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Increase Dopamine Receptors

I’m quite religious in my following of Andrew Huberman and his weekly The Huberman Lab podcast. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Andrew Huberman is a professor of neuroscience and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine.

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Many of his teachings have been distilled into this newsletter and his weekly podcast has greatly improved my acumen in science and science-based tools for life improvement.

Last week he released a podcast on optimizing brain chemistry. The segment regarding increasing dopamine receptors was particularly interesting to me. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter and hormone. It’s partly responsible for body functions, including movement, memory, motivation, and to a lesser extent pleasure.

In this segment Dr. Huberman advocates, as does science, for the consistent ingestion of caffeine for increasing dopamine receptors so that the brain can receive and park dopamine.

I won’t argue with science, however I do feel as if this segment was missing something related to efficient use of caffeine. Dr. Huberman does recommend low doses of caffeine, 100 mgs, but he fails to speak to the perils of the dependency that can come from regular caffeine use, even at 100 mgs per dose.

Why do after 7-8 hours of sleep we still reach for a stimulant quickly after waking? Are we actually tired or have we become so accustomed to habit that without it we feel less of ourselves…

Stimulants cause anxiety by increasing adrenaline in the brain and body. Without an opportunity to exert the increase in energy from raised levels of adrenaline, our system eventually crashes with serotonin and dopamine levels rising and falling in rapid succession.

I’m far from opposed to caffeine intake. We released a piece a few weeks ago about trading Coffee for Cacao, highlighting the theobromine to caffeine ratio in cacao. 

1 cup of brewed cacao has 350 mgs of theobromine and 15 mgs of caffeine. Theobromine contains precursors to dopamine and serotonin that improve mood and memory. And, according to scientific studies compiled by Dr. Huberman, caffeine increases dopamine receptors.

I won’t advocate for 100 mgs of caffeine daily to increase dopamine receptors when cacao contains much less caffeine and precursors to dopamine included in the mix. So while cacao is increasing the dopamine receptors through its caffeine content, it’s also feeding those receptors with dopamine. 

Much more efficient, right Dr. Huberman?