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5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor

  [ 47 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Birdsall TC • • August 3, 1998

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is the intermediate metabolite of the
essential amino acid L-tryptophan (LT) in the biosynthesis of
serotonin. Intestinal absorption of 5-HTP does not require the
presence of a transport molecule, and is not affected by the
presence of other amino acids; therefore it may be taken with
meals without reducing its effectiveness. Unlike LT, 5-HTP
cannot be shunted into niacin or protein production.
Therapeutic use of 5-HTP bypasses the conversion of LT into
5-HTP by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase, which is the rate-
limiting step in the synthesis of serotonin. 5-HTP is well
absorbed from an oral dose, with about 70 percent ending up in
the bloodstream. It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and
effectively incrases central nervous system (CNS) synthesis of
serotonin. In the CNS, serotonin levels have been implicated
in the regulation of sleep, depression, anxiety, aggression,
appetite, temperature, sexual behaviour, and pain sensation.
Therapeutic administration of 5-HTP has been shown to be
effective in treating a wide variety of conditions, including
depression, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with
obesity, chronic headaches, and insomnia.

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