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“The amounts of SRIs flooding the Gaian system is disregulating the neuronal networks of the planet, including its individual species, from plants to animals.” – Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Into the Dreaming of Earth

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Many are aware of the harm that taking synthetic antidepressants, namely serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), can cause on a personal level. Few, however, are aware of the harm it can do on a large scale. All life forms on earth, including the very earth itself, are negatively impacted by antidepressants, as they disrupt adaptive processes regulated by serotonin. For example, serotonin is found in plant tissues and, just like it is in humans, it is responsible for various functions crucial to a plant’s quality of life. Because they are not very biodegradable, excretion of SRIs impacts all organisms that use serotonin to function properly, including plants, the animals that eat those plants, and therefore all humans -not just those who directly take antidepressants. When looked at from this perspective, it becomes clear that the decision of whether or not to take SRIs is a much larger one than we thought, as the choice to do so provokes a negative ripple effect on the planet as a whole.

Serotonin In Plants

Serotonin has various functions in plants, including but not limited to reproduction, protection of plant cells, growth, free radical scavenging and the development of root systems -aka a plant’s predominant neural network. 5-HT1a and 2a receptors in the neural networks of plants interact with serotonin similar to the way they do in animals. 5-HT1a receptors, for example, interact with serotonin to create intracellular stability in a plant’s cytoskeleton. In response to environmental stress, 5-HT2a receptors interact with serotonin in the internal cytoskeleton of a plant by inhibiting old patterns of neural networks that are having difficulty adjusting to environmental changes and create new ones that are more adaptable.

How The Use Of Synthetic Antidepressants Harms Plants

Over 50 synthetic serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are excreted into the earth, and not a single organism that uses serotonin to function is exempt of paying the harmful repercussions. SRIs are highly active even in trace amounts and are found in virtually all waste water streams in industrial nations, thereby interfering with reproduction, germination and root development in every system on the planet affected by serotonin. All forms of SRIs come equipped with the same destiny of collectively working with one another to deregulate the neuronal networks of the planet. The extent to which any specific type of SRI proves harmful varies, though, with some causing more destruction than others. For example, only 20 uM of Prozac reduces root development from 15-20 per nodal segment to only 4. Worsening the picture is the fact that these SRIs are not very biodegradable. By not very, I mean they take four months to degrade in streams -in the best case scenario. If they manage to sink to the sediment at the bottom of rivers and ponds before degrading, they do not seem to biodegrade at all.


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  • Whitlock Kelli. “Casting Prozac upon the waters.” University of Georgia Research Magazine, Summer 2005.
  • P. Andrews et. al., “Primum non nocere: An evolutionary analysis of whether antidepressants do more harm than good”
  • Ramon Pelagio-Flores et al., “Serotonin, a tryptophan-derived signal conserved in plants and animals, regulates root system architecture probably acting as a neural auxin inhibitor in Arabidopsis thaliana,” 490
  • Buhner, Stephen. Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Into the Dreaming of Earth. Vermont: Bear & Company, 2014


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