MAOs, or monoamine oxidases, are enzymes that break down neurotransmitters and stop their messaging activity. MAO-A breaks down serotonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine; MAO-B deactivates dopamine. MAO inhibitors prevent the breakdown process, allowing neurotransmitters to remain available longer in the synapses between nerve sells. MAO inhibitors are prescribed for depression, but due to their dangerous interactions with certain foods, they have been largely replaced by other types of antidepressants. Herbs can inhibit MAO-A and MAO-B enzymes without the unpleasant side effects of antidepressants.
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