- 1 What is 5-HTP?
- 2 What are the advantages of a 5-HTP supplement vs an L-tryptophan supplement?
- 3 What effect does 5-HTP have on weight loss?
- 4 How does 5-HTP work when compared to melatonin to treat insomnia?
- 5 What is fibromyalgia and how can 5-HTP help to treat it?
- 6 Can we combine 5-HTP supplementation with Saint John’s Wort extract?
- 7 Has the use of 5-HTP to treat depression being studied?
- 8 Are there any studies that have directly compared 5-HTP with antidepressants?
- 9 Can 5-HTP help those who suffer headaches?
- 10 5-HTP Dose
- 11 How to take 5-HTP
- 12 The effects of 5-HTP
- 13 What is serotonin?
- 14 5-HTP and Insomnia
- 15 5-HTP improves sleep naturally
- 16 5-HTP and depression
- 17 5-HTP for headaches and migraines
- 18 5-HTP and fibromyalgia
- 19 Studies that prove the decrease of pain when taking 5-HTP
- 20 5-HTP and weight loss
- 21 The results of the clinical trials prove the success of 5-HTP
- 22 How to take 5-HTP during a diet?
- 23 Side effects of 5-HTP
- 24 Possible side effects of SSRI medications:
- 25 Important tips about taking 5-HTP
- 26 5-HTP Studies and References
- 27 5-HTP Review
Here you will find all of the information about 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan (also known as oxitriptan), an amino acid that is obtained from the seeds of an African black bean.
You can buy 5-HTP as a nutritional supplement without a medical prescription, and it has proven to be much safer and effective than many other medications that are typically prescribed to treat the symptoms related to low serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a substance that is found in our neurons and it performs functions as a neurotransmitter in order to maintain an optimal health.
Our current lifestyle is extremely stressful and this has devastating consequences for our health, subjecting our body to the negative effects of bad eating habits, a lack of exercise, and lack of sleep.
The scientists have discovered that our harmful lifestyle does not only affect our body, but it also damages our brain.
Stress, a bad diet, and sedentarism reduce the production of serotonin by the brain. This neurotransmitter affects the mood, appetite, and our ability to recover quickly through sleep and rest.
When our brain does not produce enough serotonin, we end up suffering from depression, obesity, or insomnia. Additionally, we are not able to reach our maximum mental or physical performance.
What is 5-HTP?
After a lot of research, scientists have invented a revolutionary dietary supplement that increases the serotonin levels safely and efficiently and reduces mental disorders, obesity, insomnia, migraines, and anxiety. This dietary supplement is 5-HTP.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a transmitter amino acid that increases the serotonin levels, when it reaches the brain.
There is multiple evidence that demonstrates that low levels of serotonin in the brain are caused by the current lifestyle in the big cities and the unhealthy eating habits.
This is the reason why many people suffer from obesity, eating disorders and cannot control craving for sugar and carbohydrates.
In other cases they have to fight against depression, headaches, and muscle soreness. All of these symptoms can be fought if the serotonin levels are increased.
These are some of the main symptoms associated with low levels of serotonin, which are relieved by taking 5-HTP:
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Sleeping problems
- Tension headaches
- Chronic headache
- Pre-menstrual syndrome
Although 5-HTP is relatively new, it has been studied intensely in the last three decades. It has been available in several countries from the 70s.
What are the advantages of a 5-HTP supplement vs an L-tryptophan supplement?
5-HTP has many advantages versus L-tryptophan. First of all, 5-HTP is more effective than L-tryptophan, as it is closer to serotonin.
5-HTP is extracted from a natural source: the seeds of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia), while L-tryptophan is produced in a fermentation bacterium medium.
What effect does 5-HTP have on weight loss?
In other words, the rats were generically too fat because they had low levels of this enzyme that triggers the production of serotonin. Therefore, these rats did not receive the signal to stop eating until they had consumed much larger amounts than the normal rats usually eat.
There are numerous indications that many people tend to be obese due to genetic factors. This trend may include the same mechanisms that have been observed in rats, which tend to become obese for genetic reasons.
In other words, many people tend to be overweight because of the low levels of serotonin in their brain.
