know of that can get into the brain. So, look it up. Magnesium 3n8. And you can supplement with that. I have a Calm Clarity, where I use two grams of it per three capsules. And you can just take that forever, and it— and it works like a charm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally. And if you have PTSD issues, you really want to do some EMDR or EFT type of techniques uh— the tapping. EMDR is more of like the eye movements, where you look left or right, or up or down, whether you’re thinking about the issue. EFT combines that when you’re— when you’re doing the gamut point here. It’ll have you do eyes in one direction, one the other, hum a song— you know— do a number. It’s It’s basically going right-brain, left-brain, right-brain, left-brain. Eyes up, eyes down, which uses different parts of the brain. So, it’s— Evan, you hold that thought while you activate lots of parts of the brain. Then, when you come back to that uhm— thought or that trauma, it’s— the pathway is kind of like messed up. It can’t quite go down easily. It’s like uhm— taking a path in the woods that’s p— that’s perfectly clear, and it’s like knocking a whole bunch of tree branches over it. So, it’s harder to see, harder to walk down it. So, EMDR, EFT— Google that. We’ll put some references in the show notes on it, but that’s gonna be essential. There’s a lot of good uh— videos on that uh— YouTuber by the name of Brad Yates. Has some really good EFT info. Also, uh— Daniel Hill has some great EFT info on that too. Just Google him in YouTube.

Evan Brand: I need to look up the— the— the uh— EDMR, like I said. Do you have any practitioners or anybody you’d recommend for that? ‘Cause I’d like to learn more about that. I know EFT like a charm but the MDMR, I don’t know anything.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Uhm— I— I work with someone by the name of Daniel Hill. He’s out of London uh— and he’s great. He combined the EMDR with the EFT and with the NLP. Uh—, I think, is his website. So— He’s great. He’s a really good resource.

Evan Brand: Have you had him on the podcast?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhm— Not yet, but I’d— I got to have one soon.

Evan Brand: You should. That would be cool. Alright. Let’s look at the couple of the questions here. Yes. So, uh— People kind of given Jeff some ideas here about using Magnesium [crosstalk] I think that’s great.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [crosstalk] That’s great. Magnesium’s great. Absolutely. I think GABA and L-Theanine are also great. I mean— You guys have given some— We got the smartest listeners, man.

Evan Brand: I know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’m so proud.

Evan Brand: I know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: They just give— So, that’s great feedback.

Evan Brand: I know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it.

Evan Brand: It’s so fun. Charlie said, “So, 10:1 Tyrosine-5-HTP ratio?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s a good starting point, yeah. It’s a good starting point. If you have more issues, more stress stuff, you may have to go a little bit higher on the Tyrosine, but that’s a go— pretty good starting point. And I think, my product— we did it at 10:1, off the bat. But I’ll typically throw in the Dopa Replete Plus if we need it. And again, we’ll look at the symptoms on— on the handout we showed, and then, we’ll also look at the metabolites on the organic acid to make that clinical call. So, it’s a combination of symptoms. It’s a combination of lab testing. And it’s a combination of what works.

Evan Brand: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And you can typically see some improvement there.

Evan Brand: Well, and you know— just having a clinician hold your hand through this because I’m a huge fan. Both— both you and I are huge fan of like “do-it-yourself” and fixing things, but with neurotransmitters, I don’t advise people just go buy a bunch of amino acids and just start throwing stuff together if you don’t know what you’re doing. Because, with Tyrosine, I mean— you could push yourself into Anxiety territory. If you’ve got an Anxiety history already— you know, you could give yourself heart palpitations, maybe panic attacks and such. So, I— I just wouldn’t play with it. And then, also, the note about 5-HTP or anything working on Serotonin, if you’re already on an SSRI medication, you cannot be taking 5-HTP with it, without a practitioner. You’ve got to really get help there because you could give yourself Serotonin Syndrome, and you don’t want that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. And that’s pretty rare in the scientific literature. A lo— I’ve seen a lot of psychiatrists and people like that say, “Oh! Be careful, like don’t take amino acids. Uhm— You’re gonna get Serotonin Syndrome.” You’re not gonna get it with amino acids. You’re gonna primarily get it with drugs, with medication. So, I think a good rule of thumb is if you are doing medication, try to take it away from some of the amino acids. And be aware, if you’re taking like an S— SNRI so uh— Ser— uh— Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake. S— SNRI, Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor that works more on Dopamine or an SNRI that works more on Serotonin, kind of look at the symptoms of the Serotonin drug and the Norepinephrine drug. Because, you may have more side effects because the drug’s gonna work better ‘cause it’s gonna have— It’s a reuptake inhibitor so it’s blocking the reuptake ports. So, if you’re blocking the reuptake ports, there’s gonna be more neurotransmitter in-between the synapse. So, if you’re taking more building block, which becomes that neurotransmitter, that can basically allow more neurotransmitter to accumulate between the synapse. Here’s the presynaptic neuron. Here’s the post. In between here is where all the neurotransmitters hang out. And if we dump a whole bunch of extra amino acids out, they now convert. There’s gonna be more of these guys in between to have that uh— synaptic like— you know— increase in— in those uhm— neurotransmitters. Does that makes sense?

