Wondering about serotonin supplements?

serotonin supplements

Are you wondering if you have a serotonin deficiency, and want to know how to increase serotonin naturally and safely?

If you've landed here today, you're probably wondering if a serotonin supplement will help you feel better.....to help you become less anxious, less depressed, to sleep better, lose weight, cope better with the stress in your life. And yes, all of these benefits can truly be yours with a serotonin boost.

Yet....it's not always that simple. Let's face it,  it can be risky to mess with your brain chemistry too drastically without getting all the facts.


Photo credit: Michal Marcol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Like you, I've heard a lot about the benefits of boosting serotonin - it's known as the "happiness brain chemical" after all!

But when I began to look into it, I found that there is a lot of wrong and incomplete information out there. The brain is incredibly complex in the way it works, and low serotonin is just one of the many imbalances that can play havoc with your mood and sense of well-being. If you just rely on a serotonin supplement to boost your mood, you risk other deficiencies such as dopamine - a brain chemical that gets you energised and motivated.

Serotonin supplements can be great for boosting your mood and reducing food cravings, but they're not for everybody. There are some people who shouldn't take serotonin supplements, and you need to know if you are one of them, and if you would be better off trying something else.

How to increase serotonin naturally


My guess is that you are wanting to avoid pharmaceutical medications such as Prozac and Zoloft and other SSRIs because you are concerned about side-effects and the risks of long-term use – so you want to make sure that any serotonin supplements you use are safe and effective. This was my big concern, and I've done a lot of digging around, sorting through all the information I could find.

So what is serotonin, and why is it important?

Serotonin in your brain helps to regulate sleep, body temperature, memory, learning, mood and appetite.... and more. If your brain serotonin level is too low or is otherwise not working properly, there are a lot of things that can go wrong!

If you want to find out more about the biology of serotonin and how it works, you can read more here.

How can I tell if I have a serotonin deficiency?

Although there is a blood test to measure serotonin, it won't tell you anything much about your brain serotonin level. At this stage, the only way to diagnose a serotonin deficiency is by your symptom profile. Read more here...

Here are some serotonin deficiency symptoms to watch out for:

Low brain serotonin levels have been linked with a whole range of conditions, including

  • low stress tolerance
  • depression
  • irritability
  • poor concentration
  • sleep problems
  • PMS
  • binge eating
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • sensitivity to pain
  • fibromyalgia

... and those are just the more recognised ones.

All of these conditions can have a variety of causes, but there is one symptom that does fairly reliably indicate low brain serotonin: a craving for carbohydrates.

If you find yourself reaching for something sweet and/or starchy for a quick mood boost, you might find that a serotonin supplement works a whole lot better.

More about serotonin deficiency symptoms here...

Serotonin supplements – who should avoid them?

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you should be careful about taking any medication or supplement, and consult your health practitioner first.
  • If you have been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder (BPAD) you shouldn't take a serotonin supplement of any kind.
  • If you are already taking a supplement or medication that boosts serotonin (e.g. anti-depressant medication) you need to take this into account, so that your serotonin level doesn't increase beyond healthy limits. If you are taking medication of any type, talk to your qualified health practitioner about any possible interaction.

Read more about the side-effects and contra-indications here.

Why take a serotonin supplement?

How to increase serotoninThere are several ways to increase serotonin naturally, including diet, exercise, light therapy, stress management and more.

All these are great ways to improve your overall health and enable your brain to regulate serotonin so you can live your life optimally, and that's what you want, ultimately.

But sometimes these methods take too long for the results you need. After all, you want to feel better now! And some people are just naturally low in serotonin. For example, if you are prone to depression or anxiety or overeating, most likely your brain needs some extra help.

If this is the case, there are some supplements and herbal remedies with extremely promising results.


The supplement that is closest to actual serotonin is 5-HTP. Here's why it comes out as one of the best choices for a serotonin booster:

  • 5-HTP is the closest thing you can take to serotonin itself. It's just one step in the production process to make serotonin from 5-HTP – which makes it the fastest & most effective serotonin booster available. That means immediate relief for food cravings and a quick boost to your mood – no waiting for days for the effects to kick in.
  • 5-HTP can easily get into the brain, which is where you need it to make serotonin and boost your mood. (Some of the other serotonin boosters such as L-Tryptophan get hijacked on the way & only a small proportion actually gets into your brain.) Again, this helps give you that fast boost you need.
  • As long as you get 5-HTP from a reliable quality source, it's safe and with minimal side-effects.
  • 5 HTP is highly recommended by some reputable mainstream doctors (included Dr Oz and Dr Ray Sahelian) and it's backed up by good research.
  • You can get 5-HTP in a sustained release form that makes it fairly inexpensive and much more effective in giving you an ongoing boost to your mood and well-being. Sustained release also minimises any possible side-effects.... you get a continual low dose that your body can easily handle.

Find out more about the 5-HTP supplement I recommend and where to buy it.

St John's Wort

St John's Wort for depressionSt John's Wort is a common herb with a long history of use in Europe as a remedy for depression and anxiety. Many scientific studies from Germany - and more recently in the USA - show that St John's Wort can be as effective as an SSRI anti-depressant for mild to moderate depression, and with fewer side-effects. It seems to work in much the same way too, by inhibiting the re-uptake of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

Herbal medicine generally has more subtle benefits than taking a single nutrient, and for many people who have experienced great results from St John's Wort, this is the go-to serotonin booster.

Read more about St John's Wort here.


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Further reading:


St John’s Wort For Depression

St John's Wort for depression

St John's Wort (also known as Hypericum perforatum) is a hardy perennial plant with glorious yellow flowers. In some parts of the world, such as Australia and North & South America, it has flourished to the extent that it's considered a noxious weed and a hazard to grazing livestock. But this humble herb has potent properties, and has been used […] Read more »

5 HTP For Sleep

5 HTP for sleep

If you suffer from chronic difficulty sleeping – like I do – you will know very well how debilitating and miserable it can be! Lack of sleep saps your productivity, puts brakes on your performance, and makes you more vulnerable to accidents. And it just plain leaves you feeling like something the cat dragged in… Chances are, you’ve already tried […] Read more »

5-HTP For Anxiety

  If you suffer from stress or anxiety, there's a good chance your brain serotonin is low. In this case, you might want to consider taking 5-HTP for anxiety. There are different types of brain biochemical imbalance involved in anxiety, not just serotonin... so how can you tell if your brain serotonin is low? Here are some indicators to look […] Read more »

Where To Buy 5-HTP

If you want to buy 5-HTP, look for a supplement that meets these criteria: sourced from a reputable company with good safety and quality standards. sustained release form of 5-HTP, to minimise any possible side-effects and maximise the benefits. There are a lot of cheap brands available on Amazon and other places, but most use 5-HTP from Chinese manufacturing companies. […] Read more »

5-HTP For Weight Loss

Are mid-afternoon munchies hijacking your weight loss intentions? If so, you might be pleasantly surprised at how 5-HTP can zap those food cravings. It's not just anecdotal evidence, either. There's quite a bit of real science to support the use of 5-HTP as a natural supplement for weight loss. For example, one clinical study showed that 5-HTP taken before meals reduced food […] Read more »

How to increase serotonin naturally

You know what a serotonin deficiency looks like and feels like: being anxious, depressed, irritable, experiencing unexplained pain, sleeping with no feeling of being refreshed, eating with no feeling of satisfaction. So how can you raise your brain levels of serotonin and feel better? First, some basic brain facts.....  you need to understand how serotonin works if you want to […] Read more »