For that reason, if they take 5-HTP, they fix that genetic deficiency, producing more serotonin which slows down their abnormal and excessive appetite.
Studies carried out on weight loss with 5-HTP supplements
Following the initial experiments in animals that demonstrated the effects of 5-HTP on weight loss, three clinical trials were carried out by the University of Rome with the purpose of assessing the effect of 5-HTP in obese women.
The first study was carried out with a group of women who were trying to lose weight. They were given 5-HTP supplements for five weeks and the results showed a reduction of the calorie intake and an average weight loss of approximately 1.4 kilograms.
The second trial tried to establish whether 5-HTP could help overweight people to follow dietary recommendations. The study was divided into two six-month periods. There were not dietary advice during the first six weeks, and they were told to follow a 1200 calorie diet in the next six weeks.
The result showed that women who had received a placebo only lost 1 kilogram, while the women who had taken a 5-HTP supplement lost 4.7 kilograms. As in the previous study, the 5-HTP supplement seemed to encourage weight loss by triggering a feeling of satiety which leads to a lower consumption of food and calories. All of the women who were given 5-HTP experienced this effect.
In the third 5-HTP study, there were no dietary recommendations for the first 6 weeks, and they were advised to follow a 1200 calorie a day diet, in the next 6 weeks.
The results were even more impressive than the previous studies for several reasons, like the fact that the group that took 5-HTP lost an average of 2 kilograms in six weeks, and an average of 5.3 kilograms in twelve weeks.
In contrast, the group that took the placebo lost an average of 0.3 kilograms in six weeks and nearly 0.8 kilograms in twelve weeks. The weight loss difference in the group of women that were given the placebo, showed the difficulty that these women had to face in order to follow a diet.
The level of satiety in the participants was registered at 100% during the test. The conclusion was that 90% of the women that took 5-HTP experienced a feeling of satiety, despite having eaten a smaller quantity of calories.
Some women who took 300mg of 5-HTP (three times a day) experienced mild nausea in the first 6 weeks of the study. However the symptoms were not strong enough to abandon the test. No other side effects were reported.
5-HTP does not interfere in the secretion, release, or natural elimination of serotonin. 5-HTP is not a synthetic drug, rather, it triggers the production of an amino acid that is naturally formed in the organism.
How does 5-HTP work when compared to melatonin to treat insomnia?
5-HTP is a lot more effective than melatonin.
Several clinical trials have shown the excellent results of 5-HTP to encourage a restful sleep, both in normal individuals and those that suffer from insomnia.
The ability to improve the sleep quality is one of the main advantages of 5-HTP to treat insomnia.
What is fibromyalgia and how can 5-HTP help to treat it?
Fibromyalgia is a recently recognized disease that produces chronic muscle pain and exhaustion. It is a relatively common disease that affects around a 4% of the population. Its diagnosis requires 3 main criteria to be met and at least 4 subcriteria.
The history of 5-HTP as an effective method to treat fibromyalgia started with the studies of Fenclonine. This drug blocks a tryptophan enzyme that synthesizes serotonin, inhibiting the production of this neurotransmitter.
In the decade between the 1960s and the 1970s, the predominant theory was that increased serotonin levels produced migraines . But this opinion was proven to be false, since it is completely the opposite, increased serotonin levels reduce the migraine symptoms.
Researchers found out those who suffered headaches experienced a severe muscle pain when they took Fenclonine. However, this unexpected effect led to important advances in fibromyalgia and to explain the symptoms of the disease.
The researchers also found that people who suffered migraines reacted to it much more intensely than others who did not suffer from headaches. However, those who did not suffer these diseases did not react to Fenclonine. These facts proved the sensitivity of those who suffered migraines to low serotonin levels.
In conclusion, migraine and fibromyalgia have a common characteristic: Both are diseases that are produced by low serotonin levels.
After 25 years of research in the matter, a renowned scientific stated:
“In my opinion, which coincides with that of other pain specialists, taking 5-HTP may reduce to a large extent the symptoms and pains of primary fibromyalgia.” Double-blind clinical studies support this conclusion.
Can we combine 5-HTP supplementation with Saint John’s Wort extract?
