Have you ever wondered why some people truly feel happy, calm, composed, and well-adjusted in their own skin? Or why others, for no apparent reason, feel depressed, anxious, apathetic, and reluctant to engage in their life fully? Here at Natural Balance Wellness we see it and treat it every day.
There is always a reason why a person loses their zest for life, or experiences a gray mood in the winter, or just can’t bring themselves to engage in the same activities they used to love so much. Usually, if you look closely, you will also find these individuals are also fatigued, have trouble keeping their blood sugar stable, suffer aches and pains, headaches, insomnia, loss of sex drive, hormone imbalances, allergies, and the list goes on and on.
The Importance of Brain Chemistry
So, what then is the common link to all these seemingly unrelated observations? Brain Chemistry! Yes, your feel-good neurotransmitters are either out of balance, depleted, or even fully collapsed.
There are two main categories of neurotransmitters, those that stimulate and those that inhibit. It is this delicate balance between the two that largely determines your conscious experience of the world around you, the sensations coming from your body, or the extent to which you emotionally engage, react, or interpret the various events in your day to day life.
Your brain is made up of literally thousands of miles of microscopic wiring. The number of times these wires connect with themselves in a regulatory way is in the quadrillions (comparable to the same number of sand granules spanning miles of white sandy beach). This is an area of the human mystery that will always remain somewhat out of the reach of scientific inquiry. It is just too complex. But as it turns out, at each one of these junctions a chemical (neurotransmitter) crosses to illicit a signal (simply stated a stop, go, slow down, or speed up).
Neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messengers that transmit messages between neurons which then ultimately affect every cell, tissue, organ, and muscle in your body. They have a big role! Of these neurotransmitters, there are about 100 important ones, and of these 100, there are 12 we would consider cardinally important. Of those 12, only 4 make up 99% of what we know about brain function and with respect to all the various drugs used in psychiatry. These 4 can further be divided into inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters.
- Inhibitory (Serotonin and Gaba)
- Excitatory (Dopamine and the Catecholamines-Epinephrine and Norepinephrine)
Unfortunately, when patients present with symptoms of neurochemical imbalance, deficiency, or collapse in the conventional setting, they are often made to feel that it’s all in their head when in fact there is a VERY REAL biochemical imbalance for the way a person feels the way they do. While medications can be very helpful on a short-term basis to break the cycle and give mood and emotional reprieve where indicated, these medications have never been studied over the course of multiple years and often times have uncomfortable side effects.
At Natural Balance, we understand that these symptoms can be debilitating and can negatively affect your quality of life. We use advanced functional medicine testing to get to the root cause of your symptoms and help you restore your body’s “natural balance” through a highly personalized treatment plan. For example, while your poor sleep may be due to low serotonin, someone else’s may be related to low GABA. Neurotransmitter testing can help identify your specific biochemical imbalances and allow for a tailor-made approach to optimally treat you for the best lasting results.
How do we test neurotransmitters?
- HPA profile with Neurotransmitters- this test looks at both adrenal function as well as neurotransmitter levels through saliva and urine testing. Adrenal function and neurotransmitters are both intimately connected in their physiology, so it is important to test both to understand your complete picture.
- Nutritional Urine testing- this is a urine sample that looks at metabolites of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and neurotransmitters. Nutritional deficiencies can often times mimic mood symptoms so correcting these imbalances first can set you up for success when initiating neurotransmitter rehabilitation
- Blood testing- In this test, we look at basic lab work including CBC, CMP, cholesterol studies, iron studies, Vitamin B12, Folate, comprehensive Thyroid studies, and a sex hormone panel. This gives us a clue whether there are underlying medical concerns to your mood symptoms
How do we treat neurotransmitter imbalance?
At Natural Balance, we use a comprehensive approach that includes dietary, lifestyle, and biomedical interventions. We lay the foundation of successful treatment with first correcting nutritional deficiencies, optimizing mitochondria, GI, and adrenal function if needed prior to correcting any neurotransmitter imbalances. If you don’t have the building blocks to make a solid foundation first, you cannot make your neurotransmitters effectively. Therefore, our approach takes time but ultimately leads to long term success.
Based on your lab work, genetics, and clinical presentation, we put together a tailor-made plan for you. A sample approach for neurotransmitter rehabilitation looks like this:
- Phase 1- Priming the system with all neurotransmitter precursors for several weeks
- Phase 2- We touch base to see how you responded to each of the primers and decide whether you need to be on them for longer or not. This gives us a hint which neurotransmitter would likely need to go first in your rehabilitation process. From your response to the primers, we can make your specific plan and decide in what order each neurotransmitter should be during rehabilitation.
- Phase 3- We always start with rehabilitating the inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitters first prior to proceeding with the excitatory neurotransmitters. This ensures that you do not feel on edge during this process.
- Phase 4- After successfully starting the inhibitory neurotransmitter rehabilitation, we will then begin with excitatory side. If required, this includes a dedicated dopamine rehabilitation with the Hinz protocol which takes about 6 months.
Each phase of the neurotransmitter rehabilitation process is several steps, so it does take about one year to complete the full process. We do meet every few weeks initially while you are working through the various steps. This is to allow for accurate clinical observations and for your safety.
