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It’s Best to Make Your Own Drugs

the doctor within-the brain
the doctor within-the brain

A significant segment of the population lives with more than one chronic medical condition. The pharmaceutical industry makes drugs for almost every type of chronic condition. However, only a handful of these drugs, such as antibiotics, actually cure disease. Most pharmaceuticals simply control symptoms to varying degrees, and they are not without side effects. In addition, until the generic form becomes available, the price is often astronomical. Because of a wide variation in human genotypes, every commercially made medicine has different metabolic effects on different people. Even within the same genotypes, commercially made drugs commonly interact with each other, further complicating the side effects. This is a major problem for seniors, who are typically on multiple drugs. Most side effects are non-life-threatening, but patients on polypharmacy often experience life-threatening effects from the combination of pharmaceuticals.

The safest and most effective drugs are those you make yourself. Endogenous pharmacy is the term used to describe drugs that are prescribed by the doctor within—the brain—and these are the most effective drugs produced in the world. Endogenously produced drugs are synthesized in the brain as well as in other organs. What makes these the most effective drugs?

  1. They are without side effects.
  2. If one is in perfect health, they are dispensed in exactly the right formula, dose, and schedule.
  3. They are designed for the unique genetics of each one of us.
  4. All of this occurs without any conscious awareness of the process.
  5. They are free.
Endogenous pharmacy
Endogenous pharmacy

To give you an example of just one category of endogenously produced drugs—the catecholamines—consider this, our thoughts, beliefs, images, and attitudes directly affect our emotions, and our emotions directly affect neurotransmitter substances such as the catecholamines—norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. Catecholamines help us respond appropriately to stress. For example, they help us increase heart rate, muscle contraction, cardiac output, raise blood pressure and glucose.

In the modern world, the greatest source of stress is from our own negative attributions that we assign to situations that are actually quite benign. For example, we could be sitting in a traffic jam and react physiologically as if our lives were in danger. This results in a catecholamine release that not only is of no useful purpose at that moment, it is deleterious to our health.

The biochemistry of the experience of hope, joy, and other pleasant emotions is correlated with a decrease in catecholamines. These are wonderful drugs when they are made at the right time, but dangerous drugs when they are produced when we don’t need them, such as when the threat is only in our minds. This is true of all the other classes of endogenously produced drugs as well. Mental training allows us to greatly influence which endogenous drugs are produced. Each endogenously produced drug has very specific effects.

oxytocin molecule chemical structure
oxytocin molecule chemical structure

You might presume that the drugs prescribed by the brain and produced in the body have fairly mild effects compared to those made by the pharmaceutical industry, but this is not the case. For example, endorphins are three times more powerful than their exogenous analogs—commercially made morphine and its derivatives. Endogenously produced serotonin is a more powerful anxiolytic and antidepressant than anything the pharmaceutical industry produces. Our endogenously produced pharmacopeia can produce profound results. The endogenous drug oxytocin causes us to bond with others, and the endogenous drug dopamine creates a feeling of wellbeing.

In my next article, we’ll explore what is known about how you can train the mind in ways that will have a positive influence on your endogenous pharmacy.


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It’s Best to Make Your Own Drugs

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Berkelhammer is a retired mind-body medicine psychologist. He writes about mindfulness-based practices with a unique emphasis on optimization of wellbeing and health. Dr. Berkelhammer also lectures at San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco, and is currently teaching a class in Marin County through College of Marin. He is the author of the book "In Your Own Hands; New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions".

See his extensive website:

In Your Own Hands: Mindfulness-Based Practices to Optimize Wellbeing - College of Marin Community Education

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APA Reference
Berkelhammer, D. (2015). It’s Best to Make Your Own Drugs. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Feb 2015
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