My first reaction was “I’m back” when I started taking a dopamine enhancer (Mirapex) for my fibromyalgia. “My” fibromyalgia! Sounds like I’m possessive OF it instead of possessed BY it. . ..trust me, I’d gladly let it go, give it up, dump it, get rid of it, send it away . . . sorry, just got on a roll . . .
Back to the point of this post:
Even if you don’t have fibro or Chronic fatigue chances are you know someone who does. It is estimated there are 10 million people with the condition in the United States alone.
I urge you to take at least a quick look at the latest edition of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain newsletter. There are several links to the latest in medical information in the newsletter.
In the event you aren’t wanting to click on the link here’s one of the articles that pertains to dopamine:
Dopamine in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Low Dopamine: How It Makes You Feel & How to Fix It
By Adrienne Dellwo, About.com Guide
“Dopamine has different roles in different areas of your brain. In the thinking areas, it makes you able to focus your attention. Low levels of dopamine in this area are linked with ADD/ADHD. In the movement areas, it helps you control how your body moves. Extremely low levels here lead to Parkinson’s disease, which is characterized by tremors and problems with balance and coordination.
People with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) generally have low dopamine levels as well. Symptoms of both conditions include both cognitive effects as well as movement and balance problems.
No neurotransmitter acts alone. They all work together in a complex web of activity that scientists are really just beginning to understand. Still, experts have been able to associate different neurotransmitter imbalances with certain conditions and symptoms and find some ways to help boost or decrease activity.
Low dopamine levels are associated with the following symptoms:
Stiff, rigid, achy muscles
Tremors (restless leg)
Impaired fine motor skills
Cognitive impairment (called brain fog or fibro fog)
Inability to focus attention
Poor balance and coordination
Strange walking pattern (gait), frequently with small steps
High levels of dopamine, on the other hand, are associated with addiction, euphoria, hyperstimulation, excessive focus, suspicion, and the inability to separate what is important from what isn’t. If you’re taking medication that increases your dopamine levels, you should let your doctor know if you have symptoms of high dopamine, which is associated with psychological side effects.
Neuroleptic (antipsychotic) drugs lower dopamine levels, so if you’re taking anything in this class for another condition, you’ll want to talk to your doctor about symptoms that could be related to low dopamine. Common drugs in this class include:
Increasing the Availability of Dopamine
Drug treatment of low dopamine levels may include stimulant therapy with Ritalin, Concerta and Methadate (all of which contain methylphenidate).
We don’t have a lot of research confirming that food can boost dopamine levels in your brain, and even if it can, it would take prohibitively huge amounts to have the desired effect. In spite of the lack of hard evidence, some practitioners recommend:
Tea (black or green)
Apples, bananas & watermelon
Beets, beans & legumes
Supplements believed to help raise dopamine levels include:
L-Theanine (supplement form of amino acid unique to black and green tea)
Omega-3 fatty acids, from fish oil or flax seed oil
A note on tea & theanine: Studies show theanine increases both norepinephrine and dopamine while lowering glutamate levels, all of which can have a positive effect on those of us with FMS and ME/CFS. Research is mixed, however, on how theanine impacts serotonin levels. If you decide to try theanine, track your symptoms to see if serotonin-related symptoms get worse.
While it’s generally safe to experiment with these kinds of foods, don’t expect miracles and avoid extreme changes to your diet. Be sure to make changes slowly, and track your dietary changes and symptoms in a symptom journal to get an accurate gauge of what may be helping. You should always work with your doctor to decide what methods to try and how successful your treatments are.”