What is Serotonin?

Serotonin (chemical formula: C₁₀H₁₂N₂O), is a neurotransmitter and is released by the tryptaminergic neurones of the central nervous system. In it’s synthesised state, it appears as a white powder that does not mix well with water. Serotonin is prevalent within the body and also occurs in the stinging nettle plant, as well as in bananas.

What is Serotonin used for?

Serotonin has many important roles in the human body. It is a natural mood stabiliser that dictates your happiness and wellbeing. Manufactured by the body’s nerve cells, serotonin forms during a chemical reaction involving tryptophan. The chemical is present throughout much of the body, but its prevalence lies in the intestines, the brain and in blood. 

Serotonin helps the body control muscles and movement, as well as playing a role in wound healing, bone health and blood and bowel function.

Serotonin has been synthesised and made available as dietary supplements that aim to assist in issues with mood, stress and appetite.

A lack of serotonin is thought to be associated with depression
A lack of serotonin is thought to be associated with depression

Serotonin Hazards

The routes of exposure for serotonin include; inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of serotonin may cause individuals with existing respiratory function conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis as well as circulatory/nervous system or kidney damage, to incur further disablement if excessive concentrations are inhaled. 

Ingestion of serotonin may cause death. Animal experiments indicate that ingesting less than 40g of the chemical may prove fatal or cause serious health damage to the individual/

Skin exposure is not expected to cause skin irritation, however entry into the bloodstream through open cuts and wounds may lead to harmful effects. Ensure you are suitably protected prior to any handling of the chemical. 

Eye exposure is expected to cause transient discomfort with symptoms such as tearing and redness. Abrasive damage may also result.

Serotonin Safety

If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Encourage the patient to blow their nose to clear their breathing passages. Seek medical attention if irritation persists.

If swallowed, give the patient a slurry of at least 3 tablespoons of activated charcoal in a glass of water. Inducing vomiting may be recommended, but should generally be avoided due to the risk of aspiration. If vomiting is induced, lean the patient forward or placed on their left side to maintain open airways and prevent aspiration. Seek medical attention without delay.

If skin exposure occurs, remove all contaminated clothing and footwear and flush the skin and hair with plenty of soap and running water. Seek medical attention in the event of irritation. 

If exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water for at least 15 minutes, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Contact lenses should be removed only by a skilled professional. Seek medical attention without delay. 

Serotonin Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and there should always be adequate ventilation to remove or dilute any air contaminants to prevent overexposure (install local exhaust if necessary). 

The PPE recommended when handling melatonin includes; safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, filter dust respirators, PVC/rubber gloves, overalls, PVC aprons and safety footwear. Skin cleansing and barrier creams are also recommended in the event of skin exposure.

It is always advised that you refer to the SDS before handling serotonin and any other hazardous chemicals. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at for more information about our chemicals management solutions.