Though a tryptophan-rich diet may not necessarily translate into increased serotonin levels in the brain unless backed by adequate Vitamin B3, B6 and complex carbohydrates, it however, does place one a better chance at getting a serotonin boost.
Studies have established some links to a deficient state of brain serotonin with other neurological afflictions besides migraines, such as alcoholism, depression, suicidal tendencies, PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorders, generalized anxiety disorders and social phobia to name a few.
We may experience low brain serotonin levels due to a variety of reasons:
1. Low levels of production of brain serotonin.
2. Less number of serotonin receptors in our brain region
3. High reuptake rate of serotonin back from the synapse into the presynaptic neurons, and
4. Deficiency in tryptophan levels in our body.
There is a new and fifth interesting dimension that has cropped up – that of the serotonin transporter gene (SERT). To relay a message, a neuron releases serotonin into the synapse or the gap between two neurons from where their dendrites begin. Once the message is relayed to the next neuron, the released serotonin in the synapse is collected and transported back to the pre-synaptic neuron by the SERT. SERTS are monoamine proteins. It has been found that when there are changes in the SERT metabolism, neurological afflictions begin.
It is also now being thought that the gene (called SLC6A4 – Solute Carrier family 6, member 4) that encodes the SERT can be mutated and result in changing the functions of SERT.
The area (aka promotor) in the gene SLC6A4 which synthesises RNA under the instructions from DNA, contains polymorphism – some long repeats (16 repeats of a sequence) and some short repeats (14 repeats of a sequence). Shorter repeats obviously enable lesser coding in them and thus when we have a pair of short repeats we get an increase in the risks of developing disorder states.
So though SSRIs and beta blockers may help migraines as well as those suffering from insomnia, depression, PTSD and other anxiety disorders, their efficacy will not be the same between 2 persons with the same condition. Those predisposed to neurological and psychological conditions due to the presence of 2 short versions of the gene will be less benefited than those with other variations (2 long or 1 long and 1 short).
Mamta A Singh is a certified aerobics instructor, personal trainer and also a certified sports nutritionist through the International Fitness Association (Fla.). She is also the author of the book MIGRAINES FOR THE INFORMED WOMAN – TIPS FROM A SUFFERER. Mamta is the lead writer in many popular health and nutrition sites and has been a freelance writer with more than 10 years of writing experience writing health, fitness, business and academic content. She holds a double Masters degree in Commerce and Business Management. Versatility is her motto as she is actively involved in philanthropic activities of the UN recognized Art of Living Foundation, making her an ideal life coach. It is available for preview/purchase at http://www.lulu.com/content/5121820