Yes. In fact, the two work very well together. More than 25 clinical trials have proven that St. John’s wort extract is more effective than antidepressants in the treatment of mild/ moderate depression. In more severe cases, the advice is to take 5-HTP along with the St. John’s wort extract.
You should make sure that you are taking the standard St. John’s wort extract with 0.3% of hypericin.
The usual recommended dose for this extract is 300mg, three times a day. If we combine it with 5-HTP, it is advisable to take:
- 50-100 mg of 5-HTP, 3 times a day.
- 150-300 mg of St. John’s wort extract.
Yes. In fact, there are excellent studies that have proven that 5-HTP is an effective remedy for depression. 5-HTP often produces very good results in patients who do not respond to normal antidepressant medicines.
One of the most impressive clinical trials was performed on 90 patients who suffered a depression that resisted treatment.
These patients did not respond to previous treatments, including all the antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy. These patients were given an average of 200mg of 5-HTP daily, ranging from 50 to 600mg per day.
Of all the studied patients, 43 of the 99 of them were completely cured, another 8 of them showed a significant improvement. The response of patients who have suffered from this disease for a long time was impressive to the extent that the researchers stated that:
5-HTP has gained a first place among the antidepressants that are used as a last resort.
In the last 20 years it has been proven that no medicine:
1. Acts as fast as 5-HTP
2. Transforms the patient into a completely new person, and allows them to recover their relationship to people like 5-HTP.
3. It is completely safe, without any side effects.
Are there any studies that have directly compared 5-HTP with antidepressants?
Yes, there are. 5-HTP is equal or better than normal antidepressants and the side effects are a lot less severe. The most significant study compared 5-HTP with fluvoxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
The studied subjects were given 5-HTP (100mg) or fluvoxamine (50mg) times a day for six weeks. The group that was given 5-HTP had a reduction of the depression reduction of a 60.7% versus the 56.1% of those who were given fluvoxamine.
The percentage was slightly higher in the 5-HTP group (60.7% vs 56.1%). The response of the patients that received 5-HTP was also faster than that of the patients that received fluvoxamine.
The real advantage of 5-HTP in this study was the low side effects. The differences between both groups were:
Although the number of patients that suffered side effects did not differ largely in both treatment groups, the relation between severity and the type of treatment received was significant: Fluvoxamine presented moderate to severe side effects, while 5-HTP presented minor side effects.
The most common side effect of 5-HTP were nausea, heartburn, and gastrointestinal problems (swelling and satiety). These side effects were classified as minor. In contrast, most of the side effects of the fluvoxamine group were described as moderate or severe.
Due to the fact that people who suffer from chronic headaches usually have low levels of serotonin, many researchers refer to migraines and chronic headaches as a “low serotonin syndrome”.
Several clinical trials have studied the effects of 5-HTP on headaches (both migraines and tension headaches), and the results were excellent. In particular, the use of 5-HTP for the prevention migraine offers significant advantages when compared to the pharmacological treatment.
Even though there is a wide range of drugs that are useful for the treatment of migraines, all of them produce side effects, while 5-HTP is a lot safer.
The dose of 5-HTP for mental disorders, fat loss, headaches, and chronic muscle pain should start at 50mg, three times a day.
If you do not experience any side effects after two weeks, the dose can be increased to 100mg, three times a day.
Since 5-HTP has a different transmission method than L-tryptophan, it can be taken during the meals.
How to take 5-HTP
- If you want to take 5-HTP for weight loss, you can take it 20 minutes before the meals.
- If you want to take 5-HTP against insomnia, it is advisable to take between 100 to 300mg about 30-45 minutes before going to bed.
- You should start with the lowest dose, at least for three days, before increasing it.
The effects of 5-HTP
5-HTP is a safe and natural supplement and a great alternative to medications to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.
5-HTP (L-5-hydroxytryptophan) directly restores the serotonin levels when it is absorbed by the bloodstream. It crosses the blood-brain barrier easily and produces an optimal balance of serotonin in the brain.
5-HTP has proven to be more effective than L-tryptophan since, chemically speaking, it is closer to serotonin. However, there are also people for who L-tryptophan works better than 5-HTP.
