Serotonin is a neurotransmitter released by the pineal gland of the brain, and has an effect on the whole body.
It is sometimes called the happy chemical because it is believed to contribute towards our wellbeing.
It is known scientifically as 5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT and can be found in the brain, bowels and the blood platelets.
Also plays an active in regulating moods, social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function.
What are the functions of Serotonin?
- Mood – It is best known for its positive effects on mood, it is believed that low levels are associated with depression and anxiety. Mind altering drugs such as ecstasy and LSD cause a huge rise in its levels.
- Sleep – It also plays an important role in controlling our circadian rhythm – our body’s internal clock. Serotonin levels are at its lowest while we sleep, and increase when we wake. Low levels will disrupt our sleep patterns.
- Cognition -The serotonin receptors are also found in the brain regions involved in learning and memory.
- Bowel function – The majority of serotonin travels to the lining of the intestines and stomach. When we eat, serotonin is released and controls the contractions that push food through the digestive tract. An imbalance of serotonin has been linked to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.
- Sexual function – Low levels can increase our sexual libido, whereas high levels can decrease our libido.
- Blood clotting – Clotting of the blood is contributed by the serotonin levels. It is released by platelets when there is a wound, by narrowing the blood vessels, reducing blood flow and help blood clots to form.
- Nausea – When you eat something that irritates your stomach, the gut produces more serotonin to flush out the toxins, resulting in nausea.
Symptoms of Serotonin Deficiency
Low levels are linked with depression and may have the following symptoms:
- Bad memory
- Low mood and anxiety
- Craving for unhealthy foods such as sweets or starchy foods
- Problems with sleeping patterns
- Low self-esteem
- Being aggressive
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Effects our libido