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Dopamine – The Pleasure Chemical

Dopamine was first synthesized in 1910 by George Barger and James Ewens at Wellcome Laboratories in London, England and first identified in the human brain by Kathleen Montagu in 1957. It was named dopamine because it is a monoamine whose precursor in the Barger-Ewens synthesis is 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (levodopa or L-DOPA), which is synthesized in the brain and kidneys. Dopamine’s function as a neurotransmitter was first recognized in 1958 by Arvid Carlsson and Nils-Åke Hillarp at the Laboratory for Chemical Pharmacology of the National Heart Institute of Sweden.

dopamine

Dopamine has several important functions and roles in the brain and body; such as – controlling the release of various hormones, vasodilation, etc. Inside the brain, dopamine plays important roles in executive functions, motor control, motivation, arousal, reinforcement, and reward, as well as other functions including lactation, sexual gratification, and nausea. It produces a general increase in movement of all sorts. The dopamine system plays a central role in several significant medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, , schizophrenia, and addiction.

Dopamine plays a role in pain processing. Decreased levels of dopamine have been associated with painful symptoms. Abnormalities in dopaminergic neurotransmission also occur in several painful clinical conditions, including burning mouth syndrome,, and restless legs syndrome.

Dopamine as a manufactured medication is most commonly used as a stimulant drug in the treatment of severe low blood pressure, slow heart rate, and cardiac arrest. It is especially important in treating these in newborn infants. Aside from dopamine itself, there are many other important drugs that act on dopamine systems in various parts of the brain and body. Some are used for medical purposes and some for recreational purposes.

Dopamine plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Most types of reward increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and most addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity. Hence, many experts call it, the “reward molecule.” Dopamine motivates you to take action toward your goals, desires, and needs, and gives you a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Many types of pleasurable experiences—such as sex, enjoying food, or playing video games—increase dopamine release. Thus we can better call it, the “pleasure chemical.” Procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine.

How to Produce Dopamine Naturally

The aspect of dopamine that has drawn the most interest is its connection with pleasure and reward. Adequate production of dopamine obviously has a lot of general health and mental health benefits. Here are some ways to increase your levels naturally:


Pleasure

pleasurePleasure is one of the most misunderstood aspects of life; especially, from philosophical and religious point of view. Everyone goes for some form of pleasure or the other – whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual; because it is natural. Anything that you enjoy gives you pleasure; only keep in mind that a short-term pleasure should not lead to a long-term pain.

Pleasure is a very important component of happiness, everyday, have at least one pleasurable activity to add spice to your life. Our lives are driven by pain and pleasure principle; hence be pleasure-oriented without getting addicted to it.

Pleasurable experiences increase dopamine release. You can select from various pleasurable experiences; such as playing games, enjoying food or massage, making love, pursuing some hobby, and so forth.


Goal-setting
goal

Set goals and try to achieve them. They do not have to be always big ones or professional ones (such as promotion, achieving a business target, fetching an order, creating a product, etc.; they can be personal ones as well (such as weight loss, muscle building, winning or improving a game, or anything that you want to achieve). It is the process of achievement, more than the achievement that releases dopamine. The goals should be motivating you towards the reward of goal-achievement.


Banana

bananaThe highest concentrations of dopamine have been observed in bananas. So try to include at least a banana in your daily diet.


Protein Diet

protein-dietTo enhance dopamine levels, it is better to include protein in your diet; such as eggs, cheese, milk, meat, poultry, fish, and so forth.


Physical Exercise

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Any physical exercise can help you to release dopamine if it is pleasurable/enjoyable/fun for you and if there is some goal/objective to achieve. Playing active games is a very good choice.


Meditation

meditation2

Any form of meditation releases dopamine to some extent, but I recommend our Hypno-Meditation (HM), which is scientifically designed to bring down the brain waves and at the same time using the ancient principles of Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation or focusing on some thought/s) and Samadhi (deep absorption).