The 'happiness hormone' serotonin

, also known as the 'happiness hormone,' is a biogenic amine that fulfills many important functions in the body. Biogenic amines regulate cognitive abilities, mood, sleep, gastric acid secretion, bowel movements, and stabilize cell membranes. As a neurotransmitter, serotonin transmits signals between nerve cells. It is present in the peripheral and central nervous systems, as well as in other body cells such as the intestinal mucosa, where it is primarily produced.

How does serotonin deficiency occur in the body?

  1. Dietary Factors:
  • Lack of precursors: Serotonin is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in food. A lack of tryptophan-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, cheese, meat, and eggs can lead to a serotonin deficiency.
  • Unhealthy diet: An unbalanced diet rich in processed foods and low in essential nutrients can impair serotonin production.
  1. Chronic Stress:
  • Long-term stress increases cortisol levels in the body, which can negatively affect serotonin synthesis. Prolonged stress can also accelerate serotonin degradation.
  1. Sleep Disorders:
  • Serotonin is primarily produced during deep sleep phases. Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep can therefore reduce serotonin production.
  1. Genetic Factors:
  • Genetic variations can impair the body's ability to produce or effectively use serotonin. Certain gene mutations can affect serotonin transport proteins or receptors.
  1. Hormonal Changes:
  • Hormonal fluctuations, especially those associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause, can affect serotonin levels.
  1. Medications:
  • Some medications, such as certain antidepressants, beta-blockers, and antiepileptics, can impair serotonin production or release.
  1. Drug and Alcohol Abuse:
  • The abuse of substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and certain illegal drugs can disrupt serotonin production and function.
  1. Chronic Diseases:
  • Some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases, can affect the serotonin system.
  1. Gut Health:
  • Since a large portion of serotonin is produced in the gut, disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or chronic inflammation, can affect serotonin production.
  1. Lack of Sunlight:
  • Sunlight plays a role in serotonin synthesis. A lack of sunlight, especially during the winter months, can contribute to low serotonin levels, leading to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

What health conditions are associated with serotonin deficiency?
A low serotonin level can lead to various mental and physical health problems, including depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and chronic pain. Treatment for serotonin deficiency often includes dietary changes, stress management, sleep optimization, and, if necessary, the use of medications or dietary supplements.

How do I know if I suffer from serotonin deficiency?
To determine serotonin deficiency, serotonin reuptake inhibitors are administered. If an improvement is observed afterward, serotonin deficiency is assumed.

What to do in case of serotonin deficiency?
To increase serotonin levels in the body, antidepressants that act as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often used. These medications prevent the reuptake of serotonin into presynaptic neurons, making more serotonin available in the synaptic cleft. This leads to an accumulation of serotonin in the body, which improves mood and sleep.

Here, Greek mountain tea of the Sideritis scardica variety also plays a role. Even the ancient Romans used its mood-lifting effects. Modern medical studies have confirmed that this effect is partly due to its function as a natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Greek mountain tea contains valuable flavones such as apigenin and luteolin. Apigenin has an anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effect, while luteolin promotes sleep. Additionally, the tea also inhibits the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine.

Studies have shown that alcoholic extracts of Greek mountain tea can be taken continuously at doses up to 1000 mg per kg of body weight without side effects. This underscores the high potential of Greek mountain tea to compensate for neurotransmitter deficiencies and contribute to the improvement of mood and sleep.

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