Acetylcholine- the key to learning and memory
What is Acetylcholine (Ach)?
ACh is essential for learning and directional functioning such as finding places and things. Deficiencies in Ach can cause “senior moments” and poor learning, memory and word find. It is also involved in the circadian rhythms of the adrenal system. ACh comes from choline. Choline easily crosses the blood brain barrier; therefore, dietary sources are essential to optimal brain function.
The best sources are found in animal fats such as milk, meat and eggs
So my clients take a long questionnaire to determine their deficiency and dominant nature. Here are some brief descriptions.
ACETYLCHOLINE DOMINANT NATURE You are adept at working with your senses and view the world in sensory terms. You are highly creative and open to new ideas. You are a quick thinker who is always taking other people into consideration. You are devoted to making things the best they can be, no matter how much effort it requires. You are flexible, creative, and spontaneous, and are willing to try anything new as long as it promises to be new and exciting. If your acetylcholine nature is in balance, you are intuitive and innovative. You take pleasure in anything involving words, ideas, and communication. (Acetylcholine is produced to a great extent in the parietal lobes of the brain, which is responsible for language, intelligence, and comprehension) You may be ideal in the roles as counselor, mediator, think tank member, yoga and meditation instructor, religious leader, and in public service. Strong acetylcholine levels are associated with high brain speed, which impacts the creative function, so artists, writers, advertising professionals, and actors are frequently acetylcholine dominant. You are extremely social, even charismatic. You love meeting and greeting and making new friends. You come across to others as authentic and grounded. People find you charming, and you find relationships come easy to you. You invest a great deal of energy and time into your relationships and feel that you are personally reaping the rewards. You are an optimist, and your see the possibilities in people. You are attentive to the needs of children and romantic with your significant other. You are good at remembering other people’s feelings and reactions, and this enables you to not hurt others. You are altruistic and benevolent. You love adventure. You are open to new things and not afraid of failure. You like to travel, but you can also enjoy reading about the lives of others. Your quest for learning makes you interested in a variety of topics and adept at sharing your knowledge with others.
Too Much Acetylcholine You may give too much of yourself, to the point of not considering your own needs or becoming masochistic. You may feel the world is taking advantage of you, or become paranoid. You may become socially isolated as a result. Panic disorder, manic episodes, or anxiety can result.
Not Enough Acetylcholine You may experience poor learning and memory, poor geospatial awareness, senior moments, poor visual and verbal word memory
Choline is a nutrient related to the vitamin B complex that is a precursor of acetylcholine. But not all choline supplements increase choline in the brain or raise acetylcholine levels. Here is a list of some of the ones I found that are associated with increased levels (Alban& Alban, n.d.):
- Alpha-GPC- this is a highly bioavailable form of choline that readily enters the brain, and it is considered one of the bet forms of choline for raising Ach levels. It is a component of human breast milk, and it is promising for enhancing memory, cognition, and a treatment for AD. The recommended dose is 400mg 3x per day
- Citicoline- A choline precursor this is a naturally occurring compound found in every cell of your body and high concentrations are found in the brain. It can improve blood flow to the brain and encourage the growth of new brains cells, improve memory, focus, and attention. One brand name to look for is Cognizin, 1,000-2,000 mg per day.
- Bacopa– this is an adaptogenic herb that has been used as a brain tonic in Chinese and Indian medicine. It can balance NT’s such as Ach, dopamine and SERT. It can improve memory, accuracy and processing speed. It may be a good choice for a younger client that is under a lot of stress with anxiety or insomnia, but maybe not much cognitive decline.
- American Ginseng– this is a traditionally known as a cognition enhancer to improve memory, mental clarity, and sharpness. Cereboost is a common brand, 100-200mg a day.
- Gotu Kola– is in the same plant family as parsley and carrots, and used in Asia to treat disorders of the mind such as memory loss, mental fatigue, anxiety and depression. Often in China it is called “fountain of youth” as it is thought to promote longevity. This works a bit differently; the triterpenes are compounds that work like the drug Aricept to inhibit the breakdown of Ach. They can also prevent the amyloid plaque that are characteristic of AD. Recommended dose is 2,000 to 4,000 mg a day
- Huprezine A– this was recommended by Dr. Kharrazian, which is a traditional Chinese remedy for increasing Ach to improve memory. This works by blocking the enzyme acetylcholinesterase that breaks down Ach and is often sold as a nootropic in many memory formulas. It actually is used as an improved drug in China to treat AD. General recommendation is 50-200mcg taken 2x per day. Be aware there are some side effects, such as digestive, anxiety, muscle cramps and changes in blood pressure and HR.
- Acetyl-l-Carnitine– an amino acid well documented for its ability to improve alertness, focus, mental clarity and mood. This amino acid is a precursor to Ach, and has a similar structure so it binds with and activates Ach receptors in the brain. This can also help with anxiety and depression.
Alban, D., Alban, P. (n.d.). Top 9 Acetylcholine Supplements to Boost Memory and Cognition. Retrieved (2018, November 12) from https://bebrainfit.com/acetylcholine-supplements/
Sisson, M. (2018). Do “Dominant” Neurotransmitters Impact Training? Retrieved (2018, November 12) from https://www.marksdailyapple.com/do-dominant-neurotransmitters-impact-training/