How to Increase Serotonin: 17 Natural Ways to Increase Serotonin

How to Increase Serotonin: 17 Natural Ways to Increase Serotonin
How to Increase Serotonin - Photo by Francesca Vincis from Flickr
SHARE - Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that is involved in many processes throughout your body, from regulating mood to improving digestion. It’s also familiarly known for promoting good sleep by helping to regulate circadian rhythms, helping regulate appetite, as well as improving learning and memory. Serotonin also helps promote positive feelings and prosocial behavior.

In case you’re wondering about how to increase serotonin, Tripboba has collected good information on how to increase serotonin. So, make sure to stay with us and read this page along!

How to Increase Serotonin Naturally

How to Increase Serotonin - Photo by Isabelle Puaut from Flickr

Before Tripboba shares what are the things you should know on how to increase serotonin, let us take you through the signs if you have low serotonin below:

  • Feeling low, anxious, or depressed
  • Feeling aggressive or irritable
  • Having sleeping troubles or feel tired
  • Feeling impulsive
  • Having decreased appetite
  • Experiencing nausea and digestive problems
  • Craving sweet foods and rich in carbohydrates

There are many natural remedies to help increase your serotonin. Below are some things you should know:

1. Food

You can't get serotonin directly from food, but you can get tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into serotonin in your brain. Tryptophan is found mainly in high protein foods, including turkey and salmon.

It is not as simple as eating tryptophan-rich foods – thanks to something called the blood-brain barrier. This is the protective sheath around your brain that controls what enters and leaves your brain.

In nutshell, tryptophan-rich foods are typically higher in other amino acids. Since it is more abundant, these other amino acids are more likely to cross the blood-brain barrier than tryptophan.

Try eating tryptophan-rich foods with 25 to 30 grams of carbohydrates.

Below are some snack ideas you can get started on how to increase serotonin:

  • Whole wheat bread with turkey or cheese
  • Oatmeal with a handful of nuts
  • Salmon with brown rice
  • Pineapple or plum with your favorite biscuit
  • Pretzels with peanut butter and a glass of milk

2. Exercise

Exercise triggers the release of tryptophan into your blood. It can also decrease the amount of other amino acids, which can create an ideal environment for more tryptophan to reach your brain.

One of the best exercises you can do is aerobic. At your preferred level, aerobic seems to have the most effect. So, go for your old roller skates or try a dance class. Its purpose is to increase your heart rate. Other than aerobic, the following exercises are also great for heart rate: swimming, bicycling, brisk walking, jogging, and light hike.

3. Bright light

Source shows that serotonin tends to be lower after winter and higher in summer and fall. The known effect of serotonin on mood helps support a link between these findings and the occurrence of seasonal affective disorders and mental health problems associated with the seasons.

Spending time in the sun happens to be one of the ways how to increase serotonin and appears to help raise serotonin levels. And research exploring this idea suggests that your skin may be able to synthesize serotonin.

If you want to maximize this potential benefit, spend at least 10 to 15 minutes outside every day. You can also take your physical activity outside to help increase the serotonin induced by exercise – don't forget to wear sunscreen if you're going to be out for more than 15 minutes.

In case you live in a rainy climate, have trouble getting out, or are at high risk of skin cancer, you can still increase serotonin by exposure to bright light from a light therapy kit (you can shop for this online).

If you have bipolar disorder, it’s recommended for you to talk to your therapist before trying a light box. Incorrect or prolonged use has triggered mania in some people.

4. Supplements

To answer how to increase serotonin, some dietary supplements can help to start serotonin production and release by increasing tryptophan.

Before trying a new supplement, make sure to contact your health care provider and let them know if you are also taking prescription medication, free or over-the-counter medication, supplements, and vitamins, as well as herbal medicine.

Choose a supplement that is made by a well-known manufacturer and can be researched for reports on the purity and quality of the product. Research shows the following supplements can help increase serotonin and reduce symptoms of depression: pure tryptophan, SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine), 5-HTP, St. John's wort, and probiotics.

5. Massage

Massage therapy is among the ways how to increase serotonin as it’s known to help increase serotonin and dopamine, another mood-related neurotransmitter. It also helps lower something called cortisol, which is a hormone your body produces when you are stressed.

6. Mood induction

Could a good mood help boost serotonin levels? Several source studies suggest yes. Thinking of something that makes you feel good can help boost the serotonin in your brain, which can help increase mood in general.

You can try to visualize happy moments from your memory, thinking about positive experiences you've had with your loved ones, and you can also see photos of things that make you happy, like pets, favorite places, or close friends.

Remember that moods are complex. It is not always an easy thing to change moods. But sometimes, just getting involved in the process of trying to direct your thoughts to a positive place can help.

When to Seek Help?

If you want to increase serotonin to improve mood-related symptoms, including depressive symptoms, this method may not be sufficient. Some people have lower serotonin levels because of their brain chemistry, and there's not much you can do on your own. Additionally, mood disorders involve a complex mixture of brain chemicals, genetics, environment, and other factors.

