Neurotransmitters (nerve messengers) transmit stimuli from one nerve cell to another nerve cell or cell, and can also amplify or modulate them.
So far, research knows of about 100 nerve messengers, each of which fulfills a specific task in the body. If our neurotransmitters are balanced, everything runs smoothly and we feel good. Alcohol, however, destroys this chemical harmony.
Our nerves are not continuous wiring harnesses. If there were only direct information connections across the body (such as “brain to thumb,” “brain to little right toe,” “brain to left knee,” and so on), the necessary nerve wiring harness would probably be as thick as a thousand-year-old oak tree – and we would be correspondingly wide.
Nature has invented a very space-saving solution. Nerves always have only a certain length. The nerve end branches out like a branch. In this way, one nerve gives rise to many ends. These can chemically couple with other nerve endings. Our brain alone consists of about 90 billion nerve cells. Between them and their immediate nerve neighbor is a tiny gap, so small that you can’t even see it with the naked eye. This gap is called a synapse. Our brain alone has just under a quadrillion (that’s not a spelling mistake) synapses.
Information runs along nerves like in a power cable. Tiny electrical voltages rush through the nerve. When it reaches the end of the nerve, this electrical impulse must cross the gap to the next nerve. Otherwise, the information cannot continue to flow. Imagine the situation at the end of the nerve like this: There is a courier standing at a quay wall, his info has to reach the other shore.
That’s why he needs a floating message bearer. This ferryman’s job is exactly what nerve messengers do.
Nerve messengers are, for example…
γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
Aspartic acid (aspartate)
Glutamic acid (glutamate)
The list does not claim to be complete.
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