What do depression, insomnia, anxiety, migraines, PMS, obsessive/compulsive behavior, stress, obesity, and addiction have in common? All of these conditions are manifestations of low levels of serotonin. According to Dr. Michael T. Murray, N.D., “The consequences of serotonin deficiency syndrome can be devastating and include plunging moods, health threatening food cravings, ruined sleep, skull cracking headaches, overwhelming body pain and just plain exhaustion.” Now, a natural and safe alternative to these drugs is available in the form of 5-Hydroxy L-Trypto-phan (5- HTP).
5-HTP, a compound synthesized in the body from the amino acid tryptophan is ten times more active than L-Tryptophan and is the immediate precursor to serotonin, which is found in the brain, blood platelets, and duodenal mucosa cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Since serotonin is found in the brain and central nervous system it has many implications on mood, behavior and sleep patterns.
The function of Prozac, and many other antidepressant drugs, is to increase the availability of serotonin in certain brain synapses. Unfortunately, these drugs can produce many unpleasant and dangerous side effects.
Researchers have clinically investigated 5-HTP in comparison to antidepressant drugs. The results of the studies were astounding. Using the standard depression scale, both the drug and 5-HTP groups displayed identical reduction in depression.
Depressed patients who received 100 mg of 5-HTP, three times a day, showed at least a 50% improvement in their symptoms, without any reported side effects. Beta-endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones, were also significantly elevated after consumption of 200 mg of 5- HTP by patients with severe depression. In a French trial, 28 of 36 patients with severe depression, treated with 5-HTP, showed positive results.
Subsequent studies were performed using 5-HTP for anxiety, panic disorder, sleep difficulties and obesity. In one study, conducted by R.S. Kahn, patients with panic disorder showed an obvious decline in anxiety symptoms and noticed a feeling of relief after receiving 5-HTP supplementation. French researchers found that 100 mg a day of 5-HTP resulted in significant improvement in people described as “mildly insomniac.”
In a six week clinical study with obese patients, those supplemented with 5-HTP were able to reduce carbohydrate intake, and experienced a feeling of early satiety, which contributed to significant weight loss. In another study, a group of Italian researchers reported that 20 overweight patients taking 900 mg a day of 5-HTP lost a significant amount of weight.
5-HTP has also shown promise as a cure for extreme headaches and migraines. Spanish researchers gave 5-HTP to 124 migraine sufferers, 71% of which noted reduced intensity and duration of the headaches.
Research has already proven that 5-HTP is a valuable, cost- effective supplement for treatment of depression, insomnia and obesity. As studies continue, it is possible that many other benefits for 5-HTP will be discovered.