Meet your happy brain chemicals and boost them! Oxytocin, Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine and more

in #steemstem3 years ago
We all know that hormones are chemicals sent from one organ to another with a message what to do. They control almost all our bodily functions, from reproduction, metabolism, sleep and growth to even our moods. Evolutionary biology makes sure that all we need to be healthy, makes us happy too. This is why eating healthy, exercising, sleeping and the all-time favorite; having sex, brings us so much joy.


CC0 licence, Pixabay, author: creades, adapted by me

There is a big difference between neurotransmitters and hormones. Hormones belong to our endocrine system and neurotransmitters to our nervous system. Neurotransmitters are chemicals released from a nerve cell and they transmit an impulse from a nerve cell to other tissues. They carry neurologic information from one cell to another.

The human body makes around 50 different hormones

Hormones, on the other hand, are chemicals secreted to our bloodstream by specialized glands called endocrine glands and they are essential for our every activity and some do have a behaviour similar to that of neurotransmitters. There are 10 major "happy hormones": ACETYLCHOLINE, DOPAMINE, ENDORPHINS, ENKEPHALINS, GABA, MELATONIN, NOREPINEPHRINE, OXYTOCIN, PHENYLETHYLMINE, and SEROTONIN. We will talk about 4 of them here and only briefly mention the others.

Oxytocin is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide that is produced by the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. It is responsible for social bonding and sexual reproduction. People often call it the hug hormone. According to Dr. Paul Zac, we should avoid handshakes and hug instead.

This little thingy is also referred to as ‘love’ or ‘bonding’ hormone and it is stimulated by touch or skin to skin contact. It promotes feelings of emotional attachment and increases trust and loyalty while reducing anxiety and stress. It was discovered by Henry Dale in 1906. and its molecular structure was determined in 1952. The interesting thing is its connection with autism. There is a report suggesting how autism is correlated with genomic deletion of the gene containing the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR). You can read the report here:

"Association of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) in Caucasian children and adolescents with autism" Jacob S, Brune CW, Carter CS, Leventhal BL, Lord C, Cook EH (April 2007)

Dopamine is probably the most famous one from the happy hormone group and it is often falsy referred to as the happy molecule. Recent studies have confirmed that it is in fact related to desire and pleasure. Dopamine motivates us to take actions towards our goals and needs and gives pleasure when we achieve them. When we are procrastinating and having self-doubt, we are running low on it.


Dopamine, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Dopamine is an organic chemical of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families. In the brain, it functions as a neurotransmitter and comes from the prefrontal cortex. This hormone gives us the courage to be adventurous and is stimulated by risk-taking so we have those people who are always looking for a dopamine high. Having dopamine in just the right amount is crucial. If you have too little of it, you are at risk of Parkinson’s disease and if you have too much there is a danger from hallucinations and schizophrenia. There is a great paper published at Medical University of Vienna that goes to great lengths when it comes to describing all about dopamine that I encourage you to check out:

"Dopamine: Far more than just the 'happy hormone'." Medical University of Vienna.ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2016.

Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that is found in the enteric nervous system located in the gastrointestinal tract but also produced in the central nervous system. This little fellow is responsible for telling us when we had enough, from food to people and when we are in lack of it, depression sets in easily.

When we feel important, serotonin begins to flow and it is easy to stimulate. Since our brains can not always tell the difference between real and imagined, there is an easy way to produce more serotonin, just think about past event that gave you pleasure or fantasize about future ones. Gratitude feelings have been associated with it too. Serotonin also improves sleep, diminishes craving, and fights depression and be sure to get some Sun exposure since UV rays not only increase vitamin D but the serotonin production too.

To learn more about this lovely happy hormone, check out these papers:

"How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs" by Dr. Simon N. Young from the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
"Serotonin research: contributions to understanding psychoses" by Mark A.Geyer, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, USA, and Franz X.Vollenweider, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Neuropharmacology and Brain Imaging, Zurich, Switzerland

Endorphines relieve our pain and can even lead to euphoria. They originate in the pituitary gland, spinal cord and throughout other parts of the brain and nervous system.

