Symptoms of Happiness! (Hint: Serotonin is Sunshine)

March 15, 2022
Chris Engen

Optimal Serotonin levels mean you are flexible, cheerful, have a positive outlook, self confidence, a sense of humor, very little worry and rumination, and you sleep like a log! You also probably do not experience afternoon and early evening cravings for substances like alcohol or sugar. Think of it as your “Inner Sunshine”.

If you want inner sunshine and mental positivity and minimal panic and rage in your life (who doesn’t?), you can try L-Tryptophan or 5HTP. These are both completely safe, even if you’re on an SSRI, as long as you separate them by 6 hours.

To sample these amino acids, you start with 500 mg Tryptophan (without food) and build with an additional dose every 5-10 minutes until you feel a positive mood shift. I recommend trialing Tryptophan at night because it can be sedating. 5HTP also is a precursor to serotonin, and you can start with 50 mg (equivalent to 500 mg Tryptophan). 5HTP can cause a slight cortisol release in some people and therefore, I believe it’s better to try earlier in the day. Also watch out for nausea, another uncommon side effect. Most of the time, about 80%, people respond beautifully to these amino acids.

The next step when taking any amino acid, except DPA, is to make sure you have adequate levels of zinc and B6, two very important cofactors to convert amino acids to neurotransmitters. If you’re not already taking a multivitamin with these two nutrients, consider ordering my favorite recommendation HERE. You can also get these nutrients by eating lots of leafy greens and animal protein (salmon, tuna, poultry) for B6, and oysters, red meat and pumpkin seeds, almonds and cashews for zinc.

Note: There’s a condition called Pyroluria that is a genetic deficiency of B6 and Zinc, due to it being excreted in urine. There are ways I can test for this non-invasively, using a chart and a zinc tally. If you’d like to look into this, give me a shout! People with Pyroluria don’t respond to amino acids because they are lacking these important cofactors. It’s a very simple fix, so if you’re using amino acids with no result OR you have had social anxiety or depression / anxiety what feels like your “whole life”, this is something to look into.
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