Serotonin – the happy hormone

James LiddellArticles, Brain, HormoneLeave a Comment

What is serotonin?

Serotonin is created by a biochemical conversion process that combines tryptophan with tryptophan hydroxylase. Serotonin is also a neurotransmitter, although some consider it to be a hormone.

Where is it produced?

Serotonin is produced in the intestines and the brain. It is also present in the blood platelets as well as the central nervous system (CNS).

Causes for low serotonin levels:

  • Prolonged periods of stress may deplete serotonin levels
  • Genetic factors, faulty metabolism, and digestive issues can impair absorption and breakdown of our food which can reduce the ability to build serotonin
  • Poor and unbalanced diet
  • Toxic substances like heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceutical medicine use, and some prescription drugs can cause permanent damage to the nerve cells that make serotonin and also other neurotransmitters
  • Substances such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, NutraSweet, antidepressants, and some cholesterol lowering medications can deplete serotonin and other neurotransmitter levels
  • Hormone changes cause low levels of serotonin and neurotransmitter imbalances
  • The lack of sunlight contributes to low serotonin levels

Function

Bowel function: It regulates bowel function and movements. It can also play a part in reducing the appetite while eating.

Mood: Serotonin impacts levels of mood, anxiety, and happiness. Drugs such as Ecstasy and LSD cause a significant rise in serotonin levels.

Clotting: Serotonin assists in the formation of blood clots.

Nausea: It can stimulate the nausea area in the brain so that you vomit and have diarrhoea when you have consumed toxic food.

Bone density: Some scientists linked high levels of serotonin in the bones to an increase in osteoporosis.

Sexual function: Higher Serotonin levels can inhibit sexual activity.

Serotonin deficiency symptoms

  • poor memory
  • low mood
  • craving for sweet or starchy foods
  • difficulty sleeping
  • low self-esteem
  • anxiety
  • aggression

Natural strategies to increase your serotonin levels

  1. Exercise is a serotonin intervention and it can boost serotonin in your brain
  2. Diet – 95 percent of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut. Take a quality probiotic, properly hydrating, and eating a brain-healthy diet. There are two ways that food can increase serotonin levels. Foods high in simple carbohydrates. The calming effect of serotonin can often be felt in thirty minutes or less by eating these foods. Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, carrots, and garbanzo beans, is a healthier way to boost serotonin. Serotonin levels can also be raised by eating foods rich in L-tryptophan, such as chicken, turkey, salmon, beef, nut butter, eggs, and green peas.
  3. Natural supplements such as saffron, 5-HTP, Vitamins B6 and B12, and Folate may help to support healthy serotonin levels

 

References

  1. brainmdhealth.com
  2. integrativepsychiatry.net

 

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Dr James Liddell is an Integrated Healthcare Specialist (B.Pharm; M.Pharm; PhD; SAPC and PSSA registered) specialising in integrating different disciplines of healthcare to ensure holistic healthcare solutions. With 25 years experience as a Pharmacist, Dr of Nutrition and Complementary & Alternative Medicine Healthcare Practitioner, he believes lifestyle is ultimately the key to optimal health; a good nutritional foundation combined with sound emotional health are the fundamentals to what he calls ‘the optimal health zone’.

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