Acetylcholine How to Increase or Decrease it

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter that has been receiving a lot of attention in memory research. ACh helps with many functions particularly in the areas of movement, learning & memory, and sleep quality. It is paramount balance ACh properly, so you can perform at your maximum ability.

 

nom nom nom...eggs are high in choline

 
 
 

Basics

 

  • In the muscles, ACh is used for movement, by activating skeletal muscles and causing muscle contractions. R R
  • In the nervous system, ACh is used in the regulation of the autonomic nervous system (parasympathetic and sympathetic). R
  • In the brain, ACh is essential for memory, arousal, attention and motivation. R R R 
  • In the lungs, ACh works with histamine to help you breath. R
ACh is synthesized in certain neurons by the enzyme choline acetyltransferase (AChE) from the compounds choline and acetyl-CoA. Cholinergic neurons are capable of producing ACh. R

ACh is synthesized in certain neurons by the enzyme choline acetyltransferase (AChE) from the compounds choline and acetyl-CoA. Cholinergic neurons are capable of producing ACh. R

So it's important to have it balanced in the brain, and not unbalanced.

 
This is the acetylcholine pathway of your brain.

This is the acetylcholine pathway of your brain.

 

Benefits

1. Enhances the Vagus Nerve

 
 

The vagus nerve has an important role in regulation of metabolic homeostasis. ACh signaling of the vagus nerve regulates immune function and pro-inflammatory responses via the inflammatory reflex. R

2. Improves Attention

 
 

ACh improves decision-making skills and is involved wit attentional process. R R

3. Helps Sleep

During sleep, ACh schedules and promotes REM sleep. R And regulates non-REM/REM sleep cycle. R

Technical:

  • Cholinergic activation in the CNS stems from two regions: the mesopontine tegmentum and the nucleus basalis of Meynert. 
  • The cells of the pedunculopontine and laterodorsal tegmentum are genuinely involved in the regulation of sleep stages, which is described in the reciprocal-interaction model of REM/non-REM alternation. R
  • During wakefulness and REM sleep, these cells provide cholinergic input to thalamocortical neurons, which in turn activate the cortex via glutamatergic projections. R
  • Other projections from the tegmentum, also using glutamate, activate the nucleus basalis of Meynert, which in turn provides cholinergic activation throughout the cortex. R

4. Affects Hormones

ACh affects the hypothalamus, causing it to tell the pituitary glands to secrete prolactin and growth hormone. R

5. Enhances Memory and Prevents Memory Loss

 
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So this won't happen.

Muscarinic and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors play a role in encoding of new memories. R

Low ACh in the hippocampus has been associated with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. R

It's estimated a 90% loss of ACh in Alzheimer's patient's brains. R

ACh helps encode new memories and increases the modification of synapses, thus helping enhance memory. R

Technical:

  • ACh inhibits feedback loops within the hippocampus and between the hippocampus and neocortex. R
  • High cholinergic activity during wakefulness allows encoding of new declarative memories, whereas low cholinergic activity during SWS supports the spontaneous replay of newly acquired information in the hippocampus. This replay is thought to lead to a transfer of information from the temporary hippocampal to the permanent neocortical storage and to memory consolidation. R R

6. Anti-inflammatory

Cholinergic mechanisms within the inflammatory reflex have been implicated in attenuating obesity-related inflammation and metabolic complication. R

ACh inhibits the release of TNF, IL-1β and IL-18.  R

7. Protects Against Infections

ACh was shown to inhibit biofilm formation during fungal infections. ACh inhibited inflammation-induced organ damage. R

8. Regulates Digestive System

 
Muscles contract when they get signals from motor neurons... when you need to go.

Muscles contract when they get signals from motor neurons... when you need to go.

 

ACh can be released by presynaptic nAChRs (nicotinic acetylcholine receptors). nAChRs regulate a positive feedback associated motor neurons in respect to ACh, thus regulating gut motility. R

My Experience

I'll notice if I take too much dietary choline and a strong AChEI, I will get sluggish, lethargic and depressed. One time, I took too much of both, and broke up with my ex. (scary ACh did this to me).

I also notice an increase in libido when I take too many ACh and increased dream duration (also can be scary).

Side Effects

Too High

  • Depression R R R R
  • Alzheimer's Disease R

Too Low

  • Lowered Cognition R R R
  • Parkinson's Disease (low ACh receptors) R R (along with dopamine) R
  • Alzheimer's Disease R (along with glutamate) R 
  • Delirium R
  • Dementia R
  • Poor REM activity R

Myasthenia Gravis

 
Eye deviation and a drooping eyelid in a person with myasthenia gravis trying to open their eyes

Eye deviation and a drooping eyelid in a person with myasthenia gravis trying to open their eyes

 

The disease myasthenia gravis, characterized by muscle weakness and fatigue, occurs when the body inappropriately produces antibodies against acetylcholine nicotinic receptors, and thus inhibits proper acetylcholine signal transmission. R

Over time, the motor end plate is destroyed. Drugs that competitively inhibit AChE are effective in treating this disorder. R

Raise It

My favorite way to increase ACh levels is to increase dietary intake of choline: R

Other dietary choline sources:

BDNF stimulation will also upregulate acetylcholine receptors. R

Here are other ways to increase ACh, by inhibiting AChE, the enzyme that breaks down ACh.

 
Acetylcholine processing in a synapse. After release acetylcholine is broken down by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.

Acetylcholine processing in a synapse. After release acetylcholine is broken down by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.

 

Lower It

If acetylcholine gives you depression, this video may help.

More Research

  • Cholinesterase Inhibitor Donepezil Increases Mitochondrial Biogenesis through AMP-Activated Protein Kinase in the Hippocampus. R
  • In mice, delta 8-THC (30 mg/kg) increased ACh in cortex and hippocampus. delta 9-THC and 11-OH-delta 9-THC increased choline in midbrain and cortex, whereas beta-HHC increased choline in all areas, except hippocampus. R
  • There is a role of mitochondrial carnitine acetyltransferase in facilitating transfer of acetyl groups across mitochondrial membranes, thus regulating the availability in the cytoplasm of acetyl-CoA, a substrate of choline acetyltransferase. R 
  • ACh can inhibit the lipopolysaccharide induced inflammatory reaction in alveolar macrophages. R
  • Inhibiting cholinergic activity during SWS (slow wave sleep) plays an important role in sleep-related memory consolidation, possibly by allowing feedback loops in the hippocampus to become active. R
  • Acetylcholine R