Evan Brand: It does. Now, would you say, “Don’t mix amino acids in these drugs.” Or do you feel like if you were doing it intelligently with the practitioner, you could mix drugs and aminos.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You got to work with the practitioner and you got to be aware of the side effects, and typically, if we have a side effect of the higher Serotonin, you— you can look at the medication you’re on. Just go to Look at the side effects of it. And if you see side effects starts to increase as you incrementally increase the amino acid dosages. Number one, take the amino acids away, and then number two, got to go back to that prescribing physician to have them decrease the dosage. A lot of times, you’re like, “Oh! You know— Let’s— Let’s decrease the amino acids.” Why? I rather use amino acids that are natural than a drug that has lots of side effects and even black box warnings a lot of times. I rather use nutrition. Nutrition always trumps drugs, especially, if they’re having a positive effect.

Evan Brand: Yup. Uh— Charlie had a question about Alpha BRAIN helping neurotransmitters. I use to work at- Onitt, and I actually was working kind of behind the scenes on one of the reformulations of Alpha BRAIN. Aubrey and I were kind of going back and forth. It was funny. One day, he gave me a sample. It was gonna be like Alpha BRAIN 3.0 or something. It was a new formula, and I didn’t know exactly what was in it. I just took it and ran outside. And I felt the supplement kick in and I just like started sprinting out in the field, and I was like, “Oh my God. I have so much energy.” And I came back in. I said, “Aubrey, what did you put in this?” And he goes, “Oh. we added some B vitamins to that formula.” I thought, “Oh my gosh! I could feel it.” So, uh— yeah. Alpha BRAIN— you know— It’s a very, very popular formula. They sell tons of it. I think, for this conversation, because this is more clinical based on like XYZ symptom, you’re probably better off just piecing things together. NOw, I think, an all-in-one solution is good but if you have a certain symptom, you may not need to push the Serotonin button. You may need to just push the Dopamine button. Or, you may need to just push the GABA button. And so I’m— I’m a bigger fan of just trying to mix things based on your symptoms. Now, if all the symptoms that you look at match up with all the neurotransmitters in the formula like that, I think, “Awesome.” But, for me, personally, I just use things in isolation. Justin, do you have a— a take?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So, in the Onitt A— Alpha BRAIN formula, there’s a lot of things that increases acetylcholine, and acetylcholine is really important for like memory. They do a lot with it with like Alzheimer’s type of things, uh— alpha-Glycerophosphocholine uh— Bacopa, Huperzine, right? These are things to increase Acetylcholine. So, I think that’s helpful. They do a lot of uhm— L-Leucine. A lot of the amino acids in there as well. The big thing is they do a lot Tyrosine, Theanine and Phosphatidylserine. So, Phosphatidylserine is gonna help with the high Cortisol. And of course, the Tyrosine is gonna help with the Dopamine and the feeding will help with the GABA. I don’t see any B vitamins in this formula. So they add that later?

Evan Brand: No. It— It— It never [crosstalk] at the shelf.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: —happen?

Evan Brand: I think it was just…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: …a trial behind the scenes. But I just remember taking it. That was like, “Whoah!” That was uh— That was a uh— a strong— a strong product.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Any thoughts on Acetylcholine.

