Getting the Most Out of Neurotransmitter Testing

Neurotransmitters function in your brain and body in ways that define your personality and your physical abilities. They are the chemicals that move your muscles and generate the feelings that you have, among many other functions. Their importance cannot be overestimated.

Low serotonin has been implicated in many disorders, including OCD, perseverative behavior, depression, anxiety, and GI dysfunction. Dopamine is critical for executive function, attention, focus, goal-motivated behavior, and mood. Higher norepinephrine levels relative to epinephrine appears to be a factor in ADD/ADHD.


Several tests are needed to get a complete sense of neurotransmitter (NT) function, formation, balance, and breakdown. The level of starting materials for serotonin and dopamine is found on a Urine Amino Acid test (UAA). Tryptophan converts into serotonin. Phenylalanine converts into tyrosine and subsequently dopamine. Dopamine then goes on to become norepinephrine and epinephrine. So the UAA test gives you the levels of the starting materials for these as well as other neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitter testing gives you the level of the particular NT found in your body. So with the UAA and the neurotransmitter test results, you have the level of the starting material and the amount of neurotransmitter made from the starting material.

Finally, you can look at the level of the breakdown product(s) from the particular NT, whether it is serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, or norepinephrine. This gives you the rate of turnover of the particular NT. The rate of NT breakdown is a major factor in the final level of NT present in your body. Breakdown information is on the Metabolic Analysis Profile test (MAP).

So, in order to assess NT status and performance in your body, first look at a UAA to see what the level of the starting material is for the particular NT. Then, look at a NT test to see the reported NT level. Finally, look at a MAP test to give you a measurement of NT breakdown product(s).

You can see the utility of this way of working. If your NT levels are low, you may need to slow the level of breakdown as opposed to adding the amino acid that forms that neurotransmitter. You may need to do both. You will get a very clear direction from the levels given to you by these three tests. With NT testing alone, you will be guessing about what caused the particular level and what to do.

If you would like to get my input on your health issue, you can get an Exploratory Conversation. It does not involve filling out lengthy history forms or becoming my patient. I will answer your questions, look at whatever data you want to send, and discuss whatever you like for 30 minutes. The fee for this service is $119. This fee can be applied to the cost of a new patient appointment if the appointment occurs within 30 days of the conversation. You will not be invoiced, sent a super bill, or sent written information on whatever it is I may tell you to do.

Exploratory Conversations are meant for folks who are not my patients who would like to talk to me to get my input about their condition or treatment. They are phone calls. They are not office visits. The idea is to streamline the communication of information so that effective work can happen in one half hour.

Email me at Let me know that you want an Exploratory Conversation and I will send you the information about how to schedule one.

Check out my YouTube video:
Fine-Tuning Your Treatment of Chronic Illness with MTHFR Genetics

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About Nancy Mullan, MD

Some people call Dr. Nancy Mullan the MTHFR genetic medicine expert. Dr. Mullan works with people who are struggling with chronic disease or other significant illness, who are willing to use diet and genetics-based nutritional supplementation, and who want to increase wellbeing and energy, enhance immunity, lift mood, fine-tune genetic function, and get their lives back. Dr. Mullan has studied at a number of exceptional institutions: the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics. She excels at integrating the results of biochemical and genetic testing into sustained clinical improvement for you. She has succeeded with patients who confounded the specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Stanford, and many well-known integrative medical doctors. When recommending her, her patients say, “This is the woman you need to talk to. She really knows how to handle tough clinical problems.” Dr. Mullan's specialty areas are MTHFR+, methylation genetics, and genetics-based nutritional supplementation. Within this context, she most often works with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme Disease, Psychiatric Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Women’s Health Issues, Thyroid Disorder, Gastrointestinal Disorder, and Heavy Metal Toxicity.
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