Do you know the usefulness of serotonin? The usefulness of serotonin is in the regulation of the wake/sleep cycle, control of blood pressure, body temperature, sexual or maternal behavior, and food intake. Serotonin, also called 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is a monoamine of the family of indolamines. It is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and in the intramural plexuses of the digestive tract, as well as an autacoïde (local hormone) released by enterochromaffin cells and thrombocytes. Serotonin production has also been observed in the placenta of mice and humans.
1 – The History of the Usefulness of Serotonin
Serotonin was identified in 1946 as enteramine by the Italian pharmacologist Vittorio Erspamer (1909-1999) in enterochromaffin cells of the digestive tract.
At about the same time in Cleveland, Maurice M. Rapport, who was interested in the hypertensive substances of the blood, isolated in 1948 a vasoconstrictor substance that appeared at the time of the coagulation of the blood. He called it ‘serotonin’ by the contraction of ‘serum’, its source and ‘tonic’, its action on the blood vessels.
The following year, he analyzed it as 5-hydroxytryptamine. Erspamer soon identified enteramine with 5-hydroxytryptamine. The presence of serotonin in the central nervous system was then characterized by BM Twarog and IH Page 17, shortly after Gaddum showed that LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), a powerful hallucinogenic psychotropic, behaved like serotonin on certain receptors. peripheral tissues.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a substance that can transmit nerve impulses between neurons. It is derived from an amino acid called tryptophan, an essential element in the body for the constitution of proteins.
It is a circulating biological substance in the blood, secreted by certain cells of the brain and the digestive tract. It also has a role similar to that of hormones and induces different actions, especially in the regulation of certain behaviors. Some drugs that affect the amount of serotonin have beneficial effects on depression.
Serotonin is also implicated in various processes: regulation of the sleep/wake cycle, control of body temperature, blood pressure, food intake and sexual or maternal behavior.
3 – Location
Serotonin has been identified in the gastrointestinal mucosa, in blood platelets, and in the central nervous system. Serotonin in the gastrointestinal mucosa accounts for about 80% of the total serotonin in the body. It is synthesized and stored at the level of chromaffin cells. These also store peptide mediators (cholecystokinin, neurotensin, PYY peptide). The release of serotonin by exocytosis plays a role in intestinal motility. Part of the serotonin of the digestive tract passes into the blood where it is stored in blood platelets. Serotonin is not synthesized because it is produced only in chromaffin cells, serotonergic neurons and osteoclasts of bone tissue. In the first stage of blood clotting, when the platelets aggregate together, they release their serotonin which, via the 5-HT1 receptors of vascular smooth muscle, causes vasoconstriction. The overall vascular effect is hypertensive.
In the central nervous system, the cell bodies of serotoninergic neurons are located in the nuclei of the raphe brainstem from which they project into the entire brain and spinal cord. We can say that, in a general way: the serotoninergic neurons of the mesencephalon project rostrally into the cerebral hemispheres; those of the bridge ramify in the brainstem and the cerebellum, and those of the elongated marrow go to the spinal cord. The effects of serotonin on other neurons may be excitatory or inhibitory depending on the nature of the receptors.
4 – The Usefulness of Serotonin in the Brain and Central Nervous System
Serotonin is a chemical messenger of the central nervous system involved in several physiological functions such as sleep, aggression, eating, and sexual behavior. It is intimately connected to mood, mental performance and our ability to handle stress. She also has cognitive functions including memory and learning.
This neurotransmitter is involved physiologically in peristalsis (spontaneous mechanism of the digestive tract) and is used for the catalysis of certain autonomous functions based on the current availability of survival resources. For example, serotonin plays a role in appetite signaling – when levels are low, the body knows that you need to find food.
Serotonin works in conjunction with other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine, epinephrine. The mood is balanced in part by serotonin. If we have too much serotonin in our systems, we can become too quiet and confused. If we have very little serotonin in our systems, we are prone to becoming depressed. Having the right amount makes us feel happy and satisfied.
