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This Emotional tribe is run primarily by serotonin. Serotonin is the main calming neurotransmitter that tells all the other excitatory neurotransmitters to “calm down”. When your serotonin level is adequate, you feel like you have your “bubble of utopia” surrounding you. You can see the stress but it isn’t in your face. You can feel calm, peaceful, happy and sleep is easy and rejuvenating. When your serotonin levels are low then your utopia bubble is very small, if it even exists at all. Stress can feel like it is right in your face. There is a higher chance of feeling anxious, worried, irritable, depressed and you may have difficulty sleeping. All you want to do is go to bed and pull the covers over your head to escape. Chronic stress chews through your serotonin and can cause depletion.
Did you know that 90% of serotonin that the body needs is made in the gut? Unfortunately, you can’t take the serotonin that is made in the gut and put it in the brain for calming. If there is stress in the gut for any reason… poor diet, imbalanced flora, antibiotic use, NSAID use and many others, then the basic building blocks that are needed to make serotonin get used up and there then is less for the brain to use to make it’s own supply.
What can we do? “Live a life of very little stress” is what some will say, which may be ideal but may not be very realistic. Healing your gut is imperative but still may not be enough. Taking 5 HTP 100 mg by Xymogen in a controlled release tablet can be very effective. 5 HTP (or hydroxytrytophan) is a precursor to serotonin. Giving yourself more of the basic building blocks to make serotonin just makes sense. I like the controlled release form best because then it is released slowly and gently through out the day instead of one big lump. I also like the 5 HTP better, as opposed to taking tryptophan, because there is a chance that tryptophan can go to a neurotoxic metabolite quinolinic acid… so why take the chance. (Please be aware that taking 5HTP is not advisable to take along with any medication that is a SSRI – Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor – unless you are under the care of your health care professional.) I see amazing results in sleep, anxiety, irritability, depression and the feelings of overwhelm that can so easily accompany low serotonin.
Can we test for this? Yes, and this is where it can get really exciting. We don’t have to guess. We can test your Neurotransmitters with an easy urine test, the Neuro /Adrenal panel from Labrix. This has been very helpful when it isn’t apparent which neurotransmitter are causing the issues. Testing the micronutrients is also available with the Micronutrient panel. This tests 35 different nutrients at a cellular level telling the last 4-6 months of your nutrient status. This helps us see the picture if low nutrient cofactors are causing the problems. Want to know more and dig even deeper? Click Here to schedule a consultation with me.
Dr. Heidi Hook, ND