If there's three Big Bads of the health industry, it's weight gain, depression and stress. There's still no drug that can magic all of them away but there may be a supplement that can help you combat one, two or all of these. I'm talking about 5-HTP
5-HTP, which stands for 5-Hydrotryptophan, is a product that the body makes after consuming tryptophan (the one blamed for being sleepy after too much turkey). The molecules are basically the building blocks of serotonin, your happy hormone. If you're familiar with these chemicals, you may see where this is going but if you can't, it's okay. Serotonin is usually connected to feelings of joy or at least to our mood and researched for its role in depression.
So taking 5-HTP may help increase levels of serotonin and therefore your mood. Fun, right? Let's look at the facts.
Can I Get 5-HTP Naturally?
Tryptophan can be found in food (like turkey, gobble gobble), but many sources like the University of Maryland Medical Center
say that does little to increase the natural production of 5-HTP in our bodies. Supplements of this chemical are made from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia
, an African plant.
What Can I Take It For?
-- As stated above, 5-HTP helps boost serotonin levels like certain antidepressants and in a study
published in Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, it was found just as effect as prescriptions.
Appetite and Obesity
-- According to this study
from the University of Rome, this supplement helped reduce appetite in adults. That same university did other studies and found that 5-HTP reduced intake
of carbohydrates and had similar results
for those with non-insulin dependent diabetes.
-- This one gets a little abstract. A lack of 5-HTP has been researched as a trigger for panic and anxiety as seen in this study
from the Institute of Psychiatry in London. What's more, this study
from the Institute of Brain and Behavior and others like it were able to prevent panic attacks when actively provoking one (compared to placebo). While these don't necessarily mean natural panic and anxiety attacks can be treated or prevented by a regular 5-HTP treatment, there is a general idea that it would be helpful.
-- A university in Portugal did a study
of the effects of 5-HTP on chronic headaches and their symptoms and found significant decrease over 8 weeks. Several studies (like this one
from Japan and this one
from the Netherlands) found a decrease in 5-HTP levels in those suffering from migraines during attacks. More research is needed to know for sure if a 5-HTP supplement will help stop or prevent migraines but it is a positive sign.
Side Effects and Interactions
While there aren't many significant side effects of this supplement that aren't common to most supplements, there are a few precautions to note before you start taking it.
Like many dietary supplements, 5-HTP isn't reviewed by the FDA for any of the above uses.Side effects are usually mild and include nausea, heartburn, gas and feelings of fullness.The most significant danger is an overdose of 5-HTP which may cause serotonin symptom, or too much serotonin. It's important to take the recommended doses and see a doctor before starting a high dose.This supplement doesn't interact well with medications like SSRIs (for depression), fibromyaligia treatments like Tramadol and certain chemicals in cough syrups. These can cause serotonin levels to increase to dangerous levels.Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women or anyone with liver disease shouldn't take 5-HTP.
Depending on your reasons for taking 5-HTP, you could be looking for a lower or higher dose.
For appetite control, smaller doses like 50 mg up to three times a day just before a meal is enough to help you feel more satisfied and full.For depression and anxiety, a higher dose like 150-300 mg daily may be needed. Talk to your doctor about higher dosage and depression treatment.
It's important to speak to a medical professional before adding a supplement into your diet, especially if you're using it for depression but also for appetite control. The effectiveness of this supplement hasn't been widely proven and every person is different and reacts differently to biochemical supplements.
What Do You Think?
Whether you're an old user of 5-HTP
or thinking of trying, let us know on our Facebook
! We love to hear what our customers are interested in knowing about so feel free to suggest a supplement for the next blog article! And as always, check in soon for more tips and tricks on living healthy!