Transcript: Human Neurotransmitters in Plants
A strange letter was recently published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, suggesting fruit as a treatment for depression. It starts out talking about how bad the disease is, how abnormally low levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin in the brain may be responsible, how we now have several classes of drugs, such as SSRIs (like Prozac) that may work by boosting serotonin levels—but then, of course, notes how these medications bring with them some serious problems, side effects, etc. And, so, a new therapeutic approach is needed.
How about using high-content sources of serotonin to provide our body with these substances? You know, like plantains, pineapples, bananas, kiwis, plums, and tomatoes. What? Since when do plants have human neurotransmitters? Since forever, I was surprised to learn.
“Animal neurotransmitter substances in plants.” They’ve got all the stuff we do. There’s adrenaline in plants; there’s dopamine, serotonin, melatonin. In fact, there was a recent study trying to figure out which varieties of tomatoes and strawberries had the most. And, there’s actually enough in a serving to enhance levels in our bloodstream.
Humans use serotonin as a neurotransmitter. Plants use serotonin in a protective role—adaptation, flowering, establishing its shape. In fact, the same drugs that we use to affect our psychology can affect a plant’s biology. This is your plant—St. John’s Wort. This is your plant on Prozac, Ritalin, amphetamines.
Okay; so, fine. Bioactive human neurotransmitters in plants—but what’s in it for us? Can fruit really be used to treat depression?
We’ll find out in tomorrow’s video-of-the-day.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.
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