Asthma and Serotonin: how to address the cause

serotonin asthma MenElite

Is asthma preventing you from participating in activities you love or lowering your quality of life?

Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, affects more than 315 million people worldwide.

There are different intensities of asthma, from struggling to breathe and easily out of breath all the way to excess mucus and inflammation and the inability to breathe.

A few things are involved in asthma, but for this article, I want to focus on serotonin. Not because I want to pick on serotonin (ok, maybe a little), but because lowering serotonin is shown to immediately disrupt or clear up the asthmatic attack. Excess serotonin fueled inflammation eventually leads to lung fibrosis. This is what we’re seeing with the COVID-19 cases who have SARS.

According to numerous research papers in humans, the results are conclusive that free serotonin is the only neuroendocrine factor closely associated with clinical severity and pulmonary function. This suggests that serotonin plays an important role in the pathophysiology of acute asthma (R, R, R).

And it’s not just acute asthma, but high levels of circulating serotonin have also been found in people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). High free serotonin is inversely correlated with the worsening of airway obstruction (R).


Serotonin creation

More than 95% of serotonin is created in the gut and 5% and less is created in the brain. Gut serotonin enters the bloodstream where it has many actions in the body. This serotonin is taken up by platelets and roughly 97-98% of the serotonin is found in platelets, with only 2-3% being free in the blood.

Serotonin’s action

Free serotonin binds to serotonin receptors, 5-HT1 to 5-HT7. Although there are 7 main receptors discovered so far, they also have many sub-receptors. So there are actually 15 serotonin receptors in total if we count the sub-receptor as well.

From here on I’ll refer to specific serotonin receptors as 5-HT, and the numbers after that indicate the type of sub-receptor, for example, 5-HT1A (which is the serotonin auto-receptor that lowers serotonin levels).

The serotonin receptors that are involved in asthma include 5-HT1A, 5-HT2A, 5-HT3, 5-HT4 and 5-HT7.

Activation of 5-HT1A lowers serotonin levels, increases the release of dopamine and induces relaxation (R).

5-HT2A activation induces contraction (R). Ketanserin, a 5-HT2A antagonist, produces airway hyporesponsiveness and inhibits serotonin-induced contraction (R, R).

5-HT3, 5-HT4 and 5-HT7 activation induce or augments the release of acetylcholine from cholinergic nerves which induce contraction (R, R).


What causes excess free serotonin

Free or platelet serotonin are bad in excess. A few things can increase it, and they are:

  1. Increased synthesis
  2. Stress

1) What increases serotonin synthesis


Histamine directly increases the synthesis of serotonin. H2 histamine antagonists, such as Famotidine (Pepcid AC) lowers serotonin synthesis (R, R). But it’s not only histamine that’s created in the body, but also dietary histamine, found in very high concentration in fermented food, cheese, cured meat, etc.


Fermentable fibers feed gram-negative bacteria in the gut which then creates lots of endotoxins. These endotoxins are usually only absorbed in small amounts, but when produced in large amounts they can contribute to leaky gut and enter into the body.

This is worsened when someone already has leaky gut.

serotonin asthma exercise leaky gut MenElite

Leaky gut can be caused by exercising in the heat, not eating carbs before your workout, low intake of dietary copper and zinc, consuming an excess of gluten, lectins, omega 6, etc. 


Bacterial overgrowth

As mentioned above, endotoxins are created from gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria can overproduce in the gut, which significantly increases the production of endotoxins.

You can kill excess bacteria by optimizing digestion (bile acids and stomach acid kill them) and using anti-bacterial, anti-microbial supplements such as monolaurin, Tulsi, Haritaki, coconut oil, MCT oil, essential oils (Oregano-, thyme-, cinnamon-, garlic oil), flowers of sulfur, honey, colostrum, vitamin B2, niacinamide, etc.

However, it’s not only endotoxins produced inside the body that are harmful, but also environmental endotoxins. Sources include dust, dirt, pets, pests, humidifiers, kitchen compost bins, outdoor air, pollutants on the bedroom sheets and bedroom floor (R).


2) Stress

Stress is one of the biggest modern plagues. Everyone is running around (figure of speech), stressing, thinking about their future, family, groceries, meetings, etc, etc., and it can all get overwhelming and stressful.

Platelet aggregation is seen during stressful situations. Stress increases cortisol, estrogen, histamine, prostaglandins, endothelins, angiotensin II, etc., which contributes to serotonin synthesis, inflammation and vasoconstriction which directly worsens severe asthma.

What can we do about it?

As this article is about serotonin, you can probably guess what we’re going to do? Block the effect of serotonin starting with tianeptine.


Tianeptine, a drug that enhances serotonin uptake by platelets and serotonergic axons at the central nervous system (CNS), provokes an abrupt disappearance of asthma attacks (R). Its success has been demonstrated not only in two double-blind placebo, cross-over trials, but through an open study lasting more than seven years that included over 25,000 asthmatic patients.

A dose as small as 12.5mg is effective and can be dosed twice daily, or you can take 20-30mg in the mornings as a prevention strategy. This substance does not build tolerance and one doesn’t get addicted to it. As a nice side bonus, it’s also an effective, proven anti-depressant (R).

Testimonial from user srubek from this thread:

• Tianeptine Sulfate (50mg MAX, every morning)

Best bronchodilator ever. Like…holy crap, how did the western gray market world make a wildly improved, and less abusable form, of something that the eastern world made, and yet still they don’t make it in Pharma preparations. Blows my mind, given nothing has worked for asthma like this. (Also when I quit taking it I never had any withdrawal syndrome of any sort. I’m told this is uncommon, but I’m unsure if that’s entirely true, if under the provision of never taking greater than 50mg).



Since the 5-HT3 receptor is involved in asthma, ginger can be helpful here. Ginger is a 5-HT3 antagonist as well as a 5-HT1A agonist, which should promote relaxation (R). 250mg ginger extract in the morning would go synergistically with tianeptine.


The serotonin receptor 5-HT4 is also involved in asthma and blocking it should relieve asthmatic symptoms. Lysine is a cheap natural amino acid with strong 5-HT4 inhibitory properties.

Additionally, nitric oxide, commonly known as a vasodilator, is also correlated with asthma. Endotoxins potently stimulate the production of a massive and damaging amount of nitric oxide. Luckily lysine is an inhibitor of the enzyme that endotoxins activate to stimulate all that nitric oxide production (R).

Lysine also has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects and is fantastic for social interactions. Between 500mg and 1.5g should be a good dose.


Evidence shows that serotonin promotes bronchoconstriction and inflammation which contributes to asthma.

A simple combo you can use daily would be:

  • 20-30mg tianeptine
  • 500mg ginger
  • 500mg-1.5 lysine

If you want to know of more methods to lower serotonin, check out this article of mine.

As always, thanks so much for reading my article. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. And if you found this article to be insightful and helpful please like and share so this information can help others as well.

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