Endorphins are related with pleasure and are released during sex and labour. They are considered to be body’s opioids and my personal favorites. The “runners high” I get is caused by them and the happy feeling while I laugh really hard. They can also be released while eating dark chocolate and smelling lavender. These mood elevators are the true happy molecules and to learn everything about them, check out this research:

"Understanding Endorphins and Their Importance in Pain Management" by Adam S Sprouse-Blum, BA, Greg Smith, BS, Daniel Sugai, BA, and F Don Parsa, MD, FACS

I have a plan, not sure if I am going to stick to it but I do have it, to make real long proper posts about each hormone that I have mentioned here. Until then, there are 3 more that I need to say at least something about in this little introduction-like post. Those 3 additional ones in the "and more" category are Anandamide, GABA, and Norepinephrine.

Anandamide is a substance produced in the body that binds to cannabinoid receptors and is called the bliss molecule. It is involved in appetite, pain, and fertility and it has anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties.

GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) is the true anti-anxiety molecule. It is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brains that decreases nerve transmission by giving neurons time to recover.

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter and a stress hormone that coordinates the fight or flight response. It is referred to as energy molecule because it arbitrates many of the physical components of emotion.

All this time I was telling you that the meaning of life was to be happy and I have told you many times how happiness is not some far away goal or a destination we have to get to. It is a way of traveling, a way of living. Our bodies are incredible with Mr.Brain being the main boss. Like any other boss, this one, too, can be manipulated.

Use your body
to manipulate your brain

Our brains control our bodies and send impulses all around them but that relationship goes the other way around too. Our body parts send signals to the brain and influence it all the time. You can trick your brain by various physical activity to stimulate different hormone production. Here are some good ways to do that:


Have more sex
Smile and laugh
Have more sex
Eat healthy and reduce artificial sugar
Have more sex
Exercise

Oh, and... Did I mention that you should probably have more sex?

With taking care of our happy hormones we take control of our lives and influence our state of mind. This modern day and age has us spending more and more time in front of computer screens. This can lead to hormonal imbalance if we are not too careful because we need human touch and we need sunshine, green food and lots of smiles to be healthy. Meditation, exercise and most of all, spending time with our friends is beneficial for our happiness and a healthy living.

For additional read, check out these references and enjoy:


Explainer: What is a hormone?
These unsung heroes of the body inform cells when it’s time to go to work
from sciencenewsforstudents.org, by Janet Raloff
Hormone from britannica.com, by Ernest J.W. Barrington
MEET YOUR HAPPY HORMONES from yourfamily.co
5 Effective Ways To Boost Your Happy Hormones from positivehealthwellness.com, by KAREN REED
The Brain Chemicals That Make You Happy (And How To Trigger Them) from medium.com, by Kaia Roman

Until next time
KEEP YOUR SMILE ON
&
LOVE YOUR HAPPY CHEMICALS!

Image sources AND LICENCES in order of appearance:

- all images used in this post are free for commercial use, they are royalty free with the links to original images provided under them
- line divider that I use is from FREE CLIPART LIBRARY, and is here
- titles are made by me using a photo from pixabay that can be found here
- my bitmoji avatar was created on https://www.bitmoji.com/, visit the site to create yourown

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Love me a little Dopamine ans Serotonin. I try to do exercise and breathing techniques to access them.

Thanks @zen-art for sharing this post :)

We are SO proud to have you as a member of our
FANTABULOUS @steemitbloggers family!
uvoted and resteemed!

❤ MWAH!!! ❤

interested in joining the Steemit Bloggers Community?

Much love to you 💚💚💚

This.
Resteemed and up voted. Suuuch a great article, so well put and a great read!!

Thank you for such lovely words 💚

Happy Happy Brain Chemicals. For the most part I have happy brain chemicals. And I probably know way more about them than I would like.

I have one unhappy brain chemical, orexin. Sometime, probably when I was an early teen, I had an auto immune event and all my orexin transmitters quit. Not all, and not all at once, but the end result is Narcolepsy.

It has been a serious pain where I sit at times, and a thing to work around that affects my life daily. The only known treatment is direct injection in the hypothalamus (a somewhat risky adventure itself) of synthetic orexin. Best case scenario is 6 months relief, least case is less than 2 weeks.

Thanks for a wonderful post about things it's good for everybody to think about. It really is easier to smile than frown, particularly if you help yourself out just a little.

I am glad you have your narcolepsy under control and can enjoy your travels. I have not heard of that treatment. Over here, people with narcolepsy just take pills and hope they do not fall asleep all the time and yet still they do so driving is not an option.
Thank you for your lovely words 💚

I am unmedicated. Completely. I volunteered for the brain injection for the good of the community. I wasn't chosen/

Motorcycles are mystical in the community. I know of 4 riders that have N yet can ride a motorcycle at will. The four of us are convinced that it is because the bike is inherently dangerous and all riders have a slow and steady adrenaline drip. I have had to stop and take a 'nap', but I have always had plenty of time to do so. It's weird, I know.

