The 5-HTP , also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan or L-5-HTP, is an amino acid can be obtained naturally through food or supplement form made of the seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia . In medicine, this chemical is used to relieve symptoms of depression, fibromyalgia pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, and migraines. However, health specialists say that its consumption is not totally safe until there is more advanced research on its side effects in the body.
5-HTP is often included in supplements that help relieve stress and improve mood, but its intake has also been linked as an alternative to aid in weight loss. Likewise, the Exhaustive Database of Natural Medicines has classified its effectiveness in each of the benefits with which it is related, the highest scale obtained being: “possibly effective”. To learn more about 5-HTP: benefits and side effects , we invite you to read this FastlyHealarticle carefully.
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How does 5-HTP work in the body?
5-HTP is a tryptophan, that is, an essential amino acid that the body does not produce and that it obtains through proteins. The intake of this tryptophan as a supplement acts directly on the brain and the central nervous system, stimulating the production of serotonin, a hormone whose deficiency can cause sleep disorders, depression, stress, anguish, anxiety, muscle pain, eating disorders, headaches. and decreased sexual desire. For this reason, 5-HTP is believed to be ideal for treating diseases in which serotonin plays an important role .
In addition, 5-HTP also stimulates the production of melatonin , and is that serotonin in the brain is converted into melatonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for controlling sleep, which is why the intake of supplements with 5-HTP has been linked to treat insomnia and other sleep disturbances .
Ways to consume 5-HTP
The amino acid 5-HTP can be consumed naturally through the intake of foods rich in tryptophan , such as chicken and meat. However, there are also capsules and supplements that contain this chemical, but that are made only with seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. This last modality of 5-HTP is the most common to obtain its benefits and provide the body with large amounts of this amino acid. What are the benefits of 5-HTP? Get to know them below!
Improves symptoms of depression
5-HTP has been considered as a possibly effective natural medicine to treat depression and improve the mood of people with this condition, since its main function is to activate the production of serotonin, a hormone whose deficiency is responsible for this disease .
Why is 5-HTP not considered effective for treating depression?
There are many studies that have been carried out to demonstrate the effects of this substance. In the case of depression, there are at least 3 important studies in which people treated with supplements of this amino acid have presented a considerable improvement in the symptoms of depression, however, these studies have been exempt from a placebo administration to compare results , which means that they are not considered 100% truthful. However, the reaction of people with depression who take antidepressants has been compared with those who have been treated with 5-HTP and in both cases a significant improvement in the disease has been evidenced.
Improves symptoms of fibromyalgia
The fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder whose cause is unknown and may affect muscles and bones causing stiffness, sensitivity and trouble sleeping. People with fibromyalgia often complain of the severe pain they feel that often cripples their days. Likewise, those who suffer from this disease have low levels of serotonin, which is why they often need to take antidepressants to relieve pain and sadness.
The treatment of this disease has as a priority to reduce the intensity of pain so that people can lead their lives in a normal way. 5-HTP has been shown to work positively in people with fibromyalgia, responding to a decrease in myalgia, morning stiffness, and insomnia.
Improves anxiety and migraine
The anxiety is a psychiatric disorder associated with low levels of serotonin in the body, why, to the like depression, may be treated with antidepressants to stimulate production of this hormone in the brain and nervous system central. Although there are not many studies that have been carried out on how 5-HTP can improve anxiety, it is believed that the effect may be positive since the function of this amino acid is to stimulate the production of the hormone of well-being .
However, at present there are no studies that show that this substance does act in a positive way to treat both anxiety and migraines, on the contrary, some tests have shown that it works in some people and not in others . For example, administration of 60 mg of 5-HTP intravenously did not improve symptoms in people suffering from panic attacks.
Improves sleep disorders
Sleep disorders are any present inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleep soundly. Sleep disturbances can significantly harm your health, to the point that they are associated with an increased risk of heart disease , a deficiency in the immune system, obesity and depression.
The exact cause of sleep disorders is not known, but they are related to low levels of serotonin and melatonin, hormones responsible for facilitating deep levels of sleep and helping to achieve sleep. As the ingestion of 5-HTP increases the production of serotonin and this hormone is converted into melatonin. This amino acid is considered to help improve insomnia, however, this function has not been studied at present.
5-HTP for weight loss
There are many weight loss supplements on the market that contain 5-HTP. They mostly offer appetite control to decrease caloric intake and thus stimulate weight loss. Why? Because the increase in the production of serotonin helps reduce anxiety levels and produces satiety in the body, which allows you to avoid overeating or falling into the temptation of cravings.
However, many people who use these weight loss supplements have been found to achieve short-term weight loss and then stagnate. It has even been determined that there is a probability of a rebound effect that can make the person gain twice the weight lost, even when they have spent time after finishing the consumption of the pills.
Side effects of 5-HTP
The consumption of 5-HTP is not recommended for a time greater than five months and it is necessary to remember that this substance has only been considered “possibly effective” in the body, so before consuming it it is recommended to wait for more studies to be carried out that endorse its properties for health. So far, side effects of 5-HTP have been determined, among which the following stand out:
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities.
- Rash, bruising, and fever.
- Muscular weakness .
- Nausea, drowsiness
- Stomach pain and diarrhea.
- Loss of sexual desire.
Similarly, some people who have taken 5-HTP supplements have been diagnosed with eosinophilia and myalgia syndrome, a disease that causes extreme muscle weakness and blood disorders. Although it has not been determined exactly what is the relationship between the intake of this amino acid with the appearance of the syndrome, it is recommended not to consume it until there are more advanced studies. Also, you should not consume 5-HTP if you are being treated with medications such as antidepressants, cough medicines, heart medicine or narcotics.
- Reports have determined that 5-HTP has produced seizures in people with Down syndrome.
- The consumption of 5-HTP in pregnant or lactating women is prohibited.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.