We have all heard the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. But what most of us don’t know is how much of a role this saying has own our own bodies. Did you know that there are different chemicals released in our bodies to stimulate the sensation of happiness? The two most commonly known chemicals are Dopamine and Serotonin. Each chemical is released in response to different stimulants and serves a unique purpose.
Partner in Crime
One of the biggest differences between these two happy hormones is their correlation to time. Serotonin is released for stimulants that provide us with long-term satisfaction or gratification. Dopamine, on the other hand, is released for short-term bursts of joy. Unlike Serotonin, Dopamine is highly addictive due to its ability to provide instant levels of bliss throughout the body. Unfortunately, Dopamine is metabolized rather quickly and can result in someone chasing that same level of euphoria. Serotonin has a more stubble transition and provides a much more muted level of joy.
It is safe to say that it feels good to feel good. With that in mind several pharmaceutical companies have managed to capitalize on Dopamine’s ability to provide the consumer with a short lived state of bliss. As is the case for most, if not all, synthetic or chemically enhanced products our bodies have trouble metabolizing them. While in other cases our bodies can have trouble even recognizing them. In the case of synthetic Dopamine our bodies metabolize it at an accelerated rate. Pharmaceutical companies apply this knowledge when manufacturing these medications.
Happiness is Contagious
Can you be too happy? Contrary to the country music song, it is possible to have too much fun. When Dopamine levels run high for prolonged periods of time our bodies naturally build up a tolerance. While on paper it may not seem like such a big deal, in reality, it means that we now need even higher levels to achieve that same level of bliss. It can be easy to fall into this endless cycle trying to reach that same or greater level of bliss. Don’t believe me? Take a look out our nation’s addiction to opioids and other drugs all designed to take the user to a state of euphoria.
Happiness is not the only function of Dopamine in the body. In fact, it can be argued that it is not even its main purpose. Dopamine main function in the body is communication. It acts as a neurotransmitter to fifty different receptors (making it a busy little bee). Dopamine is linked to our bodies ability to: execute functions, motor control, motivation, arousal, reinforcement, reward system, lactation, sexual gratification, and even nausea. As we age our bodies ability to synthesize Dopamine declines and so does the receptor density in the brain.
Clearly, Dopamine plays a vital role in our ability to experience happiness. Given the rate in which we synthesize Dopamine it is important to know what to look out for that lets us know when our levels are low. Signs and symptoms that indicate a low Dopamine level are: unable to feel pleasure or happiness, lack of motivation, apathy, procrastination, low libido, trouble sleeping, mood swings, trouble concentrating, memory loss, and easily tired. Low Dopamine levels can be caused by the following: adrenal fatigue, B6 deficiency, low stomach acid, leaky gut, hypoglycemia, exposure to lead/arsenic/cadmium, L-tyrosine/L-phenyalanine deficiencies, and low levels of magnesium/zinc/iron/vitamin C/ D/ and B3.
Breathe It In
What are some safe all natural ways you can help boost your Dopamine levels? Some of the best ways to help your body restore and replenish its natural levels of Dopamine is through the usage of essential oils. Here is a list of some aromatic heros that you can reach for:
- Wild Orange
A Breath of Fresh Air
While you can apply these essential oils in a number of ways, one of the best ways to reap the benefits associated with them is through aromatherapy. You can add your desired essential oil to a carrier oil such as coconut oil and apply the scent like a perfume. One of my favorite ways to use these essential oils is with a diffuser. In fact, I keep one in my bedroom to help relax me prior to bed and another in my office. I love that I can alter the combinations to invoke different health benefits. For example, I diffuse wild orange and spearmint to help me focus when I have a looming deadline.
Keep it Simple
Some additional all natural approaches to increasing your Dopamine levels naturally include the following:
- Getting Enough Sleep
- Sunlight Exposure
We all know that exercising comes with multiple health benefits. But did you know it can also help make and keep you happy? When it comes to the utilization of exercise to increase your Dopamine levels it is all about consistency and the duration of exercise. Unlike Endorphins Dopamine release needs a one hour workout duration. It has been shown to be more productive with low intensity exercises such as yoga and pilates. Ideal Dopamine levels were reached with individuals who performed one hour daily six times a week.
Sleep can be extremely beneficial for our bodies development. It gives our bodies the chance to restore and replenish its resources. During our sleeping period our bodies have the time needed to rebalance our hormones. Ideally you want to sleep seven to eight hours a night. When we do not get enough sleep it can result in a decrease in Dopamine sensitivity and produce excessive sleepiness. Conveniently, the list of essential oils above have also been shown to help promote relaxation and prepares the body for rest.
The Sounds of Change
Music is a great way to help unwind and even motivate. The benefits from music seem to multiplying as a by product of the upsurge in research associated with it. Weather it is the vibrational frequencies or the enjoyable lyrics the effects of music can increase the ability to focus. In fact, video game developers are so acutely aware of this fact that they embed music that has been shown to increase focus in players into their best selling games. When choosing the music to improve your Dopamine levels pick something that brings you joy and makes you want to dance.
Find Your Zen
Meditation has been shown to rewire your brain in as little as thirty days. While subjects participating in studies were shown to receive the most benefits after thirty minutes a day sessions. Even the subjects that only did five minutes of meditation a day showed improved mood stability and motivation. Meditation is a quick and easy way to naturally improve your Dopamine levels that requires little to no effort on your behalf.
When it comes to nature there is a bounty of health benefits that can come from just being outside. Sunlight produces vitamin D along with other health benefits. Vitamin D has been shown to help naturally increase Dopamine sensitivity within the brain. While vitamin D can be taken as a supplement it is easier and safer to just spend twenty minutes outside in the sunlight. You would be surprised at all the additional benefits that come from being outdoors, such as the color green helps to reduce your appetite. Why not combine some of these tips by going for an hour long walk outdoors in the sunlight?
Healing Power of Nature
However you choose to improve your Dopamine levels just keep in mind that the best ways to keep Dopamine levels stable is by using safe and all natural options. Fortunately, Mother nature has seen fit to provide us with a number of all natural solutions. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next article on foods you can incorporate into your daily routine that naturally improve your Dopamine levels. As a little teaser I am going to let you in on a secret. One of the foods you can eat to increase your Dopamine levels is apples! In fact, I will even include a fun way to enjoy them any time.
Apple Cinnamon Chips
Gluten Free Vegan Serves 2
- 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Fractionated Coconut Oil
- 1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2 Apples (sliced into thin rings or wedges)
- 1 Tbsp Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl toss apple slices in oil and vinegar. Once coated add salt and cinnamon. Give another good toss and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets (I end up using two). Place cookie sheets into the oven and bake until desired texture is achieved (I like mine crispy so I cut them thin and bake them until golden brown). It is important to use parchment paper to prevent them from sticking or breaking while baking. I have tried everything else and this makes them turn out like chips. Let cool or enjoy warm.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or you can always leave a message in the comment section below. We all deserve to have the health support we want and need. That is why we here at Ask Dr. Dee I do my best to provide you with safe and affordable options that you can start to apply to your daily routines as soon as possible. If you are looking for a health expert that is just as dedicated to your well being as you are look no further. Be sure to subscribe to the blog to get access to tons of free goodies and content. When it comes to your health you should be your number one priority. What is stopping you from taking back your health today?