Scott Theirl, DC, DACNB, FACFN
Specialty: Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist with focus on integrative neuroendoimmunology and functional neurology rehabilitation
Company Affiliation: Clinical Advisory Board Member for NeuroScience, Inc.
Not so fast! There is a growing body of research articles that links altered immune responses, which may manifest as physical aches, to suboptimal sleep and how we feel both during the daytime and at nighttime.1 Additional research continues to shed light on reciprocal neuroimmune connections and the importance of having a healthy nervous system for having a healthy immune system and vice-versa.2 Clinically, understanding a few of these nervous and immune system interactions can support patient outcomes by helping to alleviate body aches that interfere with sleep, mood, and energy. The following are some key insights and opportunities for nutritional intervention that can be optimized through biomarker testing.
Current thinking primarily looks at mood when it comes to understanding serotonin and not its role in sleep and physical discomfort. Serotonin, as a key neurotransmitter, has a long list of important roles including platelet cell health, immune responses, and GI function to name a few.3 In sleep, serotonin has calming roles and serves as the precursor to melatonin.
Serotonin also plays a critical role in how we perceive physical aches. Via descending pathways in the spinal cord, serotonin reduces the perception of physical aches by inhibiting glutamate release and increasing GABA and glycine release in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.4 For patients that test low on serotonin biomarker tests, supporting serotonin production with its amino acid precursors, tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan, can be an important option for supporting central neurologic mechanisms that process the perception of physical aches as well as supporting sleep patterns.*
Norepinephrine is a catecholamine and, like serotonin, is often thought of as a mood-supporting neurotransmitter, but we must keep in mind that it is made in both the locus coeruleus in the brain and the adrenal medulla. As a neurotransmitter, it also has a long list of physiological functions including contributions to physical energy, mental arousal, stress, adrenal excitation and adrenal fatigue. Additionally, research has demonstrated that elevations in norepinephrine contribute to suboptimal sleep cycles.5
The perception of physical aches is also moderated by norepinephrine. Norepinephrine provides its effects similarly to serotonin, by inhibiting glutamate release and increasing GABA and glycine release in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.4 Supporting patients that test low in norepinephrine with its amino acid precursor tyrosine can help regulate the mechanisms controlling the perception of physical aches.* For elevated norepinephrine results on biomarker testing, optimizing serotonin support can help reduce catecholamine elevations to promote sleep.
While the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) is often thought of as only contributing to cognition, acetylcholine also acts as an immune modulator.6 ACh from the cholinergic, immune-regulating pathway down-regulates cytokine release from macrophages as well as other immune system cells. As research has noted that physical aches and sleep challenges have the potential to be exacerbated by upregulated immune responses, ACh support offers a potential avenue to reducing these common concerns.* Supporting patients with Huperzia serrata leaf extract provides huperzine A which exhibits acetylcholinesterase inhibitor properties and thus supports ACh levels.*
Though there are a multitude of options to support healthy brain and body aging, ensuring a great night’s sleep and the ability to move with ease are certainly at the top of everyone’s list. These three neurotransmitters are key to optimal nervous and immune system health and hold potential for helping patients feel their best.

1. A.N. Vgontzas et al, Metabolism, Volume 51, Issue 7, July 2002, Pages 887–892
2. Gerwyn Morris et al. BMC Medicine (2015) 13:28Serotonin Involvement in Physiological Function and Behavior. Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects. 6th edition.
3. Megumu Yoshimura and Hidemasa Furue, J Pharmacol Sci 101, 107 – 117 (2006)
4. Maria Basta et al, Sleep Med Clin. 2007 June; 2(2): 279–291.
5. Valentin A Pavlov, et al., Mol Med. 2003 May-Aug; 9(5-8): 125–134.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.**This blog was written by an outside source. This blog does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Natural Partners.