5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin. 5-Hydroxytryptophan is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP is an amino acid that is a direct precursor of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter having pain relaxing and soothing effects. Eating food that contains L-tryptophan does not significantly increase its levels.
5-HTP and Serotonin
It is the precursor to serotonin. It improves mood, anxiety and is beneficial in weight loss. 5-Hydroxytryptophan is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin. There is a massive amount of evidence that suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living. The lifestyle and dietary practices of many people living in this stress-filled era result in lowered serotonin levels within the brain.
5-HTP and Carb Cravings
Taking its single supplement half an hour before a meal can” turn off” cravings and hunger pangs by feeding the brain’s carbohydrate satiety. In this way, it can be a great asset as part of a weight-loss regime.
5-HTP and Addiction
The use of many addictive substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and certain narcotics, elevates serotonin levels. When these substances are not there, serotonin levels drop drastically, causing anxiety and cravings. It can stabilize serotonin levels and help minimize the symptoms of withdrawal.
5-HTP and PMS
PMS sufferers report pain relief, as well as decreased irritability and mood swings from using 5-HTP. The supplement works by countering the hormone-induced decrease in serotonin levels that occur naturally during menstruation.
5-HTP and Sleep
Because of its calming effect, many rely on 5-HTP to alleviate stress attacks and encourage restful sleep. Unlike sedative drugs, it is not associated with unwanted side effects, such as disturbed sleep patterns or grogginess. You can take it regularly for one hour before retiring as a remedy for insomnia.
Very high intakes have caused muscle jerks in guinea pigs and muscle jerks and diarrhea in mice. Injected one has also caused kidney damage in rats. To date, these problems have not been reported in humans. “Serotonin syndrome,” an uncommon but serious condition caused by excessive amounts of serotonin, has not been reported to result from supplementation with 5-HTP; in theory, you can trigger it by the supplement. However, the level of intake at which this toxic effect might potentially occur remains unknown.
It should not be taken with antidepressants, weight-control drugs, other serotonin-modifying agents, or substances known to cause liver damage, because in these cases, it may have excessive effects. People with liver disease may not be able to regulate it adequately, and those suffering from autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma may be more sensitive than others to 5-HTP.
Conditions with low serotonin levels helped by 5-HTP:
- Carbohydrate craving
- Sleep apnea
- Migraine headaches
- Tension headaches
- Chronic daily headaches
- Premenstrual syndrome