5HTP (5 hydroxytryptophan)

Background

5- hydroxytryptophan, better known as 5-HTP, is produced naturally in the body from the breakdown of Tryptophan (an amino acid found in many protein rich foods), and has successfully been used to restore serotonin levels in those that may suffer from decreased serotonin levels, such as the depressed and those with high levels of body inflammation (typically seen in metabolic syndrome).[1] 5-HTP is a supplement that some people use in an effort to support their mental health and immune system. As a supplement, 5-HTP is derived from the seeds of the plant Griffonia simplicifolia, an African medicinal shrub. 5-HTP has been used with success to restore serotonin levels in those that may suffer from decreased serotonin levels, such as the depressed and those with high levels of body inflammation (typically seen in metabolic syndrome).

Griffonia Simplicifolia plant from where 5 HTP is extracted.

Benefits

There are numerous potential 5-HTP benefits of use that are being discovered by new research. It is the most effective way to take a 5-HTP supplement to increase levels of Serotonin in the brain for mood, relaxation and sleep, and decrease appetite, anxiety and depression. 5HTP is also used as a weight loss support. The health benefits of 5-HTP include:

  • Promotes cognitive performance
  • Relieves insomnia and promotes sleep[5]
  • Reduces anxiety, depression, migraine and headache[6]
  • Relieves premenstrual syndrome (PMS)[7]
  • Increases mood[9]
  • Helps people who are with ADHD[8]
  • Helps people who have Parkinson’s disease[8]
  • Helps with seizures[4]
  • Improves learning and memory[4]
  • Enhances concentration[4]
  • Improve weight loss

Serotonin is accountable for the contractions of the muscles of the small intestine during digestion (peristalsis). Serotonin in the brain controls feelings of happiness, well-being, and calm.
5-HTP has also been studied for improving fibromyalgia symptoms, a disease associated with widespread pain and sensitivity to pressure. Clinical studies have shown that 5-HTP reduces primary fibromyalgia symptoms including pain severity, morning stiffness, and sleeplessness.[2]
For those who have a hard time focusing or staying on task, 5-HTP use may help improve learning, concentration, and memory, and this impact is more pronounced in persons with ADHD or ADD.

How it works

5-HTP is a naturally-occurring chemical in the body and is a building block to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps moderate the transmission of signals between nerve cells.[3]
Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is consumed for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, headaches, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), seizure disorder, and Parkinson’s disease, and many other conditions.[4] Supplementation with 5-HTP may be helpful when the amount of Tryptophan in the food is insufficient, or some people naturally produce lower amounts of 5-HTP.
If 5-HTP is taken later in the day, it might increase the amount of Serotonin available to make Melatonin. Increased Melatonin helps us to fall into deep sleep states that permit us to wake feeling rested and refreshed.

Considerations

If recommended dosage is followed, it is expected that people may not experience any side effects. However, in some cases mild side effects have been observed, including nausea, heart burn, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea only when it is overdosed. It is recommended that 5HTP should not be taken with any neurological drug that has been prescribed for antidepressant or other cognitive purposes unless advised by a medical doctor.

Recommendations

The suggested dosage of 5-HTP varies from person to person. Proper dosage relies on many factors including age, weight, sensitivity level, and the reason for taking this supplement. A typical dose of 5-HTP is in the range of 300-500 mg, taken either once daily or in divided doses.

Sources