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5HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)- 5htp side effects, dosage and benefits


What is 5HTP?

5 Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and tryptophan are so-called natural alternatives to traditional antidepressants, used to treat unipolar depression and dysthymia.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin. 5-HTP is not present in significant amounts in a typical diet. The human body manufactures 5-HTP from L-tryptophan, a natural amino acid found in most dietary proteins.

Serotonin is a compound found in the body and concentrated especially in the brain.  This neurotransmitter is responsible for regulation of mood and behavior.  Having adequate levels of serotonin can help in feeling calm and relaxed;  having too little sometimes leads to irritability and uneasiness.

There are a few side effects that may last up to four to six weeks. These are rare side effects and are not associated with each person that supplements their diet with 5-HTP. The side effects include mild nausea, heartburn, flatulence, feelings of fullness, and rumbling sensations.

Who is likely to be deficient?

Disruptions in emotional well-being, including depression and anxiety, have been linked to serotonin imbalances in the brain. People with fibromyalgia often have low serotonin levels in their blood. Supplements of 5-HTP may increase serotonin synthesis in these cases. The cause of migraine headaches is related to abnormal serotonin function in blood vessels and 5-HTP may help correct this abnormality. Insomnia has been associated with tryptophan deficiency in the tissues of the brain; therefore, 5-HTP may provide a remedy for this condition.

5HTP features

5HTP and its benefit in Insomnia

5-HTP may prove to be better than melatonin. Several clinical studies have shown 5-HTP to produce good results in promoting and maintaining sleep in normal subjects as well as those experiencing insomnia (11-14). One of the key benefits with 5-HTP in the treatment of insomnia is its ability to increase sleep quality.

5HTP and its effects in depression

In fact, there is excellent documentation that 5-HTP is an effective antidepressant agent. 5-HTP often produces very good results in patients who are unresponsive to standard antidepressant drugs.

Because chronic headache sufferers have low levels of serotonin in their tissues, some researchers refer to migraine and chronic headaches as a "low serotonin syndrome" (15). There have been several clinical studies with 5-HTP in headaches, both migraine and tension headaches, that have showed excellent results (15-20). In particular, the use of 5-HTP in the prevention of migraine headache offers considerable advantages over drug therapy.

Dosage for 5-HTP

Recommended dosage for 5-HTP is to take one tablet in the evening on an empty stomach, it is better absorbed into the body on an empty stomach.

Research conclusions and further studies on 5-HTP and tryptophan

A large number of studies appear to address the research questions, but few are of sufficient quality to be reliable. Available evidence does suggest these substances are better than placebo at alleviating depression. Further studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 5-HTP and tryptophan before their widespread use can be recommended. The possible association between these substances and the potentially fatal Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome has not been elucidated. Because alternative antidepresants exist which have been proven to be effective and safe the clinical usefulness of 5-HTP and tryptophan is limited at present.

Few days back i started taking 5htp but no results. But i heard that 5htp often successful in treating patients who showed no response to antidepressants. - Iris

It's strange, but I found that with time, my body is responding to lower levels of 5-htp. That is, when I first started taking it I needed 200-300 mg daily. However, after a while, Istarted feeling "dopey" so i cut my dosage. Now I'm down to 100mg once every three or four days with no discernible decrease in efficacy - I'm not relapsing into depression or losing sleep. Is it possible that 5-htp is self-weaning? sean

"I am very much impressed with the Information provided by you on the web. This is very useful and valuable information for persons who have more faith on alternative treatments. Thank you for your web site Information. It is a Great help !!, Rajesh

I am currently taking Lexapro 10mg for my depression and anxiety but would like to stop and try an alternative option because although the Lexapro has helped me alot, I have experienced weight gain and orgasm delay problems with this med. Would be interested in anyone who has benefited from taking 5htp after stopping traditional antidepressants? -susan

I tried Zoloft and Lamictal and some other meds too but the best thing that has helped me has been 5-htp. I am much happier on it. - Kasia

I started taking 5HTP in lieu of allopathic anti-depressants & found it amazing - depression gone, sleep like a babe, no mood swings, zero side effects. Experience taught that the initial dosage should be the max indicated (till symptoms cease), quality of the product affects efficacy, and it should also be taken exactly as prescribed (2 hours before or after meals). Thanx for an informative site! - Christa

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