Are you getting tired of pricking yourself all day? Perhaps your veins don't agree with your dirty habit? Is the cocaine starting to sting? Are you heartbroken and looking to drugs to solve your problems?

Have no worries, I have your answer!

You see, drugs are fun because they cause the release (or inhibit the re-uptake of) a certain compound known as Dopamine, which is recognized for its ability to create the sensation of pleasure. In fact, the sensation we know as "falling in love" is caused by an increase in dopamine (as well as a few other hormones: norepinephrine, serotonin) levels. Furthermore, clinical depression is hypothesized to be caused by low levels of serotonin (which ultimately leads to lower levels of dopamine and other "pleasure" hormones).

Thus it becomes apparent that we could all use some more dopamine in our lives! I'm here to explain how you can do this, without having to call your "guy".

Option 1: Mucuna pruriens: Sometimes referred to as "the velvet bean", this plant is commonly found in tropical regions. The leaves and seeds of this plant contain rather high concentrations of a compound known as Levodopa or LDOPA and smaller amounts of seraotonin, as well as everyone's favorite, nicotine. Be careful though! This plant could potentially be dangerous in high doses, and is known in Germany as Juckbohne, meaning "Itch Bean". This is because the hairs on the outside of this plant contain pure serotonin, which is known to cause itching when in contact with skin. This plant may have some psychedelic effects, and may also have some use as an aphrodisiac. This is some pretty powerful stuff!

To optimize use of these "Itch Beans" for the purposes of increasing dopamine levels, it is important to supplement use of these beans with Vitamin B6. This is because the plant contains LDOPA, not Dopamine. LDOPA readily crosses the blood-brain barrier (something Dopamine cannot do), but needs Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal phosphate) to fully decarboxylate into Dopamine. So don't forget to take your vitamins!

Option 2: St John's wort: Although the name might not sound very pleasant, this is also some pretty powerful stuff. This plant is found in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and is known as an herbal treatment for depression. This is because St John's wort contains significant amounts of hyperforin and hypericin, two compounds which have been shown to inhibit the uptake of serotonin as well as dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA and glutamate. In a study done by Cochrane Collaboration, St John's wort was found to be superior to a placebo in treating major depression, with less than half the rate of side effects as traditional SSRI's. However, some other studies do not agree. St John's wort should also be used cautiously, as it has been shown to be toxic to livestock in large doses, and may have some serious interactions with other pharmaceutical drugs.

These are legitimate ways to feel less depressed, and I encourage their use because everyone can use a little lift every once in a while; better this than actual synthetic, dangerous, drugs. However it's important to always consult a doctor before starting ANY alternative medicine treatment!

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