Increase Serotonin Levels without Drug Addiction (5-HT)

Increase Serotonin Levels without Drug Addiction

Serotonin | Introduction

The question “What is Serotonin?” is not easy to answer. There are 15 known types of serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors in the brain grouped into three families. How to Increase Serotonin Levels without Drug Addiction … well, Serotonin itself is a neurotransmitter found within the brain and gut that controls a wide variety of human functions. In addition to humans, serotonin is also found in animals, plants, even fungi. This is where the question becomes more difficult however. It’s only recently that scientists and doctors have truly begun learning about this neurotransmitter and all that it does. While we do know a lot, there’s even more that’s yet to be discovered.

5-HT | Sources in Nature

5-HT has a widespread occurrence in nature. It occurs in plants, insect stingers, sea creatures, and mammals.

“The occurrence of 5-HT in groups so far removed from a common ancestor as vertebrates and flowering plants indicates either that the ability to produce 5-HT is primitive in evolution, or that this capacity is readily evolved as occasion demands.” (Lewis, G.P., 1958)

Theoretically the definition of drug abuse or substance abuse involves the repeated and excessive use of chemical substances to achieve a certain effect.

Serotonin and Depression: Serotonin is most well known for stabilizing mood and increasing happiness. Because of this, those who suffer from depression might be experiencing a lower than normal level. It’s currently unknown the exact reason why, however antidepressants are often prescribed to help fix the problems. Currently there are several types of antidepressant that include serotonin in them including monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MOIs), Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRIs), and Serotonin Nor-epinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitors (SNRIs).

One of the most common antidepressant prescribed is the SSRIs. Antidepressants that act as SSRIs include Prozac, Cipramil, Zoloft, Favoxil and dozens more. SSRIs work by increasing the serotonin level, resulting in a more stabilized mood. SNRIs act similarly, but also increase the level of nor-epinephrine as well.

Those who wonder what is serotonin may also be interested in what nor-epinephrine is as well. Just as serotonin is, nor-epinephrine is a neurotransmitter found within the body. It is responsible for controlling your hormone level and increase alertness among other things, and most importantly, it acts as a mood booster when paired with serotonin.

For those wondering what is serotonin MOIs, they are used as a ‘last resort’ to treat depression. This is because the levels are so much higher than any other antidepressant that MOIs can be fatal if not taken properly. Those who are on MOIs are also at a much higher risk of developing serotonin syndrome, a potentially life threatening illness.

What are Serotonin Health Problems: Serotonin is usually a natural occurring component of your nervous system, but in some cases, humans are lacking normal serotonin levels. In addition to depression, this is often the case for those who have disorders involving a large amount of pain, such as migraines, cluster headaches, and fibromyalgia

Learning what is serotonin is important if you suffer from any of these conditions, because while there currently no cure for them, increasing its levels within your body have been shown to lessen the pain felt. This is because it acts as a communication chemical. When there is no communication to the brain, the blood vessels within your head constrict, causing pain. In many this means the start of a migraine while in others this means the wide spread pain of fibromyalgia. For this reason, abortive migraine medications often include a large amount of serotonin while those who have fibromyalgia are instructed to take antidepressants to help with the pain.

Low levels have also been linked to addiction which can manifest itself in disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia, and bulimia. Other addictions, such as drug and alcohol problems may form in those with low levels as well.

Low Serotonin: Those asking the question of what is serotonin often do so because they believe they are low in it. This is entirely possible as many groups of people tend to be so. There are several low serotonin symptoms that appear which will help to indicate if you’re low.

Physical symptoms include constant fatigue, even if they slept or rested a decent amount. This is because the majority of those with low levels have significant trouble with sleeping, either with insomnia, staying asleep throughout the night, or both. Other common physical symptoms include headache, stomach pain, loss or appetite and craving for carbs.

There are many emotional symptoms as well, including lack of interest in sex, low self-esteem, becoming emotionally distant, being more irritable than normal, obsessive thoughts and the inability not to dwell on things. Those low in serotonin will experience a much lower mood than others. Depression is always present, though the severity of the disorder can vary greatly.

High Serotonin: Those who ask what is serotonin often think that increasing their levels is the best thing, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Too much of anything is a bad thing and serotonin is no exception. In fact, having too high of levels can cause a potentially fatal condition known as serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin Drug Addiction
What is Serotonin Syndrome?: Those who ask the question of what is serotonin syndrome are wise to stay informed. Many don’t and only learn about the syndrome after it’s too late. Serotonin syndrome happens when the body is given more serotonin than it can process. This can happen when mixing meds that have high levels, such as an SSRI and an abortive migraine med.

Do You Suffer From | Serotonin Syndrome?

When too much of this has been digested into the body, an overdose known as serotonin toxicity occurs. Symptoms include increased heart rate, shivering or sweating, dilated eyes, and twitching. In more severe cases, hypothermia, high blood pressure, and loss of limb function can occur. Finally, seizures, shock, and eventually death will occur if left untreated. Here are the symptoms assigned to their associated nervous system:

  • Cognitive:

    • Headache
    • Agitation
    • Hypo-mania
    • Mental Confusion
    • Hallucinations
    • Coma
  • Autonomic:

    • Shivering
    • Sweating
    • Hypothermia
    • Hypertension
    • Tachycardia
    • Nausea
  • Somatic:

    • Muscle Twitching
    • Hyper-Flexia
    • Tremors

Increase Serotonin Levels Without Drug Addiction

After learning about what is serotonin, you may find yourself wanting to increase the levels yourself. This can be in a wide variety of ways. The most common is to begin taking an antidepressant with serotonin in it, but not everyone can afford that, nor does everyone want to rely of antidepressants night and day. Fortunately, there are several supplements that are much cheaper than antidepressants but do the same job. Whenever it is possible and depending on condition, serotonin levels can be optimized being active, having a social life*, exercising* (*2007 JPN Study ~ Simon N. Young).

Physical Activities: Yea, we know … but, these are the most proven Non-pharmacologic methods of raising brain serotonin, and improve mood and social functioning of healthy people, alike:

  1. Bright Light; Get out in the sun!
  2. Exercise; So, go for a walk in the sunshine
  3. Tweak your Diet; Depending on what you eat, (see below)
  4. Rest; Get consistent, sound sleep.
  5. Stress; Take steps to lower it Eg. listening to music

Serotonin Supplements: These are similar to antidepressants in a lot of ways because they both increase the levels of serotonin within your body. 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort are both natural supplements that have been shown to increase the neurotransmitter and stabilize moods, though only one should be taken at a time. Taking more puts you at risk for serotonin syndrome. In addition, if you’re taking any other medications that contain Serotonin, all supplements should be avoided until you can talk to your doctor.
Specific Foods that are known to increase Serotonin Levels:

  • Eggs (known to boost your blood plasma levels of tryptophan)
  • Cheese (another great source of tryptophan)
  • Pineapples
  • Tofu
  • Salmon
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Turkey

Conclusion: Food selection is the easiest path to increase Serotonin levels without leading to drug addiction is to seek-out foods that naturally increase your level of this neurotransmitter, but at a much lower rate than taking supplements or pills. Begin with complex carbohydrates, such as white rice, potatoes and pasta, all increase levels naturally. Advantages are that foods tend to balance the levels and being safer than medicine.

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