If you seem to have lost your zest for life, you may be suffering from low dopamine levels. However, few people are aware of what this substance is in the first place, let alone the crucial role it plays in motivation, focus, anticipatory pleasure, and other major aspects of our lives. Time to turn this around! In this article, we will explore what dopamine is and how increasing dopamine levels can make your life better.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that neurons in the human body use to communicate with each other.
It has been extensively studied by scientists for the role it plays in cognitive function, such as memory, learning, sleep, mood, and attention. 
Also, the lack of dopamine has also been linked to a number of health conditions, most notably Parkinson’s disease that may be associated with the decline of dopamine receptors in the brain.
How do you know if you’re suffering from low dopamine levels? Here are some common symptoms:
- Lack of motivation
- Low libido (sex drive)
- Decreased ability to feel pleasure
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Sleep problems
- Addiction and other self-destructive behaviors
If you believe you are dopamine-deficient, don’t worry just yet: there are safe ways in which you can increase your dopamine levels naturally.
Getting a Boost from Tyrosine
Tyrosine is an amino acid that acts as a ‘precursor’ (in other words, a building block) to dopamine.
This substance is considered to be a conditional amino acid, meaning that the body can usually synthesize it without a problem regardless of whether you get it from dietary sources or not.
However, in times of stress or illness, endogenous production of this amino acid may be disrupted, thus requiring that you get it from dietary sources.
The best dietary sources of tyrosine are protein-rich foods such as poultry meats (turkey and chicken) and dairy products (yogurt, milk, and cheese).
Other delicious options include nuts (especially peanuts and almonds), seeds (sunflower and pumpkin in particular), and fruits (such as bananas and avocados).
Mucuna Pruriens and Dopamine
Another way to safely increase your dopamine levels is by taking Mucuna pruriens, one of the most popular dopamine enhancing supplements on the market. 
Also known as Velvet Bean, this plant is a fabulous source of L-DOPA, another precursor to dopamine.
Studies have been conducted regarding its use for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease as well as its potential to treat other conditions related to low dopamine levels such as sexual dysfunction and depression.
Another benefit of Mucuna pruriens is that L-DOPA stimulates the release of GH-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus. 
Growth hormone promotes decreased body fat and increased muscle mass. As the body ages, however, GH levels fall, resulting in a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat.
Thus, an increasing number of people are taking injections of growth hormone as a way of reversing the effects of aging.
However, the non-prescription use of GH for this purpose is controversial at the very least. 
A 1990 study showed that GH therapy (used on patients who suffer from low levels of IGF-1 in the blood) provides beneficial effects such as increased bone mineral density and muscle mass, as well as overall improvements in wellbeing.
But these effects were difficult to reproduce in those who suffered from low GH levels as a result of age, and longer-term studies with a larger number of subjects are needed to make any solid conclusions.
Although it can be eaten as food, Mucuna pruriens needs to be cooked in order to destroy the trypsin inhibitors that prevent protein absorption.
However, cooking also destroys the L-DOPA in the bean, which is why it’s commonly processed as a dry powder and taken as a supplement.
Cold Water Therapy and Your Health
Hydrotherapy (the use of water of varying temperatures for the treatment of diverse health conditions) has also been shown to help increase the concentration of dopamine levels.
A study that researched the effects of water immersion therapy at various temperatures found that immersion at 14OC increased dopamine concentrations by 250 percent. 
In addition, a review of available literature revealed that hydrotherapy has been quite effectively used to treat a variety of conditions including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, obesity, and fatigue.
How Caffeine Boosts Dopamine
People have been drinking caffeine-containing beverages (such as coffee and tea) for centuries to “wake up” in the mornings, increase concentration and be more alert in general.
This is because caffeine, similarly to other substances that promote wakefulness, works in the brain by enhancing dopamine signaling.
Note that these substances work not by increasing the release of dopamine, but through improving the availability of DA D2/D3 receptors instead. 
One of the healthiest sources of caffeine is matcha green tea, which has higher caffeine content than common tea.
And as if that wasn’t great enough, drinking this exquisite beverage could also increase your testosterone and reduce estrogen levels.
Boosted testosterone levels can have such positive effects as improved metabolism, enhanced muscle buildup, and easier burning of fat.
Porn, Dopamine, and Addiction
While increasing dopamine levels in the brain have many beneficial effects, having too much dopamine can be harmful as well.
What’s important is to have the right levels of dopamine since an imbalance in either direction can have negative effects.
Too little, and you become lethargic and unmotivated. Too much, on the other hand, can cause you to become too aggressive and more prone to addictive behavior.
The negative effects of excess dopamine can be illustrated by showing how exposure to pornography damages the brain’s reward system. 
When we accomplish a goal, the brain rewards us by releasing dopamine, which in turn gives us feelings of pleasure.
Porn, like abused substances such as prohibited drugs, also cause the release of dopamine.
The problem is that porn gives us the same high as having sex without the sexual act itself.
As a result, the brain’s reward system becomes damaged since you can get the reward of a dopamine release without actually having to do anything for it, resulting in addiction.
What’s worse is that eventually, the addict becomes more tolerant to dopamine, requiring greater stimulation in order to get the same high.
Balancing Your Dopamine
While it seems that we’ve spent most of the article talking about how to increase your dopamine levels, we would like to reiterate that what really is important is to achieve and maintain balance.
Again, both too much and too little dopamine can have negative effects on your health. Look for the Goldilocks zone – just right
There’s a wide assortment of natural methods that you can use to increase your dopamine levels if you feel that you need to boost your drive or cognitive performance. If all else fails, you can take dopamine supplements.
There are countless options available on the modern market, but keep in mind that the best supplements are always made from all-natural ingredients, thus impose their effects in an absolutely safe fashion.
“Alex Eriksson is the founder of www.anabolichealth.com, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research-backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out his guide on foods that raise testosterone or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.”