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Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw

manufacture larger supplies of the neurotransmitters.

Durk: For example, one of the things that happen as people get older is they tend to become more and more tired as time goes on. Now, I’m not talking about something due to an organic illness– like adult-onset diabetes or a hypo-thyroidism, which can make a person feel chronically tired– but when you’re fifty you don’t have the energy you had when you where twelve years old.

Sandy: There’s often a loss of enthusiasm and drive and the ability to enjoy what you enjoyed before.

Durk: And a loss of a sense of wonder. But this can be restored to an extent by taking a nutrient supplement that gives you a system of nutrients that your brain can use to make more of certain neurotransmitters. For example, let’s take noradrenaline– the brain’s version of adrenaline, an excitatoryneurotransmitter that gives you get up and go, confidence and energy, and sort of a bright outlook on life.

Sandy: The cholinergic nervous system is another good example. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is very important for memory, and for focus and concentration. It’s particularly important for verbal memory and as people get older the cholinergic nervous system is one of the ones that declines the most, and people tend to start having old-age associated problems with remembering words.

Durk: Even when a person is young sometimes they can benefit from more cholinergic stimulation. For example, a double-blind placebo-controlled study on MIT students showed that choline supplements improved their memory of a list of words that had low imageability.

Sandy: A word can either be something that you can imagine as a picture, or it’s like justice or truth, in which case you can’t imagine a picture to represent a word like that.

Durk: For example, imagine memorizing a list of high-imagery words, like cat, dog, tree, house, compared to justice beauty, truth, and honor.

Sandy: And the choline supplement helped these students to remember particularly the words that had low imagery associations, which are harder to remember. So that was very interesting.

Durk: Now acetylcholine is involved in the reticular activating system, which controls focus, concentration, and organization of mental activity. One of the things that we noticed back in the 1970’s, when we started taking a choline supplement, was a really dramatic improvement in Sandy’s ability to organize what she was writing.

Sandy: Oh yeah, it made an incredible difference for me. If I was writing or putting together a talk, not only was I able to organize the material better, but because I was able to do these things better, I got much more satisfaction and gratification out of writing and speaking.

Durk: Well, in fact, back before the days of word processors, I’d literally cut her articles up with a pair of scissors, re- arrange it, and tape it together again with scotch tape– I mean, literal cut and paste. And that made her pretty mad, because she knew that it really needed it.

Sandy: Well, it can be pretty discouraging to have somebody have to do that to your material. Who likes to have an editor standing over their shoulder? But that changed in a big way after I got on a choline supplement. We started out with a choline chloride liquid supplement, which tasted absolutely ghastly, but we wanted to take the supplement for the effect of it, so we more or less forced our taste buds to put up with it.

Durk: Other people had experimented with choline supplements, but we did something a little bit more than anybody else had done. We took a look at charts of intermediary metabolism to find out what other nutrients were involved in the conversion of choline to acetylcholine.

Sandy: Because it isn’t just choline that’s needed to make acetylcholine.

Durk: And, in fact, one of the things that’s very essential is pantothenate– pantothenic acid or vitamin B-5. That makes acetyl-co-enzyme A, the acetyl group of which is transfered to the choline by another enzyme called choline acetyl-transferase, and that’s how you make acetylcholine. One can increase theconversion of choline to

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