11 Chemicals in the Brain That Can Affect Your Body and Emotions

Many of you might not know that your brain contains so many types of chemicals. These chemicals are definitely different than the types of chemicals that you can find everyday in the environment. Chemicals in brain have their own specific functions, in this case, helps your brain works properly. The lack of these chemicals might cause certain issues as well. Chemicals in brain are known as neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitter came in several different types that have their own function and characteristics.

Basically, neurotransmitter is the chemicals that are synthesized in neuron on your brain and stored in synaptic bulb that is located at the end of axon. These chemicals are released from terminal axon through exocytose and also reabsorbed for recycling. Neurotransmitter is the method of communication between neurons. These chemicals can cause change of neuron cell permeability so that the neuron can distribute impulse depend on the neuron and the transmitter. There are several types of neurotransmitter that can be found in human brain. Below are short descriptions of each neurotransmitter in human brain.

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The Functions of Chemicals in Brain

Since there are so many types of chemical in brain, the benefits of each chemical may also different as well. Each type of chemical in brain has its own function. For example, acetylcholine can send responds from one cell to another. This chemical has major role in the movements of skeletal muscles. Acetylcholine also has role in controlling heart muscles and soft muscles.

Other chemical that can be found in brain is dopamine. This chemical has several benefits such as make your moods better and control your motor movements. Dopamine is also related with your cognitive abilities as well. This chemical has major role in improving your memories. Dopamine also can increase your concentration and awareness as well.

Other chemical in brain that can affect your moods is serotonin. Serotonin also plays important role in controlling body temperature. Other benefit of serotonin is that this chemical can stimulate hunger and your urge to take a sleep. Serotonin also can affect the work of cardiovascular system as well.

The Types of Chemical in Brain

As a result, here are the 11 chemicals in the brain that can affect your body and emotions:

1. Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is the transmitter substance that is synthesized on the end of presynapse from coenzyme acetic acid and choline using enzyme called choline acetyltransferase. This substance is later carried into its specific bulb. When the bulbs release acetylcholine into the synapse crack, acetylcholine immediately breaks the acetic acid and choline once again with some helps from cholinesterase enzyme which is bond with proteoglycan reticulum and fills the synapse crack.

After that, the bulb will be recycled and choline will be actively carried back to the end of synapse so that it can be reused for synthesizing the new acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is produced by neurons that are located in most areas on the brain, especially by large pyramid cells of motor cortex, some neurons in basal ganglia, motor neurons that innervated skeleton muscles, preganglionic neurons in autonomic nervous system, and postganglionic neurons in sympathetic nervous system.

On most of those examples, acetylcholine has excitation effects. However, acetylcholine is also known has inhibition effects as well on several ends of peripheral parasympathetic nerves such as heart inhibition by vagus nerve.

2. Dopamine

Dopamine, along with norepinephrine and epinephrine, are categorized as catecholamines. Hydroxylation of tyrosine is considered as rate-limiting step in biosynthesis of catecholamine. Besides, this tyrosine hydroxylase enzyme is blocked by catechol (the final result shows negative feedback).

Dopamine is neurotransmitter that is similar to adrenaline. Dopamine can affect brain process that controls motion, emotional respond, and the ability to feel happiness and pain. Dopamine is very important to control balance in movements. If your brain lacks of dopamine, it will cause lack of movement control such as the case in Parkinson disease.

Lack of dopamine or problems in dopamine distribution also might cause people to lose their ability to think straight as well like what being showed in people with schizophrenia. The lack of dopamine in tegmental area that contains many limbic systems might cause a person always be suspicious and might cause that person has paranoia personality. If the lack of dopamine occurs in mesocortical pathway from tegmental to neocortex, especially in prefrontal area, it might cause the deficit of memories.

3. Norepinephrine

As a result, norepinephrine is one of the chemicals in the brain that effect to body functions. Norepinephrine is produced by most neurons that their soma is located on the brain stem and hypothalamus. Neurons that located on locus coeruleus inside the pons that produce norepinephrine will typically send the wide nerve fibers inside the brain and will help the regulation of all activities and feels such as the enhancement of alertness.

On some parts of this area, the norepinephrine might activate the activation receptor. However, on more narrow areas, the norepinephrine might activate the inhibition receptor instead. Some of norepinephrines are also produced by most parts of neuron post ganglion of the sympathetic nervous system where epinephrine stimulates some organs but detains other organs.