In special cases, if your neurotransmitter collapse is not as apparent, we can adjust the priming time and go straight into dedicated neurotransmitter rehabilitation. We like to work with you to figure out what option is best and safe for you.
What are some symptoms to look for?
- Brain Fog
- Addictions (alcohol, eating)
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Memory loss
What are some risk factors our clinic looks for?
- Stress in all its forms
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor digestion (leads to improper absorption of vitamins, minerals, and amino acid precursors, all of which are needed to make your neurotransmitters)
- Environmental triggers
- Sleep Apnea
- Emotional Stress
What if I am already on medication?
If you are already on medications for the symptoms you have been struggling with, please do not let that deter you from working with us. We have helped numerous patients while on medications slowly wean their dosages while we successfully rehabilitate their neurotransmitters. We work closely with you and your prescribing physician to safely come off of medications. Please do not abruptly stop any medication prior to or while working with us without physician consent.
If neurotransmitter rehabilitation is something you are considering, please do not hesitate to contact our office. To schedule your appointment, please contact our office at 734-929-2696, extension 11 for new patients! We look forward to working with you!
New Patient Process
Call our office to schedule a 20-minute meet and greet consultation with one of our doctors. The purpose of this meeting is hear your story initially and briefly tell you how we approach mood and memory problems and neurochemical rehab from a functional medicine perspective.
Once you decide to proceed with the program, charges for this initial phone meeting with one of our doctors will be credited toward your in-person history and physical exam visit described below.
The purpose of this face-to-face visit is to officially establish the doctor-patient relationship, undergo a complete history and physical exam, and to decide what testing is needed.
Typical testing for this program might include:
- HPA (adrenal) profile with neurotransmitters:This test looks at both adrenal function and neurotransmitter levels through saliva and urine testing. Adrenal function and neurotransmitters are very closely connected in their physiology, so it is important to test both to understand your complete picture.
- Urine nutritional metabolites and organic acids: This test is a urine sample that looks at metabolites of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and neurotransmitters. Many basic nutritional deficiencies can lead to mood and memory problems. Therefore, correcting such imbalances first can allow for greater success when initiating neurochemical rehab protocols.
- HIRREM (optional):Imbalances in the nervous system can present with sleep disturbance as well. HIRREM evaluates the balance between the right and left side of your brain, i.e., balance between your parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. This modality is both a screening as well as therapeutic tool to help bring you back into balance. For more information regarding HIRREM, please visit our page here.
- Comprehensive blood testing:If you have already had recent blood work, we will review what you have already. Important blood work for evaluating neurotransmitter function includes CBC, CMP, cholesterol, thyroid function studies, B12, folate, and iron studies.
If something concerning is flagged on these initial tests or during our initial discussion, we may need to order additional testing.
After all your testing is complete, we will discuss the findings and put together your treatment plan which might include nutritional supplements, amino acid therapy, neurofeedback, sleep hygiene, dietary, lifestyle, emotional support, and/or other holistic interventions.
While you work with our clinic, you will have an appointment approximately every 4 weeks initially for the first 4-5 months while we proceed through the steps of nutritional and neurochemical rehabilitation.
This is for your safety and to ensure that you are tolerating all of the supplements and for us to provide guidance and coaching. Of course if you need to see us anytime sooner than your scheduled appointment, you may always schedule to see us. We are here for you!
After you are on all the supplements, we give your body time to repair. At this time, we do not require follow-up, but should any concerns or issues come up, we are always here for you and want to see you.
Once we have successfully rehabilitated your neurotransmitters, you will be taken off supplements and amino acid therapy in a structured manner. Upon discharge we will provide longer-term discharge instructions which include dietary and lifestyle modifications and periodic supplementation protocols if indicated.
Most patients take at least 12-16 months to properly rehabilitate their neurotransmitters. It does take time, but we want to make sure we do it right so that you sustain all of the improvements you make with our clinic!
Insurance & Billing Process
Natural Balance Wellness Medical Center is out-of-network for ALL insurances, and we do not bill your insurance for any services provided. We are happy to provide you with an itemized superbill for every encounter with the appropriate codes to submit to your insurance for reimbursement to you directly.
As a medical center, it is our sincere intention that your visit be recognized by insurance AND qualify for reimbursement based on your out-of-network benefits. Our clinic’s ability to provide superbills for your visit and utilize insurance for testing is why we are able to save patients thousands of dollars compared to other practices run by limited license clinicians such as chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, etc. That said, we are unable to guarantee that your insurance will reimburse your visits, nor can we project how much reimbursement you might receive.
For general pricing information, please see the table below. We do offer follow-up visits via phone/video conference as a convenient way for you to still reach your health goals without feeling like you have to take a lot of time out of your schedule to drive and see us. We have patients all over the state and country who love our clinic for this!
Please note: The times below include preparation and post-counseling with the nurse or clinical assistant, as well as direct collaboration with our physicians or clinicians.
Understanding Our Clinic Policies
Our clinic policies include important information about working with our clinic, refund policies, payment information, cancellation policies, etc. We request that all new patients review this material prior to enrolling with our clinic.
We Are Here to Help You!
On behalf of the Natural Balance Team, we hope you have found this information helpful and we look forward to working with you.
For a consultation and specialized treatment plan for neurotransmitter imbalances, call Natural Balance Wellness Medical Center at (734) 929-2696 or use our online booking tool to make an appointment.