Updated October 27, 2011By Mary J. Shomon, with Wm. Cline, Ph.D.
A new product is now on the market that may be able to help people stay on their diets. If you can get past the somewhat silly name, CraniYums, youll find that the company poses an intriguing proposition a variety of supplements that help you stay on your diet by increasing the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are your brain's own natural appetite, mood and energy regulators. The companys three key products include CraniYums Essential Balance, which helps rebuild serotonin & dopamine levels, CraniYums Energy Boost, which helps boost dopamine levels, and CraniYums PM Craving Control, which helps boost serotonin.
These neurotransmitters are an essential part of your ability to remain motivated, maintain a positive mood, maintain energy, manage hunger, and control cravings.
I tried Craniyums myself, over a four-week period, and report on my own experience later in the article. But my colleague Dr. William Cline explored Craniyums with the products founder, Dr. Cheryle R. Hart, M.D., a Mayo Clinic graduate who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as bariatrics, the specialty of medical weight management. She is currently the medical director of the Wellness Workshop in Spokane, Washington, a preventive health and weight loss clinic that has treated more than 5000 weight loss patients since 1996. She is also co-author of The Insulin-Resistance Diet.
CraniYums provide the precursors of serotonin (5-hydroxytrytophan) and dopamine (tyrosine) in forms that cross the blood-brain barrier, which then delivers therapeutically active increases in brain levels of serotonin and dopamine.
The premise is that by taking precursors, neurotransmitter levels that may be reduced due to underlying disease or dieting can be increased. The Essential Balance product contains 5-hydroxytryptophan as a precursor of 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) and both L-dopa and tyrosine as precursors of dopamine. These particular precursors are chosen because they are able to cross the blood brain barrier that is impermeable to both serotonin and dopamine.
Symptoms of Neurotramitter Deficiency
There are are a number of common symptoms of neurotransmitter deficiency and/or imbalance that can impact overall health, energy, and ability to lose weight. These symptoms include:
- Depressed mood
- Low motivation
- Poor focus
- Poor muscle strength or feeling week
- Anxiety or worry
- PMS-related moodiness
- Chronic pain
- Achy muscles
- Sleep problems
- Cravings in the afternoon or evening
- Eating large food portions
- Feeling not satisfied after eating
- Thinking about food often
- Crave chocolate
- Crave caffeine
- Crave nicotine
- Crave starchy food
- Crave sweets
- Crave alcohol
The CraniYums Approach
All of the supplements are formulated as lozenges that have a non-glycemic base with a sweetish taste. The lozenges are placed under the tongue, not chewed, because this allows for rapid absorption that avoids contact with the stomach and avoids some metabolism by the liver before passing into the brain.
According to Dr. Hart, the basic approach is to initially start with the Essential Balance supplements (4-10 lozenges per day) for at least two weeks to increase both dopamine and serotonin). To this is then added up to eight (8) lozenges of Energy Boost (increases dopamine) and/or up to eight (8) lozenges of PM Craving Control (increases serotonin) as needed.
According to Dr. Hart, the therapy plan approach differs for men and women.
For men, improvement in symptoms including craving for carbohydrates is usually noted after one week of consistent use of Essential Balance with 1 or 2 lozenges taken 2 3 times a day. Thereafter, men usually choose to supplement Essential Balance with Energy Boost, which increases dopamine. In general, men have more serotonin than women, so they require less Essential Balance than women for relief of symptoms.