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Hummus SSRI-effect & the Tryptophan rich diet

Chickpeas and tahini, the major ingredients of hummus, contain essential amino acids which has a very similar effect to that of anti-depressants. Don’t be surprised if one day in the near future your doctor will prescribe you some hummus.

In a recent post I addressed the fascinating issue of hummus’s anti-depression and anti-anxiety potential. To be exact, hummus has some nutrients that may affect mood in certain dosages. This is somewhat similar to how an SSRI drug (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac, Seroxat or Cipralex works.

SSRIs prolongs the presence of free serotonin in the brain. The postponed absorption of serotonin (a crucial neurotransmitter) into the brain cells, would usually result in diminished symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety and compulsive behaviour, thus make one “happier”.

This is the idea behind that genre of medicines, which usually take affect after 3-6 weeks of use. There are also SNRI (or SSNRI) drugs, (like Simbalta) which usually work faster because they also work on the noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter which functions as a complementary to serotonin.

A different kind of medicine, which allegedly affects the same system, is the 5 HTP (or 5-Hydroxytryptophan). This drug is supposed to increase the production of serotonin, especially when administered with B6 which functions as a catalyser. It is said the effect of 5 HTP is almost immediate.

Theoretically, one can also influence these metabolic processes through a Tryptophan rich diet or with a diet that will also include other amino acid which are known as building blocks of serotonin and noradrenaline, mainly the Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. And this threesome is present in hummus and tahini.

Hummus and tahini also contain B6 and Omega 3, which was also found to have a strong positive effect over most mood disorders. The effectiveness of a hummus-bi-tahini diet as a mean of treatment is not yet proven, but most people claim to have a better mood after eating hummus. So there’s a chance that in the future doctors will prescribe less SSRI/SNRIs and more hummus.

More about hummus nutrition facts.

7 Comments on Hummus SSRI-effect & the Tryptophan rich diet

  1. Greetings!

    I am so pleased to have found your website! Thank you for the great recipes and information on hummus! I am going home this evening to make your delicious hummus and falafel, and look forward to visiting your site again.

    Many thanks!

  2. Sarie –
    You probably know the saying:
    Satisfied? Tell your friends.
    Unsatisfied? Tell us.

    Please tell us how the hummus and falafel came out, would ya? And if you have any questions don’t hesitate.

  3. I am so psyched to find your blog! (my Egyptian fiance already thinks I’m crazy for being so obsessed with hummus, falafel and baba ganouj!)
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Amy –
    I’m afraid It would not be wise to consult your obsession with me 🙂
    Keep coming back.
    I’ll post a great baba ganouj recipe in the coming days.

  5. Great site! Thanks so much…

  6. Now I understand the elated “dazed” feeling while aimlessly walking through the streets of NY while nibbling hummus from Nanoosh, very interesting… we joked that I looked high – now I can explain it was Tryptophan, Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. I think I’m going to go eat more hummus….

  7. Not a bad summary of the current science, I like the way you have qualified your statements. You are right, Tryptophan raises levels of 5-HTP, which raises levels of Serotonin. This effect is very quick, within a couple hours, unlike SSRIs. And it does seem to improve mood.

    However, the mood influencing amino acids of hummus act in a completely different way from SSRIs. SSRIs prevent serotonin from being removed from the brain. Certain amino acids provide the building blocks to create serotonin. Unfortunately, the same amino acids also supply building blocks to create other mood-altering endogenous substances such as melatonin.

    So, it’s an important to note that eating lots of hummus can improve mood in anxious depression, but is contraindicated for uncomplicated depression. If you want to sleep all the time but have no anxiety issues, Tryptophan / 5-HTP supplementation is contraindicated. You may feel more satisfied, but you’ll want to sleep even more.

    On the other hand, a *combination* of SSRIs and hummus… can’t hurt, and actually is a very good idea for the moderately depressed.

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