The effect of tryptophan on the regulation of appetite is achieved through the central production of serotonin, which is involved in the regulation of satiety and appetite. Tryptophan is the precursor of this neurotransmitter (serotonin), a decrease in tryptophan concentration in the brain leads to a decrease in serotonin production, which depends not only on the level of tryptophan ingested but also on the level of other amino acids broad neutrals (phenylalanine, tyrosine, isoleucine, valine, leucine).
Melatonin, which is produced from tryptophan in the digestive tract, could serve as a signal for the synchronization of ingestion and digestion processes.
Serotonin is also needed to develop melatonin, a protein that is made in the brain – in the pineal gland – and is responsible for regulating sleep. Serotonin increases at night to induce sleep and remains elevated until dawn when it begins to descend.
Another important function of this neurotransmitter is to act as an internal clock of our body to determine the sleep and waking cycles. The internal clock is responsible for coordinating several biological functions such as body temperature, stress hormone – cortisol – and sleep cycles. The correct coordination of these 3 elements means that we can sleep soundly and wake up refreshed. Men produce up to 50% more serotonin than women; therefore, these are more sensitive to changes in serotonin levels. We can see that the usefulness of serotonin is therefore extensive.
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5 – Changes in Serotonin Levels
Stress, blood sugar levels and hormonal changes, especially in estrogens, are some of the causes of serotonin damage. Low levels of serotonin are associated with mental imbalances such as schizophrenia, infantile autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, infantile hyperactivity, depression, aggression, migraines, stress, and insomnia.
The rise of serotonin in the nervous circuits produces a sensation of well-being, relaxation, greater self-esteem, and concentration. Serotonin can be measured in the blood, although a lot of information will not be obtained, because the brain and the rest of the body are separated by the blood-brain barrier, a kind of screen that does not allow the entry of any substance into the brain. That’s why the brain makes its own neurotransmitters.
Low levels of serotonin are also strongly correlated with the following conditions:
– Bipolar disorder;
– social anxiety;
6 – How to Increase Serotonin?
The usefulness of serotonin is optimal if you have the proper level of serotonin in your body. The balance of serotonin levels can be achieved naturally by appropriate dietary choices, daily physical activity, absorption of the sun through the skin, proper hydration.
To produce serotonin in our body, we must necessarily tryptophan, which is the precursor amino acid. Many studies conducted on depressed people have shown that playing sports increases tryptophan levels and thus serotonin levels, thus contributing to the fight against depression.
Meditation makes it possible to react differently to events, to change mental habits that are well anchored in the brain. At the neuronal level, to meditate allows modifying the connections between neurons that are made by neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Understanding how a neuron works can help calmly mediate knowing that change is occurring gradually through neuronal plasticity.
Walking in the forest, taking a walk in the sun, being connected to nature is naturally pleasant. Still, you have to take the time to do it, even for a few minutes a day. And no need to wait for a bright sun to enjoy the benefits of solar radiation. Indeed, the sun has a positive effect on the natural production of serotonin even when it looks like it is gray. Enjoying the light of the day is vital.
Have Positive Thoughts
According to Simon N. Young’s study, ‘How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs’, the link between serotonin and positive thinking would be two-way: to have positive thoughts would increase serotonin levels, as high serotonin levels would help to have more positive thoughts.
Take Enough Sun
The light probably helps the synthesis of serotonin. The researchers found a positive correlation between serotonin synthesis and the total number of hours of sunshine in a day. Autopsies have indicated that serotonin levels are higher in the summer months than in the winter months.
7 – Eat Better to Make More Serotonin
Serotonin is very much related to our diet. It regulates our tendency to eat sweets and thus indirectly our weight. Several foods such as eggs, turkey, pulses contain tryptophan, which makes it possible to manufacture serotonin. But if the diet is not enough (in the case of intense stress or depression) Griffonia simplicifolia, a plant that contains a lot of tryptophan, can be an effective dietary supplement to increase serotonin.
