1. What is it and where does it come from?
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP or 5-Hydroxy-l-tryptophan) is an amino acid that converts in the brain into a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is an important brain chemical involved in mood, behavior, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin is known as 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptamine, and is found in many places in the body particularly the brain, gastrointestinal system, and blood cells.
5-HTP was introduced to the over the counter market in 1994. Even though it is relatively new to the United States health food industry, it has been available through pharmacies for several years. Since the 1970's it has been available in several European countries as a medicine. With it being so new, the safety issues are still unclear. Little is known about the chronic use of 5-HTP and it is recommended to take 5-HTP in the minimum effective dosage and to avoid prolonged use. A tolerance may develop in people with continual use. No reports of life threatening side effects have been reported from use of 5-HTP.
2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
Research has shown that some people who take 5-HTP noticed an improvement in their mood, reduction in anxiety, decrease in appetite, and felt they were able to sleep better. There have also been reports of people who get a wired feeling when taking 5-HTP.
5-HTP can help curb appetite and lead to weight loss. Not everyone notices a decrease in appetite from using 5-HTP. If a decrease is noticed, with lifestyle changes and a change in diet, 5-HTP can be used as a temporary appetite suppressant in a life long plan for keeping weight off.
3. Who needs it and what are symptoms of deficiency?
Anyone who seeks to improve their mood, behavior, appetite, or sleep may benefit from taking 5-HTP.
4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
It is recommended that you start with 50 mg three times per day. If there is no or little response after two weeks of use, increase the dosage to 100 mg three times a day. It is recommended this way to help reduce the risk of mild symptoms of nausea often experienced during the first few weeks of use. 5-HTP can be taken with food, but if you are using it for weight loss it is recommended that you take it 20 minutes before meals.
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