The 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:
- Suppressing Appetite
- Enhancing Sleep
- Relieving Anxiety
- Relieving symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Cognitive Enhancement
- Relief From and Prevention of Migraine Headaches
- Reduction of the rate of Heart Disease as a result of Lowering Anxiety and Depression.
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 and depression.
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.
|Serving Size: 1 Vcap|
Servings per Container: 60
Amount per Serving:
|5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) (Griffonia) |
|* Percent Daily Values are based on 2,000 calorie diet.|
† Daily Value not established.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. As always, consult with your physician before taking any and all supplements. LifeSource Vitamins