Evan Brand: Yeah. I mean— So, Acetylcholine, it’s helpful— I know— Like the Huperzine and the Bacopa. I think, they call those Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor. So, it kind of just forces the Acetylcholine in your brain to sit there longer. And— I think it’s great. I mean— I had— I had good success with using Huperzine and other herbs.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: So, I think it’s just something else to put in the toolbox.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. It’s kind of like an SSRI or an SNRI.. Obviously it’s not a drug so it’s gonna have a little bit of more of a modulatory effect. That’s not gonna really knock things out as effectively. But which— It’s good as well, ‘cause you don’t want to have a lot of the negative side effects that you get with a lot of these drugs too. So, Acetylcholine’s really important for muscle contraction, brain function. NAd again, a lot of these compounds— A lot of them, they all come from protein, right? So, having adequate levels of protein are gonna be huge for performance. And if we can’t digest our proteins well, that’s gonna be a major issue. So, having adequate digestion is— is important. So—

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You can get into a supplement whirl like this herb or that amino acid. Like— You have your hierarchy. Diet, sleep, blood sugar stability tied to Insulin Resistance. Work on your digestion. Work on some of the— the nutrients. B vitamins are really important. B6. P5P is really important for activating a lot of our neurotransmitters. If you look at B6, or Pyrodoxyl 5-Phosphate, or Pyridoxine hydrochloride. And if you look at— just Google, and like the neurotransmitters. They’re intimately reso— Intimately involved in synthesizing and these amino acids converting into Dopamine and Serotonin, etc. So, if we don’t have adequate B6 levels, we have a lot of dysbiotic bacteria and our gut bacteria’s not helping out with the B vitamin issues, we can have some issues for sure.

Evan Brand: Yep, well said. So, get tested. Dial in the diet. I mean, you could take somebody who’s— you know— eating processed food and drinking SODA and take a bunch of amino acids and probably not get the success that they’re looking for. So, a— as just a disclaimer, every time we have a conversation together with you guys, it’s always— we’re assuming you’ve got the diet, the lifestyle, the sleep, the meditation, the stress management, the exercise, the good relationships, good stable blood sugar, you’re not skipping meals, you’re getting toxic people out of your life, you’re going to bed on time, you’re not using too much technology at night. Those are all the precursors. Then, amino acids come in.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent, 100 percent. And now, just a couple other questions here some listeners put in. It talked about Insomnia, 5-HTP. Now, in my line, we have one. Again, you can get your products wherever you want. We’re gonna talk about the ones that we formulated ‘cause we’re the most familiar with it. So, in my line, Serotonin replete, it’s a hundred milligrams of 5-HTP with a little bit of B6. So, if you’re gonna use 5-HTP before bed, I typically do one or two at dinner and then one to two before bed. The B6 is really important to take with it. So, just got to be mindful. B6 helps it go down the Serotonin pathway, not the quinolinate pathway. So, B6 really helps the neurotransmitters move in that right direction. And— you know— start at the 100 milligrams. You can go up to— to 400, even 600. Again, if you’re really having some difficult time, you should work with the practitioner. You don’t want a spot-treated. But in this, I want to give you guys actual clinical information and not tiptoe around all the solutions and hold them back. So, hopefully that helps.

Evan Brand: Yep, well said. I’m out of time, so I don’t know uh— if we have other questions but let’s try to do maybe one more.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [sigh] Yeah. I mean, let’s— let’s see one last thing, Evan. Can we just kind of summarize the neurotransmitters and the symptoms that they correlate with. Just so the listeners have a better idea. Can we— Can we go back? Can we do that?

Evan Brand: Yeah. Let’s do it. Yo— You lead us off. Pick one.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay. Awesome. So, if we go back and we look at Dopamine, right? Dopamine’s important for focus. It’s really important for Cravings, Energy, Mood, Attention— right? Feeling— feeling happy. Okay? Then, we gonna have Serotonin next. Serotonin or 5-HTP precursors is gonna be important for Worry, Negativity, Winter, Sad, Seasonal Affective Disorder, PMS, Chronic pain issues, Sleep, Hyperactive. We have our Chronic Pain issues, or overly emotional can be our beta-Endorphin, our Endorphin, which is important for reward and pleasure. We have GABA, which is our— you know— overstress, can’t relax, can’t wind down, can’t chill the hell out.

