What is 5-HTP? Usage, dosage and health-benefits of 5HTP

Aaria’s Summary

5HTP is commonly used to help provide relief against anxiety and help you sleep better. 

5-HTP helps the body produce more serotonin, which affects how you sleep through its relationship with Melatonin. 

Because of its ability to influence the production of more melatonin, healthier levels of serotonin in your body are crucial to getting a good night’s sleep and properly functioning biological-clock. 

It helps create a desire of more protein rich foods instead of high-carb foods, automatically reducing blood-sugar and insulin spikes, leading to less calories being stored as fat, and more optimal fat burning and food digestion which can help lead to portion control and weight loss. 

Overview

5HTP is commonly used to help provide relief against anxiety and help you sleep better. It can also provide relief against depression, obesity, migraines, PMS and help you lose weight. 

How does 5-HTP work?

Produced commercially from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia 5-HTP increases the production of brain chemical, serotonin.

Serotonin is a “feel-good” chemical which regulates sleep, mood, sexual behaviour and can help you feel happier, focused and positive. 

Healthier levels of Serotonin can contribute to a better mood but more often, 5htp is associated with helping you sleep better. 

However, Serotonin is made from the amino-acid Tryptophan which is an essential amino acid (vital for your health, but cannot be synthesized by your body and needs to be consumed in your diet). Therefore you need to consume foods rich in tryptophan or supplement with Serotonin inducers, such as 5-HTP. 

Because of how it creates Serotonin, 5-HTP also helps produce Melatonin, a hormone which regulates the sleep-wake cycle of your body. 

A better, healthier sleep-cycle can contribute to a better mood, reduced cortisol and overall feeling of restfulness and calmness. 

For a quick reference why serotonin is important, and what role it plays in your body take a look at this infographic outlining what happens when you have a deficiency in serotonin:

symptoms of serotonin deficiency graphic

As you can see, serotonin plays a crucial role in your body and helps relieve anxiety, depression, panics and worry. 

As a consequence, these “negative” emotions tend to make you crave carbs (which contributes to weight gain) and eat unhealthily leading you down the viscous circle of being unhappy and eating because you’re unhappy leading to being even more unhappy due to your weight. 

And the cycle goes on and on. 

Benefits of taking 5HTP

Sleep 

As indicated, 5-HTP can help you sleep better if taken approx. 30-40 minutes before bed. 

5-HTP helps the body produce more serotonin, which affects how you sleep through its relationship with Melatonin. 

Melatonin is made by serotonin in the absence of light i.e. when it’s dark. It’s your body’s way of telling vital organs and itself that its night-time and time to sleep, which is detected by reduced light entering the eyes. 

Because of its ability to influence the production of more melatonin, healthier levels of serotonin in your body are crucial to getting a good night’s sleep and properly functioning biological-clock. 

This can then also help with more relaxed mind, reduced anxiety and greater alertness, which are some of the other benefits of 5-HTP. 

Curb cravings for carbs, and lose weight

5-HTP can help you lose weight. 

Research indicates that supplementation of 5-HTP causes your brain to desire healthier, more protein rich foods. 

It is suggested the increased production of serotonin can help reduce your cravings for carbs or “comfort-food” as your mood generally improves and the desire to “eat-your-feelings” essentially diminishes. 

And by desiring more protein rich foods instead of high-carb foods, you automatically reduce blood-sugar and insulin spikes, leading to less calories being stored as fat, and more optimal fat burning and food digestion which can help lead to portion control and weight loss. 

Consuming anywhere from 50-100mg per day should be a good start to help control your cravings for carbs.

5-HTP can help with mental stress, anxiety and depression

Anxiety is a common issue, and is a bodily response to stress, whether mental or physical. Anxiety is a fear inducer – it makes you worry or feel nervous about the future. 

Depression on the other hand is a severe mood disorder that can affect your daily life, putting the person in a cycle of down moods of intense sadness, helplessness and loss for a prolonged period of time.

There are many articles outlining the fact that taking 5-HTP can help reduce anxiety and depression. This is usually attributable to the elevated levels of serotonin produced which can help calm your mind and your nerves. 

Why? Because Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and relays signals between nerve cells – sending messages between cells and through your nervous system regulating their behaviour. 

Migraines, Pain and Fibromyaliga

Fibromyalgia is a condition of pain and fatigue with the fatigue often leading to exhaustion and flu-like symptoms. 

Fibromyalgia often results in interrupted, unrefreshed sleep, the feeling of tiredness and bodily stiffness. 

Research suggests 5-HTP can help reduce symptoms associated with fibromyaliga and migraines. 

Other uses for 5-HTP

5-HTP has therapeutic uses through its connection in the production of serotonin, including: 

  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease

Side effects of 5-HTP

Excessive intake of 5htp could lead to digestive issues including heartburn and diarrhoea. 

Excessive serotonin could also lead to actually aggravating symptoms of depression or anxiety if 5-HTP is taken long term as it could lead to a decrease of dopamine and other brain chemicals. 

Some suggest taking 5-HTP with supplements that increase dopamine such as L-Tyrosine [source].

Summary

While 5-HTP does have benefits in improving mood and potentially helping with weight loss and anti-depressant, ensuring a short-term monitored dosage is critical to mitigate the potential side effects while maximising the benefits. 

About the Author

Asante Editorial
Asante Editorialhttp://www.asantewellbeing.com
Asante Wellbeing is dedicated to producing holistic health and wellness information easy to understand and implement so you can make the best decisions and begin to live your best life.

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