Benefits of 5-HTP for Fibromyalgia
May 7, 2008 Genevieve Kiger
The herbal supplement 5-HTP has a number of health benefits, and is proving to be hugely beneficial for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
There is a growing body of research that indicates a very strong possibility that the supplement 5-HTP (L-5-Hydroxytryptophan) may be hugely beneficial for a number of problems, but most especially fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a chronic pain and fatigue condition.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by several major and minor criteria. The major criteria, of which all three must be met, are:
- widespread pain, a general aching or stiffness of at least three sites on the body for at least three months;
- prolonged pressure sensitivity in six or more of the numerous typical tender points;
- and of course the exclusion of other similar disorders.
The minor criteria, of which at least four must be met, are:
- general fatigue and sleep disturbances or insomnia;
- irritable bowel syndrome;
- chronic headaches and facial pain, often related to soreness and stiffness in the neck and shoulders;
- heightened sensitivity, such as to odors, noises, bright lights, and touch;
- numbing or tingling in the hands and feet;
- swelling in the joints;
- chest pain;
- dryness of the eyes and skin;
- unexplained dizzy spells;
- and depression, anxiety, and similar mood disorders.
There have been several studies published by the
Journal of International Medical Research on the effects of 5-HTP on
fibromyalgia sufferers. According to one study, "all the clinical
parameters studied were significantly improved by treatment with 5-HTP..."
Another states that the "overall evaluation of the patient condition
assessed by the patient and the investigator indicated a 'good' or 'fair'
clinical improvement in nearly 50% of the patients during the treatment period."
(Both studies can be accessed through NCBI.)
Many people have found for themselves how
effective this herbal supplement can be. It often has been found to be helpful
with insomnia, pain and all major fibromyalgia symptoms, including depression.
It may also be helpful with obesity, a common 'side problem' related to
fibromyalgia due to a general lowering of physical activity.
5-HTP is most commonly extracted from the seeds
of the Griffonia plant. It is a substance which, in the body, is easily
transformed into serotonin, a chemical that helps to regulate mood and
appetite, as well as being necessary in producing melatonin. Tryptophan is a
similar chemical, but it is harder for the body to absorb, and is a step
further away from serotonin, requiring the body to do more to reach the desired
There is a strong link between serotonin
deficiency and fibromyalgia; some have even claimed that fibromyalgia is in
essence nothing more than an overall serotonin deficiency, though that has not
been backed up by clinical studies. However, the evidence is nearly
overwhelming that raising serotonin levels is at least beneficial for
The usual recommended dose of 5-HTP to try to
help with fibromyalgia is 300 mg per day, usually in 3 100 mg doses, but as
with any such substance, you should consult with a medical professional before
you begin to include it in your treatment regimen.
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