5-HTP is necessary to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, essential for normal nerve and brain function. Serotonin is found in the brain and central nervous system and has many implications for mood, behavior and sleep patterns.
Michael T. Murray, ND explains in his book, Natural Alternatives to Prozac that when serotonin levels are inadequate, “the consequences…can be devastating, and include plunging moods, food cravings, ruined sleep, [severe] headaches and just plain exhaustion.”
Fortunately, safe and effective nutritional support for maintaining serotonin levels is available with 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP, a compound synthesized in the body from the amino acid tryptophan, is ten times more ‘active’ than l-trytophan alone, and is the immediate precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is synthesized in a two-step process where L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which is then converted to serotonin. 5-HTP works by increasing the actual amount of serotonin in the brain. By enhancing the supply of serotonin, 5-HTP plays a key role in nutritionally supporting a healthy central nervous system functions, such as sleep, appetite and mood patterns.
University of Mississippi researcher, Ronald F. Borne, PhD, called serotonin, ‘The Neurotransmitter of the 90’s.’ Borne writes, “of the chemical neurotransmitter substances, serotonin is perhaps the most implicated in the etiology or treatment of various disorders, particularly those of the central nervous system.”
The link between Fibromyalgia and lowered serotonin levels was first investigated in the early 1970’s by Italian researcher Federigo Sicuteri, MD, at the University of Florence. In the decades since he first made his observations, Dr Sicuteri has continued to research the serotonin connection and the effects of 5-HTP in balancing serotonin levels. Other researchers have also performed studies in this area; for example, a group at the rheumatology unit of a Milan hospital reported positive results in two clinical studies dealing with Fibromyalgia and 5-HTP.
In a double-blind study, 50 patients were divided into two groups. The group that received 5-HTP (100mg a day) showed significant improvement in their symptoms, while the placebo group experienced virtually no improvement. The improvements were felt within a short period of time, and increased further after thirty days of treatment. In the second study by the same group of researchers, patients who took 100mg of 5-HTP three times daily reported positive results after thirty days and throughout the length of the ninety day trial.
Several different studies by leading Fibromyalgia researchers, such as I. John Russell, MD, PhD, and Muhammed Yunus, MD, have demonstrated a connection between Fibromyalgia and lowered serotonin levels in the blood. In one double-blind study, led by I. Caruso, MD, Fibromyalgia patients given 300mg of 5-HTP daily reported a reduction of symptoms of pain, morning stiffness, sleep disturbances and anxiety. [J Int Med Res 1990;18:201-9].
Researchers have also clinically investigated 5-HTP in comparison to pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs. The results of the studies, measured using the standard depression scale, found 5-HTP to be equally effective in reducing emotional sensitivity and low moods. Patients who received 100mg of 5-HTP, three times a day, showed at least a 50% improvement in their symptoms, without any reported side effects. HW