Soothe Yourself: Boost SerotoninJul 25, 2020
by Henry Emmons, MD
[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]
p.s., If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, head there first.
Soothe Yourself: Boost Serotonin
Nearly everyone feels better when their serotonin levels are optimal. It has such a wide array of functions, involved with everything from sleep to appetite to impulse control to sexual desire. It's the brain chemical that helps soothe you when you feel stressed or threatened, and it offers considerable protection to the brain against the damaging effects of cortisol.
Serotonin’s broad benefits may explain why Prozac and the other SSRI’s took the world by storm in the 1990’s. It took a while for the shortcomings of these medications to become clear—problems such as agitation, numbing of emotions and sexual feelings, weight gain, insomnia, fatigue. The SSRI’s are not the cure-all that they initially appeared to be. The problem remains: millions of people are serotonin-depleted and suffer from the impacts of stress and anxiety (not to mention depression) as a result.
How do you know if you are serotonin-deficient?
Because it is such a key brain chemical, the signs of serotonin depletion are many:
- Insomnia (or irregular circadian rhythms).
- Craving sweets and other carbohydrates.
- Frequent muscle aches and pains.
- Impulsive behaviors.
- Moodiness (especially sadness, anxiety, and irritability).
- Feeling emotionally sensitive or vulnerable.
- Feeling insecure or lacking self-confidence.
- Low stress-tolerance.
How to Increase Serotonin Levels with Supplements
Most people with anxiety, especially if their mood is low as well, may benefit by boosting their serotonin levels. In addition to following the Resilient Diet, which is designed to help with serotonin production, the following supplements may offer support:
- L-tryptophan or the related precursor 5-HTP.
- B vitamins (try Activate) and vitamin D (try Illuminate 5000).
- Omega 3 fats (try Strengthen).
- St. John’s wort
It also helps to take measures to reduce inflammation, which frees up a key metabolic pathway to produce more serotonin.4
*Note: Some of the supplements discussed in this article can cause side effects, but many people tolerate them much better than prescription medications. They are generally considered safe, however, they should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision. If you are taking medication already, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these items. If you are considering going off medication, remember never to stop your medication suddenly—always consult with your doctor about how to safely taper off any psychiatric medication. See terms (link terms).
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
5-HTP for Anxiousness
Considerable research has shown that 5-HTP can reduce anxiety, both general and panic, as well as improve mood. Read more.
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