Thursday, September 26, 2019

Amphetamine as a Performance-Enhancing Drug

Article Written By: Kian Yousefi Kousha


In 1837, Romanian chemist  Lazar Edeleanu synthesized Amphetamine, which was later used by the US army to prevent fatigue among soldiers in World War II battlefields (1). Since then, the usage of amphetamines has broadened greatly. In the 1950s, it first appeared as the performance-enhancing drug used by athletes (2).
Amphetamine is part of a group of central nervous system stimulants which increase the effect of neurotransmitters noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin (3)(4). In the production of these neurotransmitters, chemoreceptors act as monitors. Chemoreceptors detect the presence of amphetamines in blood and send a message to the hypothalamus, the coordinating center. Subsequently, all receiver neurons act as a regulator for the hypothalamus’s message. In a healthy brain, neurotransmitters are released to synapses by an action potential. After creating an electric message in the receiver neuron, neurotransmitters would move back into the sender neuron’s axon through the process of reuptake. Amphetamines disrupt the process of reuptake, causing a more frequent signal production than normal.

Amphetamine increases noradrenaline’s effect by stimulating receptors in vessels. The resultant vessel constriction enhances the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to the brain and heart, which prevents the occurrence of lactic acid fermentation and fatigue (5). Although this improves performance in competitions, high noradrenaline in the blood causes anxiety, hypertension and heart attack (6). Inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and serotonin (increasing their effects) causes euphoria, enthusiasm and self-satisfaction, which are psychologically beneficial for athletes before stressful contests. However, the extreme sense of satisfaction is addictive meaning that after a while, the brain would only function naturally if amphetamine is present (7)(8).

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Image Credit: Clarity Way

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