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Validity of Neurotransmitter Testing

Why do we have confidence in neurotransmitter testing knowing that an internet search will show many articles that talk about this being invalid?

First we need to talk about the problems of testing in general. Neurotransmitters like serotonin or dopamine cannot be measured directly. The brain isn't bathed in serotonin for example. It is manufactured and used in the same place. Any probe would have to be microscopic and the very act of inserting the probe would alter the results.

CSF levels might give some information but obtaining cerebral spinal fluid is invasive and a trip to a clinic for a lumbar puncture would also change the final results.

Blood levels also provide some information but the problem is that you get an instantaneous reading that may not be representative of the trends. Also this requires a blood draw that will introduce the stress of going to the clinic and getting a hole poked in your vein.

So that brings us to urine testing. The urine is a collection of kidney filtering activity over several hours and can easily be done at home with usual daily stresses so is more representative of actual levels.

Detractors of urine testing might point out that some of these crucial biochemicals are actually made in the kidney so don't reflect the brain chemistry at all. Some will point out that the enteric nerve system associated with the intestines also use the same neurotransmitters as the brain so how can any urine test show what is happening in the brain?

These are good points but the thinking is backwards. Dr. Gottfried Kellerman did much of the research on the validity of neurotransmitter testing. He was actually working on a different project but needed to know something about neurotransmitters as part of that research project. He looked at several different neurotransmitter breakdown products that could be tested in the urine. He began testing as many people as he could to see what he might find. One group of people he was particularly interested in consisted of those who did not have anxiety, depression, insomnia or migraines etc. These were healthy, happy people. It was surprisingly difficult to find these enough of these people but finally did.

He discovered that the profiles of these healthy people had amazingly similar urine neurotransmitter byproduct profiles. The profiles of the people with anxiety, depression or insomnia had profiles that differed from each other and also differed significantly from the healthy group. He used the values he obtained from these healthy people and from there determined healthy ranges for the key neurotransmitter values.

The next step was to begin treating some of the out-of-healthy-range people. He found that as he brought their urine neurotransmitter values into ranges found in the healthy group, people felt better. They had less anxiety, depression, insomnia etc.

So the first step is to determine a normal profile like Dr. Kellerman did. The next step is to see what happens to the test group. This is not any different than looking at a blood lipid profile and noticing that people with a cholesterol of 400 had a much higher probability of heart disease than those with a level of 185. The next step is to bring the 400 group down to 185 and see if that makes a difference. If it does, that is the information you needed to help people be healthier.

One of the mistakes in the thinking of the critics of neurotransmitter testing is trying to look at a particular profile and determine if a person is depressed or not. It doesn't work like that. You can take two people with very similar profiles and they might have an entirely different clinical expression. One might be depressed and the other has difficulty falling asleep. This happens all the time in testing. An example is the case of identical twin 5-year-old girls who were exposed to high lead in their environment. They both had similar blood levels of lead. One had classic lead poisoning symptoms and the other was completely asymptomatic.

For another example let's consider an MRI of the low back. No one can predict the amount of pain or disability a person might experience based on the MRI. The doctor has to consider the clinical symptoms along with the MRI results to recommend a course of treatment. Two people with very similar MRI results will most likely benefit from different treatment approaches. One may require surgery and the other more conservative measures.

Therefore rejecting neurotransmitter testing because it can't predict a clinical symptom pattern shows a basic lack of understanding of the way the body works.

We have been using testing and treatment using NeuroScience (Dr. Kellerman) protocols for 10 years with wonderful results. We use these tests and treatments personally for our family, friends and of course many clients. In many cases it has been life saving.

I can't speak to other methods of neurotransmitter testing. Other companies have their own methods, I am sure. We are confident that NeuroScience will give us reliable and consistent data and will help us support the brain in normalizing neurotransmitter function.

Also see Health Resources: Neurotransmitter Testing Basics.