How to Increase Dopamine (Naturally + With Drugs)

How to increase dopamine? If you’re looking to get more of the famous “feel good hormone”, we have looked at the best ways to increase dopamine, naturally and with drugs. Learn what dopamine is and discover its life-changing benefits today.

Do you want to be happier, more motivated, and more content? Of course you do; it’s a silly question. But that is easier said than done, right?

Not entirely.

How to Increase Dopamine (Naturally + With Drugs)

As you have arrived here, chances are you have stumbled across dopamine and want to know more about it, or are just looking for ways to be happier and more motivated.

It’s true: dopamine is known as the “feel good hormone”, or the “motivational hormone”. It is also true that you can increase the production and release of dopamine in your body. And it’s a simple matter of making a few lifestyle changes.

So, how do you increase dopamine? Find out below.

What is Dopamine?

First things first: what is dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. And in layman’s terms, a neurotransmitter is a chemical that sends a message or signal to another part of the body.

In this case, dopamine is a chemical that is released in the brain as a direct response to something we do, want to do, or have achieved. It is linked to the brain’s reward system.

For example: if you have ever completed a task and earned a reward as a result, and felt happy, there is a good chance that you experienced a rush of dopamine.

Dopamine is the sudden motivation to work out; the excitement before a meal or gift; and the anticipation for a vacation, or perhaps a new house.

Dopamine releases naturally as a result of these positive feelings. Therefore, the benefits of dopamine are feeling happy, excited, and ready to take action. We enjoy life more, feel less stressed, and are more excited, in general, about what’s to come.

While dopamine is, in fact, produced in the gut (50% of it, at least), you can’t technically eat dopamine from any food source. So, how do you increase it?

Increase Dopamine Naturally

woman exercising


Exercise is one of the best ways to increase dopamine naturally. In fact, through exercise, we can enjoy a natural dopamine boost in several different ways.

We feel the effects of dopamine from a sudden burst of inspiration to work out or improve ourselves physically. We feel this same “high” during, as well as after, exercise. And we can also feel a dopamine release through our excitement to experience this high again.

Furthermore, by seeing ourselves transform physically in a positive way, the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment is another result of dopamine being released in the brain.

It is recommended that to achieve at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. This does not have to be intense exercise or forcing yourself to go to the gym, but simply a sport or activity that you enjoy.

If you want to begin exercising, start a simple routine that involves exercising once or twice a week, then build from there. As many athletes assert, you might find that exercise (and the natural release of dopamine and serotonin that it provides) will become “addictive”.

Similarly, if you have ever heard the phrase “runner’s high”, it is not just a fad; there is scientific evidence behind it. And while it is not a dopamine release, the “high” comes from a rush of endorphins in the brain, which happens in the same way dopamine is released.


Have you ever felt happier, comforted, or content while standing in the sun?

Dopamine is reported to be slowly released in the brain as a direct result of feeling the sunshine on our skin. That’s right - there is scientific evidence as to why we look forward to summer and enjoy being in the sun!

Sunlight is also the main source of vitamin D in the body, which our bodies produce when our skin is exposed to the sun. This is why it is important to get out and spend a good amount of time in the sun each day.

If, however, you live in a country that is not generally sunny, you should try to account for any lack of sunshine with a vitamin D supplement. The same applies (for all countries) during winter.

While dopamine and vitamin D are both natural benefits of enjoying the sunshine, it is still important to limit sun exposure to avoid skin damage and skin cancer.


Meditation is widely promoted as a method to achieve contentment, satisfaction, and a state of calmness.

Subsequently, meditation is also reported to influence the natural release of dopamine.

You might have the idea that meditation is boring or a waste of time, or that meditation is just for Buddhists or yogis, but the opposite is actually the case.

In fact, meditation can benefit everyone based on their needs - whether it is prayer, taking some time to reflect or be grateful, or simply sitting in silence for a few moments.

The key to meditation is sitting in a comfortable space, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing. From here, you can list things you are grateful for, visualize that you are somewhere pleasant, or feel “present” by focusing on the external sounds around you.

You might feel happier, content, possibly even excited or satisfied as a result of the dopamine boost!

Healthy Eating

Similar to sleep, our bodies need good food to be able to function properly - which includes the body’s ability to produce and release dopamine.

So, while there are no foods that contain dopamine itself, you can aid in your body’s production of dopamine through healthy eating.

Healthy eating, in general, is one of the best ways to maintain a good mood. If you have ever given into a craving and felt guilty after - or felt sick after binging on junk food - you will notice the difference when you start to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Instead of feeling sick or guilty, you will feel stronger, more focused, and, overall, pleased with yourself for having resisted any craving or unhealthy treat. This satisfaction can also be linked to dopamine.

Subsequently, foods that are reported to increase dopamine production include high-protein foods, velvet beans, curcumin (turmeric), and ginkgo biloba.

