Acetylcholine is a hot topic within the realm of memory enhancement. It is a neurotransmitter that is critical for the everyday functioning of the brain, particularly in the areas of movement, learning & memory, and sleep quality. Check out this post to learn how to promote balanced acetylcholine in your body and function at your very best.

Introduction 

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is used for many things: from stimulating muscles to memory and sleep.

Acetylcholine is synthesized in nerve terminals from acetyl-CoA (which is synthesized from glucose) and choline in a reaction that is catalyzed by choline acetyltransferase [R].

Acetylcholine controls movements by activating skeletal muscles and causes muscle contraction [R].

Acetylcholine and histamine interact together to contract muscles in the lungs [R].

It also schedules and promotes REM sleep [R].

Another important role of acetylcholine is in the brain; it is involved in memory and attention [R, R].

Benefits of Acetylcholine

1) Acetylcholine Prevents Memory Loss

Too little acetylcholine in the hippocampus has been associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s [R].

There is a link between acetylcholine and Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that there is a 90% loss of acetylcholine in the brains of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s [R].

Acetylcholine may enhance memory by helping encoding new memories and increasing the modification of synapses [R].

2) Acetylcholine Improves Attention

Acetylcholine helped improve attention and improves decision-making skills [R].

3) Acetylcholine Helps You Sleep Better

Acetylcholine promotes REM sleep, which helps memory storage and for the brain to rest. Acetylcholine release in the basal forebrain is highest during REM sleep [R].

4) Acetylcholine Regulates Gastrointestinal Activity

Presynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) help release acetylcholine in the gut.

These receptors mediate a positive feedback with respect to ACh release from motor neurons, and therefore plays an important role in the regulation of gut flow [R].

5) Acetylcholine Protects Against Infections

Acetylcholine can modulate inflammatory responses. Acetylcholine was shown to have the ability to inhibit biofilm formation during a fungal infection (Candida albicans). Also, it inhibited inflammation-induced damage to internal organs [R].

6) Acetylcholine Affects Hormone Secretion

Acetylcholine affects pituitary hormone secretion by acting on the hypothalamus. It causes prolactin and growth hormone to secrete from pituitary glands [R].

Cons of Acetylcholine

Depression

Too much acetylcholine is associated with depression [R].

Acetylcholine is Related to Myasthenia Gravis

In myasthenia gravis, antibodies either block, alter, or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, preventing muscle contractions.

It is a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. However, it is unclear if antibodies against receptors in the brain can directly cause the disease [R].

How to Change Your Levels of Acetylcholine

Increasing Acetylcholine

In order to increase your body’s levels of acetylcholine, you should increase choline levels. Choline can be found in a variety of sources [R].

When it comes to the herbs listed, they increase acetylcholine by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks them down – acetylcholinesterase.  Most common herbs have some inhibitory activity against the enzyme.

  • Foods with Choline (Eggs, Liver)
  • Choline supplements

Stronger:

Weaker:

Decreasing Acetylcholine

A lot of drugs can inhibit acetylcholine, either by imitating it or inhibiting choline [R].

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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5 COMMENTS

  • Tony

    I think another way to lower high levels of acetylcholine activity is by increasing serotonin levels.

  • Lou

    Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors do indeed raise acetylcholine levels. But they have side-effects that may harm mental functioning in other ways. My own personal theory is that they slow the clearance of acetylcholine from synaptic junctures. Acetylcholine is emitted from one side of a synapse to cause a firing, but for firing to occur a second time, the acetylcholine must be cleared away. This clearance is performed by acetylcholinesterase. So if you inhibit acetylcholinesterase, clearance occurs more slowly, and therefore the synapse may not be ready to fire the next time it is needed, if a second firing is required of it soon after the first firing. That’s why I believe that Alpha GPC is generally a better way to increase acetylcholine levels than is the use of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.

  • Lou

    Alpha GPC is more effective than CDP choline, but both work well to increase acetylcholine in the brain. Regular choline is ineffective, as it does not cross the blood-brain barrier very well, especially for older persons.

  • anna burns

    hi Joe, I was wondering which might be better…choline from lecithin or choline supplements? If choline supplements, would it be CDP or Alpha GPC? thanks

  • sabine

    acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are helpful

    Antioxidant and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory potential of
    Arnica montana cultivated in Bulgaria

    http://journals.tubitak.gov.tr/biology/issues/biy-12-36-6/biy-36-6-15-1204-70.pdf

    gel work well too

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