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Norepinephrine | Biohacking your brain
20 November 2023 | James Kearslake
Table of Contents
Fun Fact

Norepinephrine doesn’t just play a role in mood and energy; it’s also intricately tied to memory formation and learning. Research suggests that increased levels of norepinephrine during learning and emotional experiences can enhance memory consolidation, influencing what and how we remember such events.

The neurotransmitter plays a role in modulating the strength of connections between neurons, particularly in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with learning and memory functionality.

What are Norepinephrine Precursor Supplements

Norepinephrine, or noradrenaline in the UK, is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation, energy and it also intricately tied to memory formation within the neural networking.

The neurotransmitter helps modulate the strength of connections between neurons, particularly in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with learning and memory.

As such, increased levels of norepinephrine during learning and emotional experiences can significantly enhance memory consolidation, influencing what and how we remember the information or event.

The neurotransmitter is produced in the adrenal glands, and acts as a chemical messenger in the nervous system. Also involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response, having a healthy neural network is critical for the body’s ability to activate the various autonomic systems in the body.

Norepinephrine itself is produced naturally in the body, and in a medical setting its synthetic form is administered intravenously to address conditions such as low blood pressure or shock. It is always administered in controlled and monitored environments, and involves a carefully regulated dosage administered by healthcare professionals.

Supplementing norepinephrine ourselves is not recommended as altering neurotransmitter levels directly triggers complex interactions in the body, and may have damaging consequences.

As such, consumer norepinephrine supplements aim to support the body’s natural synthesis of norepinephrine by providing precursors or cofactors that create an optimal environment for efficient processing. These supplements include amino acids like tyrosine, a precursor to norepinephrine, as well as other compounds that support the production of neurotransmitters, including vitamin B6, copper, iron, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and zinc.

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Benefits of Norepinephrine Precursor Supplements

  1. Improved Focus and Attention: Norepinephrine plays a key role in attention, alertness, and learning.  It’s also linked with heightened alertness and focus. Supplementing with norepinephrine precursors can enhance cognitive abilities, leading to improved concentration and attention, and supporting our brain’s process of memory consolidation.
  2. Elevated Mood: It is also a key neurotransmitter that influences mood and emotional regulation. Individuals who supplement norepinephrine precursors usually experience an uplift in their mood, general improved sense of wellbeing, and the resulting cognitive clarity that comes from an elevated sense of happiness within ourselves. As such, norepinephrine precursors can potentially offer relief for those dealing with mood disorders like low mood, anxiety, and depression.
  3. Optimised Metabolism & Energy Additionally, norepinephrine is involved in the regulation of metabolism and energy expenditure, as such increased norepinephrine levels are linked to heightened energy levels and fat metabolism. Supplementing norepinephrine precursors could be beneficial for individuals looking for a natural boost to energy levels and improved weight management.

Do Norepinephrine Supplements Benefit ADHD

The relationship between norepinephrine and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is complex.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Norepinephrine, along with dopamine, is implicated in the pathophysiology of ADHD.

The medications used to treat ADHD, such as stimulants like methylphenidate and amphetamine, work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, in the brain.  These medications help improve attention, focus, and impulse control in individuals with ADHD.

Whereas non-stimulant medications used for ADHD, like atomoxetine, primarily target norepinephrine reuptake. These medications aim to increase the availability of norepinephrine in the synaptic cleft, thereby improving attention and impulse control.

While medications prescribed for ADHD are carefully dosed and monitored by healthcare professionals, using norepinephrine supplements without medical guidance can have potential risks and adverse effects, especially in individuals with ADHD.

Here are various factors to consider:

  1. Interaction with Medications: Individuals with ADHD may already be taking medications that influence norepinephrine levels. Adding additional norepinephrine supplements without proper supervision can lead to interactions and undesirable effects.
  2. Overstimulation: Norepinephrine is involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response, and too much stimulation can lead to increased heart rate, anxiety, and restlessness. People with ADHD may be more sensitive to such effects, potentially exacerbating symptoms.
  3. Individual Variability: ADHD is a heterogeneous condition, and individuals may respond differently to interventions. What works for one person may not be suitable for another.
  4. Lack of Regulation: Norepinephrine supplements available in the market vary in quality and dosage. Without proper regulation and oversight, there’s a risk of inconsistency and uncertainty regarding the actual content and effects of the supplement.

It’s crucial for individuals with ADHD or any other medical condition to consult with healthcare professionals than attempting to self-medicate with over the counter products.

