5 - HTP

The medication called 5-HTP, which is the shortened form for the derived molecule 5-hydroxytryptophan, a chemical derivative of the essential amino acid tryptophan, is a component of most high protein foods including meats like beef, chicken, fish, as well as different dairy products that are normally consumed in the diet. The tryptophan present in the diet is biochemically converted into 5-HTP. Naturally occurring 5-HTP can also be sourced from the seeds of an African plant called the Griffonia simplicifolia plant, this plant is one of the major sources of the 5-HTP used in dietary supplements sold at drug stores.

The action of 5-HTP on the human brain has been the focus of most of the recent scientific studies, it is known that 5-HTP helps elevate the mood, promotes sleep and induces weight loss, it is also helpful in relieving migraines, besides having other as yet unknown functions. The 5-HTP is a small molecule and as a result, it is different from most other supplements or a medication that consists of molecules too large to pass from the bloodstream into the brain, 5-HTP can easily cross the blood brain barrier and affect changes in the functioning of the brain. Inside the tissues of the brain, the 5-HTP is chemically converted into an important neurotransmitter known as serotonin. Serotonin has functions in other parts of the body such as the muscles but its primary and most important actions are on the brain, it has an extremely important influence on everything from the sleep patterns to mood to the reduction and increase of appetite.

The effects of supplemental 5-HTP has been studied as a possible treatment in dealing with mood disorders like prolonged clinical depression, persistent anxiety, as well as panic attacks - all these studies have concentrated on its ability to increase the serotonin levels inside the human brain. The possibility of 5-HTP functioning as a major remedial supplement in other conditions related to low serotonin levels is also being investigated by scientists, who think it may help in dealing with chronic migraines, in the treatment of fibromyalgia, in treating obesity and eating disorders, as well as in dealing with PMS - it is even being investigated as a potential supplement to curb violent behavior in patients. The preliminary finding is that, the 5-HTP treatment may indeed help alleviate some of these disorders; however, a lot of additional research will be needed to determine its effectiveness against most of these chronic conditions.

Supplements of 5-HTP may be the ultimate in safe and natural alternatives to common drugs like Prozac® used in treating many brain related problems. Most anti-depressive medications and anti-psychotics function by their ability to increase the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Supplements of 5-HTP may well be the natural method to induce similar results in the brain. Thus 5HTP-5-hydroxytryptophan - has massive potential as a natural and safe supplement for problems linked to serotonin levels in the brain.

Serotonin is chemically formed from 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP is a direct precursor of serotonin and is small in size, easily crossing the blood brain barrier to be absorbed into the bloodstream of the brain - the balance of 5-HTP promotes the optimal levels of serotonin inside brain tissues. As the 5-HTP is chemically one step closer in terms of conversion to serotonin, it is regarded as being superior to L-tryptophan as a supplement.

The neurotransmitter known as serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is vital to the proper functioning of human brain and body. Serotonin belongs to a class of different chemicals called neurotransmitters, that are used as chemical messengers that carry vital signals between cells and are the basis on which neurons and nerve conduction occurs in the human body. The transmission of these signals will be weakened by a lack of serotonin in the brain. The presence of serotonin in the brain is very essential and it is one of the most important neurotransmitters that govern the activities of many other important brain compounds including different neurotransmitters. Many distinct brain disorders are linked to low serotonin levels, the lack of this essential neurotransmitter has dramatic and adverse effects, it is implicated as a causative factor in many maladies that include clinical depression to fibromyalgia and persistent or long term insomnia in patients.

The supplemental use of 5-HTP could really revolutionize the clinical treatment of serotonin related emotional and physical disorders affecting a patient. Indeed, European doctors have used this supplement effectively for decades now and have successfully treated many patients using just the supplement alone.


Doctors in many European countries have been prescribing 5-HTP to their patients suffering from clinical depression and insomnia or related sleep disorders. 5-HTP could turn out be much more efficient at treating some types of patients than conventional anti-depressants, the supplement could be far more effective at alleviating depression and may produce fewer side effects while dealing with symptoms at a faster rate. The effectiveness of the 5-HTP treatment when compared to other medications has been analyzed during one recent study; in this study more than a half of all the patients who suffered from persistent depression recovered quickly following 5-HTP use, though all of them were resistant to all the other anti-depressant medications. The supplements of 5-HTP are also well known for their ability to promote sleep in patients affected by sleep disorders, 5-HTP helps improve the quality of sleep in patients. It does this by stimulating an increase in the time sleeping people spent in two key stages of sleep, during deep sleep and during REM sleep - also called the dreaming stage of sleep. Patients on 5-HTP tended to awaken feeling refreshed and better rested after a longer period of time spent dreaming.

Supplements of 5-HTP may also be beneficial to people suffering from chronic migraines and others trying to lose weight according to the results of some studies. The effect of 5-HTP on appetite was studied in one test, where overweight women who were on the 5-HTP supplement tended to eat fewer calories, and thus lost more weight over time - these women were much more likely to have a feeling of fullness while on the diet compared to similar women on a placebo. The supplements of 5-HTP are also useful in bringing relief from severe headaches, and have been used to treat persistent headaches including migraines, the supplemental 5-HTP seemed capable of reducing the intensity, the duration as well as the frequency of such attacks.

5-HTP supplements may also be of benefit to patients down with fibromyalgia and it may well help in boosting the tolerance level to pain in such patients. This disorder is a chronic condition that is defined by distinct aches and physical fatigue in the patient, the supplement of 5-HTP may help in part by bringing relief from any underlying depression felt by such patients. Two hundred fibromyalgia sufferers were a part of an Italian clinical study, in the test, patients who were on supplements of 5-HTP along with conventional anti-depressants tended to suffer from less pain than other patients who received either the 5-HTP or the medications only. As adverse side-effects are not uncommon, a doctor's advice must be sought before taking 5-HTP supplements especially if patients are already taking other types of anti-depressants as part of their treatment.

Usual dosage

Most doctors recommend about 50 mg to 100 mg of supplemental 5-HTP, thrice daily to treat depression. The recommended supplemental dose for the treatment of migraines may be 100 mg thrice daily if needed and tolerated by the patient. Supplemental doses for the treatment of insomnia can be a single 100 mg dose taken half an hour before sleeping. Patients on supplemental 5-HTP, may best begin with a low dose - about 50 mg - which may then be gradually increased if it is felt necessary.

Supplements of 5-HTP are best taken on an empty stomach to ensure that it is rapidly absorbed into the body. The ideal timing is to take the supplement half an hour before meals to control weight. Supplements of 5-HTP must not be used for more than three months at a stretch without the supervision of a doctor. These supplements are prescribed by some doctors in combination with the mood enhancing herb the St. John's wort herb. A doctor's advice must be sought first if the intention is to take the 5-HTP along with a St. John's wort-ephedra combination, normally used for weight control; a doctor's recommendation is needed when using the 5-HTP supplement along with conventional antidepressants of all types.

Side effects and cautions

Supplements of the 5-HTP can induce some side effects which are generally mild; including persistent nausea, chronic constipation, abdominal gas and drowsiness, the patient may also suffer from a reduced libido. The first symptom of nausea will normally diminish within a few days following the termination of the supplemental regimen.


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