Do Dopamine Supplements Really Work?

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Dopamine is generally defined as a neurotransmitter involved in a variety of brain functions, particularly the facilitation of feelings of pleasure. Dopamine supplements typically include ingredients that may facilitate dopamine production or help your body use dopamine more efficiently. Common dopamine supplements can include L-tyrosine, Mucuna pruriens, L-theanine, and Rhodiola rosea. Foods containing tyrosine, such as almonds, turkey, and bananas, may also affect dopamine levels. While supplements can be helpful for some people, it can be best to speak to a medical or mental health professional to determine the best treatment options for you. You can connect with a licensed therapist in your local area or through an online therapy platform.

Dopamine: What it is and how it can affect you

Neurotransmitters like dopamine typically facilitate everything your brain does by carrying the chemical signals that drive your physical functions. From the involuntary breaths you take to the pleasant feelings you get when seeing loved ones, you can generally thank the neurochemicals in your brain for delivering the message. However, signals can get crossed when your brain chemistry becomes imbalanced, and you may experience upheaval in multiple areas of your life. 

According to a recent study, dopamine typically plays a role in behavior, motivation, cognitive function, punishment and reward, voluntary movement, sleep, working memory, attention, and learning. Dopamine, along with serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins, is frequently called a “happy hormone” due to its role in facilitating feelings of pleasure. 

Are dopamine supplements the right choice for you?

Low dopamine levels

A dopamine deficiency may not cause physical or mental health conditions on its own. However, it may indicate a problem. Some common symptoms of low dopamine levels can include low energy or sex drive, weight changes, tremors, constipation, mood swings, muscle cramps, hallucinations, loss of balance, and difficulty sleeping. You may also feel anxious, isolated from others, emotionally incapable, forgetful, or inattentive. Some people with dopamine deficiency also experience stomach troubles and difficulty with coordination. 

High dopamine levels

While high dopamine levels in your brain can lead to an energy boost and positive emotions like confidence, an overabundance of dopamine can have adverse effects. When your dopamine rises too much, you may experience aggression, an inability to sleep, restless energy, an overactive sex drive, euphoria, and impulsivity. 

Mental health conditions potentially related to dopamine

Substance use and addiction

According to studies regarding brain scans of people with substance use disorder, substance use can increase dopamine levels. A 2007 study found that the rate, speed, and intensity of dopamine increase often correlated to addiction severity. 

Depressive disorders

Recent studies show a potentially significant connection between dopamine levels and anhedonia (the inability to take interest or pleasure from activities) in people with major depressive disorder. 

Parkinson’s disease

Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s usually destroy the brain’s nerve cells, often preventing the healthy distribution and use of neurochemicals. Dopamine levels have generally been linked with Parkinson’s

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Studies show a potential link between deficiencies in the brain’s dopaminergic system and reward behaviors for people with ADHD


According to a recent review of medical journals, dopamine abnormalities in the prefrontal brain have frequently been seen in patients with schizophrenia. 

What is a dopamine supplement?

Dietary supplements are generally products meant to help you replenish the things your body may be lacking, so they often contain ingredients like minerals, herbs, amino acids, enzymes, or other components to help improve your overall well-being or manage various health conditions.  

Dopamine supplements may help your body produce more of the neurotransmitter or allow your body to use it more efficiently. Because several nutrients can affect how dopamine works, food and dietary supplements may substantially impact your brain’s neurochemical production. Always speak to your doctor before adding any type of supplement or medication to your regime.

How do dopamine supplements work?

Dopamine supplements typically do not contain neurochemicals but rather other substances that can stimulate the brain’s production or how it is reabsorbed. While medications may directly target dopamine receptors, supplements typically use the body’s response to the ingredients to improve dopamine deficiency and balance your neurochemistry. 

Do dopamine supplements work?

To correctly answer whether dopamine supplements work, you must first define what it means for a dietary supplement to “work”. If your definition is helping your body produce more dopamine, the answer is likely yes. However, if your parameters include effectively treating depression, mood disorders, or chronic dopamine deficiency, that can be a much more complicated answer.

As shown below, multiple studies have indicated that dopamine supplements can be effective aids to overall well-being or specific health goals for some people. If you think dopamine supplements might be a good option, talk to your healthcare provider to discuss which ingredients are most likely to benefit your situation. 


Supplement vs. medication: What’s the difference?