If you find that your symptoms are starting to affect your daily life, consider seeking support from a therapist.

How to Increase Dopamine and Serotonin Naturally

How to Increase Serotonin - Photo by 阿簡 from Flickr

Apart from the 6 points Tripboba has mentioned before, there are still many natural ways to increase serotonin and dopamine. Take a look below:

7. Meditation

Meditation is a relaxed and focused contemplation exercise. It is often accompanied by breathing exercises. Evidence suggests that meditation increases dopamine release and it also can relieve stress and create a feeling of inner peace.

8. Gratitude

Scientific research shows that gratitude affects the brain's reward system. This correlates with the release of dopamine and serotonin. Gratitude is directly linked to increased happiness.

9. Essential oil

All essential oils come from plants and they often have medicinal properties. Just like the study say that essential oils of bergamot, lavender, and lemon are highly therapeutic. Using your sense of smell can push your brain to release serotonin and dopamine.

Note: Be sure to always follow the directions on the bottle label. Although essential oils are known for being "natural," some of them can be dangerous if abused. Don't let young children play with essential oils.

10. Goal achievement

Know that when we reach our goals, our brain releases dopamine. The brain finds this dopamine to be very beneficial. It looks for more dopamine by working towards other goals.

A bigger goal usually comes with an increase in dopamine. However, it is best to start with small goals to increase your chances of success. Short-term goals can add up to achieve long-term goals. This pattern maintains the release of dopamine in your brain.

How to Increase Serotonin with Drugs

How to Increase Serotonin - Photo by Miguel á Padriñán from Pexels

Serotonin syndrome is most often caused when certain antidepressant agents are taken in combination with other drugs that modulate synaptic serotonin levels.

When patients take two or more antidepressants from different pharmacological classes, drug-drug interactions may occur; this interaction can cause severe serotonin toxicity or serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin syndrome usually occurs when a patient takes two or more drugs that increase serotonin levels through different mechanisms, but this syndrome can occur with the use of individual agents.

The mechanisms that lead to serotonin syndrome include increased serotonin production, inhibition of serotonin recuperation, inhibition of serotonin metabolism, increased serotonin release, and stimulation of serotonin receptors. Particular drugs can affect serotonin levels in more than one mechanism. The mechanisms of action and their causative agents include:

  • Increased Serotonin Production: one of the substances that improves serotonin production is the dietary supplement L-tryptophan. This one serotonin precursor has been involved in serotonin syndrome.
  • Inhibition of Serotonin Reuptake: drugs that block serotonin reuptake include dextromethorphan, cyclobenzaprine, chlorpheniramine, meperidine, methadone, pentazocine, sibutramine, SSRIs (citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine), St. John's wort, trazodone, tramadol, and tricyclic antidepressants (clomipramine, imipramine).
  • Inhibition of Serotonin Metabolism by MAO: this category includes linezolid, isocarboxazid, selegiline, tranylcypromine, methylene blue, and phenelzine.
  • Increased Serotonin Release: some drugs that increase serotonin release are meperidine, dextromethorphan, methadone, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as MDMA or ecstasy), and mirtazapine.
  • Stimulation of Serotonin Receptor: drugs that stimulate serotonin receptors include dihydroergotamine, meperidine, lithium, diethylamide lysergic acid (LSD), buspirone, metoclopramide, and triptans (sumatriptan).

How to Increase Serotonin Levels (7 Foods to Boost Your Serotonin)

How to Increase Serotonin - Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

On this section, Tripboba will share 7 food that may increase your serotonin.

1. Eggs

We all know the protein in eggs are great. It can significantly increase your blood plasma tryptophan levels based on a 2015 study.

Useful tip: don't leave out the egg yolks! Because egg yolks are very rich in tryptophan, along with tyrosine, choline, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Cheese

Cheese is a great source of tryptophan. A delicious favorite you can make is mac and cheese which combines cheddar cheese with egg and milk, which is also a good source of tryptophan.

3. Pineapple

For decades, pineapple has been shown to contain serotonin. Note that while some other plants, such as tomatoes, increase serotonin when ripe, this is not the case with pineapples – so take them fresh!

4. Tofu

Soy products are rich in tryptophan. You can replace tofu with almost any protein, in almost any recipe, making it an excellent source of tryptophan for vegetarians and vegans.

Some tofu contains calcium, which provides a nice calcium addition.

5. Salmon

It's hard to go wrong with salmon, which is also rich in tryptophan. What you can do is combine it with egg and milk to make a smoked salmon frittata!

Salmon also has other nutritional benefits such as helping to balance cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Nuts and seeds

Choose and pick your favorites, because all nuts and seeds contain tryptophan. Studies have shown that eating a handful of nuts every day can lower your risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and breathing problems.

Nuts and seeds are also good sources of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

7. Turkey

There's a reason a Thanksgiving meal is usually followed by a nap on the couch. Turkey is basically tryptophan stuffing.


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