Top 5-HTP Uses for Depression, Anxiety, Fibromyalgia, Attention, and Diet
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) uses cover an extensive range of both mental and physical conditions.
This supplement is said to offer benefits for weight loss, relief from anxiety, help with sleep, improved focus for individuals with ADHD, reduction of pain, and generally improved moods.
5-HTP works by increasing synthesis of Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being, peacefulness, and calm. The diversity in uses for 5-HTP supplements is a direct result of the diverse roles that Serotonin plays within the brain and body.
This article will examine how 5-HTP pills work in the body, some of the reported benefits, and the safety and potential side effects of 5-HTP supplements.
- Improves low moods and feelings of depression
- Helps to relieve anxiety, stress and nervousness
- Enables a calm, relaxed state of mind
- Improves sleep onset without causing drowsiness the following morning
- Suppresses the appetite and shown to promote weight loss
- Not recommended for long-term use.Use hair analysis to verify whether it suits you long term.
- Should not be combined with anxiety or depression medication
- Causes agitation or restlessness in rare cases
- Excessively high doses can cause Serotonin Syndrome
5-HTP in the Body
In addition to being available in supplement form, 5-HTP is produced naturally in the body from the breakdown of Tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in many protein rich foods including poultry, red meat, chickpeas, beans, and lentils. Tryptophan from the diet is broken down in the liver into 5-HTP and other metabolites.
Sometimes the amount of Tryptophan in the diet is insufficient. Additionally, some people naturally produce low amounts of 5-HTP. In these cases, supplementation with 5-HTP may be useful.
As a supplement, 5-HTP is derived from the seeds of the Griffonia Simplicifolia plant, native to Africa. Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds naturally contain up to 20% 5-HTP by weight.
5-HTP, either from supplements or Tryptophan breakdown, travels through the bloodstream to the brain. 5-HTP is able to cross the barrier separating the bloodstream from the brain. Once in the brain, 5-HTP is converted into the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
5-HTP works by increasing the amount of Serotonin available to be used, particularly within the brain. This neurotransmitter is intimately linked to moods and behaviors, causing feelings of contentment, ease, and satisfaction.
When Serotonin levels are high, we feel calm and it is easier to fall asleep. Serotonin is also required to make Melatonin, which is the main hormone that regulates sleep/wake cycles (circadian rhythm).
5-HTP is used by some individuals as an alternative to prescription medication for improving the symptoms of conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, and ADHD. It shows promise for those who are not seeing results with traditional pharmaceuticals, as with therapy-resistant depression. It is also favored by individuals who are looking for a more natural alternative.
Other indications for this supplement are appetite control, relief of restlessness linked to ADHD, and support for migraine headaches and menstrual symptoms.
Many have found it beneficial to take 5-HTP to relieve anxiety and related mood disorders. There is a correlation between anxiety and a decreased production of Serotonin. By naturally increasing the amount of Serotonin in the brain, it may be possible to prevent panic or anxiety attacks.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread pain throughout the body (affecting muscles and bones), accompanied by issues with mood and sleep. Research has shown that fibromyalgia in some cases is associated with decreased levels of Serotonin in the body.
Research has shown that taking 5-HTP orally may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain severity, morning stiffness, and sleeplessness.
For individuals who have a hard time focusing or staying on task, 5-HTP use may help improve learning, concentration and memory. This effect is more pronounced in individuals with ADHD or ADD.
According to clinical nutritionist Billy J. Cahley, Ph.D., the Serotonin-boosting effects of 5-HTP may result in improvements to symptoms of ADHD and behavioral disorders. Not all individuals with ADHD may benefit from using 5-HTP due to differences in the genetic components of this disorder.
Additional Benefits of 5-HTP
5-HTP may also support weight loss in individuals with obesity by reducing appetite, caloric intake, and overall weight.
In a five week clinical trial, obese participants given 5-HTP consumed fewer calories per day and lost more weight than a control group given a placebo. Participants were not instructed to change their eating habits, but reported higher levels of satiety after meals and felt less of a need to eat.
Using 5-HTP as a sleep aid may also lead to improved health on a number of different levels. Sleep plays an important role in weight loss, brain health, controlling stress, boosting the immune system, and cellular repair.
Taking 5-HTP later in the day may increase the amount of Serotonin available to make Melatonin. Increased Melatonin helps us to fall into deep sleep states that allow us to wake feeling rested and refreshed.
Adding a 5-HTP supplement to your nightly routine may support better sleep habits, so that you can wake up the next morning rejuvenated and with more energy.
Before using 5-HTP, consult a healthcare professional to determine whether this supplement is safe for you.
5-HTP has been deemed by the Natural Medicines database as possibly safe for oral use in adults. Use in pregnant or nursing women is considered possibly unsafe, and should be avoided.
5-HTP use is reported to cause seizures in some patients with Down’s syndrome; therefore use is not recommended for these individuals either.
It is recommended that you stop 5-HTP use for up to two weeks prior to any surgical procedures to avoid adverse reactions to anesthesia.
Most people who take 5-HTP can expect to experience no side effects. There have been reports of mild side effects though in some users, including muscle tenderness, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, sexual problems, drowsiness, and muscle irregularities.
5-HTP can interact negatively with various medications, specifically those prescribed for mood disorders and depression (SSRIs and MAOIs). Use of 5-HTP with these medications may cause a serious condition known as Acute Serotonin Syndrome.
Acute Serotonin Syndrome occurs when there is an excess of Serotonin in the body. Symptoms include restlessness, agitation, excessive sweating, and irregular heartbeat. In severe cases, Acute Serotonin Syndrome may be fatal.
The recommended dosage of 5-HTP will vary from individual to individual. Proper dosage will depend on many factors including age, weight, sensitivity level, and the reason for taking this supplement.
Speak to your health professional to receive personalized dosage information.
While 5-HTP may be safe for short-term use, there have been no studies examining the effects for extended long-term use. It is recommended to use this supplement for a maximum of one month and speak to your doctor before continuing for longer periods of time. This is being very cautious, since many of my clients have taken it safely long term.
5-HTP uses extend from mood enhancement, to weight loss, to improved sleep, and better memory. However to get the most from this supplement, safe usage is a must.
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