5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP is a transitional compound. What this means is that one compound is changed into something new. In this case, the amino acid Tryptophan is the catalyst that produces 5-HTP when it converts into compounds like serotonin, melatonin and niacin.
Tryptophan is an amino acid and, if produced correctly, it provides a nitrogen balance in the human body. This is essential for a healthy body and for building muscles. In addition, as it converts into serotonin, a deficiency could cause depression and insomnia. Tryptophan is not produced naturally in the body and must be obtained through foods and proper nutrition. However, 5-HTP supplements can be used to skip the go-between, so to speak, so that the body can simply produce these compounds quickly.
If you are concerned about Tryptophan because of the ban on L-Tryptophan in 1990 by the FDA, don’t be. As it turns out, the outbreak of Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome that killed 15 people in the US was not cased by the Tryptophan compound, but by a contaminated batch that came out of Japan. The CED determined that the Tryptophan compound was not the cause of this problem.
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The Benefits of 5-HTP You can benefit from the use of a 5-HTP supplement several ways. For example, as mentioned above, 5-HTP aids in the production of serotonin. Mood Regulation Serotonin is a naturally produced hormone that helps to regulate mood. When there isn’t enough serotoni... more
You can benefit from the use of a 5-HTP supplement several ways. For example, as mentioned above, 5-HTP aids in the production of serotonin.
Serotonin is a naturally produced hormone that helps to regulate mood. When there isn’t enough serotonin produced, then you will feel depressed, listless and have no energy. Often those who suffer from low serotonin levels will also have insomnia and migraines.
It is important to note that too much serotonin can be deadly. This is why it is important to follow the dosage directions that are mentioned in the next section.
People with low serotonin levels may also suffer from fibromyalgia. For the record, just because someone has low serotonin levels doesn’t mean that they will have fibromyalgia; however, everyone with fibromyalgia has low serotonin levels. As such, doctors are using supplements that produce serotonin to treat people with fibromyalgia with much success.
Another benefit of 5-HTP is that is can aid in suppressing the appetite. Although there are still ongoing studies regarding this benefit, preliminary findings show that people who take 5-HTP supplements have a reduction in cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, which leads to weight loss.
5-HTP helps produce melatonin, which aids in better sleep. Melatonin is naturally produced in the body, but if there isn’t enough melatonin present then you may suffer from insomnia, much like you do when you have low serotonin levels. 5-HTP is like a one-two punch against both of these issues.
5-HTP has been studied since the 1970s and is one of the few compounds that can be taken naturally that is approved by the FDA for multiple uses. Many prescription medications contain 5-HTP; however, a lot of physicians will recommend their patients start with a supplement before starting a prescription regimen.
In order to safely take 5-HTP, you have to follow the dosing recommendations. In most cases, you will find that 50mg to 100mg three times a day is all that is recommended. However, your doctor can recommend up to 600mg per dose, if he or she is sure that you are safe taking this high of a dosage.
Before your doctor will recommend such high levels of 5-HTP he or she will (or should) conduct a serum serotonin test. While this will only produce an estimation of the amount of serotonin being produced in the brain, it will be a good indicator of how much of a supplement that you need.
If you are taking 5-HTP for one of the other areas that it can aid in better health, then you should stick with the recommended doses. You should always start with the lowest possible dose to see if that will work first.
If you are on medication, you should not take any supplements of any kind before speaking to your doctor. Many people feel that if they are taking a natural supplement or something that is produced naturally in the body, then they don’t have to worry about side effects or drug interactions.
This is simply not true! If you are taking medications, there is every possibility that an herbal or natural supplement can interfere with your medication. Here are some of the things you can’t combine with 5-HTP:
There is a myth that if you are taking a natural supplement, whether it is an herbal supplement or a supplement for something the body produces naturally, that you don’t have to worry about side effects. Just like with drug interactions, this simply isn’t true.
Not only can 5-HTP cause some side effects, it can also worsen certain medical conditions. This goes right back to speaking to your doctor if you are on any medications. If you have any medical conditions, this applies as well. You should always speak to your doctor before you start taking anything new.
Here are some of the side effects you may have while taking 5-HTP:
Here are some of the medical conditions that 5-HTP can cause to worsen:
In addition, if you have had a heart attack or a stroke, 5-HTP can hinder your recovery and exacerbate your condition. While the list of side effects may seem a bit long, the truth is that most people who start with the lowest dosage levels don’t experience any side effects or the side effects are moderate.
Taking 5-HTP can be very beneficial to you, especially if you suffer from depression. However, with all of the other benefits 5-HTP offers, you don’t have to have low serotonin to benefit from its use, just remember not to exceed dosage recommendations.
If you suffer from chronic depression or severe migraines, it is very important that you visit your doctor before you start taking 5-HTP supplements or any other type of supplement. Since there are other conditions that can cause these issues, it is essential that your doctor test you for any of the underlying problems that can cause these conditions and eliminate them as a concern before you start treating yourself.
Self-diagnosing a condition can be dangerous and can lead to you harming yourself. By taking the time to eliminate any possible underlying conditions, you can start your 5-HTP supplement confident in the knowledge that you are doing right by your body, both inside and out!
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