ATP: Your Energy Source And Neurotransmitter



Submitted by David Overton

We used to think fatigue and neurotransmitter problems (ADD, anxiety, depression, digestive conditions, poor memory, migraines, obesity, neurological problems, pain, others) were due to serotonin, dopamine or norepinephrine (“adrenaline”) imbalances. It’s now known that ATP (adenosine triphosphate) regulates organs and co-regulates serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters. ATP works to provide cellular energy and as a neurotransmitter that allows cells and organs to communicate and control each other.

There are two major ATP groups and they have positive (“good”) or negative (“bad”) functions. For example, ATP works to positively control the brainstem and regulate mood, sleep, breathing, heart rhythm, circulation and digestion. If you have problems in any of these areas, it could easily be due to ATP depletion.  You can read more about this in the 12/09 issue of Scientific American or the longer version posted on my website.

How does this work? In the circulation system, sympathetic nerve cells (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine releasing cells) in blood vessels release ATP to constrict (narrow) arteries, potentially causing circulation problems. Stressed blood vessels release additional ATP which causes the release of nitric oxide to open up (dilate) blood vessels. If the blood vessels are depleted of ATP, the system will not work correctly, causing circulation problems. Blood vessels damaged by treatable conditions, such as poor lifestyle choices, excess fat cells, insulin resistance, inflammation, free radicals, immune problems, infections, inherited genetic DNA problems, nutritional deficiencies, high blood pressure, heart disease or high cholesterol release “bad” ATP that causes narrowed arteries or enlarged heart (diagnosed with ECG and cardiac ultrasound tests) and/or blood clots to form.

Here are a few other treatable ATP system problems:

  • Immune dysfunction, inflammation, impaired infection fighting abilities, tumor suppression
  • Brain problems: insomnia, anxiety, depression, cognitive problems, learning disorders, poor memory, epilepsy and nerve degeneration
  • Digestive: constipation, irritable bowel, heartburn, acid problems, other
  • Sexual problems: erection problems, low libido in men and women
  • Bone problems: osteoporosis and bone problems
  • Skin: psoriasis, scleroderma and other inflammatory skin rashesSensory problems: diminished vision, smell, taste or hearing
  • Chronic pain
  • Kidneys: recurrent infections and kidney disease
  • Bladder: incontinence and bladder control problems

Researchers are trying to make drugs to block “bad” ATP and promote “good” ATP. Making a drug that supports one system without damaging other systems is difficult. This is a common problem with all drugs, especially antihistamines, cardiac drugs, digestive drugs, immune suppressants, hormones and psychiatric drugs. The drug is trying to block a function in one system to relieve symptoms, but causes problems in other systems.

There are a few limited drugs to use for ATP problems but more importantly lifestyle changes and lots of alternative medicines boost “good” ATP to improve organ and system functions. If you have any problems linked to ATP, see a clinician who can treat ATP problems.

David Overton, PA-C works at Natural Medicines & Family Practice providing integrated conventional and alternative treatments under the supervision of Dr. Richard Faiola, MD, ABFM. 360-357-8054

References: The Double Life of ATP, Scientific American, December 2009. . Pathological Basis of Disease, 8th Edition, V. Kumar,MD & others, 2010.

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