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Naturally Boost Serotonin Levels to Fight Depression and Anxiety!

Boost Serotonin Levels Without Dangerous Pharmaceuticals

Modern medical science has found that low serotonin levels can lead to a huge variety of symptoms and complaints. In fact, depression is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to low serotonin levels in the brain.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to take a powerful, and potentially risky drug to correct low serotonin levels. As you will see, there are several very effective—and side-effect free—nutritional approaches to enhance serotonin and overall well-being.

What is serotonin?

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that’s responsible for feelings of optimism, relaxation, and a general sense of well being. Low levels of this neurotransmitter can cause depression as well as a host of other symptoms.

If you are feeling emotionally down, it may not be your fault. It may simply be a neurotransmitter imbalance.

If you have low levels of serotonin, you could experience a variety of symptoms ranging from the “blues” to serious emotional disorders,
including:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Low self esteem
  • Sleep and appetite disturbances

Nutritional supplementation may work better than pharmaceuticals

Today, powerful and potentially risky drugs such as Zoloft®, Lexapro®, Prozac® and other drugs known as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) are prescribed to correct low serotonin levels. However, that may soon change. There is a growing body of solid, scientific evidence that nutritional approaches may actually work as well—or even better than pharmaceuticals. Proper nutritional supplementation may also help with aggressive and violent behavior (including suicide), migraine headaches, and even heart disease related to stress and depression.

But you wouldn’t know this if you only followed mainstream information. Big Pharma invests millions of dollars in promoting their patented SSRI’s to the medical community, and millions more to advertise these drugs to the general public. Depression is big business and they have too much to lose to allow other, safer, non-patentable treatments to see the light of day.

What the pharmaceutical giants don’t want you to know …

Fortunately, there are alternatives to these drugs. Researchers have found that certain supplements work on depression, anxiety, and the broader problem of serotonin deficiency syndrome, which also manifests in sleeplessness, aggressiveness, agitation, obsessive-compulsive traits, migraines, and other common behavioral disorders—in other words, the host of illnesses that SSRIs are used to treat.1 Studies have even found some of these supplements to be superior to SSRIs in treating depression.

Toward emotional wellness

Nobody disputes the fact that SSRIs and other antidepressants have a place in the world. And we don’t suggest that you stop taking your medication and try alternative treatments without consulting your physician.

But we do believe, and studies have proven, that there is a place for nutritionally-based supplements in the fight against depression, anxiety, all the related illnesses, and even just for those of us who often “just don’t feel good.” In fact, many alternative health care professionals are encouraging their patients to try nutritional approaches for elevating serotonin levels and alleviating depression first, before prescribing SSRI drugs. They know that supplements that act on serotonin levels have been proven effective for:

  • Ending depression2
  • Treating obsessive-compulsive disorder3
  • Relieving anxiety4
  • Preventing migraine headaches5
  • Enhancing sleep6
  • Relieving fibromyalgia7

And besides being alternatives for the more serious illnesses we’ve discussed, these supplements are blessings for the millions of people who are not clinically depressed or anxious, but who simply don’t feel well emotionally. Of course, these nutritional supplements can’t be patented, so they’ll never receive the marketing and press the giant pharmaceuticals invest in their proprietary products.

The serotonin link

Before we discuss these natural alternatives to SSRIs, the action of serotonin in the body should be reviewed.

Serotonin was first identified some 50 years ago, and ever since then scientists have been finding out more and more about the functions it performs in the body.

Nerve cells synthesize serotonin by a two-step process that begins with the essential dietary amino acid tryptophan. Once tryptophan has been taken up into the nerve cell, it is converted into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).

Studies have shown that taking supplements of 5-HTP will increase the amount of serotonin available for use by neurons.8  And the elevation of the available serotonin can have a profound impact on emotional wellness.

The conclusion that serotonin had a critical role in depression—a conclusion that revolutionized the treatment of depression—was first made in the 1970s. It was observed that many people with depression had low levels of a metabolite of serotonin in the fluid that surrounds their brain and spinal cord. Low metabolites of serotonin suggest that the brain is not producing, and therefore not metabolizing, a normal amount of serotonin.9

Researchers also found that people who attempted suicide had abnormally low levels of serotonin metabolites in their brains. This finding suggests that a serotonin deficiency might actually predispose some people to suicide.1011

Fortunately, there’s a better way to improve serotonin levels in our system than merely eating a diet high in tryptophan. By combining several nutritional supplements, we can get a powerful mood enhancing effect.