The effects of 5-HTP and tryptophan are different in each person.
For this reason, nutritionists advise testing one of them and switching to the other if the desired effect is not achieved.
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is completely essential for the correct functioning of our brain and body. A neurotransmitter is a natural substance from our body that transports vital signals between cells. A serotonin deficiency will result in these signals not transmitting correctly.
Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter because it regulates the activity of many other essential components of the brain. Low levels of serotonin have serious negative effects, producing diseases that go from depression to fibromyalgia or sleeping problems.
The main function of serotonin is to help with the regulation of the bowel movements of the digestive system. Serotonin is also used in the central nervous system and it plays a very important role in the response to pain.
5-HTP and serotonin
Serotonin affects functions like the mood, appetite, sleep, anxiety, etc. This is why 5-HTPtyrosin is used to treat depression, a lack of appetite, combat a low self-steem…
Serotonin is synthesized from the L-tryptophan amino acid, which is found in proteins. L-tryptophan transforms into 5-HTP and then into serotonin in the gastrointestinal tract thanks to vitamin B6.
We need a proper amount of vitamin B6 to produce serotonin. There are many tryptophan sources that also contain vitamin B6.
Serotonin could also be used to treat diseases that involved chronic pain since it also has a positive effect on the mood. Low serotonin levels can cause irritability and depression.
Sources of serotonin
One of the ways of increasing the seronin levels is to consume foods with a high percentage of vitamin B6 and L-tryptophan. These sources include cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, walnuts, peanut butter, soy, and turkey. Another way would be to use 5-HTP and vitamin B6 supplementation. This will help your body to produce more serotonin and to control the pain.
An important source of this element are the Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds
5-HTP could reinvent the future treatment of mental and physical diseases related to serotonin. It has been used effectively in Europe for decades.
This is merely information and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a disease. In any case, you should consult a doctor for a diagnosis or treatment. This information cannot replace the advice of a professional doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose a health problem or illness without consulting your doctor. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
5-HTP and Insomnia
Do you suffer insomnia? Do you have problems to fall asleep? Do you have trouble sleeping throughout the night? Do you wake up in the morning feeling drowsy and exhausted?
If so, you are not the only one. In fact, one out of three people suffers from insomnia or have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep all night.
Can 5-HTP help to fight insomnia?
There are many people who can answer this question with a clear “yes”.
5-HTP improves sleep naturally
This is the reason: Sleep is divided into several cycles. A normal sleep pattern includes between four and seven cycles, which are distributed throughout the night. Each cycle consists on two main parts.
The first part involves a decreased brain activity and a lower consciousness. At this stage we are not dreaming. The second phase of the cycle is called REM sleep, and it is the phase in which dreams happen.
The studies have shown that 5-HTP improves the quality of sleep, prolongs the REM phase, and provides a deeper sleep, but does it not alter the total sleep time.
5-HTP helps to “reduce the irregularities in sleep patterns” and encourages a deeper and more restful sleep
On the other hand, medicines disrupt REM sleep and deep non-REM sleep, causing a shallow dream that provides very little benefits.
5-HTP improves the REM phase and deep sleep and increases the serotonin levels, which are the fuel the brain needs to regulate the sleep activity.
If you are taking prescribed medicines for more than four weeks, you should not stop suddenly. Talk to your doctor about how to stop taking the medications gradually to minimize or avoid potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
The ability of 5-HTP to improve sleep includes regulating melatonin, a hormone that many people take to be able to sleep. But 5-HTP has proven to be much more effective in producing a restful sleep, since it promotes the release of melatonin by the pineal gland in the brain.
This is why taking 5-HTP enhances the natural production of melatonin in the body without causing daytime drowsiness.
Studies confirm the positive effect of 5-HTP to induce sleep
The positive effects of 5-HTP to fight sleep problems were first discovered in studies conducted by Dr. Richard J. Wyatt of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and Dr. Vincent Zarcone of Stanford University in the 1970s. These trials showed that 5-HTP affects the duration of REM sleep, depending on the dose used for each case.
The serotonin neurotransmitter is crucial to fall asleep and to stay asleep.