Evan Brand: Yep.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Then Glutamine can be sugar cravings and uhm— but that can also be Serotonin, too. So— I typically don’t worry about Glutamine. I always just add that in for the gut. I don’t— I don’t spot-treat the brain with that, though.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’m not really worried about that. And I think we hit it all. So, we have the GABA, the wind down, the 5-HTP kind of the— the boot of the mood, the blues— those kind of things. And then, the Dopamine’s gonna be uhm— the cravings and the energy and the focus.

Evan Brand: That’s good. I think we hit it. Then, we could probably do a part two to this. I mean, I think we hit all the important key takeaways, but if you want to talk about how all of these factors into a full functional medicine program, including the gut work and things we’re doing: working on infections, adrenal support— you know— maybe we’ll save that for part two.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think it’s really important when people talk about functional medicine. Like, imagine we’re building this huge house, right? This huge house, like we just talked about like the third room on the second floor. And a lot of people can come in and be like, “Oh. I’m gonna go after this. I’m gonna just do this thing right here.” But like, we’re building the whole house. Like, just worrying about this one room in this one floor isn’t that big of a deal to us. We’re starting at the foundation. We’re building that first floor and then we’re adding onto it. And then, we’re adding onto it. So, w— we kind of have the big architect picture when we’re looking at it. We don’t get totally absorbed into one. Again, people may say, “I did Serotonin or 5-HTP support. I took your Brain Replete and it changed my life.” That’s great. That may have been really key, but we can’t ignore the whole big picture. So, comprehensive program don’t— don’t asse— don’t guess. Assess, test, really figure it out. Start with the foundations. Work your way up. Don’t ignore the gut. The gut’s the missing piece for a lot of people.

Evan Brand: I agree. Well said. And if you guys want to reach out, schedule a call with Justin or myself. Check out Justin’s site. That’s You can go schedule a consult. And then, if you want to schedule a consult with me, that’s my site, evanbrand— E-V-A-N-brand like brand name— dot(.) com. Reach out. One of us are happy to help you. We work with aminos everyday in the clinic. And this stuff has changed our lives and we know it can change yours.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. Any last questions you wanted to nail, Evan?

Evan Brand: Tst— I saw one. Somebody mentioned that GABA made them feel…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: …like out of it or something.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: I mean, yo— you would just try something else. Try Theanine. Try Taurine— you know— try something else. Try Ashwagandha; something else that can modulate the GABA receptor but maybe straight GABA is not good for you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. And then, someone talks about their balance and their legs feeling heavy. Uh— Hard to say. Uh— I would look at gut. I would look at adrenals. I would look at diet— all that first. Because, like, if you make a couple little tweaks in the foundational things, it’s like all these things approve. So, that’s why we start with the foundation because so much of this crap and the periphery clears up when we— when we set the foundation. So, hard to say, it would need to work on the foundational stuff first.

Evan Brand: Yeah. And look at your Ferritin Test. It could be some simple Anemia issue, possibly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, totally. Totally. Uhm— Also, vitamin D, low vitamin D can affect the— the vestibular system imbalance.

Evan Brand: Wow.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Let’s see here. Anything else? “I want to have my functional medicine,. I want to have functional medicine help so much.” Like it. Awesome, Jeff. Yeah. Feel free. Any questions? Let me know. Uhm. Scrappy puppyi, “Have H. pylori now. How am I going to get rid of this? I don’t want to take an antibiotic.” Go look at some of our previous podcast on that. I think we hit some good stuff, Evan. [crosstalk] Let’s call it a day, brother.

Evan Brand: Let’s do it.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright, man. Hey, great chatting with you. Appreciate it. Keeping it real. All the listeners, give us a share. Hit that bell. Give us a share. Let people know. Sharing is caring. We appreciate you spreading the word. Again, it’s our mission to help over a million people a month with these issues, 12 million a year, moving into 100 million next year. So, help us with our goal, guys. We appreciate it.

Evan Brand: Take care.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan, take care.

Evan Brand: See yah.


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