I’ve talked about serotonin before. It’s a neurotransmitter (chemical that sends a specific message from one brain cell to another) that is believed to play an important role in controlling our moods. Only 1% to 2% of all the serotonin on our bodies is located in the brain but it’s still a very important percentage. The balance of the serotonin in our bodies is located in the stomach and blood platelets.
Research is showing that low levels of serotonin can lead to aggression. When the level is where it needs to be a person can feel more calm and have less anxiety. Increasing your exercise plan can increase serotonin levels in the brain and that will help you have a more positive mood. It might even help you sleep better because it can make some people sleepy.
There is an article that was published on September 25, 2011 that has some very good information on how serotonin levels can affect moods and behavior. During this study the participants filled out a personal questionnaire, and were given a diet that was sometimes deficient on tryptophan which is the building block for serotonin. After this was done the participants had brain scans done with a fMRI (See my article “Brain Scans can Detect Fibromyalgia).
This is a direct quote from the article “Dr Molly Crockett, co-first author who worked on the research while a PhD student at Cambridge’s Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (and currently based at the University of Zurich) said: “We’ve known for decades that serotonin plays a key role in aggression, but it’s only very recently that we’ve had the technology to look into the brain and examine just how serotonin helps us regulate our emotional impulses. By combining a long tradition in behavioral research with new technology, we were finally able to uncover a mechanism for how serotonin might influence aggression.”
Another co-first author, Dr Luca Passamonti, worked on the research while a visiting scientist at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge (and currently based at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Unità di Ricerca Neuroimmagini, Catanzaro), said: “Although these results came from healthy volunteers, they are also relevant for a broad range of psychiatric disorders in which violence is a common problem. For example, these results may help to explain the brain mechanisms of a psychiatric disorder known as intermittent explosive disorder (IED). Individuals with IED typically show intense, extreme and uncontrollable outbursts of violence which may be triggered by cues of provocation such as a facial expression of anger.
“We are hopeful that our research will lead to improved diagnostics as well as better treatments for this and other conditions.” You can read the rest of the article for all of the details.
Serotonin levels and fibromyalgia are a touchy mixture it appears. First, it appears that women in general are more sensitive to serotonin levels. They get moody before their periods, during menopause and often after having children.
Women who have fibromyalgia should get as much exercise as they can, and get out in the sun.
Oh geez, certain carbohydrates (the things those of us with fibromyalgia crave) can even increase serotonin levels. Eating carbohydrates causes an increase in your insulin output and insulin’s effect in increasing tryptophan.
Carbohydrates are broken down in sugar molecules when they are digested. The sugar molecules are eventually released into the bloodstream which increases the amount of glucose in your blood. When this happens your insulin levels increase and breaks the sugar down to produce energy and move extra glucose from your blood to your body cells. Insulin also makes it easier for tryptophan to get into the brain.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is in foods like turkey. It’s the thing that makes us feel sleepy and relaxed after Thanksgiving dinner.
As you can see, serotonin levels and fibromyalgia can have a direct effect on eachother. A low serotonin level can result in moodiness, and perhaps lead to depression. Keeping your serotonin level up where it should be will help you be more objective, in a better mood, and perhaps sleep better. All of these things will do nothing but help your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Serotonin Levels and Fibromyalgia