Serotonin - Good or Bad?
There is a lot of controversy on Serotonin and whether to use drugs to "correct" perceived problems or not. Today I would like to use a great article on this subject by David Christopher, M.H., director of The School of Natural Healing.
Serotonin is an essential neurotransmitter that is good but can be bad. It responds to stress, both physical and emotional. Ninety percent of serotonin response occurs in the gastro-intestinal tract (i.e., food poisoning, toxins and biotics). If we break down the word we find that sero = blood and tonin = tightening. Basically, this neurotransmitter stimulates your body into vigilant response through temporary hypertension. This important temporary response is achieved through the pathway of re-uptake. Serotonin (5HT) is used and reabsorbed into the tissue as 5HIAA serotonin, basically as precursor storage. This is a delicate cyclic system that should not be manipulated.
Research has consistently shown that when these 5HT serotonin levels are elevated we see increases in psychosis, mania, depression, anxiety, mental retardation, autism and Alzheimer’s. When the used and stored serotonin (5HIAA) levels are low research constantly finds higher incidences of suicide, arson, violent crime, insomnia, depression, alcohol abuse, impulsive acts with no concern for punishment, reckless driving and exhibitionism. The first drug to manipulate this delicate neurotransmitter system was LSD which stimulated imagination while bringing the user to the brink of panic. While some people had “mind blowing” thus exciting experiences with LSD others were not so fortunate and ended up jumping out windows or other extreme forms of suicide. Thank goodness LSD is no longer available by prescription.
Serotonin is manufactured by the body from the essential amino acid precursor Tryptophan. Everyone knows about the high tryptophan content of turkey and other animal products; however, soy sprouts, black beans, spirulina, nutritional yeast and endive have very high levels of tryptophan. Additionally, nuts, seeds, avocados and baked potatoes are also very reliable sources of this essential amino acid.
The same company that developed LSD developed SSRI (specific serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) drugs. They work by interfering with the body’s ability to re-uptake serotonin and thus deny a reserve of convertible serotonin. The danger occurs when serotonin levels get high and the reserves get low, which is exactly what is happening frequently with these drugs.
By blocking the re-uptake of serotonin a permanent bridge is formed giving the nerves constant stimulation. In fact it creates a perfect mental storm and we see the most bizarre scenarios imaginable. We see users driving a plane full of people into a mountain, hacking their spouses or children to death, driving into lakes, shooting up schools, theaters and now the night club in Orlando.
This latest shooter, Mateen, was normal then wasn’t normal, at times wasn’t violent then was violent, wanted to be a cop, wanted to be a terrorist, hated gays yet was frequenting gay bars for years, sickened by two men kissing, was not religious, was advocating doctrine, and warned police that he was pledging allegiance to ISIS. This man was clearly Bi-Polar. This condition is usually treated with SSRI’s, thus assuring another perfect storm.
What was really needed was to get him to a beach, let him soak in the rays of the sun which stimulate the production of serotonin, allowing the body to use this neurotransmitter naturally and safely. Eating vitamin rich foods and consuming tryptophan rich nuts, seeds and legumes instead of taking an LSD type drug (SSRI) that blocks the re-uptake of serotonin and depletes the serotonin reserve creating a bad “trip” for all of us
David Christopher is a Master Herbalist and the director of The School of Natural Healing. He also co-hosts the popular radio show "A Healthier You" and is a popular international teacher and lecturer.
I trust you enjoyed this article. At Herbs4You we have a great tea and tincture that contain a mixture of herbs that are known to be high in serotonin. We call it our Serotonin Tea and Tincture. Taking it in this way helps the body utilize what it needs to function properly.
We're here to help you!
Your Local Herbalist