What is Dopamine and its Function in Brain

what is dopamine

Dopamine Hydrochloride (Dopamine HCL), or catecholamine neurotransmitter or simply a “Dopamine” is a brain neurotransmitter that plays a role of CNS (central nervous system) and PNS (peripheral nervous system) modulator.

This chemical is mainly produced by the brain and is an essential element responsible for emotional responses like feelings of pleasure, libido (sexual drive), sleep, addiction, motivation, mood, and of course motor movement, focus, and concentration.

Dopamine can be delivered to your brain in different ways either by taking natural (L-tyrosine) or synthetic (Levodopa) precursor of L-dopa, or by taking Mucuna pruriens.

Dopamine is normally used not only for a purpose of improving some functions of your brain required for better concentration, thinking, and learning capacity.

But in some cases, Dopamine is used to support a normal level of neurotransmitter in your brain since the low level of this neurotransmitter can actually adversely affect your mental functioning, emotional condition, and related physical effects.

The most obvious effects which are opposite to the beneficial effects of Dopamine are low libido, lack of motivation, feeling of frustration.

It is rather common to experience fatigue, depression, hopelessness, anger, and despair if the Dopamine level is low.

All mentioned facts demonstrate that the role of this neurotransmitter is irreplaceable for your normal functioning.

You have probably heard about natural ways to increase Dopamine levels. These include daily exercises, meditation, yoga, sex, and even laugh can raise the level of Dopamine.

But not the only physical activity that can be helpful in this respect, following food can also help to maintain a level of Dopamine required for your brain:

  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.)
  • Fish, shellfish, and other seafood
  • Beef, pork, and lamb (lean parts)
  • Chicken, turkey, fowl (lean parts)
  • Beans, nuts, sprouts, and seeds

The simple chemical scheme of Dopamine synthesis looks as follows:
L-Phenylalanine to L-Tyrosine to L-DOPA = Dopamine

what is dopamine
Figure 1. Scheme of the catecholamine biosynthesis pathway. PH—phenylalanine hydroxylase, TH—tyrosine hydroxylase, TD—tyrosine decarboxylase, DD—l-DOPA decarboxylase, DH—dopamine β-monooxygenase, and PMNT—phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase.

Phenylalanine is the first element that generates Dopamine in the end by involving natural brain biological conversion of elements within your body. Phenylalanine can only be obtained from food since it cannot be produced by your body.

Dopamine Function

When you consider the opportunity to take Dopamine it is important to understand its mechanism of action and function.

All outer reactions of your body to any nootropic are the result of an effect of nootropic substances on your brain. All magic is in the chemical interaction within the brain which affects the neurons and neurotransmitters.

As for Dopamine, these nootropics may work in different ways depending on which particular pathway was chosen: nigrostriatal, mesolimbic, tuberoinfundibular, mesocortical.


If it’s mesocortical, so Dopamine will stimulate areas responsible for motivation, planning, structural and constitutive thinking, an enhanced intention of achievements.


Also, Dopamine affects the limbic system through the mesolimbic pathway. This system is responsible for pleasure control and adjustment, dominance and leadership, and associated feelings of lust, hunger, and yearning.


One of the interesting Dopamine’s effects is the ability to regulate lactation function. This happens by modulating the hormone prolactin.


Dopamine reaches the basal ganglia (a neuronal structure that is reached by Dopamine through the nigrostriatal pathway) mainly responsible for motor function.

A difference in the movement function may show the level of Dopamine in your body: if you feel unintentional or jerky, so probably your Dopamine level is high. In case if you feel slow, sluggish, or delayed, most likely your Dopamine level is low.

Recent research shows that about 70% of people have insufficient Dopamine levels (researches included people of US and Europe age 25-55 years).

Dopamine Deficiency

what is dopamine
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You already know how Dopamine works within your body and which great effects it opens up.

The biggest focus now is made on Dopamine’s special characteristics allows alleviating suffering which is very often used in post-surgery therapy, rehabilitation, control of blood pressure in extreme shock situations, reducing pain in cases of traumatic injury and surgeries.

You can see that Dopamine can be found very useful not only for mood increase and stimulation of emotional response. There is a huge number of symptoms that relatively can warn of lack of this important supplement within your body.

And as long as all of them are not exclusively related to Dopamine levels (low or high), it is very important to monitor your brain and body condition based on other parameters.

Following symptoms could be a result of Dopamine deficiency in your body and include changes in mood, depressive condition, brain fog, lack of motivation, anger, joylessness, carelessness, and others.

Dopamine Side Effects

The safety of any nootropic is the primary question that should be resolved right before you make a decision to take any of the “smart” supplements.

We believe that it is the first time when we are about to discuss side effects generated by low or high levels of Dopamine. Since the level of Dopamine is an essential part of your health condition, any changes from a normal level will give unpleasant adverse effects.

This is precisely why it is required to control and monitor Dopamine levels.

A low level of Dopamine can be equally unpleasant as effects caused by an excessive concentration of the neurotransmitter. Top of such side effects starts with depression, slow thinking, fatigue, low libido, anxiety, depersonalization, attention deficits, asthenia, and others.

People with Dopamine deficiency experience depression, related psychological disorders, and cognitive defects.

In order to avoid any of them, the Dopamine levels should be increased to a comfortable level.

One of the amusing things about Dopamine is that it actually can be regulated and adjusted in a natural way: physical activity, wholesome food, excluding stress and other factors negatively affecting the nervous system.

All these factors will improve Dopamine levels.

But users should be very careful about increasing it since its excessive concentration may, in fact, cause serious effects like anxiety, overexcitement with relater tremors, hyper wakefulness with related sleep problems, paranoia, and lack of self-control what leads to behavioral issues.

Also quite rare and unpleasant could be dizziness, headaches, vomiting, and some gastrointestinal problems (like constipation), a disorder of consciousness (hallucinations, delusions), and fainting due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Some of the effects following overdosage of Dopamine can be treated both ways either pleasant or unpleasant, e.g. excessive libido and hyperactivity.

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  1. […] Low Dopamine may cause a wide range of symptoms. Some of them are easy ones and do not bring discomfort or significantly aggravate normal pace of living and include mood swings, mental and physical fatigue, lethargy, low libido, lack of creativity, aspiration, and motivation, poor outlook. […]

  2. […] A second way to increase Dopamine is by taking pills increasing the availability of Dopamine precursor – L-DOPA. […]

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