Dopamine medications usually work directly on your levels of the neurotransmitter to balance your brain chemistry. These prescription medications can stimulate (agonists) or prevent (antagonists) dopamine action in your brain or block its reabsorption (reuptake inhibitors) by your nerve cells, potentially increasing dopamine levels. 

  • Dopamine agonist drugs may be used to treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease, depression, restless legs syndrome, ADHD, or low sex drive. 
  • Dopamine antagonists may be used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but they have also been used to treat nausea and vomiting. 
  • Dopamine reuptake inhibitors may be used to treat narcolepsy, depression, and binge-eating disorder, and they may help some people overcome substance use disorder. 

Supplements do not usually require a prescription, and they tend to work by activating the body’s natural response to the included ingredients rather than working directly with your brain chemistry as medications typically do. Supplements may offer less intense side effects and results that usually aren’t as pronounced. 

Common dopamine supplements

While not an exhaustive list by any means, below are some common dopamine supplements.


In a recent review of the medical literature, patients reported that the supplement usually prevented a drop in cognitive function as a response to physical stress, such as involuntary reactions to cold, extended wakefulness, or high altitudes. 

While many may link L-tyrosine to stress relief, science shows it may be more likely to prevent loss of mental ability due to physical stressors, which may have little practical application for ordinary people but significant value to the military. 

Mucuna pruriens

The powdered version of the Mucuna pruriens plant has often been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries as a natural source of levodopa (the precursor to dopamine), and it is frequently given as a supplemental treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Research shows many possible uses for the supplement with a wide array of potential benefits.

“Mucuna pruriens is an established herbal drug used for the management of male infertility and nervous disorders, and also as an aphrodisiac. It has been shown that its seeds are potentially of substantial medicinal importance,” said the authors of a paper about the supplement’s benefits.


Recent behavioral studies suggest that the amino acid L-theanine, which is typically found in green tea, may have neuropharmacological applications to improve learning and memory while exerting neuroprotective effects on the brain. 

2021 study replicated the attention-boosting benefits, showing the potential to enhance working memory and improve executive function. 

Rhodiola rosea

This dopamine supplement generally comes from the Rhodiola rosea plant, also called rosenroot or golden root. It has frequently been used as a Chinese medicinal herb for centuries. According to a recent study, Rhodiola extract may have antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-cancer, and neuroprotective qualities in addition to a significant ability to mitigate stress responses. 

Dopamine-influencing ingredients 

A wide array of dietary supplement ingredients may also play a role in dopamine support, potentially helping to reduce symptoms of depression or improve mood. These ingredients can include vitamin C, fish oil, magnesium, turmeric, vitamin D, probiotics, and saffron extract. 

Foods thought to boost dopamine production can include almonds, turkey, avocados, bananas, yogurt, soy products, fish, cheese, milk, and chicken, primarily due to their natural levels of tyrosine.  

Natural ways to balance dopamine

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Listen to music, meditate, or participate in other enjoyable activities 
  • Eat a balanced diet, including probiotics
  • Get some sun (with sunscreen)
  • Practice a mindful lifestyle
Are dopamine supplements the right choice for you?

How a therapist can help you treat a chemical imbalance

Though therapy may not directly manage your neurotransmitters, working with a licensed therapist can determine whether you’re experiencing a dopamine imbalance or mental health symptoms. A therapist can recommend treatments likely to help—potentially including dopamine supplements—so you can move forward feeling balanced. Many people have found online therapy through virtual providers like BetterHelp a convenient and practical option. Users frequently report lower costs, reduced wait times, and increased convenience since they can receive treatment from home. 

Recent studies show that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective and convenient alternative to treatments in the traditional clinical setting. Online CBT has frequently been used to help patients identify and correct harmful or unhelpful behaviors and thought patterns and develop a repertoire of functional coping skills to manage stress. 

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An imbalance of your brain’s neurochemicals can wreak havoc on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, often mimicking the symptoms of various mental health conditions. Dopamine tends to be a crucial neurotransmitter that’s often involved in the facilitation of feelings of pleasure. Common dopamine supplements may include Rhodiola rosea, Mucuna pruriens, L-theanine, and L-tyrosine. Foods that contain tyrosine, such as yogurt, avocados, and fish, may also impact dopamine levels. However, you should always be sure to consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your regime. Therapy may be a helpful addition to your treatment plan, and you may connect with a licensed therapist online or in person.
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