You can also take various supplements for the same purpose, such as l-tyrosine, magnesium, omega-3, vitamin D (sunlight), phosphatidylserine, and vitamins B6, B9, and B12.

As touched on earlier, our guts produce around 50% of dopamine. This is another way we can aid dopamine production - by taking probiotics and eating foods that help the gut function. These include yogurt, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and sourdough, to name a few.


Ever felt euphoric at the chorus of a song, or before your favorite part of a song? Perhaps you felt a rush of joy while singing out loud?

Studies have shown that dopamine is particularly active in the brain as a response to music that we love.

And in the same way that exercise gives our brains a dopamine boost, so does dancing to good music, as well as singing to our favorite songs.

By simply listening to happy music, or music that we enjoy or can sing along to, we can benefit from a quick dopamine release that makes up feel happier, excited, or motivated to get up and dance, or exercise.

So, never be afraid to put on your favorite song and turn it up!

Cold Showers

While you might not like the sound of taking a cold shower, the benefits of cold showers are widely evident.

In fact, science tells us that there is a huge 250% increase of dopamine when our bodies come into contact with cold water.

But why is this?

If you have ever jumped under a cold shower, you will have noticed how your body goes into a “panic”: you start to breathe heavily and your muscles tense up. This might sound like a bad thing, but there are a lot of positives happening at the same time.

Subjected to the sudden coldness, your metabolism kicks in, your skin tightens, and your immune system activates, which, in the long run, will help to build cold immunity. You may also feel happy - and even start laughing - as a result of an increase in serotonin.

On top of all this, you also feel a sense of accomplishment for having endured the cold water - another emotion that is linked to our brain’s reward system and the release of dopamine.

Reduce Stress

This might seem too “general”, but reducing our stress levels is as equally important as trying to increase our dopamine levels.

As stress can negatively affect sleep, our food intake, and our overall happiness, actively managing day-to-day stress is vital for making sure that we can, at the other end, maintain dopamine production and the signals it sends to the brain.

Everything we have listed above will help to reduce stress. But they are not the only ways.

We can reduce stress levels by identifying what causes us to feel stressed. By identifying these (with a written list), we can then go about fixing these issues, or avoiding these stress triggers altogether.

It’s also important to differentiate between what we can control, and what is not in our control. This kind of mindfulness can help us to ignore stress altogether.

Likewise, stress tends to occur as a result of overthinking. We can, however, avoid the process of overthinking by staying busy (or “distracted”), either physically or mentally through stimulative work, exercise, reading, or watching a movie.

Drugs That Increase Dopamine

Drugs, specifically nootropics, have been reported to increase dopamine in the brain. This is because nootropics, which help to optimize and boost brainpower and health, contain certain ingredients that our bodies need to produce dopamine.

Some of these ingredients have in fact been mentioned above, such as l-tyrosine, phosphatidylserine, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, and vitamin B12.

As an example, Mind Lab Pro, made by Opti Nutra, is clinically proven to universally boost mood, focus, learning, energy levels, and motivation, while reducing stress levels and brain toxins that induce fatigue.

Mind Lab Pro - which is vegan, gluten-free, and FDA-approved - contains 11 premium ingredients, 5 of which include l-tyrosine, phosphatidylserine, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, and vitamin B12, plus l-theanine, an amino acid proven to increase dopamine and serotonin.

It is not the only nootropic for increasing dopamine, but is one of the more premium, all-in-one brain optimizers and natural mood enhancers that does meet GMP standards.

Low Dopamine Effects

What are the effects of low dopamine?

We have looked at the benefits of dopamine and how to increase dopamine, but what are the symptoms of low dopamine?

In general, low dopamine symptoms are a lack of motivation, low mood, low self-esteem, inability to focus (brain fog), low sex drive, and a lack of appetite. In other words, the opposite of what you would feel when you regularly experience a high level of dopamine.

While a lack of dopamine is not the direct cause of depression, anxiety, or insomnia, it can certainly lead to these illnesses (and other related illnesses) if the above symptoms persist and are not properly addressed.

As a result, other symptoms of dopamine deficiency are fatigue (mental and physical), muscle stiffness, muscle pains, sudden weight change, and poor quality of sleep.

Deficiency in dopamine can also start a “vicious circle” of symptoms and negative emotions. For example, a lack of sleep can result in no motivation to exercise or study, followed by reduced concentration and productivity, dissatisfaction, irritability, binge-eating, and so forth.


To conclude, dopamine is a hormone and chemical released in the brain that makes us feel motivated, excited, and pleased with ourselves. With these feelings comes a general sense of happiness, contentment, and improved confidence.

We can increase dopamine in the brain naturally with exercise, sunshine, meditation, feel-good music, cold showers, and managing stress. We can also promote the production of dopamine through healthy eating, supplements, and nootropics.

Now that you know what dopamine is, its benefits, and how to increase dopamine naturally, try one of the above methods we listed to start feeling happier, confident, more motivated, and content.