Psychology 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)


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  • Information on 5-HTP

5-HTP is a compound synthesized in the body from the amino acid Tryptophan and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin that gives you a feeling of well-being. Some Tryptophan is converted into protein, some into niacin (vitamin B3), and some are absorbed in the brain to become the neurotransmitter serotonin. Symptoms of low serotonin levels include ADHD, irritability, depression, aggression, anxiety, lack of concentration, chronic pain, restlessness or fatigue, nausea, obsessive-compulsive disorder, weight gain or loss, fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, heat intolerance, and other syndromes. Fluctuating serotonin levels are also connected with bipolar disorder (manic depression) and hypomania. Although our bodies create serotonin, when serotonin levels are low depression can set in, and taking a 5-HTP supplement regularly can help to bring about a feeling of calm and well-being. 5-HTP works by increasing the amount of serotonin produced in the brain, the same way antidepressant drugs such as Prozac work.

  • Does 5-HTP really work for Depression?

Studies have shown that when 100mg of 5-HTP is taken three times a day for an extended period, 50 percent of depressed patients reported an improvement in their moods. A well-known study undertaken in 1984 by Costa and Greengard, reported in the medical journal, Advances in Biochemical Psychopharmacology showed a drop in depression of close to 50 percent in both unipolar and bipolar patients. The dosage, 200 mg of 5-HTP, was ingested orally. In a later study, when 5-HTP was combined with the antidepressant Anafranil, even more, positive results were obtained.

A double-blind study in Switzerland, by Dr. W. Poldinger, found that patients with depression who took 100 mg of 5-HTP for six weeks showed a great improvement. And in the treatment of panic attacks, researcher R.S Kahn has observed significant improvement when 5-HTP was taken, but there appears to be no evidence that 5-HTP lowers the occurrence or duration of panic attacks.

A study comparing 5-HTP to the antidepressant drug fluvoxamine, using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and a self-assessment scale to gauge effectiveness, found 5-HTP to be equally as effective as fluvoxamine. Both scales showed a gradual reduction in depressive symptoms over time with both medications. And when a review of the research literature on 5-HTP was presented in Neuropsychobiology, of the 17 reviewed studies, 13 verified that 5-HTP has genuine antidepressant properties.


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