5-HTP Enhance Your Mood, Your Sleep, and a Lot More
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally occurring substance derived from the seed pods of Griffonia simplicifolia, a West African medicinal plant. In humans, 5-HTP is the immediate nutrient precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT). This means that 5-HTP converts directly into serotonin in the brain (see Figure 1). Serotonin has many profoundly important functions, including a role in sleep, appetite, memory, learning, temperature regulation, mood, sexual behavior, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, and endocrine regulation.
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH SEROTONIN DEFICIENCY?
Serotonin production declines with age, and at any age its abundance can be compromised further by stress. Low levels of serotonin are most commonly manifested by depressed mood, anxiety, and insomnia. They can also lead to various other complaints and disorders, diminishing one's quality of life. But now something can be done: Download the 2015 5HTP Special Report or continue reading.
Figure 1. Serotonin metabolism. The brain neurotransmitter serotonin is replenished naturally by the nutrient 5-HTP, leading to more efficient functioning of neural pathways.
5-HTP CAN RESTORE SEROTONIN LEVELS AND HELP IMPROVE:
√ General mood1
√ Weight loss5
√ Chronic headaches7
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 5-HTP AND PROZAC®?
Prozac is a prescription drug, whereas 5-HTP is a natural nutrient supplement. Prozac is in a class of drugs called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), other examples of which are Zoloft® and Paxil®. These drugs were originally developed to treat depression. Now they are widely prescribed for other disorders, including anxiety, sleep disturbance, PMS, obesity, chronic headaches, and other chronic pain disorders. Studies of 5-HTP have shown it to be valuable for all the same disorders. In direct comparison with an SSRI, 5-HTP has been shown to be equivalently beneficial for depression, but with significantly fewer side effects.
Both 5-HTP and SSRIs increase the availability of serotonin in the brain, but they work in different ways. SSRIs prevent serotonin from being taken back up into the neurons, leaving more of it available in the synapses between neurons. In other words, SSRIs allow the brain to reuse the serotonin that is already there. By contrast, 5-HTP replenishes serotonin levels by biological synthesis of additional serotonin molecules, providing new stores of this necessary neurotransmitter in the brain.
5-HTP MAY BE BETTER THAN TRYPTOPHAN
Tryptophan supplements have a long history of use for treating depression and anxiety disorders and for enhancing sleep. Unfortunately and unjustifiably, the FDA has since 1988 prohibited the manufacture and sale of tryptophan in the U.S., based on a single contaminated batch by a Japanese company during the late 1980s. The FDA has maintained this ban despite overwhelming evidence that it is not only unnecessary, but it is inducing people to take dangerous and expensive drugs to achieve the benefits they could achieve safely and inexpensively with tryptophan.
While the ban on tryptophan may be needless and deplorable, it has had one unforeseen benefit: it has allowed 5-HTP, which is one step closer to serotonin in the metabolic pathway, to take the stage. It turns out, by some studies, that 5-HTP may be even better than tryptophan for treating suspected serotonin deficiency disorders of the brain.
HOW ARE 5-HTP FORMULATIONS DIFFERENT?
5-HTP alone is available for those who do not wish to use it in a formulation. In general, it has few to no side effects. Because of the many benefits that 5-HTP can offer, however, several advanced formulations provide a range of options for people with differing personal needs.
SUPPLEMENTING WITH 5-HTP FOR ENHANCED MOOD
A mood-enhancing formulation containing primarily 5-HTP, a form of vitamin B6, and St. John's wort is designed to counteract age-related serotonin depletion and to provide general mood enhancement. Because it supports healthy serotonin levels, it may help those who are subject to mild to moderate depression. In addition, it may help with any of the other disorders discussed above.
5-HTP is well established for its mood-enhancing properties, among other benefits. St. John's wort, as well, has been studied with positive results for the treatment of mild depression. Its mechanisms of action are not clearly understood, but they are probably different than 5-HTP's. It has been used for a wide variety of conditions since at least the time of ancient Greece, and it was commonly used throughout the folk medicine of the Middle Ages. It is currently in widespread use in Germany as a standard treatment for depression.
Over the centuries, St. John's wort earned its reputation as a powerful mood-altering substance. Now science is confirming this reputation. When combined judiciously with 5-HTP, St. John's wort acts synergistically, i.e., the combined effect of the two ingredients is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Other uses are for improved wound healing, anti-inflammatory effects, antimicrobial activity, sinusitis relief, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and, especially, relief from depression.