- Stock #2806-4 (60 capsules)
5-HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan) is a natural extract obtained from the seeds of the Griffonia plant, a shrub tree native to Ghana and the Ivory Coast in Africa. 5-HTP is also produced in the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and is the immediate precursor to serotonin. The biosynthesis of serotonin in the brain is a complex process that happens instantaneously—when tryptophan crosses the blood-brain barrier, it is converted into 5-HTP, which in turn, is converted into serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood, appetite, behavior, and sleep. Serotonin deficiency has been linked to numerous medical and psychiatric problems such as anxiety, depression (including seasonal affective disorder or SAD), eating disorders, migraine headaches, PMS, violent behavior and aggression, and sleep disorders.1-6
Unlike drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, which help prevent serotonin deficiency by inhibiting brain cells from using serotonin too quickly, 5-HTP actually increases the brain’s production of serotonin, thus raising available levels. Scientific studies confirm that 5-HTP is beneficial for anxiety disorders, binge eating associated with obesity, depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, chronic and migraine headaches, and neurological disorders such as ataxia—the inability to coordinate muscular movements.1-4,6
5-HTP has been shown to provide significant improvements in depression, equivalent to or better than prescription antidepressants, and with fewer, much milder side-effects, if any. (Typical side-effects from SSRIs include anxiety, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, heart palpitations, insomnia, reduced libido, tremors, and vision changes.) 5-HTP also helps raise levels of endorphin and other neurotransmitters that are often found to be low in cases of depression.3,7
A double-blind study comparing 5-HTP to a leading SSRI, published in Psychopathology,showed that 5-HTP provided greater improvements than the SSRI for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and related physical symptoms. Furthermore, while 54.5% of participants reported moderate to severe side-effects with the SSRI, only 38.9% experienced any side-effects from 5-HTP, rating them as only very mild to mild.7,8
5-HTP is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, with about 70% of an oral dose ending up in the bloodstream. From there, 5-HTP easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and is quickly converted into serotonin. 5-HTP helps promote relaxation and may function as a partial substitute for Valium, Xanax, other benzodiazepines, some anti-anxiety drugs, and certain sleeping pills. Numerous double-blind clinical studies have found that 5-HTP is an effective treatment for sleep disorders, reducing the time it takes to get to sleep, as well as the number of times a person awakens. These actions may result from the fact that 5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin, which is the precursor to melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Higher levels of serotonin result in an increase in melatonin levels, which helps improve sleep. Research has also found that taking 5-HTP with a carbohydrate source such as fruit or fruit juice, close to bedtime, can enhance its sedative effect.1-3,7
Serotonin is one of the most important brain chemicals involved in satiety. An array of biochemical, pharmacological and behavioral studies conducted over the past thirty years documents the effects of serotonin in slowing down eating behavior. In fact, researchers theorize that many overweight individuals may actually be genetically predisposed to obesity due to a deficiency of serotonin—their bodies are unable to convert sufficient amounts of tryptophan into 5-HTP, causing a lack of sufficient serotonin. Since 5-HTP naturally increases serotonin levels, several studies have been conducted which confirm that 5-HTP supplementation is effective for reducing food intake and promoting weight-loss. In general, studies found 5-HTP helped reduce interest in food and decreased the amount of food eaten, thereby increasing weight-loss in obese individuals.1,7
One double-blind study in particular, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, confirmed that 5-HTP supplementation can reduce carbohydrate intake, provide feelings of early satiety, and promote significant weight-loss in obese persons, with or without adherence to dietary restrictions. In fact, 5-HTP provided early satiety for 90% of those receiving the supplement, even with a 1,200-calorie-per-day restriction. The cumulative results of such studies have led researchers to regard 5-HTP as an effective appetite suppressant, which could be used as a partial or even fairly complete substitute for prescription weight-loss medications. Furthermore, unlike certain weight-loss drugs, 5-HTP has not been found to cause heart irregularities, high blood pressure, or damage to nerve cells; although higher doses of 5-HTP can cause nausea and/or sedation in some individuals.1,2,7,9,10
Recent research suggests 5-HTP may also prove beneficial in the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a condition which affects roughly 2-5% of the general population. Since one of the standard medical therapies for FMS involves the use of tricyclic antidepressants to block the reuptake of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, scientists have questioned whether the use of serotonin precursors, such as 5-HTP, could prove equally beneficial—especially when considering that low serotonin levels are linked with a decreased threshold for pain, as well as anxiety, depression, insomnia and migraine headaches.2,11
In 1990, Italian researchers tested this theory by conducting a double-blind, place-controlled 30-day clinical trial on patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Twenty-five patients were randomly selected to receive 100mg of 5-HTP three times daily, while another twenty-five were given a placebo. Study results showed a significant decrease in the intensity of pain and number of tender points, as well as marked improvement in morning stiffness, anxiety and fatigue ratings, and sleep patterns in the 5-HTP group, compared to those receiving the placebo. Only mild and transient side-effects, including headache, diarrhea and stomach pain, were reported by 24% of those taking 5-HTP and 12% taking the placebo. Thus, researchers concluded that 5-HTP is effective for improving the symptoms of primary fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), maintaining its efficacy throughout the 30-day treatment. A follow-up open study was conducted for a period of 90 days, providing the same 5-HTP dosage (100mg three times daily). Overall evaluations, assessed by both patients and investigators, documented “fair” to “good” clinical improvement in nearly 50% of the patients. Minor side-effects were reported by 15 (30%) participants. Thus, researchers again confirmed 5-HTP to be effective for the treatment of primary FMS, noting statistically significant improvements after only 15 days of supplementation, as well as sustained efficacy through the 90-day study.2,11-13
5-HTP should not be used by individuals currently taking prescription antidepressants or MAO inhibitors. Furthermore, until long-term (more than one year), double-blind studies are conducted on the effects of 5-HTP, researchers recommend using this supplement intermittently, for short-term periods, taking smaller doses to avoid possible development of tolerance.3,4,10,11
Each capsule of 5-HTP Power provides 35mg of 5-HTP, and 3mg each of vitamin B6 and zinc, in a proprietary blend of the adaptogenic herbs Siberian ginseng, ashwaganda and suma.