Healthcare professionals are expertly trained to assess individual’s health histories, current medications, and specific needs to determine the most appropriate course of action.

Self-medicating or experimenting with supplements without proper guidance can lead to adverse effects.

Do Norepinephrine Supplements Benefit Bipolar Disorder

How norepinephrine and bipolar disorder interconnect is complex, and although there is a growing body of research on this, the understanding of how such conditions and their relationship to neurotransmitters like norepinephrine is still limited and considered an evolving area of knowledge.

Bipolar disorder involves episodes of mania, resulting in elevated mood and increased energy, and periods of deep depression and low mood.

During manic episodes, norepinephrine levels will likely be elevated, while during depressive episodes, they will be lower than normal.

Medications commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder, such as mood stabilisers like lithium and valproate, aim to modulate neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, to stabilise mood and prevent extreme mood swings.

While medications prescribed for bipolar are carefully dosed and monitored by healthcare professionals, using norepinephrine supplements without medical guidance can have potential risks and adverse effects, especially in individuals with bipolar.

Here are various factors to consider:

  1. Interaction with Medications: Individuals with bipolar may already be taking medications that regulate norepinephrine levels. Adding norepinephrine supplements without proper supervision may lead to interactions and undesirable effects.
  2. Overstimulation: Norepinephrine is involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response, and too much stimulation can lead to increased heart rate, anxiety, and restlessness. People with bipolar and who are in a period of mania may be more sensitive to such effects, potentially exacerbating symptoms.
  3. Medication Interaction: All supplements pose a risk interacting with medication, but particularly supplements which can influence neurotransmitters may adversely affect medication for people with bipolar.
  4. Lack of Regulation: Norepinephrine supplements available in the market may vary in quality and dosage. Without proper regulation and oversight, there’s a risk of inconsistency and uncertainty regarding the actual content and effects of the supplement.

It’s important to know that attempting to self-manage mental health conditions without the use of officially prescribed medications poses many risks. Self-medicating for mental health conditions using supplements or holistic treatments should still be done under the guidance of healthcare professionals only to limit any risks to you.

Individual responses to non-pharmacological interventions can vary, and what works for one person may not be effective for another.

Consulting with a healthcare professional allows for personalised recommendations based on the specific needs and circumstances of your mental health needs.

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Naturally Balance Norepinephrine Levels

There are natural ways to support the balance of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) in the body, of all which should be included in your lifestyle choices for their wide and varied benefits to all aspects of your life. It’s important not to rely solely on supplements to achieve a desired outcome, but instead build a lifestyle that uses nutrition, exercise, sleep, and cognitive functioning to achieve your individual state of peak performance.  

Supplements do just that, they supplement.

To balance norepinephrine levels naturally, you should also be including in your lifestyle habits:

  1. Consistent Exercise: Physical activity is critical to stimulating the release of norepinephrine. Engaging in regular aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming, or cycling, naturally enhances norepinephrine levels and improves mood and cognitive function.
  2. Quality Nutrition: Micronutrients play a role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine. Your diet needs to include sufficient tyrosine, an amino acid that serves as a precursor to norepinephrine. Foods rich in tyrosine include lean proteins, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  3. Adequate Sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for maintaining optimal neurotransmitter levels, including norepinephrine. Establishing an effective sleep routine and ensuring sufficient sleep duration can positively impact mood and cognitive function.
  4. Stress Management: Chronic or long-term stress affects norepinephrine levels. Incorporating stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or art, can help regulate the body’s response to stress and support neurotransmitter balance.
  5. Hydration: Dehydration impedes neurotransmitter function, including norepinephrine. You should be drinking plenty of water daily. We also recommend a carton of coconut water every day for its wider benefits including naturally produced and high volume of electrolytes.
  6. Sunlight Exposure: Exposure to natural sunlight has been linked to improved mood and increased norepinephrine levels. Spend time outdoors, especially during daylight hours, to support your body’s natural circadian rhythm, absorb that important Vitamin D, and reap the calming benefits of being immersed in nature.
  7. Limit Caffeine: Having too much caffeine results in overstimulation of the nervous system and can impact neurotransmitter balance. Aim for only 1 – 2 quality cups of coffee per day, and don’t have caffeine after 3pm.
  8. Limit Sugar: If you consume high quantities of refined sugars, frankly, you make poor choices. Refined sugars send blood sugar levels into continuous fluctuation which has a direct effect on neurotransmitter balance. Limit daily consumption of sugars, and where possible replace sugar for quality honey, monkfruit sugar, or stevia (although as a man-made product, this poses its own risks). Do not reach for maple syrup.