5-HTP directly stimulates the production of serotonin, encouraging a high quality and relaxing sleep, which allows us to wake up in the morning completely rested and fresh, with strength to face the challenges of a new day.
5-HTP and depression
Everyone feels down at some point. But if this state of mind is prolonged for more than two weeks or interferes in your daily activities, it can be more serious than that: a depression.
Here, you can find the diagnostic criteria for this disease, according to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders”, forth edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington D.C., 1994.
Diagnostic criteria for depression A and A2:
At least one of the following three abnormal states of mind must occur, which deeply affect the person’s life:
- Abnormal depressive mood for most of the day, almost every day, for at least two weeks.
- Loss of interest and pleasure most of the day, almost every day for at least 2 weeks.
- In individuals of 18 years of age or below: abnormal irritable mood for most of the day, almost every day, for at least two weeks.
If at least five of the following symptoms have occurred during the two-week depressive phase:
- Depressive abnormal mood (or irritable mood, if it is an adolescent), as defined in the previous diagnostic criterion A.
- Abnormal loss of interest and pleasure, as defined in criterion A2.
- Appetite or weight problems, either: abnormal weight loss (no diet) or loss of appetite; As well as abnormal weight gain or an abnormal increase of appetite.
- Abnormal sleep disorders: insomnia or hypersomnia.
- Movement disorders, awkward or abnormal movements or abnormal deceleration (observable by others).
- Fatigue or abnormal loss of energy.
- Feeling of abnormal or inappropriate guilt.
- Abnormal lack of concentration or decision.
- Morbid thoughts about death (not just fear of death) or suicide.
Note: This list of criteria is only information and it is not intended to diagnose any disease. For a proper diagnosis, contact a mental health specialist.
Depression is not an imaginary thing. It does not respond to any personal weakness and it cannot be cured by self-will, in the same way that a heart disease or diabetes cannot be cured through positive thinking. It is a real disease, caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The good news is that there is help available to treat it.
A great advance in its treatment was the development of SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). These anti-depressants work by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain, which are too low when suffering depression.
However, there is a natural alternative to SSRI which can also increase the levels of serotonin in the brain: 5-HTP supplements (L-5-Hydroxytryptophan). 5-HTP easily penetrates the brain where it is transformed into serotonin.
Many clinical trials confirm the effects of 5-HTP on increasing serotonin levels.
Since the 1970s at least 15 studies performed on 511 subjects have assessed the clinical effects of 5-HTP on depression. The results of these studies have shown a significant improvement in 56% of the tested subjects.
One of these studies tested the effectiveness of 5-HTP as an antidepressant. It was performed on 59 patients that were given 150 – 300mg of 5-HTP daily. The result was impressive: 40 of these patients (that is a 68%) showed a positive reaction in just a week.
In 1991, a study carried out on 36 individuals compared the effects of 5-HTP with a SSRI. One group received 5-HTP and the other a SSRI. After six weeks, both groups showed approximately the same success rate.
When the results were added up at the end of the trial, the success percentage was slightly higher for those patients that took 5-HTP.
The side effects of 5-HTP were mild and they generally disappeared in a few days. 5-HTP was better tolerated than the SSRI. The assessed 5-HTP tolerance in 95% of the patients was good or very good.
Some researchers discovered that the beneficial effects of 5-HTP as an antidepressant increased when combined with L-tyrosine.
However, it is not advisable to interrupt a medication without previously consulting your doctor.
If you suspect that you suffer depression and you are not improving with medicines like fluoxetine, taking 5-HTP may be the alternative that you were looking for.
5-HTP for headaches and migraines
We all have headaches from time to time. However, some people experience a higher intensity and frequency to the point that it ends up affecting their quality of life. Many analgesics only produce a minimal relief and, in fact, can worsen the problem.
As with fibromyalgia, persistent headaches can be caused by low serotonin levels. 5-HTP increases the serotonin levels and thus, corrects the biochemical deficiency that may be triggering the headache.
Approximately 45 million Americans suffer chronic and recurring headaches. Between 16 and 18 million of them suffer migraines. Headaches cause an annual loss of 50 billion dollars.
Many people suffer an intense, chronic, and debilitating headache. However, this can be prevented.
