This Info about 5-HTP Should Put You in a Good Mood
If a turkey would go head to head with the griffonia simplicifolia plant to find out which could produce the most serotonin, the turkey would lose hands down.
Our readers already know that getting serotonin from eating turkey is about as effective as getting dietary calcium from eating a rock.
There is a simple, reliable way to boost serotonin levels, and that’s by supplementing with a standardized extract of griffonia simplicifolia, which is mostly 5-hydroxytryptophan (aka 5-HTP).
Taking 5-HTP directly bypasses the conversion step of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan, bringing you one step closer to serotonin. In fact, 5-HTP is the direct precursor to serotonin. Dietary tryptophan is converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan before serotonin.
What Does Serotonin Do?
We don’t know everything that serotonin does in the body, but we are confident that we’d be quite miserable without it. Tryptophan depletion studies, which are experiments conducted to deprive the body of this essential amino acid, and consequently serotonin, can quickly result in low mood, irritability and aggression.
From examine.com, an unbiased dietary supplement evaluation resource:
5-HTP has been used with success to restore serotonin levels in those that may suffer from decreased serotonin levels, such as the depressed and those with high levels of body inflammation (typically seen in metabolic syndrome).
In short, serotonin is a neurotransmitter; a brain chemical that is believed to facilitate relaxation and happiness. To cite once again from examine.com:
5-HTP is neurally active by increasing serotonin levels and will be felt, but its actions are more ‘euphoric’ or happiness inducing rather than stimulatory.
What If I’m Already Happy?
Then 5-HTP is not for you!
Like all neurotransmitters, more is not necessarily better. Serotonin serves to balance the activity of excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It is intended only if you are showing signs of inadequate levels of serotonin.
Too much serotonin could make you feel lethargic, or even result in a life threatening condition known as serotonin syndrome.
Shouldn’t Everyone be Using This for Depression?
Although depression may look the same on the surface, the underlying reasons behind one’s depression could significantly vary between individuals. This is something each person needs to work with their doctor to determine, preferably a doctor who is experienced with both pharmaceuticals and plant-based medicine.
That being said, 5-HTP is a very underrated supplement, and has not been the subject of nearly enough clinical trials for the promise it’s shown in preliminary studies. Consider this concluding statement about 5-HTP, where it was compared to a popular SSRI antidepressant:
5-HTP has a definite antidepressant effect in patients with depression. Antidepressant effect was seen within 2 weeks of treatment and was apparent in all degrees of depression. The therapeutic efficacy of 5-HTP was considered as equal to that of fluoxetine.
In addition to the encouraging results of preliminary studies, thousands of 5-HTP reviews, throughout the internet claim that this supplement has helped them to feel less sad, less anxious, with some going as far as claiming it has given them their lives back.
Can I Take 5-HTP with My Existing Antidepressant?
Okay, that was a little abrupt. What we really mean is don’t do this without a doctor’s direct supervision. Serotonin syndrome is a real thing, and from what we hear it feels far worse than whatever you might be hoping to treat with 5-HTP.
Should I take it with Anything Else?
In addition to exercise and healthy diet, consider taking 5-HTP with a green tea extract, or chasing each dose with a few cups of green tea.
- Supplies 500 mg of green tea extract per 1-capsule serving.
- Green tea is standardized to 98% polyphenols, 80% catechins and 50% EGCG.
- Standardization ensures consistent levels of active ingredients in each dose.
- Contains 100 servings per bottle.
Theoretically a catechin (EGCG) in green tea may prevent 5-HTP from converting to serotonin in your stomach so that more gets to your brain. This might result in fewer gastrointestinal side effects too. In addition, green tea has demonstrated its own antidepressant effects, so this combination could lead you to being one super-anti-depressed individual.
How Much Do I Take?
Like all plant based medicines and pharmaceuticals, you should start off with a very low dose for a day or two, and then work your way up to an effective dose. 50mg might be a good test dose to make sure you are not allergic.
Most people take between 100mg to 300mg per day to get the response they want. Some do take a little more. Many have to take it in the morning as it could interfere with sleep for some people if taken to close to bedtime. Others take it at night and use it as a sleep aid too.
What else might benefit from 5-HTP?
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Anxiety/Panic Attacks.
- Migraine headache.
- Obesity. (This might be due to 5-HTP making one feel more “full” during meals, leading to less eating.)
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Once again, consult with a doctor who is knowledgeable about supplements, and their potential complementary or antagonistic effects prior to rushing out and getting a bottle.
Add 100mg to 300mg of 5-HTP to your stack each morning.
Take on an empty stomach about a half hour before breakfast.