Last Updated June 24th, 2019
What is 5-htp?
5-htp is a supplement that is extracted from the plant Griffonia simplicifoli. It is an amino acid, which helps in the production of serotonin and melatonin hormones. Serotonin is produced from the synthesis of tryptophan hydroxylase and 5-htp. Serotonin hormone is known as a neurotransmitter.
Serotonin is considered to improve the mood and cognition of a person and is very essential in managing sleeping patterns, anxiety disorder, depression, memory, etc. If there are low levels of serotonin, it affects the neurotransmission process, which directly affects various neurological functions.
5-htp is consumed as a supplement to treat many psychological problems including sleep disorders, migraine headache, anxiety, depression, etc. Other uses of 5-htp include fibromyalgia, obesity, premenstrual syndrome, seizure disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson disease, etc.
How can 5-htp be useful for you?
Some of the important health benefits associated with 5-HTP are discussed below.
It is a medical condition which is caused by psychological stress. Stress leads to depression and may lead to isolation from social encounters. Studies have indicated that low levels of serotonin in the brain may lead to chronic depression. 5-htp is helpful to increase the levels of serotonin and promote adequate neurotransmission. This helps in the reduction of depression symptoms and the affected person may cope better in such situations.
Reduces anxiety attacks
It is a psychiatric disorder where a person is anticipating a stress situation accompanied by fear. Studies have shown that 5-htp is helpful in reducing the effects of anxiety and panic attack by inducing more serotonin into the brain. Serotonin promotes a soothing effect on the brain. This helps in promoting better relaxation in the brain. Studies have indicated that people suffering from anxiety attacks generally have low levels of serotonin. Due to this reason, it is understood that increasing the level of serotonin in the brain can reduce the levels of anxiety.
Promotes Weight loss
Hormones play an important role in the process of weight loss. A weight loss program involves reducing calorie intake. It is very obvious that hormones are generated from the brain to induce hunger and can lead to cravings. 5-htp is very effective in balancing this. It is helpful to produce hormones that seem to counteract hunger hormones and promote a feeling of satiety. 5-htp is not directly responsible to reduce weight, but aids in the process of weight loss. It is solely the responsibility of the individual to put the effort and take a stride forward to achieve weight loss.
Helps with migraine headache
It is a medical condition where a person experiences a severe headache, which is usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, neck pain, as well as sensitivity to light and sound. 5-htp is effective when consumed during the onset of a migraine headache. It helps a person to relax and reduce the symptoms of a migraine headache. It is advised to isolate oneself in a dark room to achieve fast and effective relief from a migraine.
It is a medical condition where a person is unable to fall asleep. Insomnia may be caused due to several factors. Studies have indicated that reduced serotonin levels can lead to change in the circadian cycle. The circadian cycle enables a person to adjust to a different time during a 24-hour cycle. It is also responsible for the sleep pattern. Studies have indicated that 5-htp with a combination of GABA receptors are useful in reducing insomnia and promoting sleep.
Reduces the effects of fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that is caused due to the hypersensitivity of the nervous system. Due to this dysfunction of the nervous system, a person may experience extreme pain at certain points of the body. Fibromyalgia generally affects 18 points in pairs on the body. These points are generally tender to touch and can cause excruciating pain when palpated. Studies have shown that deficiency in serotonin levels may cause fibromyalgia. It is also recommended that increasing the level of serotonin appropriately may reduce the neurological effects accompanying fibromyalgia.
Treats issues related to menopause
Menopause is the post menstruation period which occurs in every woman after a particular age. During the menstruation period, the ovaries are known to periodically secrete hormones required for fertility and maintain the levels of estrogen. During the period of menopause, the ovaries stop secreting the hormones leading to the cessation of fertility, as well as lowering the estrogen levels.
This phenomenon may cause several health issues including dryness of the vagina, changes in mood, memory loss, as well as hot flashes. A combination of these symptoms may also cause severe anxiety and stress. 5-htp is helpful in reducing the effects of menopause. According to research, subjects who were supplemented with 5-htp showed positive signs of reduced hot flash occurrence and gradual improvement in overall mood.
What are the caveats of 5-htp intake?
It is generally considered to be safe when consumed appropriately, which is according to the dosage prescribed. Any supplement may cause at least minimal side effects such as hypersensitivity. Generally, 5-htp supplements are safe to consume by all, but some people may be sensitive to this supplement. Side effects associated with 5-HTP include stomach or gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, nausea, burning sensation in the chest, bloating, abdominal pain, as well as loss of appetite. Some of the serious side effects of 5-HTP include eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome and asymptomatic eosinophilia.
Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome: Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome is a medical condition related to neurological function. Symptoms of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome include muscle pain, high accumulation of eosinophils, breathing problems, as well as swelling of the body. Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome is generally very rare and hence there is hardly any cure available.
Studies have shown that supplements of L-tryptophan can lead to eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. Due to this finding, the supplements of L-tryptophan were banned. It is quite alarming to note that 5-htp supplements are known to cause similar side effects related to L-tryptophan. The health department has already issued a warning regarding the use of 5-htp and it is very important to monitor the intake and measure the levels of tryptophan and serotonin when supplementing.
Asymptomatic eosinophilia: Asymptomatic eosinophilia is a medical condition which causes an increased amount of eosinophils in the blood. There are many factors contributing to the cause of asymptomatic eosinophilia and one of them includes the supplementation of 5-htp supplement.
Studies have indicated that people consuming this supplement in large doses as well as consuming them for long-term may cause asymptomatic eosinophilia. It is strongly advised to refrain from such practice to avoid the side effects caused by this supplement.
Supplements, when consumed along with prescribed drugs, may reduce the effects of these drugs. Due to this interaction, the prescribed drug is not helpful in treating the disease and in turn may lead to complications. 5-htp is known to increase the levels of serotonin and hence may interact with certain drugs such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, Methylene blue, phenelzine, as well as tranylcypromine. It is advised to use these supplements only with prior doctor’s consent.
5-htp : Is it right for you?
5-htp supplements have been available in the market since several decades. They have been used by many considering their potential benefits. There was hardly any research with respect to this supplement in earlier days. These supplements have been thoroughly studied and there is a conclusion that they are not capable to treat any medical condition.
It was also noted that there are few short-term benefits associated with them with respect to weight loss as well as insomnia. All the benefits related to this supplement solely are related to the effects of the serotonin hormone. Studies have also indicated some serious side effects related to 5-htp.
It is determined that these supplements may also cause eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome as well as asymptomatic eosinophilia. There are also reports that these supplements may cause a reduction in the stores of neurotransmitters as well as interact with certain drugs. It is always advised to consider adding a 5-htp supplement to your diet only after consulting a doctor. It is important to monitor the levels of serotonin during the supplementation of 5-htp.
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