Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is produced in different areas of the brain. The main functions of dopamine primarily involves the stimulation of cognitive and emotional functions. It inhibits production of prolactin from pituitary gland which is responsible for producing sexual gratification and lactation and plays an important role in various cognitive functions, feelings of punishment and motivation, voluntary movement, sleep, memory and focus. Dopamine is also responsible for making people feel happy and is often regarded as the feel-good brain chemical.
The production and utilization of dopamine in the brain is a complex process. To make it plain and simple, the neurotransmitter is responsible for creating and maintaining a positive mood. People with mood disorders like depression are often advised to eat foods that help in increasing their dopamine levels. Although it is impossible for synthetic and intravenously introduced dopamine to reach the brain since it lacks the ability to cross the blood barrier, dopamine precursors are used to stimulate its production or prolong its effects; this is often the case for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Rasaglandin is a drug common prescribed to people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The drug aims to improve their mechanical and cognitive functions by prolonging the effects of dopamine in the brain. A new study conducted by researchers from the Medical College of Georgia found that the drug can also be effective in treating people with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). The cause of RLS is yet to be discovered but medical experts suggest that the condition can be due to the imbalance of dopamine in the brain.
Restless leg syndrome affects around 10 percent of the population. The condition is characterized by frequent tingling or prickling in the leg area and results in an urge to move and reposition legs even during sleep. The adverse effects of RLS are daytime sleepiness and even depression, and it has been associated to other health conditions like renal failure, iron deficiency and Parkinson’s disease.