4. Glutamate

Glutamate is the neurotransmitter that is most common in central nervous system. The amount of glutamate is about a half of all neurons in the brain. Glutamate plays major role in memory activity. The excess of glutamate will kill neurons in the brain. Sometimes brain damage or stroke might cause the excessive production of glutamate which will lead to the excess of glutamate and might cause many brain cells became die.

The excessive production of glutamate might cause AIS or also known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease. There are many scientists that believe the excess of glutamate is responsible for various diseases in nervous system and try to find the ways to minimize the effects of this condition.

5. Serotonin

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter that is synthesized in serotonergic neurons in central nervous system (CNS) and enterochromaffin cells in digestive tract. In central nervous system, serotonin plays important role as neurotransmitter that involves in processes that are related with anger, aggressiveness, change of body temperature, mood, sleep, human sexuality, appetite, metabolism, and the stimulus to vomit.

Meanwhile, serotonin has a wide activity on brain and the genetic variation in serotonin receptor and serotonin transporter which also has the ability to reuptake that if it’s disturbed will cause the effects to neurologist defect.

Drugs that affect the process of serotonin formation are usually used as the part of therapy in many psychiatric defects. Besides, serotonin is also one of the focuses of study about the generic effect in the modification of psychiatric genetic.

In some studies that have been conducted report that some people with anxiety disorder have abnormal serotonin transporter and the effects of this modification is that there is higher possibilities of depression that might occur compared to normal people. From the latest studies are also reported that serotonin together with acetylcholine and norepinephrine will act as neurotransmitter that are released on the end of enteric nerves.


This is one of the important chemicals in the brain, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is main inhibition neurotransmitter in central nervous system. GABA has major role in controlling the neuron excitability through nervous system. In human, GABA is also responsible directly in controlling the muscle tonus. GABA is formed from glutamate decarboxylation that is catalyzed by glutamate decarboxylase (GAD). Generally, GAD can be found in the end of nervous system. The activity of GAD needs pyridoxal phosphate (PLP) as cofactor.

PLP is formed from vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine) with some helps from pyridoxal kinase. Pyridoxal kinase itself needs zinc for activation. The lack of pyridoxal kinase or zinc might cause convulsion like on preeclampsia patients. The GABA receptor can be categorized into two types: GABAand GABAB. GABAreceptor opens the fluoride duct and antagonized by picrotoxin and bicuculline which both of them can cause general convulsion.

GABAB receptor that can be activated selectively by anti spastic baclofen drug is joined in potassium duct in post-synaptic membrane. On most areas of brain, the IPSP consists of slow and fast component. The evidences show that GABA is resistor transmitter that connects both of those components. Fast IPSP is inhibited by antagonist GABAwhile slow IPSP is inhibited by antagonist GABAB. Studies in immunohistochemistry show that most of local circuit nerves synthesize GABA. One specific group of nerves of local circuit that is located on dorsal horn of spinal cord also produces GABA. These nerves form axoaxonic synapse with primary sensory nerves terminal and works for presynapse inhibition.

7. Glycine

Glycine or aminoethanoic acid is the most simple natural amino acid. The chemical formula of this amino acid is NH2CH2COOH. Glycine is the smallest amino acid from 20 types of amino acid that are commonly found in protein. Its codons are GGU, GGC, GGA, and GGG. Glycine is the only amino acid that doesn’t have any optical isomer because residual group that bond to alpha carbon atom is hydrogen atom which makes its structure symmetrical. Therefore, there is no L-glycine or D-glycine.

Glycine is the type of amino acid that can adapt easily with various situations since it has simple structure. For example, glycine is the only internal amino acid in collagen helix, a structural protein. On several essential proteins such as cytochrome c, myoglobin, and hemoglobin, glycine is always located on the same position throughout the evolution (conserved).

The substitution of glycine with other amino acids will break the structure and makes protein can’t work properly. Generally, protein doesn’t contain glycine in large amount, except in collagen where two-thirds of its amino acid is glycine.

8. Aspartate

Aspartic acid (Asp) is α-amino acid with chemical formula HO2CCH(NH2)CH2CO2H. Aspartic acid (or commonly known as Aspartate since it’s ionized in cells) is one of 20 amino acids that compose protein. Aspartic acid, together with glutamic acid, is acidic with pH 4.0. For mammals, Aspartate is non essential.