There are two types of headaches: vascular and non-vascular
Vascular headaches are caused by an excessive dilation of the blood vessels in the head. It is the result of the blood that is pumped with each heartbeat through these blood vessels. Migraine is one of the forms of vascular headache.
The good news is that serotonin narrows the blood vessels and reduces the discomfort. The effects of 5-HTP on serotonin make it an excellent ally to prevent these types of headaches.
It has been discovered that when the serotonin levels are higher, there is less discomfort.
The reason for this is that 5-HTP increases the amount of endorphins. Endorphins are chemically related to morphine, the body’s natural pain relievers.
There is increasing evidence that 5-HTP can increase the endorphin levels, since serotonin regulates the production and release of endorphins.
Clinical studies showed a significant improvement of 71% of the patients suffering headaches
A study about the effect of 5-HTP on headaches performed on 124 people who suffered from migraine showed that a 71% of these people experienced a significant improvement after taking 5-HTP.
Researchers form the Institute of Pain Research and its treatment at the University of Milan found that between 77.4% and 93.5% of the patients suffering from chronic daily headaches, experienced an improvement when taking 5-HTP. The trial lasted two months and the results improved constantly since the studied subjects took 5-HTP.
Advice to relieve the headaches caused by the diet and lifestyle:
- Follow a healthy diet (whole grains, green-leaf vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds).
- Remove sugar, alcohol, and caffeine from the diet.
- Identify and control food allergies.
- Exercise regularly.
- Perform daily relaxation exercises from ten to fifteen minutes (deep breathing, meditation, prayer, visualization, etc.)
- Drink at least 1.5 liters of water daily
- Avoid foods and drinks that contain histamine (like chocolate, cheese, wine, and beer), since histamine can cause migraines.
Recommended use of 5-HTP to treat headaches:
Take between 100 and 200mg of 5-HTP three times a day. The improvement can be observed after several months.
5-HTP makes no miracles and it will not work in the same way for everyone, but it does work in most of the cases.
If you suffer from chronic headaches, you should consider the choice of trying a natural 5-HTP supplement.
5-HTP and fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia produces pain, fatigue, morning stiffness, and sleep disorders. It is a constant and general pain that limits the person’s normal functioning.
It generally affects the neck, shoulders, back, hips, ankles, elbows or knees, and it is usually worse in the morning.
Fibromyalgia is associated with low serotonin levels
IIncreasing serotonin levels could have a direct effect on the reduction and transmission of pain signals as it has been assessed in a study on this disease and migraines. When there is a higher level of serotonin we can cope with pain better.
The fact that 5-HTP affects endorphin levels supports this theory. Endorphins are chemicals that are related to morphine, which is considered the body’s natural pain killer.
5-HTP can increase the endorphin levels by increasing the serotonin levels that regulate the production and release of endorphins.
Diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia
To diagnose fibromyalgia the patient must meet three of the main criteria, as well as four or more minor criteria.
- General pain or stiffness in at least three anatomical areas, that lasts for at least three months.
- Six or more points of typical persistent sensitivity.
- Discard other diseases that may cause similar symptoms.
- General exhaustion.
- Chronic headache.
- Sleep disorders.
- Neurological and psychological disorders.
- Joint swelling.
- Numbness or tingling.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Several symptoms related to activity and stress.
Studies that prove the decrease of pain when taking 5-HTP
A 90-day clinical trial found that 5-HTP reduced the symptoms of fibromyalgia in 50 patients. The anxiety, the sensitivity points, the intensity of the pain and the exhaustion were relieved; along with a significant improvement of the quality of sleep.
Another study reported similar results in reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. (Sarzi, Caruso, et al., 1992; Caruso, Sarzi, et al. 1990)
In the 4th stage of fibromyalgia exhaustion is caused by lack of sleep. People who suffer from this disease tend to lack the stages of deep sleep and spend the night in the first stage of the sleep cycle. (Harding, et al., 1998)
5-HTP helps patients with this condition to improve the quality of their sleep. (Juhl, 1998)
Combininh 5-HTP (100 mg) with St John’s wort extract (300 mg) and magnesium (200 to 250 mg) three times a day worked better than each product separately.
