Flower power and the happy hormones


A memory from 5 years ago is this sunflower which I planted with my own hands, and it grew taller than me (not difficult), even taller than my garden fence (more difficult).  Of course, I have to mention my wife Chris because she does infinitely more gardening than I do, and she would have nurtured the sunflower from start to finish after I planted it.  Nonetheless, I still felt a remarkably close association with the outcome! 

My most liked Facebook posts in 2020 (the year of COVID) related to plant and forest pictures and there is a reason flowers proved to be more popular than my other posts. Flowers, particularly with vibrant colour, stimulate our happiness hormones, including serotonin. Now, serotonin has a bad press in the Neuroendocrine Cancer world, but it’s a really important hormone for everyone. The most common functional tumours do oversecrete this hormone but that is a totally different effect because the happiness effect above comes from brain serotonin which is separate from the peripheral serotonin issues we know about. Moreover, every human being needs brain serotonin for normal function (including NET patients) and several other neurotransmitters, and they need for many purposes.  The others include dopamine, oxytocin.  So, what’s the connection?  When reading the 3 paragraphs below, remember, I’m talking about brain hormones, not the stuff NETs secrete – that’s a different issue.

Dopamine – Dopamine is triggered by the expectation of a reward. Flowers were a huge reward signal in the world our brain evolved in because they marked the coming of abundance after a hungry winter. Today we have enough to eat all year round so we don’t consciously link flowers with food. But the blossoming of a flower triggers the sense that something special is coming because it triggers dopamine. But bright colours in general seem to increase the special nature of flowers because they send out signals, even including nutritional value and feeling happier via the chemistry.

Oxytocin – This chemical is often called the “bonding hormone.” Oxytocin creates a nice feeling of social trust, whether romantic love, maternal attachment, or group solidarity. We all know how hard this feeling is to find, and how easily it can be lost. That’s why we’re so eager for ways to stimulate it. Flowers help here too because they convey a certain respect for both fragility and the care and attention needed to grow and sustain something.

Serotonin – last but not least. This chemical is often mentioned in the context of depression if levels are low, often treated by antidepressants, but research indicates that it’s also involved in a sense of pride that is not only involved in growing your own flowers but also in buying and receiving them, not forgetting admiring them from a distance (including in photographs), Flowers are known to stimulate the sense of pride that your brain is looking for. If you fail to stimulate your brain serotonin, you can feel bad.

For a more technical overview of Serotonin and Neuroendocrine Cancer – read my comprehensive overview – click here

With that in mind, here’s a selection of flower photos (plus one or two other colour-associated themes) which proved to be quite popular on my Facebook page in 2020 (so far).

our garden in summer
our garden in summer
it’s not just flowers, the colours in this scene were very stimulating for me. Click on the picture to see more.
and the great outdoors also produces stimulating scenes via colour – the heather was the attraction but the green and blue also add to the effect. Click on the picture to see more
the blue, pink and green (plus the blonde) – this was a picture I had to take.  Click on the picture to see more
Sheffield Park Gardens in East Sussex is one of the most colourful parks we visited. Click the picture to see the rest
Exbury gardens in Hampshire New Forest was pretty spectacular in April – click to see more

Subscribe to my newsletter

Thanks for reading.


I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. Help me build up my new site here – click here and ‘Like’

Sign up for my newsletters – Click Here


My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Follow me on twitter

Check out my online presentations

Check out my WEGO Health Awards

Like my new awareness page – click here or on the photo.  (Like rather than follow please!)

Check out my Glossary of Terms – click here

patients included

Please Share this post for Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness and to help another patient


RonnyAllan.NET – Summary of January 2023 – Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer

Summary Great start to 2023 and I thank those who continue to support my social media and this blog.  I’m keen to hear any suggestions

Read More »

Phase I study of procaspase-activating compound-1 (PAC-1) in the treatment of advanced malignancies (incl NET)

Trial Summary This interesting trial is a multi-cancer effort including NET.  The phase I clinical trial of Procaspase Activating Compound-1 (PAC-1), a drug that spurs

Read More »

Dustin Diamond

I’m behind the curve on this one after being ahead on celebrities such as Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin, Wilko Johnson and Olivia Williams.  But in

Read More »

Neuroendocrine tumors are uncommon but definitely not rare

USA finally commits  UK and Australian figures recently confirmed that Neuroendocrine Cancer is the 10th and 7th most common cancer type.  It was great to

Read More »

Cancer Ablation

What is Cancer Ablation? This is a minimally invasive surgical method to treat solid cancers. Special probes are used to “burn” or “freeze” cancers. Computed

Read More »

Lactose intolerance – the NET Effect

Background   When I cast my mind back to my very first surgery, I remember asking my Oncologist what I could do to put on weight. 

Read More »

EUS Guided Ablation for small pancreatic NETs (Less than 2cm)

To burn or not to burn? I once wrote a post about Pancreatic NET “to cut or not to cut”.  You can read that here. 

Read More »

RonnyAllan.NET – a review of 2022

Review In 2022, my pet project (my blog) hit 2 million views in early November – that was a major boost.  It takes 3-4 years to get

Read More »

RonnyAllan.NET – Summary of December 2022

Summary December is always the quietest month of the year, no surprise why!  However, the top 10 below is somewhat surprising, I guess some posts

Read More »

I love comments - feel free!

%d bloggers like this: