Human Neurotransmitters in Plants

Human Neurotransmitters in Plants
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The consumption of certain fruits is suggested as a potential treatment for depression, given the presence of psychoactive neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin in many plant foods.

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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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to GerryShaw via Wikimedia

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to GerryShaw via Wikimedia

Nota del Doctor

This is the first video of a four-part series on boosting the serotonin levels in the brain—the so-called “happiness hormone.” That’s what drugs like Prozac do. But, are there more natural ways without so many side effects? In The Wrong Way to Boost Serotonin, I talk about tryptophan supplements. Then, in A Better Way to Boost Serotonin, I dispel the common myth about tryptophan and turkey. And, finally, The Best Way to Boost Serotonin discusses a strategy to maximize the transport of the serotonin precursor across the blood-brain barrier. This whole saga reminds me of the Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods story, and of Power Plants in general. Be sure to check out Improving Mood Through Diet, as well as my full-length Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death presentation (in which this video content is mentioned in the suicide section). I also have many other videos on mood and diet.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: How To Boost Serotonin NaturallySaffron vs. Prozac for Depression, and How Probiotics Affect Mental Health.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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