Note: The maximum benefit can usually be observed after four weeks of continuous treatment.
The discomfort suffered by patients with fibromyalgia is unimaginable. There are real reasons that explain that it is due to low levels of serotonin. The good news is – and there are already many people who have tested it – that 5-HTP precisely deals with this cause and provides pain relief.
5-HTP and weight loss
One of the biggest obstacles for successful weight loss diets is the tendency to suffer anxiety after following the diet. This is where 5-HTP comes into play.
It has been shown that the desire to eat carbohydrates and food cravings are due to the low serotonin levels. Therefore, increasing the serotonin levels in the brain can contribute to the success of a weight loss diet.
5-HTP is a direct stimulator of the production of serotonin, which means that it is transformed into serotonin in the body.
5-HTP encourages an optimal balance of serotonin in the brain in a similar way to other prescription weight loss products.
The results of the clinical trials prove the success of 5-HTP
Multiple scientifically controlled clinical trials have shown that 5-HTP proves to be very effective for weight loss diets.
A study carried out by the University of Rome assessed the effects of 5-HTP (300mg) on the eating habits and diet in 20 obese women.
The study period was divided into two phases of six weeks. For the first six weeks, the participants took 5-HTP or placebo, without restrictions. In the second period of six weeks, the participants followed a diet of 1200 calories a day, while still taking 5-HTP or placebo.
The participants of the group that took the placebo did not experience a significant loss of weight at the end of the two periods, while those who took 5-HTP did experience a significant weight loss in the first and second period.
The second group did not even reduce their calorie supply, not even in the second period, when the calories consumption should have been reduced.
However, the group that took 5-HTP showed a spontaneous and significant reduction of foods and calories (from 3220 to 1879 calories a day) in the first period, which means that the intake of carbohydrates decreased in a 50%!
In the second period, the calorie intake of those who were given 5-HTP dropped even further, to 1268 calories a day, with even a lower consumption of carbohydrates.
The researchers read these results as a confirmation of the theory that 5-HTP reduces the anxiety for eating carbohydrates and stops our food cravings, even in those people who do not follow any sort of diet.
How to take 5-HTP during a diet?
It is advisable to take 5-HTP 20 minutes before each meal, since it acts as a natural appetite suppressor and reduces the craving for carbohydrates.
- It is advisable to start with 100mg three times a day.
- If after 4 weeks the desired results havenot been achieved, the dose can be increased to 200mg three times a day.
A dose of 300mg three times a day can be bearable, however, you must never exceed 900mg. You may experience mild nausea with higher doses, although it is generally transient.
Side effects of 5-HTP
Generally, 5-HTP is tolerated very well. It rarely produces mild side effects, and nausea is the most common one. However, high levels of 5-HTP should be avoided because they can produce extremely high serotonin levels, which can have a negative impact.
5-HTP is tolerated better than the SSRI medications.
Possible side effects of SSRI medications:
- Sleeping problems
- Mouth dryness
- Sight difficulties
Important tips about taking 5-HTP
5-HTP should not be taken with antidepressants unless the consumption is supervised by a physician or doctor, because 5-HTP can increase the activity of these medications.
You should avoid taking 5-HTP if you are pregnant, breastfeeding a baby, or if you have a serious cardiovascular disease.
High 5-HTP doses can increase the serotonin levels in blood, which can cause temporary nausea. You must never take more than 900mg of 5-HTP per day.
Like any nutritional supplement, it can be overused or abused. 5-HTP has proven to be a safe and effective nutritional supplement as long as it is used in reasonable amounts.
5-HTP Studies and References
These is some of the most relevant research that has been carried out on 5-HTP dietary supplements,:
- Birdsall TC. 5-hydroxytryptophan: A clinically efficient serotonin precursor. Altern Med Rev 1998; 3:271-80.
- Byerley WF, Judd LL, Reimherr FW, Grosser BI 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a review of its antidepressant efficacy and adverse effects. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1987; 7:127-37.
- Boer JA, Westenberg HG. Behavioral, neuroendocrine and biochemical effects of the administration of 5-hydroxytryptophan in panic disorders. Psiquiatría Res 1990; 31:267-78.
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