It’s important to note that individual responses to lifestyle changes can vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. But by employing these positive lifestyle habits, you are creating an optimal internal operating environment that ensures your biological processes are primed for maximum efficacy at a cellular level.

Eat well, exercise consistently, and prioritise sleep.

It is these habits that will ensure your neural network is working as well as it can be, and that norepinephrine levels remain balanced, and your neural network well-conditioned.

Then, when adding in norepinephrine precursor supplements, you are enhancing an already optimised environment for the body’s natural synthesis of norepinephrine, elevating the effectiveness of the biological process, and thus improving cognitive function, mood regulation, and energy and fat metabolism.

Potential Risks of Norepinephrine Supplements

Norepinephrine precursor supplements are generally considered safe, however norepinephrine supplements that directly interact with neurotransmitters should only ever be administered by healthcare professionals.

If taking norepinephrine precursor supplements, you still need to consider the following:           

  1. Interaction with Medications: Norepinephrine precursor supplements can interact with other medications, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and certain antidepressants. It’s important to consult with your healthcare professional before taking these supplements, especially if you are on existing medication.
  2. Individual Variability: People respond differently to supplements, and individual factors such as age, health status, and underlying medical conditions influence how the body reacts. It’s important to be attentive to your body’s response and consult a healthcare professional if you experience adverse effects.
  3. Cardiovascular Issues: Norepinephrine is involved in the regulation of heart rate and blood pressure. Supplementing with norepinephrine precursors may have cardiovascular effects, potentially leading to increased heart rate or elevated blood pressure. Individuals with cardiovascular conditions should exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional.
  4. Insomnia and Overstimulation: Increased levels of norepinephrine can lead to overstimulation and difficulty sleeping. Some individuals may experience insomnia or restlessness as a side effect of norepinephrine precursor supplements.
  5. Gastrointestinal Issues: High doses of norepinephrine precursors can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including nausea and upset stomach. Starting with lower doses and gradually increasing can help minimise these effects.
  6. Neurodiverse, Mental Health, and Psychiatric Conditions: Individuals with neurodiverse, mental health or psychiatric conditions, such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, can be more sensitive to changes in neurotransmitter levels. Supplementing with norepinephrine precursors without proper supervision can lead to significant changes in mood and exacerbate symptoms. It also poses the risk of destabilising individuals and being very damaging for their mental health or neurodevelopmental disorder.
  7. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: The safety of norepinephrine precursor supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not well-established. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should consult with a healthcare professional before using these supplements.

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Final Thoughts

As high performers we are all looking to achieve our state of peak performance, which biohacking is critical to helping us initiate.

However, with all biohacking, its important we’re able to expertly identify supplements, lifestyle choices, and activities that help us expand into our higher state of being and elevate performance, than cause damage to it.

Norepinephrine precursor supplements can be highly beneficial for those of us looking to achieve our individual state of peak performance.

However, they also come with their risks, particularly for those with existing mental health, neurodevelopmental, or psychiatric conditions.

And, as it is commonly known, those who seek peak performance are often those with overactive or stimulated minds which results in common mental health or neurodiverse conditions, and more challenging psychiatric conditions.

It’s therefore important that, firstly, we’ve done the work on ourselves to understand how our minds operate during times of stress of regression, and if we’re prone to mental health conditions being triggered during such times, and secondly, that we’ve sought professional support for mental health conditions like medication, long-term therapy, and mind-mending practices including yoga, meditation, and journalling.

By gaining self-awareness of our mental health conditions, how our minds become triggered during times of stress and regression, and learning natural ways to calm our conditions, we prime our neurological pathway for maintaining a state of peak performance during difficult times. This then opens us up to opportunities for consuming cognitive enhancing supplements during the difficult times, further maintaining a state of peak performance, without suffering adverse side effects or damaging consequences to our mental health.

Who is James Kearslake?

Having been biohacking my mind and body long before it became fashionable, I’ve always lived by the benefits of nature’s resources to improve cognitive and physiological performance. Using my years of experience, products, and wellness practices, I’m now helping others elevate their cognitive performance to help build the life they want. I save you the time I’ve spent learning, so you can focus your time on building.

Proudly AI Supported

I proudly use AI to support development of my articles. As a heavily dyslexic person, writing can be a time consuming process with words often jumbled up and sentences the wrong way round. AI has become my crutch; allowing me to share the immense interest in my mind, while making content creation quicker and more accurate. AI is my benefit.

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