The neurotransmitter, 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP) is a compound created in the body which is used to regulate serotonin levels in brain and central nervous system. 5-HTP is a substance that is made in the body which is converted into serotonin, a brain chemical messenger. Serotonin is an important brain chemical involved in mood, behavior, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin is also involved in impulse control. For instance, low serotonin levels may lead to addictive behavior such as gambling or other habits caused by weak will power. Serotonin is known as 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptamine, and is found in many places in the body particularly body cells, gastrointestinal system, and the brain. It influences many normal brain activities and also regulates the activity of other neurotransmitters. Having adequate levels of serotonin instills a feeling of relaxation, calmness, and mild euphoria (extreme happiness). Low levels of serotonin, serotonin deficiency syndrome, leads to depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and many other problems.
The body produces its own supply of 5-HTP from tryptophan, an amino acid found in high-Protein foods such as chicken, fish, beef, and dairy products. Any healthy diet should include tryptophan-rich sources such as these. Most of the 5-HTP produced in the body comes from its manufacture in the intestines from tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid; that is, the body does not have the capacity to synthesize it. All the supply of tryptophan must be gotten through foods that contain protein. 5-HTP has attracted a good deal of attention lately because of its ability to increase pain tolerance, induce sleep, and affect how hunger is perceived.
5 HTP may help slow the aging process and protect the body from illness by protecting the body from damage by substances called free radicals unstable, toxic molecules. Serotonin is used to make melatonin; taking 5-HTP may help achieve some of the same benefits as melatonin, such as treating jet lag, depression, and insomnia. There is some evidence that 5-HTP can replenish the supply of the pain-relieving molecules called endorphins. Studies have shown that low levels of endorphins are associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, stress, and depression. In studies, 5-HTP has been proven effective in the treatment of carbohydrate cravings and binge eating, chronic headaches, depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia,anxiety, and panic disorders.
But 5-HTP is not present in significant amounts in a typical diet. The human body manufactures 5-HTP from L-tryptophan, a natural amino acid found in most dietary proteins. However, eating food that contains L-tryptophan does not significantly increase 5-HTP levels. Supplemental 5-HTP is naturally derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a West African medicinal plant. This plant extract is a natural source of 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP). Supplementing your diet with 5 HTP helps to maintain the levels of serotonin in your brain and is used by many people to gently lift mood, reduce anxiety and induce normal sleep.
- 5-HTP Elevate mood in cases of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
- In addition to reducing the amount of time it takes to nod off, 5-HTP actually may enhance the quality of sleep itself, increasing both the duration of dream states (REM sleep) and of deep slumber.
- 5-HTP curbs the appetite when taken before meals. In this way 5-HTP promotes weight loss.
- 5-HTP may also be of use in helping diabetics adhere to a healthy diet.
- Migraine headaches have been linked to low serotonin levels. 5-HTP found to ease migraine pain.
- By increasing the level of the neurochemicals, 5-HTP may improve pain tolerance.
- 5-HTP is helpful in agitated or mild manic states.
- 5-HTP reduces symptoms of PMS.
- 5-HTP also aids in general chronic pain syndromes.
Side effects associated with 5-HTP are rare & typically mild but may include headaches, mild stomachaches, nausea, nasal congestion, and constipation. Side effects may be minimized by starting with a low dose of 5-HTP and taking it with food. There are anecdotal reports that most of the side effects are due to taking high doses of 5-HTP.
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