Serotonin is an monoamine neurotransmitter, a substance whose main role is to transmit information (electric impulses) from one nerve cell to another.
It is mainly synthesized in the brain neurons. 90% of the amount of serotonin available in the human body is located in the gut (gastrointestinal tract), and the rest of 10% is divided between the brain and blood platelets.
Main functions of serotonin
Serotonin is involved in controlling things like: emotions, mental processes, intestinal movements, cognitive functions, thermoregulation, regulation of blood pressure, breathing, the act of vomiting, pain perception, hormonal functions, muscle contractions, appetite and the sleep cycles.
There are also other functions and processes on which serotonin could have an impact (like changing the density of bones), but these assumptions are still under research.
Low or high levels of serotonin can lead to various conditions like: depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, Binge eating, chronic pain disorders, Epilepsy, headaches, Myoclonus, Schizophrenia, suicidal thoughts and behavior, serotonin syndrome and various forms of addiction.
How to increase serotonin levels in the body and brain
Serotonin levels within the body (but not brain) can be raised through a good planned alimentation which can consist of foods like: turkey, flaxseed, bananas, dark chocolate, eggs, wild fish.
These foods don’t have serotonin in them, but they have a precursor of it namely tryptophan.
It is thinked that serotonin can be raised in the brain through foods, but is very likely because all the foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan don’t have enough concentrations of it.
Low levels of serotonin can also be raised in the body and also the brain (which is important) through physical exercises, exposure to sunlight, massages, different types of drugs (antidepressants, psychedelic drugs and so on) and supplements.
In medicine serotonin is used for treating conditions and symptoms like: depression, anxiety, stroke, hypertension, migraines, schizophrenia and many others.
Other abbreviations and names: 5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT, the happy hormone, the calming chemical
Molecular formula: C10H12N2O
Molecular weight: 176.21508 g/mol
It was discovered in 1935 by the Italian Vittorio Erspamer