The human body is a magnificent symphony of intricate systems, working harmoniously to sustain life and enable a wide range of emotions and experiences.
Serotonin is an incredible neurotransmitter which plays a vital role in our well-being, its very action within our beings is awe-inspiring, highlighting the complexity of our existence.
A neurotransmitter can be defined as the following:
"a chemical substance which is released at the end of a nerve fibre by the arrival of a nerve impulse and, by diffusing across the synapse or junction, effects the transfer of the impulse to another nerve fibre, a muscle fibre, or some other structure."
In essence, it is a chemical release which takes place due to stimulation of some sort.
Serotonin is scientifically known as 5-hydroxytryptamine, and is primarily produced in specialised cells called enterochromaffin cells in the gastrointestinal tract (indeed right in the belly). While it is primarily and most well associated with the gut, serotonin is also synthesised in the central nervous system and stored in platelets which are a type of blood cell. Interestingly, around 90% of serotonin is estimated to be located in the gut, reinforcing the intimate connection between our emotional well-being and the health of our digestive system as a whole.
What is it made of?
Chemically, serotonin is derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan.
Within the body, tryptophan is converted into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase. Subsequently, 5-HTP undergoes decarboxylation (a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide, it usually refers to a reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain) catalysed by the enzyme aromatic amino acid decarboxylase, resulting in the formation of serotonin. Serotonin then acts on various receptor sites in the brain, initiating specific biological responses within our bodies and felt in the entire being.
So what does it do?
Serotonin is a character who wears many hats, or has many faces within the human body, performing a multitude of crucial functions.
- It acts as a messenger between nerve cells, transmitting signals and facilitating communication across various regions of the brain.
- It is heavily involved in regulating mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and sexual desire.
- It aids in modulating pain perception, body temperature, and cardiovascular function
How it affects us all
The effects of serotonin on our emotions and overall well-being are profound.
Having sufficient serotonin levels in our beings is associated with feelings of happiness, contentment, and an overall positive outlook on life. This curious little chemical plays an incredible role in regulating and stabilising our mood, contributing to a sense of emotional balance and resilience.
Low levels of serotonin, have been linked to depression, anxiety disorders, and sleep disturbances:
Serotonin and Depression:
If you or anyone you know are currently experiencing symptoms associated with serotonin deficiency, anxiety, depression or anything you feel you need assistance with we urge you to reach out for help and get the aid you deserve to feel radiant once more
Supporting your Serotonin
There are many ways to support and even stimulate your serotonin production, to allow for a care and fostering for your overall sense of well-being.
Regular exercise and intuitive movement has been shown to enhance serotonin synthesis and release, elevating mood and reducing symptoms of depression, this can look like a walk, a yoga class, whatever your body feels honoured in doing that day.
Exposure to natural light and spending time outdoors can also boost serotonin levels, promoting a more positive mental state, so be sure to get your belly in the sun for at least 15 minutes everyday.
Engaging in activities that bring joy, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and maintaining a healthy diet rich in tryptophan sources, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, potato, spirulina and seaweeds, mushrooms, soy, leafy greens, quinoa and cauliflower, can contribute to supporting serotonin production as well.
Your lifestyle has a big impact on this neurotransmitter as well as all of the others streaming through your body, and so ensuring that you have sufficient sleep, implement healthy stress management techniques, eating the rainbow, grounding and maintaining healthy social connections all facilitate better health and wellbeing overall.
An important note:
In some cases, individuals may require additional support in increasing serotonin levels. Medications prescribed by healthcare professionals, such as SSRIs or other serotonin-enhancing drugs, may be considered for those with diagnosed serotonin-related disorders. However, it is crucial to remember that medications should always be prescribed and managed by a healthcare professional.
This is a captivating neurotransmitter, the deeper you look the more it is easy to see that it plays a fundamental role in our emotional well-being and overall health. Its origins in the gut, synthesis in the central nervous system, and influence on various bodily functions demonstrate the intricate interplay between mind and body.
Understanding the significance of serotonin empowers us to appreciate the delicate balance of our physiology and serves as an inspiration to the miracle that just happens in all of us, every moment of everyday. Honour this process of intricacy by taking the time to appreciate the gift of this incredible design.
- spend time in nature
- keep your gut microbiome happy
- practice gratitude
- intuitively move the booody
- practice meditation
- indulge in some self care
- eat the rainbow
- get in the sunshine
- look to some herbal allies such as Ashwagandha
- spend time with loved ones
- get a massage
Serotonin isn't alone in determining our mental and emotional well-being, however it is undeniably a crucial player in the intricate orchestra of our bodily systems. By nurturing serotonin production and engaging in holistic self-care, we can contribute to a greater sense of happiness, resilience, and fulfilment in our lives.
I trust this allows for a moment of wonderment which allows for you to marvel at the wonders of the human body, allowing for a little more knowledge in this beautiful journey of self-discovery and well-being.
. . .
SENDING YOU BLESSINGS OF RADIANT WELLBEING
. . .
Young, S. N. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience: JPN, 32(6), 394–399.
Walderhaug, E., Magnusson, A., Neumeister, A., & Lappalainen, J. (2007). Genetic variation in the serotonin transporter promoter region affects serotonin uptake in human blood platelets. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 10(6), 779–784.
Aghajanian, G. K., & Sanders-Bush, E. (2002). Serotonin. In Principles of Neural Science (4th ed., pp. 277–290). McGraw-Hill.
Lucki, I. (1998). The spectrum of behaviors influenced by serotonin. Biological Psychiatry, 44(3), 151–162.
Hendricks, T., & Tafesse, L. (2020). Serotonin. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
Cowen, P. J., & Browning, M. (2015). What has serotonin to do with depression? World Psychiatry, 14(2), 158–160.