The function of Aspartate is known as the instigator of neurotransmission in bran and nerve muscle. Allegedly, Aspartate plays a role in endurance against fatigue. This chemical compound is also a product of urea recycling and involves in gluconeogenesis.

Aspartate (conjugate base of aspartic acid) is neurotransmitter that is excitation against central nervous system. Aspartate stimulates NMDA (N-methyl-D-Aspartate) receptor even though the stimulation is not as strong as the stimulation of glutamate to that receptor. As neurotransmitter, aspartate plays major role in endurance against fatigue. However, the evidences that support this hypothesis are not too strong.

9. Epinephrine

Epinephrine is one of the hormones that play role in short term stress reaction. Epinephrine is produced by adrenal glands when there is critical situation or dangerous situation. In blood stream, epinephrine will quickly maintain the body’s requirements when there are tensions or critical situation by providing more supplies of oxygen and glucose to brain and muscles.

Besides that, epinephrine also will increase heart beat, stroke volume, dilatation, and arteriole contraction on gastrointestinal and skeleton muscles. Epinephrine will increase blood sugar level by improving catabolism of glycogen into glucose in liver and at the same time will lower the formation of lipid from fat cells.

Epinephrine has so many functions in almost every part of your body such as controlling fatty acid concentration, controlling blood glucose concentration, controlling blood stream on kidney, controlling metabolism rate, controlling smooth muscles contraction, chemical thermogenesis, vasodilatation, and vasoconstriction.

10. Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide (NO) is small molecule substance that is recently found. This molecule commonly appears on the area of brain that is responsible to long term behavior and memory. That’s why this newly found transmitter can help us to explain about behavior and the function of memory.

Nitric oxide is different than other molecule transmitters in formation mechanism on the end of presynapse and its work in post synaptic neurons. This molecule is not formed previously and stored in bulb at the end of presynapse like other transmitters. This molecule is produced almost directly when it’s needed and then it will be diffused out of the end of presynapse in few seconds and will not be released through bulbs.

After that, this molecule will be diffused into the nearest post synaptic neurons. After that, in post synaptic neurons, this molecule will not stimulate the potential membrane to become larger. Instead, it will change the intracellular metabolic function that will stimulate neuron electability in few seconds, minutes, or even longer.

11. Neuropeptide

Neuropeptide is a group of transmitter that is very different and it usually works slowly. In other thing, Neuropeptide is also a little bit different than small molecule transmitter as well. There are about 40 types of peptide that are assumed has function as neurotransmitter.

This list of peptides can be longer due to the discovery of putative neurotransmitter (it’s assumed has function as neurotransmitter based on evidences that being found but it still can’t be proven directly). Neuropeptide has been studied for long time ago but not in its function as neurotransmitter but in its function as hormonal substance.

At first, this type of peptide will be released into the blood stream by endocrine gland. After that, these peptide hormones will lead to the brain tissues. However, these days it’s been proved that peptides that act as neurotransmitter can be synthesized and released by neurons that are located on nerve structure.

Types of Food That Can Improve Chemicals in Brain

There are various types of food that can help improving the activity of chemicals in your brain. Certain types of food might improve certain types of chemical in your brain. For example, there are foods that can improve the activities of dopamine in your brain. Foods such as fruits or foods that are rich of antioxidant and vitamin B6 can improve the dopamine in your brain.

You can also improve serotonin in your brain by consuming certain types of foods as well. Foods that can improve serotonin in your brain are including seafood such as salmon and sardines, whey protein, banana, and chocolate. If you consume these foods, the amount of serotonin in your brain might increase.

Other types of food might increase the amount of nitric oxide in your brain. Watermelon is considered as one of the best types of food that can improve the amount of nitric oxide in your brain. Yolk and lentils are also good for nitric oxide in your brain as well. Other types of food that are good for nitric oxide in your brain are tuna and pistachio.

If you want to improve glycine in your brain, you can consume certain types of foods such as foods that contain high amount of protein. There are so many types of food that came with high amount of protein. Fish, meat, nuts, milk, and cheese are several types of food that are good for glycine in your brain.


There are various types of chemicals that can be found in human’s brain. Each type of these chemicals has its own function and characteristics. These chemicals can give so many benefits for your body. Some of these chemicals might affect your metabolism and the way your body works. However, if you are lack of these chemicals, it might cause some health issues. To maintain and improve the amount of brain chemicals, you can consume certain types of foods.

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