Among nutritional supplements that have been studied to improve mood, quality of sleep and life, is 5-HTP, an amino acid, that has many beneficial properties to health.
5-HTP or otherwise called 5-hydroxytryptophan, is the hydroxylated form of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential aminoacid that can not be synthesized by human body, thus must be obtained through diet. Tryptophan in the body is converted to 5-HTP, which in turn is the procursor molecule of serotonin, a neurotransmitter of central nervous system.
Although tryptophan is found in abundance in foods, the hydroxylated form can not be obtained through diet. However, the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia directly produces 5-ITP, which enable us to produce nutritional supplements.
Taking 5-HTP supplements has been found to help increase levels of serotonin in the brain and to a lesser extent affect dopamine and norepinephrine levels.
Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters and mood regulators. Specifically, several studies have shown that taking 5-HTP may help treat mild to moderately severe depression, mimicking the action of common antidepressants (SSRIs).
Taking 5-HTP supplements has been found to help considerably in insomnia because serotonin can be converted into melatonin. Additionally, there has been found that 5-HTP improves sleep quality and increases the REM stage.
Migraines – headaches
Chronic headaches and migraines may be due to decreased levels of serotonin. This results in triggering pain much more easily. Studies have shown that taking 5-HTP supplements may help prevent the incidence but also the intensity of headaches and migraines.
During diet, tryptophan and serotonin levels decrease significantly. As a result, this results to considerable increased consumption of carbohydrates, occasional overeating and snacking. Some scientific reports link intake of 5-HTP supplements with obesity and weight loss. The reason is that appears to affect appetite and satiety, while it is connected to lower calorie intake and bulimia.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbances and fatigue. Studies have shown that people who suffer from fibromyalgia have significantly lower levels of serotonin and tryptophan. 5-HTP can help in treating certain symptoms of fibromyalgia, particularly in reducing pain, anxiety, fatigue and dyskinesia.
The usual dosage is 50 mg 3 times a day with meals, which may be increased up to 100mg. As for insomnia, the dosage is 100-300mg before bedtime, while doses in the first days should be 50mg to avoid unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea. For anxiety dosage is 150-300mg per day.
Chronic intake or large doses of 5-HTP can cause nausea, vomiting, lethargy, stomach pain, vivid dreams or nightmares.
Supplementation of 5 – HTP is contraindicated for people taking antidepressive treatment as tricyclics, SSRIs or MAOI antidepressants, triptans and drugs for Parkinson’s disease. Should not be taken by children, pregnant or lactating women.
In Vita4you you can find a wide variety of dietary supplements with 5-HTP.