Hi Dr. Sebi family,
Today we’re learning about the body’s happy hormones that contribute to joy and feelings of wellbeing, what they do in the body, and how you can easily increase your own happiness hormones naturally.
So, if greater harmony with your hormones is something that interests you, keep on reading...
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are delivered through the blood to the body’s tissues, organs, muscles and skin. These messages convey important signals about the different functions your body needs to carry out, including:
- Homeostasis (balance)
- Reproduction and sex
The parts of the body that produce and release hormones are known as glands; together, hormones and glands make up the endocrine system:
- Brain - The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and pineal gland
- Neck - the thyroid and parathyroid glands
- Pancreas - the islet cells
- Kidneys - the adrenal glands just above the kidneys
- Genitals - the testes (for men) or ovaries (for women)
Hormones are created in these glands and then released into the bloodstream so they can be delivered to hormone receptor sites around the body’s tissues and organs, passing on vital signals that produce the necessary physiological change.
Get a D.O.S.E. of Happy Hormones
Hormones regulate your feelings of happiness, joy, and well-being. There are four main hormones responsible for your happiness, and they’re easy to remember with the acronym D.O.S.E. (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin & Endorphins.) Here we’ll look at:
- What each of these happy hormones does
- Activities that deplete these hormones, and
- Some simple things can do yourself to boost your happy hormones naturally
The happy hormone behind the brain’s reward system, dopamine, is released when you achieve your goals, are expecting a reward, or get acknowledged for your work. Dopamine also drives you to seek out pleasurable activities.
When thinking of a future activity feels good, like thoughts of having sex, eating, or spending time with a loved one you haven’t seen for a while, you’re feeling the effects of dopamine. Higher levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with improved attention, cognition, learning ability, memory, and mood. When you’re low on dopamine you’ll experience low energy levels, a lack of enthusiasm for life, and difficulty getting yourself motivated.
- Drug Abuse - taking recreational drugs causes the release of dopamine in the brain. The problem is that people get addicted to the chemical basis of this feeling, and the more they take recreational drugs the less the brain is able to produce its own dopamine supply.
- Obesity - one commonly overlooked side-effect of obesity is that some of the body’s dopamine receptors are switched off. When food becomes a source of addiction it has the same effect on dopamine as being addicted to drugs; too much overstimulation of dopamine from foods means the body can’t produce its own.
- Sleep Deprivation - dopamine is responsible for making you feel rejuvenated after a good night’s sleep. But when you don’t get sufficient sleep your body cannot produce as much dopamine as it normally would.
Natural Dopamine Boosters
- Music - it’s said that ‘when music hits you feel no pain’. That hit must be dopamine, which is released when you listen to good music that resonates with you.
- Get Adequate Sleep - which is a vital part of health and well-being in general.
- Exercise - another vital part of overall health, exercise is also known to boost your dopamine levels (this is what’s happening when people experience the ‘runner’s high.’
- Meditation - can help to reduce the symptoms of low dopamine like anxiety and depression, while also boosting dopamine production.
Made in the hypothalamus of the brain, the two main jobs of oxytocin are assisting womb contractions in childbirth, and the production of breastmilk in women.
Also known as ‘the love hormone,’ oxytocin is released when you hug and have positive intimate experiences with others. Oxytocin has a deeper impact on women, but increases feelings of satisfaction with life in both genders. Oxytocin in the body is known to reduce stress and blood pressure levels, increase healing and the ability to cope with pain, and promotes social behavior, particularly the bonding of mother and child, especially through breastfeeding. People with low oxytocin levels are less empathetic than they would normally be.
- Chronic Stress - a certain amount of stress is necessary for growth, both physically and psychologically. But exposure to prolonged stress, particularly during difficult life events like deaths, breakups and traumas, interferes with the brain’s ability to produce oxytocin.
- Anxiety - lack of oxytocin from human contact can increase social anxiety.
- Depression - oxytocin levels have been found to be lower in people with depression.
Natural Oxytocin Boosters
- Stress Relief - where possible, remove the parts of your life that are causing unnecessary stress. When that’s not possible, make sure you carve out time for relaxing activities like taking a bath, getting a massage, or exercising.
- Physical Contact - it’s important to spend time with people that you can share physical contact, whether that’s getting or giving a massage, hugs, snuggles or making love, all of which are great oxytocin boosters.
- Singing - people that sing together in a group can experience a boost in oxytocin over the bonding experience.
- Exercise - increasing your heart rate can increase your body’s production of oxytocin.
- Personal Development - the development of characteristics like empathy, sociability, and trust can boost oxytocin.
Serotonin is important for regulating several bodily functions, like body temperature, bone health, digestion, happiness (serotonin is also called the happy chemical), hunger, memory, sexual health, sleep, and wound healing. Serotonin is mostly produced in the gut, where it’s released into the blood to work its goodness around the body.
Having low serotonin levels is associated with increased anxiety, cravings for crap food, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, migraines, muscle pain, obsessive thinking, pain, panic, phobias, and PMS symptoms.
- Caffeine - lowers serotonin levels, as well as other neurotransmitters.
- Not Enough Sunlight - can result in lower serotonin levels.
- Toxicity - toxins from the environment, like endocrine-disrupting chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, plastics, etc., can cause permanent damage to the cells that produce serotonin.
Natural Serotonin Boosters
- Exercise - regular exercise will boost your serotonin levels.
- Light Exposure - spend at least 15 minutes a day outside in the sun (where possible!)
- Massage - being massaged increases serotonin - even if it’s not from a professional masseuse.
Endorphins are produced in the brain’s pituitary gland and released into the body as a relief from pain, discomfort, and stress, while increasing feelings of pleasure, bliss, and euphoria. There are at least 20 types of endorphins. The word ‘endorphin’ is made up of the word ‘endogenous’, meaning it’s made in the body, and the word ‘morphine’ (due to the natural painkiller property.)
Endorphins get released into your system when you are stressed out, exercise, have sex, or feel significant pain. Endorphins are especially designed to help us cope with physically painful experiences, and as a species that’s still kicking around, we probably owe a lot to them.
- Chronic Stress
- Lack of Sleep
- Overconsumption - of caffeine and alcohol.
- Trauma - both physical and emotional.
Natural Endorphin Boosters
- Art - expressing yourself creatively or appreciating someone else’s art releases endorphins.
- Laughter - not only does laughter stimulate endorphins, it also increases oxygen intake and can be a great abdominal workout.
- Music - making, listening, and dancing to music are all endorphin-promoting activities.
- Sex - but of course.
Another natural method of balancing your happy hormones is through Mother Nature. Certain herbs restore your neurotransmitter balance naturally, createing balance in all of your body’s systems while promoting the physical, mental and emotional conditions your body needs to produce the hormones your body needs to function optimally.
Between them, your D.O.S.E. hormones take care of all the most important business in your body. Take care of your hormones, and they will literally keep you happy.