5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a byproduct of L-tryptophan, an amino acid, which is chemically produced. It helps the create serotonin and melatonin, which are neurotransmitters that can enhance your mood, reduce your hunger, and help you sleep. The commercially distributed products that deliver this compound are derived from griffonia simplicifolia, a plant that grows primarily in Africa.
Those who suffer from migraines, depression, anxiety, insomnia, or sleep disorders are the most common users of 5-HTP. However, it can also help with problems like obesity, headaches, Parkinson’s disease, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and certain menstrual disorders. It has even been known to cure some of these ailments.
The primary benefit of 5-HTP is that is can increase the production of serotonin in the brain. If we want to understand how 5-HTP functions to aid the body, we first need to understand the functions and benefits of serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and it is one of the body’s primary neurotransmitters that play a key role in the happiness and overall mood of an individual. It is a key factor in the treatment of depression and many other conditions that can be improved with the use of mood-enhancing compounds.
There are certain psychological disorders, anxiety and depression being only a few among many, that can cause the body’s serotonin levels to decrease. This is where the use of 5-HTP can be of great help. It is a direct means of increasing serotonin levels for those who suffer from conditions that cause these levels to become lower than they should be.
5-HTP increase serotonin by involving itself in the production process in the brain and the central nervous system. It works to improve sexual drive, decrease appetite, regulate your sleep patterns, and decrease feelings of pain.
5-HTP Recommended Dosage
When taking 5-HTP, it is recommended that you take a dosage of between 300 milligrams and 500 milligrams. This amount can be taken all at once daily or can be split into multiple doses throughout the day. If you are taking other substances alongside 5-HTP that perform a similar task in your body, then you may choose to lower the dosage to account for this.
If your purpose for using 5-HTP is to decrease your appetite and lose weight, then it is important that you do not take the 5-HTP supplement on an empty stomach. It is best to take it with your meal so that the serotonin it produces is interpreted by your body a satisfaction with your meal and a feeling of fullness.
If you are taking 5-HTP as a treatment for a neurological or psychological disorder, then you need to be extremely careful to remain fully aware of any other medications you may be taking and how they could interact with your 5-HTP supplement. There are some medications that can be extremely dangerous when paired with 5-HTP. Selective serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs), for example, can cause severe complications and even death when they are taken alongside 5-HTP. This is merely one example and, as always, you should be sure to consult with your doctor regarding your medical conditions and any medication you are already taking before you begin taking a 5-HTP supplement.
5-HTP is extremely helpful in the treatment of a variety of ailments, primarily due to its ability to assist the body in the creation of melatonin and serotonin. In addition to its uses that are commonly known, there are additional benefits that are theoretically possible and which are currently being studied through scientific research.
Here are just a few of the ways that 5-HTP can benefit the body:
5-HTP has been used as a supplement to help with the treatment of depression. Recently, there have been some controversial attempts at using 5-HTP as the sole treatment for the condition, which in some cases could be very dangerous if it is not actually effective enough on its own. While it is theoretically possible for 5-HTp to be an effective stand-alone treatment, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that it is safe to try.
The Cochrane Collaboration performed a study in 2002 that reviewed the results of a clinical trial involving 108 patients. Some of the patients were given 5-HTP to treat depression, while the others were given a placebo. The evidence showed that 5-HTP was more effective than the placebo, but the results were considered insufficient and, therefore, inconclusive.
5-HTP Weight Loss
There have been many studies which attempted to determine the link between 5-HTP and appetite suppression leading to weight loss. One of these studies used griffonia simplicifolia directly, which is the source that is used in the creation of 5-HTP supplements.
The study followed 20 obese or overweight women who were given 5-HTP in the form of an oral spray. The spray was taken 5 times a day in a dosage of 3 sprays at a time. After taking this dosage for 4 weeks, the study found that the women experienced significantly less binge eating and an increased feeling of fullness after meals. The combination of these factors clearly led to noticeable weight loss among those in the test group.
There have been other studies which have shown a correlation between weight loss and 5-HTP, as well. With this collection of evidence, it can be safely determined that using 5-HTP supplements regularly can decrease your hunger and help you to lose weight.
5-HTP Sleep Disorders
The regular use of 5-HTP can also help to fight against insomnia and other common sleep disorders. The increased levels of serotonin and melatonin that are caused by 5-HTP both work together to actively improve your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep, as well.
There has been at least one study that has proven the effectiveness of 5-HTP in helping to regulate sleep. The study used a combination of 5-HTP and relaxing neurotransmitters to treat subjects who were suffering from irregular sleep patterns. It was found that the use of these products was able to significantly lower the average amount of time that it took subjects to fall asleep. It also caused a marked improvement in the overall quality of their sleep and an increase in how long they were able to stay asleep. All of these indicators were measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).
5-HTP Other Uses
5-HTP has also been found to be useful in treating a variety of other needs.
It has been shown to be an effective treatment to help relieve the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and it can also help to alleviate anxiety and reduce the occurrence of panic attacks. It has also been shown to help relieve tenderness, pain, fatigue, and anxiety, especially in patients who suffer from fibromyalgia.
For those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, low doses of 5-HTP have been able to help reduce shaking, but unfortunately, this only works for about 5 months before the effects are no longer significant. There are also some products containing 5-HTP which have been used to improve the symptoms of schizophrenia in young men.
5-HTP Side Effects
There are no significant side effects that are directly connected with the use of 5-HTP. However, there are some situations in which its use may cause adverse reactions in some people.
There have been some 5-HTP users who have later developed Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS), which is a condition that can cause intense muscle tenderness and abnormalities in the blood. There is no scientific evidence at all which can point to 5-HTP as the cause of EMS in these cases. However, it is possible that there are foreign contaminants in some low-quality 5-HTP products which may be able to cause the disease.
The most common mild potential side effects are muscle problems, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and drowsiness.
5-HTP Final Words
5-HTP is a chemical compound in your body that can stimulate the creation and release of melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin is a compound that is known to create feelings of happiness when its presence in the brain is increased, and because of this, the use of 5-HTP supplements can help treat depression.
5-HTP is also a common supplement used in the treatment of obesity by reducing the appetite and increasing feelings of fullness, along with many other uses and benefits for a variety of different ailments and conditions.
It is important to remember to contact your doctor before you begin taking any 5-HTP supplements, as you may have underlying conditions or be taking other medications that will cause a serious adverse reaction.