Category: Natural chemicals
Involuntary and voluntary
Introduction and description
Dopamine is the chemical messenger affecting and affected by our emotions. The emotions are processed in our brain, but they affect every part of our body, thus dopamine acts like the chemical messenger between the brain and its emotions and the organs of the body.
It is no accident that we say that someone has a 'broken heart', or that they are 'shit scared', or they 'couldn't stomach something', or they in contrast were 'light hearted' .The emotions thus control the organs of the body and the emotions are connected to the nervous system, which is the physical communications network
When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, dopamine gets sent to the various organs to stimulate them in a positive way. When the sympathetic nervous system is in operation, dopamine no longer sends its messages. So it is yet another piece in the jigsaw that is our nervous system.
The amygdala controls emotions such as happiness and sadness or peace as opposed to fear. And it may have a hand in love, passion, orgasmic pleasure and acne’ed lust.
In the flight or fight response we do not tend to experience a great deal of peace, bliss, joy and love, in fact the very emotion of fear and panic tend to induce the sympathetic nervous system into action. Fight or flight also implies that the emotions of aggression and anger are present.
When all the threats have gone and the emotions toned down to a sense of peace and joy, the parasympathetic nervous system will kick in. We revert to right brained thinking and can then receive moments of inspiration, wisdom and divine love. We, may experience bliss and can enjoy happiness, which means the emotions here provide a positive feed to the nervous system.
Dopamine is just a messenger between the two systems that is all - emotion to nervous system.
But if suppression is our aim then parasympathetic nervous activity is also our aim and thus dopamine is key, but we ultimately invoke the parasympathetic nervous system via positive emotions - bliss and peace, joy and laughter.
Dopamine receptors can be found in the body’s central nervous system (CNS) but also in the atria of the heart, the kidneys and the pulmonary artery . The neurotransmitter dopamine is the primary ‘within body’ ligand. Dopamine also acts upon receptors present on immune cells, with ‘ high expression on B cells and natural killer cells’. I assume that this is why when we laugh a lot and are happy our immune sytem seems to be more effective at fighting off disease. ‘A laugh a day keeps the doctor at bay’ as Ken Dodd might say.
The functions of each of the sub receptors are still being worked out, but are partly being deduced from what happens when we lack dopamine and become ‘psychotic’ [a lovely catch all phrase – meaning we don’t behave in the way psychiatrists do – which probably means we are all psychotic in their eyes]
Dopamine receptors are ‘implicated’ in motivation; cognition, memory and learning; and ‘fine motor control’.
The ‘fine motor control’ has an interesting adjunct. An inability to use dopamine can cause Parkinson's disease, in which a person loses the ability to execute smooth, controlled movements.
There are two Dopamine receptors families – the D1 family and the D2 family:
The D1 family – the members are the D1 and D5 receptors. The D1-2 receptor subtypes are found at 10-100 times the levels of the D3-5 subtypes. Beyond its activities in the brain, Dopamine binds to the D1 family of receptors, dilating blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the kidney and coronary arteries, thus increasing ‘overall renal perfusion’. Dopamine induces sodium loss in the kidneys [salt] and has a diuretic effect, potentially increasing urine output. You’ll wee more.
D1 receptors are found in great quantity throughout the brain, which rather implicates this family in the function of cognition, memory and learning. They are also found in the kidney and the pulmonary artery. Dopamine receptor mutation can cause genetic [hereditory] hypertension.
D5 receptors are found in the kidney and pulmonary artery
The D2 family - the member are D2, D3 and D4 receptors.
D2, receptors are found in the kidney and pulmonary artery
D3 receptors are found in the limbic system in the brain and the nucleus accumbens, contributing to the functions of reward, pleasure, laughter, addiction, aggression, and fear . Some research using experimental drugs [on mice poor little things] indicate that the D3 receptor has “biphasic effects on reward mechanisms and locomotor activity”
D4 receptors are found in the atria of the heart, the kidney and the pulmonary artery. Dopamine “increases myocardial contractility and cardiac output”, without changing heart rate. So when the hormones get going the heart thumps away. Love is a many splendoured thing. Since fear is also governed by these receptors, we will also get the ‘thump’ when things go bonk in the night
There are a number of psychiatric theories or hypotheses that link depression and lack of learning ability, lack of motivation, poor memory, inability to feel pleasure, glumness, despondency, gloom and so on, with either a hereditory or an acquired lack of dopamine receptors. The drugs invented to help the people with these problems, aim to boost the activity of the reduced number these poor people may be stuck with.
There is also a theory that some food addiction is caused by the low number of dopamine receptors in people who ‘binge eat’ – they are desperate to get the pleasure from the food, but have to eat more to get it. On the other hand they may just be putting too much food on their plates…
How it works
As you can see we seem to be all set here with a set of receptors purpose made to give us the spiritual experience of our life. Laughter, love, euphoria and pleasure … well what more could anyone want!!
But as in all things, nothing is as simple as it at first appears.
If summarise the effects of the agonistic actions and thus of dopamine itself, we see that they are
High or over dose
Happiness, pleasure, laughter [D3]
Vasodilation [D1, D2 and D4]
Increased renal perfusion [D5 and D2]
Improved cognitive ability [D1]
Orthostatic hypotension leading to hypoxia
Incontinence and urinary urgency
Confusion, racing thoughts, befuddlement, insomnia
Lack of dopamine for any reason causes an 'antagonistic' effect
High or over dose
Vasoconstriction [D1, D2 and D4]
Decreased renal perfusion [D5 and D2]
Decreased cognitive ability [D1]
Reduced motor control [D3]
Gloom, depression, emotional pain
Orthostatic hypertension leading to hypoxia
Constipation, fluid retention
Loss of memory, hallucinations/visions, confusion, irrational thoughts
Twitching, jumping, uncontrolled body movements
Although it may be hard to believe, some pharmaceuticals have deliberate antagonistic action.
Very very effective - healthy and happy - as long as you don't overdose................
The search has been on for some time – deep in the vaults of the ‘recreational drug users’ by those who have worked out the same thing as I have. Except they were quicker on the uptake.
They are on the search for drugs and pharmaceuticals that have agonistic action just like dopanine, not surprising as they want to take them and I was only writing about them.
This strikes terror into the hearts of those ‘in authority’ who talk of addiction potential and indeed they are very right – find a drug that gives all this lot and people will want to go back for more and more and more. So yes, this is dangerous territory.
Dopamine is potentially addictive if we find a source of it external to our own bodies, because pleasure is addictive.
BUT, if you overdose on anything that affects these receptors, you will in the long term be in for a shock, because the body compensates for such bombardment by either increasing or decreasing the number of receptors. If you bombard them to get more and more pleasure – the body will decrease the number of receptors and without the stimulus the end result is the opposite of pleasure – gloom and despondency.
Terrible terrible gloom and despondency.
- Banana (Musa spp) from peel to pulp: ethnopharmacology, source of bioactive compounds and its relevance for human health 019294
- Chocolate magnesium and hormones 005635
- Chris Astill Smith & James - 'Diagnostic Session' 012314
- Coffee, dopamine and addiction 005622
- Dr Duke's list of activity for Vitamin B6 017763
- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals in Persea americana MILLER (Lauraceae) -- Avocado 012983
- Dr Duke's list of vasodilatory plant chemicals 010314
- Effects of normal meals rich in carbohydrates or proteins on plasma tryptophan and tyrosine ratios 017319
- High content of dopamine, a strong antioxidant, in Cavendish banana 019293
- Nicotine, coffee, cannabis and dopamine 005772