Serotonin is a natural hormone. It is a neurotransmitter, involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. It is manufactured in your body using the amino acid tryptophan, which increases the amount of serotonin in the brain. Certain aminos cause you to have better feeling of well being. Serotonin is a chemical that helps maintain a "happy feeling," and seems to help keep our moods under control by helping with sleep, calming anxiety, and relieving depression.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in the central nervous system. Serotonin is believed to play an important part of the biochemistry of clinical depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. It is also believed to be influential on sexuality. Serotonin is one of a group of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters that carry out communication in the brain and body. The message molecules flow from a nerve cell or neuron onto other neurons that act as receivers. There, they attach to a distinctly shaped area on the neuron called a receptor site. This union, which is like a key fitting into a lock, triggers signals that either allow the message to be passed on to other cells or prevent the message from being forwarded. Since the discovery of serotonin in the 1950s, researchers are finding evidence that one of its roles is to mediate emotions and judgment.
Serotonin is transported via the bloodstream to the nerve cells throughout the body, but most especially in the neurons of the brain. Here they accumulate in their minute molecular form. The molecule serotonin is utilized by the nerve cells for the complete execution of electrical impulses across the synaptic gap (which is the micro-gap between every connection of every nerve cell in the entire nervous system). The impulses comes along the nerve cell going through the electro-chemical processes with the ionic forms of calcium and potassium (the two vitals of the nervous system) until they reach the terminal end of the cell's dendrites. Upon reaching the dendrites, the end of the electrical impulse is translated into the neuro-chemical serotonin. This chemical is then "squeezed" out into intercellular space only to connect and meet on the other side, which is the beginning of the next nerve soma (lining of the nerve cell).
Few molecules can penetrate what is known in biology as the "blood brain barrier". Those that do go directly to the neuron. After that, it becomes a matter of their ability to imitate one of the neuro-transmitters. Our neurons have a safety device for this type of situation. The neuro-transmitters have a unique molecular shape, and can only fit in a specific slot on the synaptic surface. Mind-altering drugs all operate by mimicking one of the neuro-transmitters
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is a neurotransmitter in the brain that has an enormous influence over many brain functions. It is synthesized, from the amino acid L-tryptophan, in brain neurons and stored in vesicles. Serotonin is found in three main areas of the body: the intestinal wall; large constricted blood vessels; and the central nervous system. The most widely studied effects have been those on the central nervous system. The functions of serotonin are numerous and appear to involve control of appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, mood, behavior (including sexual and hallucinogenic behavior), cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, endocrine regulation, and depression .
The activity of serotonin arises in the brainstem from clusters of neurons known as the raphe nucleus. From the brain, serotonin neurons extend to virtually all parts of the central nervous system making the branching of the serotonin network the most expansive neurochemical system in the brain. The importance of this network becomes apparent when considering each serotonin neuron exerts an influence over as many as 500,000 target neurons. Due to the widespread distribution of serotonin in the nervous system, it is not surprising that this neurotransmitter can be linked to many types of behavior.