Serotonin: 6 effects of this hormone in your body and mind
The human brain is an organ of such complexity that in its interior there are thousands of chemical substances interacting so that we can experience things and perceive reality as we do.
Our behavior has biological bases that influence us decisively, and among these biological factors that make us what we are are substances like serotonin . Let's see what makes this hormone so special, and how it influences our brain.
Serotonin: what effects does this hormone have on your body and mind?
Some of these substances can only be found in certain types of cells and have very specific functions (so many of them must still be discovered), but others act both in the brain and outside of it. This is the case, for example, of serotonin, also known as 5-HT.
The 5-HT is deeply integrated into the functioning of the human body and learning from memory all its functions can be very intricate. However, in this summary you can know six of the main effects that serotonin has on the human body .
1. It has a fundamental role in digestion
Serotonin is a substance that behaves like a hormone in the blood and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. That is to say, serotonin is one of the units of communication that neurons capture and emit to influence one another, creating brain activation dynamics and chain effects. Thus, serotonin favors the crossing of information between neurons and that, beyond the brain, serves very different purposes. In fact, the highest concentrations of serotonin are not in the brain but in the gastrointestinal tract .
It is in the intestines where one of the most relevant functions of serotonin becomes important: the regulation of digestion. Too high levels of serotonin are linked to the appearance of diarrhea, while an excessive deficit of this substance can cause constipation. Further, it also influences the appearance (or absence) of appetite .
2. Regulates positive and negative moods
Serotonin can be found in large quantities by many parts of the body, and therefore a general mismatch in the production of this substance can have drastic effects on several factors that affect our way of feeling and behaving .
Specifically, serotonin has been associated for many years with the symptoms of depression, since people with a disorder of this type tend to have low concentrations of 5-HT in their blood. However, it is not known to what extent is the deficit of serotonin what produces depression or vice versa.
3. Controls the body temperature level
Among the basic maintenance functions of the integrity of our body that we associate with serotonin is also the thermal regulation . This is a very delicate balance, because a difference of a few degrees of body temperature can suppose the massive death of large groups of cellular tissues.
Neurons, for example, are especially sensitive in this regard.
4. Influences sexual desire
A correlation between serotonin levels and sexual libido has been found. High levels of 5-HT are associated with a lack of sexual desire, while low levels would promote the appearance of behaviors aimed at satisfying this need.
In addition, serotonin also seems to have an effect on the ability of humans to fall in love and feel love for another person. You can discover it in this article:
- "The chemistry of love: a very powerful drug"
5. Reduce levels of aggressiveness
Serotonin also serves to stabilize the emotional state of the human being in situations of tension. Specifically, it serves to inhibit the aggressiveness and violent behaviors that may result from it. Thus, the most impulsive and violent people tend to have lower levels of serotonin acting on key points in the brain than those that are more peaceful.
In addition, this substance is especially bad with testosterone , a hormone that, acting on the neurons making them more insensitive to serotonin, enhances aggressive behavior.
6. Regulates the sleep cycle
Throughout the day, serotonin levels rise and fall describing the curves that mark the circadian rhythm, which is the schedule that our body follows to know when to sleep and when not, and that therefore regulates our sleep and wakefulness. Thus, the levels of 5-HT tend to reach their maximum in the sunniest moments of the day, while during deep sleep they fall to their minimum.
In this way the serotonin production influences regulating our capacity to sleep, favoring or hindering the conciliation of sleep. Something similar happens with another substance called melatonin.
Discovering the serotonin excess syndrome
Serotonin is found in all healthy human beings, but its excess can trigger problems. What happens when our body generates too much serotonin ? It is not a trivial question, since there is a pathology associated with this excess of serotonin.
The excessive consumption of drugs against depression (the so-called "antidepressants"), which basically are responsible for stimulating the production of the hormone serotonin, can have a negative effect on our body. You can discover it by reading this article, where we explain exactly what this syndrome consists of and what symptoms it presents:
- "Serotonin syndrome: causes, symptoms and treatment"
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