The Science Behind Our Supplements

What Does 5-HTP Do?

The question “what does 5-HTP do?” is recurring these days, and for a good reason. Out of nowhere, there’s been a crusade geared at getting people to embrace this new “whatever.” So, what does 5-HTP do? Can it benefit your health? If yes, what are the benefits obtainable from 5-HTP, and lastly, are there side-effects to using 5-HTP? Keep reading to find out.

What Is 5-HTP?

5-HTP, fully known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, is an amino acid product that serves as a precursor to serotonin. By “an amino acid product,” I mean 5-HTP is produced from the building blocks of tryptophan. 

The conversion is quite simple. An enzyme, tryptophan hydroxylase, converts tryptophan into 5-HTP, after which L-amino acid decarboxylase converts it into serotonin. Straightforward, isn’t it? But, what is the connection between 5-HTP and its purported benefits?

Well, abnormal levels of serotonin in the body are linked to a diverse range of physical and mental health problems, for example, obesity, depression, and insomnia. And, it is thus expected that higher levels of serotonin may improve these conditions, as some studies have suggested. And what’s a good way to increase serotonin secretion? 5-HTP supplementation.

On the shelves, 5-HTP supplements are known with a couple of other names, such as oxitriptan, Griffonia seed extract, and Griffonia simplicifolia. 

Answering the Question: What Does 5-HTP Do?

As you may already know now, the basic function of 5-HTP is to increase the secretion of serotonin, a neurotransmitter of positive emotions. This is perhaps the reason 5-HTP supplements are positive influences on energy levels, mood, appetite, nervous system, and motivation. And in case you were wondering why you don’t just supplement with serotonin, it may interest you that serotonin cannot cross the barrier between the blood and the brain, so 5-HTP (as well as other supplements of serotonin precursors) may be your best option.

May Help To Relieve Stress & Anxiety

There is sufficient evidence suggesting the positive role of 5-HTP in decreasing panic triggers and attacks, stress, symptoms of anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately, this can be subjective, meaning that 5-HTP may not work for every patient. 

Remember that 5-HTP boosts the synthesis of serotonin in the brain, and it is thus good for managing anxiety. The downside, however, remains that whereas 5-HTP supplementation may play significant roles in some people, it may not be more effective than the casual orthodox prescriptions in some.

In case you wonder how 5-HTP holds up against SSRI, here’s what to know. Whereas the function of SSRIs is to conserve the natural serotonin levels in the brain, 5-HTP helps the brain to synthesize more serotonin. Therefore, some experts advise that you use SSRIs alongside 5-HTP supplements to maximize effects.

May Enhance The Quality Of Sleep

5-HTP supplements work uniquely. What they do is to get you in a more relaxed mood, thus helping you to relapse into sleep more easily. This is in sharp contrast to other sleeping improvers that typically cause instant drowsiness after taking them. This is inadvisable, given that you may be unable to sleep easily without these drugs.

Other studies have established that 5-HTP works even better when taken along with valerian roots and GABA, both of which calm and soothe the mind. As an insomniac, this combo is highly likely to reduce the number of minutes you require before falling asleep. Some of us stay awake even after 1 hour of tossing in bed. With this combination, you can easily change that.

5-HTP can convert serotonin into melatonin, which is a hormone crucial to a healthy circadian rhythm. This perhaps explains the perceived contributions of 5-HTP to sleep.

May Assist In Easing The Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Specific studies centered on the discourse have revealed evidence that regular dosage of 5-HTP, say 300 milligrams per day, will help to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia, which commonly are stiffness, tenderness, fatigue, pain, and anxiety. A particular study reported fair clinical improvement in about 50% of participants who underwent the treatment.

To maximize these benefits, though, there are suggestions that you continue this supplementation for a lot of weeks, stretching into months.

Some conditions of migraines are a result of abnormal serotonin levels, and thankfully, you have 5-HTP at hand to reduce the symptoms. A credible research reported that at least 71% of participants experienced significant improvements in their migraines after some weeks.

May Combat Obesity

Overeating and cravings are more often than not caused by eating foods that do not satiate the body. This is why most obese individuals have a lot of unsatisfying foods in their diets, but they hardly know. Thankfully, 5-HTP helps to increase satisfaction derivable from a meal. When you supplement with 5-HTP, your stomach fills more easily and quickly, thereby curbing your appetite and cravings, leading to a reduction in calorie intake.

A study experimented with 5-HTP spray, meaning that other extracts were mixed with it. In the study, obese women already in their menopause took the spray for four weeks, and the results were quite impressive. There was a visible reduction in weight as well as body weight indexes of the participants.

Are There Side-effects To 5-HTP Supplementation?

Generally, speaking from most documented studies, 5-HTP is safe for use. As long as you do not exceed a dosage of 400 milligrams daily, then you should have no reason to fear. However, as mentioned at the beginning, 5-HTP works well in some people, while it doesn’t in others — the same applies here. So, if at all you’ll be experiencing any side-effect of 5-HTP, here are symptoms to look out for:

  • Indigestion & stomach problems.
  • Nausea.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Vomiting.
  • Heartburn.
  • Consistent fatigue & drowsiness. 
  • Muscular spasms & dysfunction.

Also, although some experts advise using 5-HTP supplements alongside SSRIs, you have to be careful with usage. Both, although working in different ways, are to ensure that you have high levels of serotonin, so it would be problematic to use both exceedingly together. Remember that just as low levels of serotonin are unadvisable, abnormally high levels are discouraged as well.

Concluding The Question: What Does 5-HTP Do?

5-HTP supplementation is fairly good and advisable, especially if you have no other source of serotonin increase. It may have a handful of side-effects, but none is chronic or even verified. So, I hope the next time you hear, “what does 5-HTP do?” you can give the questioner beneficial recommendations. 

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