Serotonin, also known scientifically as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is a chemical produced in the human body which plays an important role in regulating psychological functions and mood arousal; serotonin can be obtained through a healthy lifestyle as well as from serotonin supplements.

Serotonin imbalances have various forms and their treatment might require medication, in addition to adopting a healthy lifestyle. For example, serotonin deficiency is associated with lack of will power, poor appetite control or depression. Excess serotonin in the body can lead to a decrease in sexual drive, relaxation or sedation.

When should you take serotonin supplements?

Serious cases of serotonin imbalances are depression and anxiety, which usually require treatment. However, before taking any supplements, it is advisable to talk to your doctor when you experience mood swings or other similar symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor will advise you on which of the serotonin supplements fit your case and, in some cases, he will also prescribe medication in addition to supplements.

What are the main types of supplements that cab regulate serotonin levels?

The most well known supplements are tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan(5-HTP). The blood-brain barrier does not allow serotonin to enter the brain and the central nervous system. However, tryptophan enters the central nervous system, after which it is used in the synthesis of serotonin. This substance can be found in many foods (fish, chicken, nuts) but can be also be found in dietary supplements.

Similarly, 5-HTP is also a serotonin precursor, which transforms into tryptophan in the human body. This substance is not found in any food it is derived from seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simpicifolia.

A supplement which helps prevent nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin is St. John’s wort. This supplement is normally used only for mild to moderate depression, but it does show great results in such cases. St. John’s wort has been used as a treatment for nervous disorders even since ancient Greece.

Rhodiola rosaea is another plant used as a basis for supplements. It is a flower that grows in Siberia and is proven to replenish serotonin levels.

Similar to any medication, such supplements may trigger allergies and thus a doctors advice is recommended prior to use. Common reactions include rash, tightness in the chest, swelling or tremors.

All in all, if you experience serious mood swings and changing your lifestyle does not seem to help, you should consider taking serotonin supplements.