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Serotonin: The Happy Hormone

Are you aware of the role that serotonin plays in the body?

It’s undoubtedly, natures happy hormone. Known for it’s healthy effects on mood, it can make you feel less stressed, calmer and ultimately happier. During stressful times, the body releases cortisol – our stress hormone from the adrenal glands.

Effects of Cortisol

Regular release of cortisol is perfectly normal throughout life. However, if that stress is long term and under duress, we see ‘adrenal fatigue’ beginning to emerge. Too much stress takes it’s toll and exhausts the body. Serotonin particularly comes into the picture to regulate cortisol levels, although with the constant bombardment of stressors, serotonin release is jeopardised,  leading to depression.

Other roles of serotonin:
  • Assisting Digestion – it aids moving food through the digestive system to be eliminated. It helps with appetite in notifying your body when it is full. Levels can also impact constipation and diarrhoea prevalence.
  • Regulating Sleep/Wake cycles – the pineal gland is responsible for the production of melatonin (sleep hormone), which can only be manafactured from serotonin. If serotonin is low, then melatonin production will be impaired.
  • Promotes Bone Health – Much research indicates that high serotonin levels can negatively impact bone health, leading to conditions like osteoporosis. Some prescribed medications can raise serotonin levels, so it’s worth checking to see if any you may be taking could be having an effect.
What is Serotonin Syndrome?

Ideally, for a healthy, happy body,  you want to have just the right amount of serotonin circulating to where it’s needed. Low serotonin levels can lead to unwanted mood and behavioural changes. High levels can similarly, impact the body in a negative way. Ongoing anxiety and depression, can lead to low serotonin. Undoubtedly certain medications can increase serotonin, leaving people feeling terribly unwell.

These medications can include:
  • Antidepressants
  • Parkinson’s disease medications
  • Analgaesics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antipsychotics
Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome:
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Brain fog
  • Shivering
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor appetite
  • Chronic pain
  • Poor wound healing
What Can You Do?

Either way, with either too high or too low serotonin, functional testing is nonetheless recommended to determine where your levels are at. Following answers, you can clearly see a path ahead for treatment. Luckily, there are some fabulous ways to boost your serotonin levels naturally, especially if they are on the low side.

Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin
  • Get some sunshine in your life. Long periods of darkness throughout winter months, generally leads to an overproduction of melatonin. Remember, this is derived from more regular release of serotonin (due to longer, darker days in winter)  to make the melatonin. This can be why people feel more depressed during winter months.
  • Exercise more.  Getting outdoors releases a plethora of the happy hormones. Exercise indirectly boosts serotonin production. Whenever you can, enjoy the outdoor life.
You can also try this for serotonin boosting
  • Increase healthy gut bacteria. Research suggests that several types of bacteria are beneficial for serotonin production. Imbalances in gut bacteria can lead to numerous mood disorders. Multi strained probiotics are a good choice in helping to maintain the delicate balance of gut bacteria.
  • Ensure plenty of Tryptophan rich foods. Tryptophan is an amino acid, responsible for supporting the natural production of melatonin. It is unable to be manafactured surprisingly and can only be derived through dietary intake. Good overall choices are – turkey, fish, chicken, bananas, apples and prunes.

Should you see the need to get your serotonin levels checked, it’s worthwhile ruling the possibilities out and exploring which treatment path is best for you.