Serotonin Balance - Serotonin and Candida

In my case, I think I was basically serotonin deficient for most of my adult life. I didn't know it of course, I thought it's what "normal" was. We'll not was "normal" for me, and I wondered what "normal" was like for other people that "made it look easy" to me. I now know that there really is no "normal". After my anxiety and awakening, which I believe now (in retrospect with a lot analysis and study) was a radical and sudden restructuring of many of the chemicals in my endocrine system. This radical shift also changed my moods, outlook, behavior patterns and more. After the anxiety part of the phase, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist a couple weeks later. After telling him my symptoms he put me on a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), which I took for a while. After I got off of that med, I thought maybe I should try supplementing with some over the counter supplements, which I tried. In the course of doing that I have discovered a few things.

A. Even over the counter supplements can also be powerful. They can alter serotonin balance in some cases just as dramatically and change thought patterns, moods etc.. sometimes this works great...and sometimes not for the better.

You've probably noticed that many of the psychiatric medications advertised on TV also say something to the effect of "you may experience anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide etc..." Serotonin, as I've learned is a balance.. so there is a sweet spot that has to be hit. Too much or too little serotonin can be a problem. The psychiatrist is essentially using their intuition, education and judgement to (not blood testing, in my case) A. determine what chemical a person may need to boost and B. what amount of the medicine the person may need. However, if the med overshoots the sweet spot, that person could find themselves instead of experiencing calm and peace...find themselves in a state of dread, fear, depression and worse as the serotonin levels go too far past the sweet spot. (This could also happen because of drug interactions.) I have also learned about this delicate balance by my own mistake of overshooting the sweet spot with over the counter supplements. It's not fun... (in extreme cases it can even be fatal.)

Side note: Doctors are now working to develop blood tests for determining brain chemicals and more that may be imbalanced.

Also, serotonin and candida also have an inverse relationship. So if a person has candida, they are also likely to have lowered serotonin. Serotonin, in turn, also actually fights candida or inhibits it's growth. Some doctors are even beginning to investigate using SSRI drugs to fight fungal (candida) infections.

From my experience, adding probiotics and fighting candida will also most likely improve anybody's ability to produce serotonin (90% of which is produced in the gut). So, if a person is also supplementing with serotonin boosting meds or supplements the situation should be monitored closely. 

So what does serotonin syndrome or serotonin excess feel like?

As the sweet spot was overshot I started to have acid reflux (an old symptom of low serotonin), general feeling of sexual frustration (serotonin is involved in sexual function) mood changes from happy to aggravated, frustrated or depressed growing steadily worse. I also started to have insomnia, muscle twitching and lack of appetite and lowered blood pressure (dizzy when standing up). Serotonin is also involved in appetite and every meal produces more if a person (me, in this case) overshoots the sweet spot it's also hard to eat for a while because every meal puts a person back in the zone of "too much" serotonin.

So I was a little embarrassed after I realized what I had done..but I figure at least it was a learning experience and hopefully anybody that reads this will benefit.

Here are some symptoms of serotonin excess (from wikipedia):

In my case, my symptoms were fairly mild, but still disturbing. It took about a week to fully dissipate. The most notable part was the change in my mental outlook. For me this underscores the importance of balancing the physical body AND our brain chemicals too. While yoga and meditation, sound therapy etc.. are super helpful (and play a big role balancing brain chemicals), I have found that balancing the body is equally important. In my case, that has involved working on my digestive health using probiotics in the gut (where serotonin is made) and eliminating things that are known to aggravate digestive health like sugars and glutens.

Here are some of the supplements I experimented with:

5htp: these seem to be fairly mild as far as serotonin boosting, but caused acid reflux problems for me. (serotonin in the stomach can stimulate acid depending on the balance.)

Gabatrol: NOT RECOMMENDED I got this as a sample in a health food store and it made me feel great initially. However, later my moods started to shift. After some research, I found that it contains "phenibut" (it's listed as phenyl-gaba on their label..which I assumed was like's not.) It also has Kanna a powerful herb that may also act as an SSRI. For me, this supplement seemed too strong to take daily and I later learned could be potentially addictive due to the phenibut. Google: phenibut withdrawal.

Tryptophan:  This is the precursor to 5htp, but works better for some. It's an amino acid.

L-Theanine: This is also an amino acid said to boost gaba and alpha waves. L-theanine is in Green Tea too.

We also produce serotonin from protein rich foods, sunlight, exercise and thinking happy thoughts! (pretty much everything enjoyable) Our body knows how to adjust pretty well for these :) I think the main issue for me (recently) was that I really didn't need the supplements. So, while supplements can be helpful, for now I am ending my  experiments and sticking to the basics.

PS> This book also covers more of this in depth...

For sound downloads click here.
Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.

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