Let’s take a look at these nutritional supplements and how they work to alleviate stress and anxiety and/or improve serotonin production and maintain optimal levels…

1. 5-HTP is an amino acid that is the precursor to serotonin. A growing base of scientific evidence suggests that 5-HTP does everything the SSRIs do, but without the side effects. Unlike drugs like Zoloft or Prozac, which can cause serotonin imbalance by interfering with serotonin recycling, 5-HTP raises serotonin levels by enhancing a natural process—the synthesis of new serotonin molecules.12

2. St. John’s Wort is another nutritional supplement that’s been shown to combat mild depression and anxiety without the side effects commonly associated with antidepressants. In some European countries, such as Germany, St. John’s Wort is prescribed for depression far more often than medicinal drugs. Studies have shown that St. John’s Wort increases the concentration of serotonin in the central nervous system by inhibiting two enzymes responsible for the breakdown of serotonin.13

 

3. SAMe precursors and co-factors are extremely important for serotonin synthesis. SAMe is manufactured naturally in the body from the amino acid methionine, with the aid of several vitamin co-factors including vitamin B12 and folic acid. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can result in decreased SAMe synthesis. And while SAMe itself is available as a dietary supplement, it is far better for your body to manufacture it naturally by providing the appropriate SAMe precursors.

Numerous placebo-controlled, double-blind studies provide well-documented evidence for SAMe’s benefit in depression. Many of these show SAMe to be equal or superior to antidepressants, with more rapid onset, most often within a few days, and, unlike the antidepressants, with no side effects.14 So clearly, it is imperative that we support natural SAMe production by providing the necessary co-factors and precursors. In turn, SAMe then supports normal serotonin synthesis, lessening the need for SSRIs.

4. Magnolia bark is a Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for centuries to treat “stagnation of qi” (low energy), and emotional distress. While Magnolia may not directly affect serotonin levels, it is rich in the phytochemicals honokiol and magnolol, which have been shown to alleviate stress while producing a calming effect. Dozens of studies have shown that they act as non-addictive, non-sedating, anti-anxiety and anti-stress agents at low doses.15

That means even a small dose of Magnolia can help calm nerves and alleviate anxiety, without drowsy side-effects. Scientists believe these two phytochemicals support healthy mental function with honokiol exerting an anti-anxiety effect, and magnolol exerting an antidepressant effect.16

Conclusion

By combining all these nutritional supplements, you can improve your serotonin levels and get a powerful mood enhancing effect. And you can do it without putting yourself at risk from the well-documented side effects associated with pharmaceutical SSRIs.

If you or someone you love is battling the effects of low serotonin levels, a nutritional supplement approach just might provide the natural relief you are seeking.

References

  1. Poldinger W, Calanchini B, Shwarz W. A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency as a target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxamine.Psychopathology. 1991;24:53-81.
  2. Sano I. L-5-hydroxytryptophan (L-5-HTP) therapie. Folia Psychiat Neurol Jap. 1972;26:7.
  3. Yaryura-Tobias J, Bhagavan H. L-tryptophan in obsessive-compulsive disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 1977;134:1298-1299.
  4. Kahn RS, Westenberg HGM. L-5-Hydroxytryptophan in the treatment of anxiety disorders. J Affect Disord. 1985;8:197-200.
  5. Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, Codina A. 5-Hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Randomized clinical trial.Eur Neurol. 1986;25:327-329.
  6. Soulairac A, Lambinet H. Action du 5-hydroxytryptophane, precurseur de la serotonine, sur les troubles du sommeil. Ann Med-Psychol. 1977;135:792-798.
  7. Caruso I, Sarzi Puttini P, Cazzola M, Azzolini V. Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia syndrome. J Int Med Res. 1990;18:201-209.
  8. Poldinger W, Calanchini B, Shwarz W. A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency as a target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxamine.Psychopathology. 1991;24:53-81.
  9. Asberg M, Thoren P, Traskman L, et al. Serotonin depression: a biochemical subgroup within affective disorders. Science.
  10. Lloyd K, Farley L, Deck J, Hornykiewicz O. Serotonin and 5-hydroxy-indolaeacetic acid in discrete areas of the brainstem of suicide victims and control patients. Adv Biochem Psychopharm. 1974;11:387-398.
  11. Van Praag H. Biological suicide research: outcome and limitations.Biol Psychiatry. 1986;21:1305-1323.
  12. 5-HTP: The Natural Alternative To Prozac, by John Morgenthaler & Lane Lenard, PhD.
  13. Linde K, Ramirez G, Mulrow C, Pauls A, Weidenhammer W, Melchart D. St John’s wort for depression – an overview and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials, BMJ No. 7052 Volume 313 Saturday 3 August 1996.
  14. Papakostas GI, Alpert JE, Fava M. S-adenosyl-methionine in depression: a comprehensive review of the literature. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2003 Dec;5(6):460-6.
  15. Maruyama Y, Kuribara H, Morita M, Yuzurihara M, Weintraub ST. Identification of magnolol and honokiol as anxiolytic agents in extracts of saiboku-to, an oriental herbal medicine. J Nat Prod 1998 Jan;61(1):135-8.
  16. Nakazawa T, Yasuda T, Ohsawa K. Metabolites of orally administered Magnolia officinalis extract in rats and man and its antidepressant-like effects in mice. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2003 Nov; 55(11): 1583-91.

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