Lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin caused by Lyme does more than make you feel as though you’ve lost your personality. It exacerbates fatigue and pain, causes insomnia and makes a mess of your memory and cognition.
The reasons for low serotonin can range from not getting enough protein or fats, to adrenal fatigue, to hypothyroidism, to not living a lifestyle that is peaceful and happiness-promoting. Of course those darned Lyme critters are implicated in all of the above, as well as other serotonin-depleting strategies. Devious buggers.
Okay, so you can only be so happy when you hurt and can’t get out to climb a mountain like your friends. I won’t tell you how to rearrange your Lyme life or your hormones in order to find joy, as I’ve preached enough on these in my Articles section.
So how about some nutrition tips for boosting serotonin production?
You always hear about turkey being high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin. But who wants to eat turkey every day? Though sources aren’t abundant, others include; almonds, cottage cheese, oatmeal, peanut butter, shellfish, soy foods and tuna. If your digestion is poor, taking hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes can aid in the body’s uptake of these tryptophan-rich foods. If you are allergic to most, or all of these, consider a 5-HTP supplement from the vitamin store, which is another precursor to serotonin, just one step ahead of tryptophan in the amino acid chain.
Once tryptophan is inside the brain, in order for it to become 5-HTP and then serotonin, the brain’s biochemical pathways require that calcium and magnesium be present, as well as essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6’s), B and C vitamins. Hormones are likewise important, especially insulin and thyroid. Balancing the thyroid with iodine or thyroid hormone and getting enough insulin by eating plenty of complex carbohydrates will aid in the serotonin assembly line.
In my own case of serotonin starvation, I needed more help than nutrients could provide, but eating well and taking the above minerals, vitamins and fatty acids helped to pull me out of the black pit of depletion. Hopefully they will help you, too.