It is popular to see serotonin as a 'happy hormone'. Often enough, when food makes one happy, it is said to raise serotonin. 5-HTP and similar supplements are regularly used to improve mood and sleep.
Ray Peat says the opposite, and I believe the author of Lights Out isn't a big fan of serotonin either.
What's the take of the paleo community on serotonin? Good or bad?
asked byKorion (8938)
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on August 04, 2012
at 11:23 AM
The negative effects of a bad lsd trip is caused by a subreceptor of the serotonin system (its a 5ht2a receptor agonist from memory). A large number of serotonin subtypes are associated with anxiety and other negative emotions. A quick look on wikipedia about these subsystems will quickly dispel any notion that they are all positive uplifting systems.
In fact, the anti-depression/anti-anxiety action of the 5ht1a-receptor is supposed to because of the downregulation of the entire rest of the serotonin system. And thats the receptor that oxytocin influences. Its also how prozac and 5-htp are now theorized to work (constant action at 5ht1a, gradually indirectly lowers the sensitivity of all the rest of the system, hence why it takes so long to work, and people often suicide before it does)
I would guess, having researced it a fair damn bit, that far more negative emotion comes from the serotonin system than positive - largely around negative social and self perceptions. (Hence the old LSD thing)
IMO, emotional wellbeing is more about the serenic receptor (5ht1a), dopamine at selective sites, such as the nucleus accumbens, GABA at selective sites and more generally Brain-derived neurotrophic factor.
All of those things are positively modulated by naturalistic human behaviours - exercise, sunlight, sleep, proper diet, human touch and empathy etc.
Drug or supplementation therapy for these brain regions, in the absence of addressing the actual human needs, is like growing plants underground, and keeping animals in the zoo (Hey zoo neighbours!)
It can work based on approximation, but its never going to be ideal or forfill total needs.
If mental illness, or depression, or anxiety, or stress related illness, (or autoimmune diseases) where merely organic dysfunctions in our body, the third world would have them as much as we do, and our rates would be steady by population rather than all excalating on a hyperbolic curve like our crime and violence rates.
If a supplement or drug could fix all those problems, id would be more impressive than throwing a rock to the moon, and also less logical than drawing a door in a wall and walking through it.
The folk idea that serotonin (only the biggest receptor group in the brain) is something you simply want more of, IMO, is extremely inaccurate.
What you want more of is a happy , human natural, life. The body, in most cases, can take of the rest.
on August 04, 2012
at 12:05 PM
Serotonin is a reward neurotransmitter released in response to food and pleasurable, pro-survival activities. Short-circuiting this system by ingestion of serotonin agonists would inevitably alter behaviour just like drugs of addiction will.