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Online Wellness Community Natural Health and Anti-Aging News
Online Wellness Community Natural Health and Anti-Aging News



5-hydroxytryptophan amino acid, also known as oxitriptan, is a natural plant extract that helps increase serotonin depleted by stress. 5-HTP aids good sleep, improves mood, calms anxiety, reduces pms, helps with fibromyalgia, headaches and may help control appetite. 5-HTP is derived from south african seed griffonia plant. More than 300mg daily could have contraindications especially if on antidepressants. 5-HTP is sold over the counter in the US and Canada as a dietary supplement for antidepression, appetite control and as a metabolic intermediary to increase the biosynthesis of the brain nuerotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. Studies support 5-HTP helps brain production of serotonin, helps combat depression and insomnia, helps stabilizes moods, helps child hyperactivity, may enhance growth hormone release, and even may reduce effects of nicotine.

L-tryptophan, an amino acid, is the metabolic precursor of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters used by the brain to carry information from one part of the nervous system to another. Serotonin has general sedative effects. In theory, raising the level of L-tryptophan in the brain will cause increased production of serotonin and natural sedation.

L-tryptophan supplements were once popular as sleep aids, but in 1991 the FDA banned their sale in the United States after a contaminated batch from a Japanese manufacturer was linked to at least 37 deaths from eosinophilia myalgia syndrome, a rare and painful disease. The supplement again became available in 2002.

Absent direction from a qualified health expert, we do not believe in using any sleeping aids, natural or not, on a regular basis, but for occasional use, there may be some better options than L-tryptophan:

  • The herbal sedative valerian. Take one to two capsules of a product standardized to 1 percent valerenic acid a half hour before bedtime.
  • Melatonin: This is a neurotransmitter that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. Try sublingual tablets (to be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve); take 2.5 mg at bedtime as an occasional dose, making sure that your bedroom is completely dark.
  • For a complete list and excellent article by our research team, click here.

The following measures have been shown to aid in reducing stress and improving sleep:

  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine and other stimulants
  • Get at least 45 minutes of aerobic interval exercise daily
  • Take a relaxing hot bath or drink hot herbal tea before bedtime
  • Practice daily breathing exercises.

More Tryptophan Information:

5-HTP is an intermediate in the natural conversion of the essential amino acid, tryptophan to serotonin. Clinical studies have shown 5-HTP increases the amount and availability of serotonin. Tryptophan is found in high levels in turkey and is associated with sleepiness after eating turkey. Serotonin, an important neurotransmitter responsible for anti-depression and feelings of well-being, is often inadequately produced or the associated receptor sites damaged from stress, trauma or “weak” genetics. Brain serotonin is often also depleted with aging leading to depression. Prozac-like drugs are often prescribed to help relieve this age-related serotonin-dependent depression. However, without adequate 5-hydroxy tryptophan supplementation, Prozac-like drugs may actually damage associated neurotransmitter receptor sites over time.

For sleep and stress relief supplement products  in our member shop [CLICK HERE]. For general brain performance products [CLICK HERE].

5HTP Practitioner Pointers:

Interactions: Patients using SSRIs for depression and mood problems should not use 5HTP without close supervision.

Chemistry: Within the human body the amino acid L-tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP. Subsequently, 5-HTP is converted into serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5HT), which plays a crucial role in healthy nerve and brain function.

Therapeutics: Depression, chronic fatigue, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, insomnia, migraine headaches, obesity.

Dosages: 300-600 mg per day, in divided doses, with possible increased dose before bedtime; often only taken before bedtime to enhance sleep. Doses of 100 to 200 mg per day may be effective for many individuals, while clinical trials have used daily doses as high as 900 mg per day.

Side Affect Concerns: Individuals taking higher doses of 5-HTP have reported anxiety, digestive upset, headache, lethargy, and muscle pain, with gastrointestinal symptoms being the most common.

Toxicity: Serotonin syndrome could result from use of excessive levels of 5-HTP, especially in combination with medications, herbs or other supplements that alter serotonin levels. Some individuals with compromised liver function might not be able to regulate 5-HTP properly and require close medical supervision. Further, there have been reports of contaminants in some commercially available sources of 5-HTP which may be associated with symptoms similar to eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS).

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