Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is a chemical found in the body. It was first identified in Rome in 1935 and first isolated in the United States in 1948. It has many bodily functions and this article will highlight the main functions of what serotonin does.
It’s a neurotransmitter that functions to carry signals between nerves. It is created and found in the brain, bowels and blood platelets.
Serotonin is one of the key bodily chemicals that contribute to happiness, positivity, and well-being. It plays a major role in balancing your mood, and when there is a serotonin deficit in your body, it highly correlates with levels of depression.
Here are some quick facts about what serotonin does:
- It is one of the chemicals responsible for mood balance and happiness (the others are dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins).
- It is manufactured in the intestines and brain. Roughly 90% of your body’s serotonin can be found in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract.
- It can affect social behavior, sexual desire, memory, sleep, and digestion.
- Exercise and effective dieting can increase your serotonin levels.
What does serotonin do?
Serotonin plays a vital role in the central nervous system and bodily functions. Studies have found a correlation between levels of serotonin and bone metabolism, breast milk production, liver regeneration, and cell division.
Here are the top 6 functions of serotonin:
- Well-being and happiness: Serotonin is most known for its effects on people’s anxiety and happiness levels. Typically, the more serotonin you have in your body, the happy you are. That’s why when people take illicit mood-alerting drugs like Ecstasy and LSD they are in a euphoric state. These drugs cause a massive spike in your serotonin levels. It’s also the reason why people feel depressed and anxious after taking drugs because their levels of serotonin are severely lower than their body is used to.
- Sexual function: Low levels of serotonin are directly correlated with a decrease in horniness. On the flip side, an increase in your serotonin levels can lead to an increase in sexual desires.
- Bone density: Low levels of serotonin can also lead to a decreased result in bone density.
- Blood clotting: Serotonin is taken up by blood platelets and when the platelets attach to a blood clot, they release serotonin which acts as a vasoconstrictor to promote healing.
- Signals pain and nausea: When you something that is toxic or irritating to your body, more serotonin is produced in the gut to speed up the transit time and rid of the problem. Additionally, this increase in serotonin can also cause nausea by stimulating the brain.
- Bowel Functions: Communication between your gut and brain are regulated by serotonin. It helps maintain an optimal digestive function.