Monoamine Oxidase, or MAO, are a family of enzymes responsible for breaking down and removing monoamine neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. Monoamine Oxidase includes MAO-A and MAO-B.
Monoamine Neurotransmitters Include:
- Epinephrine (Adrenaline)
- Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline)
By inhibiting the breakdown of these neurotransmitters, we can elevate their actions in the brain, especially dopamine.
Some first generation antidepressants worked in this way, elevating mood and motivation.
Dopamine plays an integral role in learning, focus, memory, and motivation. Dopamine is the motivation and reward neurotransmitter.
Dopamine is essential for learning, and is part of the reason why curiosity (fulfillment of dopamine) is so essential, and why those whom are curious tend to be much more intelligent and learn much more effectively.
Attention span is dependent on the levels of dopamine and dopamine receptors. Modern factors lower dopamine receptors and dopamine, just as attention spans, concentration, and the ability to learn are dropping.
Increasing dopamine increases concentration, motivation & inspiration, memory, and induces flow states.
Increasing dopamine also increases testosterone, thyroid, and metabolism, and offsets cortisol and adrenaline.
Testosterone and masculinization of the brain lowers MAO.
A gene known as the “warrior” gene, or “stubborn” gene, results in low(er) levels of monoamine oxidase in the brain.
This gene has been implicated in psychopaths, criminals, athletes, and highly successful individuals.
American Psycho? Low MAO.
Many of the things you already consume are natural MAO-Inhibitors, and increase dopamine as well.
Coffee, tea, and chocolate / cacao are MAO-I’s, and increase dopamine directly.
Many herbs and spices are also MAO-I’s, including rosemary, mint, and lemon balm.
Most nootropic herbs and adaptogens, such as Rhodiola Rosea and to a lesser extent Ginseng, also have MAO-Inhibiting and Pro-dopaminergic properties.
WARNING: Do not attempt to inhibit MAO if you have any psychiatric conditions, take psychiatric medications, are prone to headaches or migraines, or have blood pressure issues. You should always consult with your doctor before taking new supplements or supplements alongside medications. Cheese, and the tyramine it contains, can cause blood pressure crises, known as the “cheese effect”. Cacao and chocolate are also known to contain tyramine, and other fermented dairy and foods. Decreased MAO with serotonergic medications can cause serotonin syndrome which is very dangerous. Avoid these if any of this pertains to you.
Natural Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (Natural MAO-I’s):
2. Testosterone & Androgens
3. Cacao / Chocolate
4. Rhodiola Rosea
5. Bacopa Monnieri
7. Lemon Balm
9. Tobacco and Nicotine
11. Garlic (especially raw garlic)
14. Black Pepper / Pepper Extract (BioPerine / Piperine)
17. Syrian Rue
18. Licorice / Black Licorice (the plant and it’s extracts)