You may have heard of Serotonin in the context of depression. In fact, treatment with antidepressants balances out this neurotransmitter for many people. We think about serotonin as only a brain neurotransmitter, but recent research says that it also operates as a hormone and can be found in the intestines!
That’s right. Researchers at Caltech have discovered that cells, called enterchromaffin cells (EC), as well as others in the intestines actually make serotonin. Is this the same serotonin as in the brain? They are not sure yet. What they do know for sure is that intestines in germ free mice have different bacteria than normal mice. As a result, their EC cells make only about 60 percent of the serotonin compared to normal mice. This led the researchers to question the impact of serotonin on the various bacteria in the intestine as well as the immune cells.
In looking further, they found more interesting things. Maybe this could be part of how the gut processes the food you eat or maybe even Irritable Bowel Syndrome?