Subj: Serotonin, Depression,
Date: 8/30/00 7:26:54 AM Pacific Daylight Time
Re the article posted on your site entitled "Serotonin levels controlled
by negative ions", I felt compelled to point out some glaring errors on
the part of the author of that email memo. I work closely with several
medical practitioners, facilities and their patients in an area of
medicine (pain & anxiety management) that has increasingly come to find
close correlation between blood levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin
and observed patterns of sleep disorder, depression/anxiety and other
conditions impacting wellness and quality of life.
Briefly, here are the points in need of correction:
> Depression and sleeplessness result from LOW serotonin NOT high as the
writer suggested. When most people eat a meal high in carbohydrates or
feast on turkey dinner (high in tryptophan) they will become sleepy and
lethargic, due in large part to a rapid and significant increase in
serotonin. Low levels of serotonin do not correspond to feelings of
peacefulness and tranquility, but to agitation and/or despondency.
> Negative ions INCREASE serotonin levels, they do not decrease blood
levels of the neurotransmiter. In fact, research articles on the website
the writer referred to correctly point this out (elanra.com). I believe
he/she is a bit confused here.
> Finally (for now) the body must regularly manufacture serotonin,
principally from precursors such as tryptophan, methionine and other
amino acids, in order to regulate key brain and physiological functions.
When the body's production of serotonin declines due to any of several
possible causes, a cascading sequence of symptoms ensues, most notably
depression, agitation, sleep disorders, obesity and addiction. These
symptoms may manifest in varying degrees or not at all in different
individuals, but the bottom line correlation is LOW levels of serotonin.
In "normal" and healthy subjects, serotonin naturally taken up by the
body as part of the dynamic balance of neurotransmitters during each 24
hour cycle is replaced by newly manufactured serotonin and the process
is maintained in equilibrium. The reason certain medications, so called
SSRIs or specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work is that they block
the reabsorption of serotonin so that those individuals who are no
longer producing it properly or in adequate amounts will not suffer from
the precipitous drop that brings on the symptoms mentioned above.
There are other points to be considered in a more complete discussion of
all this, but it is important that misinformation not be presented as
factual. It is true that Prozac is being prescribed with frightening
frequency to palliate a society that suffers from epidemic levels of
depression. This causes many of us a great deal of concern. There are a
number of non-prescription alternatives that have been found to be
highly effective for many depressives and others with low serotonin
levels (fibromyalgiacs, for instance) without the potentially dangerous
side effects, e.g. 5-HTP (hydroxy-tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin
production) , and SAMe (s-adenosyl methionine, donates methyl groups in
the process of transmethylation in the brain, key to the production of
Hope this is of some interest and value to you and your readers.