*** Essential Foods to Increase Serotonin
Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin. This essential amino acid has a very important function since it helps to regulate adequate levels of serotonin in the brain and is able to cross the brain barrier. The body cannot produce tryptophan and it has to be obtained through nutrition.
It is advisable to abandon refined sweets and carbohydrates and replace them with foods of plant origin, fruits, and whole grains.
– Dairy products and eggs are very rich in tryptophan, fundamental for the synthesis of serotonin.
– Protein vegetables like soy and all its derivatives, which have a lot of fiber, are ideal for helping to treat depressive states and to neutralize anxiety.
– Dried fruits such as nuts, almonds or hazelnuts have good levels of tryptophan.
– Meats and proteins in general, especially fish or chicken, are good sources of tryptophan.
– Bananas are full of nutrients and fiber; they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements, and provide the body with a rapid energy supply.
– Pineapple is rich in minerals and vitamins and contains active elements that stimulate the production of serotonin, And if we eat pineapple at night, it will be a natural capsule to sleep, since the brain turns tryptophan into melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Complex carbohydrates are absorbed by the body in a completely different way than simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread increase blood sugar levels very quickly, causing insulin levels to rise, which will drop after a while. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed much more slowly by the body, avoiding the brutal highs and lows caused by simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are:
– pulses like peas and lentils
– whole wheat bread
– complete pasta
– complete rice
– starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes
Healthy fatty acids like omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids have an effect on how serotonin works in the brain. DHA is an essential constituent of the brain that must be replenished through foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are found in:
– fish, such as salmon and fish oils
– nuts, seeds and oils based on seeds.
Eating dark chocolate increases serotonin levels in part because of resveratrol – a natural substance in grapes, blackberries, peanuts, cocoa -. Resveratrol increases both the levels of endorphins and serotonin.
Avoid Caffeine-Based Drinks, Especially Energy Drinks
Caffeine suppresses serotonin, which may also explain why it also suppresses hunger. Energy drinks contain a lot of sugar that is absorbed very quickly by the body, but this also causes a drop in energy as soon as the insulin begins to fall.
8 – The Influence of the Maternal DNA on the Fetal Brain – Importance of Serotonin
At conception, the father and mother each transmit part of their genetic heritage. The genetic inheritance of the mother would intervene directly during the pregnancy on the normal development of the fetus, independently of the genes acquired with the conception.
According to the work of French researchers led by Jacques Mallet and Francine, part of the CNRS, published in 2011 in the minutes of the American Academy of Sciences, the PNAS, the maternal influence intervenes on the fetus independently of the genes that it has thus acquired from his parents.
This discovery has implications for understanding autism, a developmental disorder, or irritable bowel syndrome that affects 20% of the population.
Researchers have established the crucial role of maternal serotonin – dependent on its own genes – on fetal development, particularly of the brain, but also of the heart and digestive tract. They demonstrated that in the early embryonic stages, serotonin comes from the mother.
To prove it, the researchers used genetically modified mice. Some of them have been deprived of a gene (“tph1” gene) responsible for 95% of serotonin carried by the blood. They then made genetic crosses for breeding animals.
Results: Only One Element Dominates, the Maternal Blood Level of Serotonin.
If it is collapsed, newborns, regardless of their own ability (normal or failing) to produce this substance, have abnormalities in brain architecture, and their size is 15% to 30% lower compared to those from mothers whose serotonin level is normal. Conversely, if the maternal level is normal, the baby is developing normally.
The Paternal Influence on This Chapter Appears Nil.
Researchers believe that this mother-child interaction raises the question of very premature babies. It will be necessary to study with attention the rate of serotonin of the mother and possibly the effects of the drugs (antidepressants for example) which act on this substance.
Special care of pregnant women belonging to families at increased risk of pathologies for which a link with a disruption of this substance has been suggested (autism, phenylketonuria – cause of mental retardation – irritable bowel syndrome) could be considered.