6 are also necessary to prevent 5-HTP from being converted in the liver. Conversion of 5-HTP outside the brain results in decreased serotonin synthesis.7,11,14,15is essential for the biosynthesis of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, as well as the overall health of the nervous system. Sufficient levels of B
14,16,17inhibits the premature conversion of 5-HTP into serotonin outside the brain, which is important since serotonin is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. Adequate zinc levels are also important, as zinc deficiencies have been linked to behavioral and sleep disturbances and mental and physical stress.
17,18possess the unique ability to increase nonspecific body resistance to disease, fatigue and stress. Adaptogens also provide a normalizing effect on the body, returning it to a state of balance, independent of the type of pathology (the anatomic or functional manifestation of disease). Furthermore, adaptogenic herbs are classified as harmless substances, effecting only as much influence on normal body functions as is necessary. In general, adaptogens enhance health by supporting the adrenal glands, improving brain and central nervous system function, assisting blood sugar metabolism, protecting the liver, increasing endurance and stamina, and by enhancing immune system, antioxidant and antitoxin activity.
Siberian ginseng appears to have an effect on the brain, possibly improving the balance between serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Animal studies have shown that Siberian ginseng does increase neurotransmitter levels in the brain; while a review of human studies conducted by Russian researchers demonstrated favorable effects in many health conditions, including various types of neuroses.17,19
Ashwaganda, also known as Indian ginseng, is valued as an adaptogen and Ayurvedic tonic for promoting health and vitality, especially in conditions stemming from long-term stress, chronic illness, overwork or nervous exhaustion. Ashwaganda helps reduce overactivity, promotes relaxation, calms and strengthens the nerves, clarifies the mind, and enhances restful sleep. Recent research indicates ashwayganda is particularly beneficial for aiding in cases of anxiety and other psychological complaints.3,20,21
Suma, which is often referred to as Brazilian ginseng, is beneficial as an herbal tonic for improving overall health and vitality. Suma enhances the body’s resistance to stress and fatigue, provides anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) activity, and facilitates protein synthesis, which stimulates growth and repair and speeds healing. Research shows that Suma improves immune function, making it useful in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer and other immune-related health problems. Suma also helps rejuvenate and restore healthy glandular and nervous system functions, acting as both a nervine and sedative.3,21,22
1 Sahelian MD, R. “5-HTP: Nature’s Serotonin Solution.” Nature’s Impact; June/July, 1998.
2Seiden MD, O. 5-HTP: The Serotonin Connection. Rocklin, CA: Prima Health, 1998.
3Mindell PhD, E. Earl Mindell’s Supplement Bible. NY, NY: Fireside, 1998.
4—. “Mood Nutrition.” Energy Times; Vol. 8(8): 54-58.
5Phillips, B. Sports Supplement Review, 3rd issue. Golden, CO: Mile-High Publishing, 1997.
6Birdsall, T.C. “5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor.” Alternative Medicine Review; 1998, 3(4): 271-280.
7Murray ND, M. and Pizzorno ND, J. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2nd Ed. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1998.
8Poldinger, W., et. al. “A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency as a target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxamine.” Psychopathology; 1991, 24(2): 53-81.
9Cangiano, C., et. al. “Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 1992, 56(5): 863-867.
10Sahelian MD, R. “5-HTP and appetite control: Eat less, weight less.” Nature’s Impact; Aug/Sep, 1998.
11Sahelian MD, R. 5-HTP: Nature’s Serotonin Solution. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1998.
12Caruso, I., et. al. “Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia syndrome.” Journal of International Medical Research; 1990, 18(3): 201-209.
13Puttini, P.S. and Caruso, I. “Primary fibromyalgia syndrome and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan: a 90-day open study.” Journal of International Medical Research; 1992, 20(2): 182-189.
14Lieberman PhD, S. and Bruning, N. The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book, 2nd ed. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1997.
15Murray ND, M. 5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity and Insomnia. NY, NY: Bantam Books, 1998.
16Segelman PhD, A. “New Products Session.” NSP National Convention, 1998.
17Murray ND, M. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996.
18Brown ND, D. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996.
19Newall, C, Anderson, L, and Phillipson, J.D. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.
20Chevallier, A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. NY, NY: Dorling Kindersley, 1996.
21Wallace ND, E. “Adaptogenic Herbs: Nature’s Solution To Stress.” Nutrition Science News; May 1998.
22Taylor, L. Herbal Secrets of the Rainforest. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1998.