Fibromyalgia and Serotonin Deficiency: What is the Link?
How This Crucial Compound Can Make or Break Your Quality of Life.
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that encourages an array of processes in your body. It helps regulate the nervous system, memory, sleep, emotional balance and pain. Fibromyalgia disrupts all these important systems.
How Serotonin Impacts Several Fibro Symptoms:
Serotonin interacts with other receptors and compounds, makes by-products, and fluctuates with other biological changes. Different areas of your brain use serotonin in different ways, and in some areas of the body, serotonin acts as a hormone. Serotonin can also affect your sleep cycle, libido, mood, appetite and body temperature. Very low serotonin levels can bring about more extreme symptoms, like bowel problems, emotional numbness, behavioural issues, and even depression.
Serotonin is a variable neurotransmitter that can be hard to pin down, but research has uncovered a few distinct ways in which different levels of serotonin can impact Fibro symptoms:
Joint and Muscle Pain:
Serotonin is thought to suppress the production of substance P, a neurotransmitter that acts on the pain receptors in the spinal cord. Without sufficient serotonin to interfere with the production of substance P, spontaneous pain and tenderness can develop in the deep tissues. And since there are many tracts that funnel substance P through the spinal cord, the resulting pain is typically also widespread.
Research has shown that serotonin plays a role in depression and anxiety disorders. In certain cases of depression (mild to moderate in severity), serotonin levels do appear to be low. However, in advanced clinical depression, serotonin levels may actually be higher. The moderate, stress-induced variety of depression that’s so common in Fibro patients is typically the result of below-average serotonin levels.
When it comes to stress, the serotonin reaction isn’t so black and white. Acute or sudden stress in any form (physical, metabolic or psychological) seems to encourage serotonin production and turnover in the brain. In contrast, sustained stress - like the type that comes from coping with chronic disease - has been found to decrease serotonin levels.
So, what does this all mean?
Lack of serotonin could help to explain why stress, depression and pain go together so often in fibromyalgia. Recent studies show most Fibro patients have a serotonin serum level well below average, and even lower than those with other chronic pain disorders like arthritis.
One particular form of serotonin known as 5-Hydroxytryptophan (or 5-HT) has been tagged in chronic pain disorders. A study published in the Handbook of Behavioural Neuroscience insists that abnormal 5-HT levels could leave someone more susceptible to migraine pain and other types of chronic or recurring pain.
Proponents of serotonin therapy conclude that a boost in your 5-HT could have measurable effects on how you experience the pain of Fibromyalgia. In the best cases, your other Fibro symptoms like stress and depression would also respond well to an increase in serotonin.
Who Can Benefit from Serotonin Supplementation?
In theory, anyone with Fibromyalgia could see an improvement in their depression, anxiety and insomnia once they begin to supplement with serotonin, but some patients may respond more than others. Your doctor may first want to test your serum tryptophan and serotonin levels to see if you’re indeed deficient and determine comorbidity to better predict how a change in serotonin will affect those symptoms.
If you decide to take serotonin, the next decision is whether to take supplements or try to increase serotonin through your lifestyle. Supplements like 5-HTP, SAM-e, or SSRIs (a class of antidepressants) are more concentrated, but could bring some unwanted side effects, including weight gain, depression, dizziness and edema (swelling).
One of the easiest ways to boost your serotonin levels is via high dose Vitamin D liquid. Elixir compounds high dose Vitamin D - call us for more information.
The Limits of Serotonin in Fibromyalgia Treatment:
There’s no denying Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition with a huge and changing set of symptoms, so it’s very unlikely one change in your management plan will bring you complete relief.
Elixir Compounding Pharmacy specialises in treating Fibromyalgia and chronic pain. We develop individualised treatment protocols in conjunction with Doctors and monitor our patients to ensure they receive the maximum relief. So, if you or someone you love sufferers from Fibromyalgia, contact Elixir today and book your complementary Fibro consultation.