nutrient 5-HTP (the common name for the compound 5-hydroxytryptophan)
is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan. A mood-enhancing chemical,
5-HTP has attracted a good deal of attention lately because of its
ability to increase pain tolerance, induce sleep, and affect how
hunger is perceived. Unlike many other supplements (and drugs) that
have molecules too large to pass from the bloodstream into the brain,
molecules of 5-HTP are small enough to do so. Once in the brain,
they're converted into an important nervous system chemical, or
neurotransmitter, called serotonin.
The body produces its own supply of 5-HTP from tryptophan, an amino
acid found in high-protein foods such as chicken, fish, beef, and
dairy products. Any healthy diet should include tryptophan-rich
sources such as these. In addition, 5-HTP is available as a supplement;
this form of the compound is extracted from the seeds of the African
plant, Griffonia simplicifolia.
LifeSource’s 5-HTP, in addition to the treatment
of Depression, can be effective in:
symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
From and Prevention of Migraine Headaches
of the rate of Heart Disease as a result of Lowering Anxiety and
So how effective is 5-HTP? Numerous clinical trials
have studied the efficacy of 5-HTP for treating depression. One
compared 5-HTP to the antidepressant drug fluvoxamine and found
5-HTP to be equally effective. Researchers used the Hamilton Depression
Rating Scale and a self-assessment scale to gauge the effectiveness
of the two medications. Both scales revealed a gradual reduction
in depressive symptoms through time with both medications. Perhaps
the most convincing evidence, however, comes from scientists who
examined research from around the world on the use of 5-HTP in treating
depression. One such researcher, writing in Neuropsychobiology,
sums up the findings this way: "Of the 17 reviewed studies,
13 confirm that 5-HTP has true antidepressant properties."
The function of Prozac®, Paxil and many other antidepressant
drugs, is to increase the availability of serotonin in certain brain
synapses. Unfortunately, these drugs can produce many unpleasant
and dangerous side affects. Since 5-HTP cannot be patented, drug
companies have no interest in supplying this compound to the public.
European countries have been taking 5-HTP for treatment of insomnia
Now that tryptophan is restricted by the FDA, researchers have clinically
investigated 5-HTP in comparison to antidepressant drugs. The results
of the studies were astounding. Using the standard depression scale,
both the drug and 5-HTP groups displayed identical reduction in
depression. Depressed patients who received 100 mg of 5-HTP, three
times daily, showed at least a 50% improvement in their symptoms,
without any reported side effects. Similar studies with depressed
children demonstrated equal benefit.
Subsequent studies were performed using 5-HTP for anxiety, panic
disorder, sleep difficulties and obesity. In his research R.S. Kahn
observed an obvious decline in anxiety symptoms when supplementing
with 5-HTP and patients with panic disorder noticed a feeling of
relief after receiving 5-HTP. Melatonin, which helps regulate our
sleep-wake cycle, is a metabolite of serotonin. Early research studies
show that supplementing with 5-HTP may have positive effects on
sleep patterns. In a six week clinical study with obese patients,
those supplemented with 5-HTP were able to reduce carbohydrate intake,
and experienced a feeling of early satiety, which contributed to
significant weight loss.
The effective dose of 5-HTP appears to be between 50 and 500 mg
daily. Used in combination with other antidepressant substances,
however, the effective dose may be even lower. Research shows that
some people respond better to lower doses, so I recommend beginning
at the low end of the dose range and increasing as necessary. Side
effects associated with therapeutic doses of 5-HTP are rare. When
they do occur, they are usually limited to mild gastrointestinal
complaints. Compare this to the litany of possible side effects
from antidepressant drugs: sedation, fatigue, blurry vision, urine
retention, constipation, palpitations, EKG changes, insomnia, nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea and mild to severe agitation.
Elevates mood in cases of depression, anxiety, and panic
attacks. 5-HTP appears to increase the brain's serotonin
levels, positively influencing such disorders as depressions that
have been linked to low levels of this brain neurotransmitter. A
number of small European studies offer examples of people with depression
who found little relief from traditional antidepressant drugs yet
obtained good results with 5-HTP.
Treats insomnia. Several elements of a good night's
sleep appear to be influenced by 5-HTP. In addition to reducing
the amount of time it takes to nod off, this compound actually may
enhance the quality of sleep itself, increasing both the duration
of dream states (REM sleep) and of deep slumber. In studies, most
people who tried 5-HTP also reported feeling more rested upon awakening.
Promotes weight loss. Some studies indicate that
5-HTP may curb the appetite when taken before meals. In a recent
study of dieting women, those given 5-HTP reported feeling fuller
than those who were given a placebo. In the end, participants in
the 5-HTP group consumed fewer calories overall, and lost more weight
than those in the placebo group. Another study reported increased
weight loss among obese patients who took 5-HTP versus those who
were given a placebo; all, however, had been restricted to a daily
diet of 1,200 calories. In addition, because 5-HTP reportedly reduces
cravings for sweets and starches, it may also be of use in helping
diabetics adhere to a healthy diet.
Eases migraine pain. Migraine headaches have been
linked to low serotonin levels. Studies are ongoing to determine
if 5-HTP, which may boost the brain's serotonin levels, can help
to reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of this extremely
painful type of headache.
Increases tolerance to the pain of Fibromyalgia.
People who suffer from Fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that commonly
causes muscle pain and disabling fatigue, may have low serotonin
levels. By increasing the level of these neurochemicals, 5-HTP may
improve pain tolerance. In a recent Italian study, the 200 Fibromyalgia
sufferers who added 5-HTP to a regimen of conventional antidepressants
experienced less pain than those who took the drugs or 5-HTP alone.
Size: 1 Vcap
Servings per Container: 60
|5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) (Griffonia)
Percent Daily Values are based on 2,000 calorie diet.
† Daily Value not established.