I can also drive a car, but my 'stop' window is much smaller. I have about 5 minutes of 'feedback' before I have an attack. It's not perfect, but I've not had any sort of accident yet. 25 years with the diagnosis.

Sigh. I am convinced the pills will kill you. I took them for 10 years. I am way better served today.

I always knew I was one in ten thousand. I didn't think it would manifest itself this way :)



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Thank you 💚💚💚

I think all of the hormones and chemicals are interesting. I wish I was better at the science side and less responsive to the feeling side.

Aim for balance ;) I always say: follow your heart but take your brain with you 💚

I'm up for more sex for sure ;) --- LOVVVVVVVVVVVE this post for it's clear definitions and explorations of those chems and hormones - we can get them confused sometimes!!! That brain body relationship - it's to be listened to very carefully for sure! It's why I love my yoga study as the subtle body teaches me so much about all these connected systems and helps me take charge of my own health. Thanks @zen-art, you rocked this one!

Thank you honey, I am glad you enjoyed this read. Much love 💚

This was a great summary! Thanks

It was my pleasure 💚

I would add one: vitamin D is a hormone!

Good point! :)

Your post is awesome.... And I liked the tips you gave to manipulate the brain 😉

That is nice to hear, I am glad you like it 💚

I seriously enjoyed reading this article @zen-art. I had no idea about some of these and I found it very interesting. Guess more love time will be in order. I really did have a little chuckle at the end.

Yeah!!! I love it when my posts get people to smile. Thank you for that feedback 💚

I sure could do with a bottle of them happy hormones

Congratulations! This post has been upvoted from the communal account, @minnowsupport, by zen-art 💚 from the Minnow Support Project. It's a witness project run by aggroed, ausbitbank, teamsteem, someguy123, neoxian, followbtcnews, and netuoso. The goal is to help Steemit grow by supporting Minnows. Please find us at the Peace, Abundance, and Liberty Network (PALnet) Discord Channel. It's a completely public and open space to all members of the Steemit community who voluntarily choose to be there.

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Looking forward for the longer article, hope you find the time @zen-art. This post was very informative, thank you!

I am looking forward to it too, ti will come, sooner or later but it will come :) Thank you for your lovely comment 💚

very informative article! I didn't know which molecules related to what before reading this. had to laugh at "have more sex" XD

You should always have more sex ;) I am glad you enjoyed the article 💚

FOR TSE: I love this post. I also love your plan to do a post devoted to each of these "brain chemicals" -- because if you don't, I will.

I have plans for several more blogs -- once things settle down you-know-where -- one of which is devoted to health issues and natural medicine.

(In fact, if we both do one, they'll still be different and readers stand twice as much chance remembering something from them.) It's not competition; it's support. You are such an inspiration!!

You should definitely do those posts! I am one of those people that like when another girl has the same dress :) I am looking forward to reading your take on this honey, much love 💚

FOR TSE: Never mind me. I misfired on your upvote. I think I've corrected it now. It's late, late, late where I am -- and you know what kind of days I've had recently!!

Dear aliens (and Winston) leave the lovely @enchantedspirit alone, thank you. :D

Congratulations! This post has been chosen as one of the daily Whistle Stops for The STEEM Engine!

You can see your post's place along the track here: The Daily Whistle Stops, Issue 248 (9/05/18)

Thank you 💚💚💚

So lucky to have you in my feed my brainiac friend! I did not know about the last three (Anandamide, GABA and Norepinephrine). Amazing read!

Those 3 are really special, google them honey, you will be surprised at what you find, I know I was. Thank you for your love 💚

Very interesting @zen-art. Bookmarked this post for later reference. Your work is of very high quality and I'm glad I found you at #steemitbloggers.

Thank you for that lovely feedback, your support is very much appreciated 💚

In depth article. Love it.. and also I think I'm hooked on ser and dop, so much so that there are thoughts on tattoos of them

that is a great idea! if (when) you do, take a photo of it and show me. I am glad you enjoyed the read 💚

I am going to have to take some of that advice, exercise to the reader as to what I mean ;).

Perhaps the most informative post I've read in a while. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. 🙌

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