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In the body, (5-hydroxytryptophan), is synthesized from tryptophan and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is found in the brain, blood platelets, and cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Since serotonin is found in the brain and central nervous system it has many implications in cognition, mental health, and sleep patterns*. Supplementation of 5-HTP has shown a distinct ability to increase serotonin levels*. Since the FDA restricts the availability of tryptophan, many research scientists have discovered that 5-HTP compares favorably in modulating serotonin levels. 5-HTP has been studied and shown to be of benefit in the following conditions: primary fibromyalgia syndrome, Friedreich's ataxia, depression, anxiety, binge eating associated with obesity, and insomnia.
How Does HTP Work?
The body makes 5-HTP naturally from tryptophan and, then, converts it into serotonin. This neurotransmitter has many powerful effects on the brain. Not only does it improve mood, it also suppresses hunger and helps to curb weight gain.
Physicians suggest taking a 5-HTP supplement instead of a serotonin supplement because 5-HTP can access the brain from the bloodstream, while serotonin cannot. In order to access the brain, chemicals and compounds will have to access the blood brain barrier, which grants access to the brain. Therefore, you would need to take a supplement that can cross that barrier, like 5-HTP, in order to increase serotonin levels in the brain.
As serotonin levels increase your hunger diminishes and you feel satiated faster without feeling the need to restrict your food intake. One study found that women ate fewer carbs without even trying.
Would It Work for Me?
5-HTP has been studied for over 30 years. Several clinical trials have shown that it works to lower the number of calories eaten and aids in weight loss. One study compared overweight women who took 200 mg of 5-HTP before each meal to those who took a placebo. The women who took the supplement ate 1,084 fewer calories per day and felt less hungry during the day. In another study, women who took 5-HTP lost 10.3 pounds over 12 weeks, compared to 2.2 pounds in the placebo group.
Experts and researchers agree that 5-HTP works best for those who constantly crave food around the clock – especially carbs.
Is 5-HTP Safe?
Because it’s a naturally occurring compound in the body, 5-HTP is mostly safe for short-term use (up to 12 weeks). However, those with existing gastrointestinal problems should be cautious and speak to a physician, as there are reports of gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Also, avoid taking this supplement if you’re already taking antidepressants (such as a SSRI or MAOI) or are seeing a mental health specialist for severe depression or bipolar disorder. 5-HTP has been known in increase suicidal ideation.
What are the Benefits?
Significantly Decreased Appetite
Increase in Serotonin levels (good for emotional eaters)
Improves sleeping patterns
Decrease in Carb intake
Helps support healthy weight loss
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use 5-HTP.
Keep out of reach of children. Not intended for persons under 18 years of age. Do not use if you are pregnant or nursing or at risk of or being treated for high blood pressure and heart disease.