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5-htp is an herbal supplement, derived from the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. 5-htp (5-hydroxytryptophan) is used as a supplement because it is known to be the precursor (gets converted) to the neurotransmitter serotonin1. ‘Neurotransmitters’ are messenger molecules used by the nervous system to communicate with the rest of the body. Neurotransmitters like serotonin have an enormous influence on how we feel physically and mentally.
Serotonin has been of considerable interest to researchers and pharmaceutical industries because it plays a major role in the regulation of important bodily functions like appetite, sleep, mood, and pain sensation. Some other supplements are used to affect neurotransmitters for a positive effect include L-phenylalanine/DLPA, melatonin, St. John's Wort, tyrosine and choline.
5-htp has been be used therapeutically for a wide range of conditions related to low serotonin levels. For many people, 5-htp supplements acts as an appetite suppressant by increasing levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin. 5-htp also seems to specifically control carbohydrate cravings, probably by increasing serotonin levels, which can be lower in those restricting carb and calorie intake.
5-htp has been useful in cases of depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, insomnia, attention deficit disorder, and chronic headaches when used under physician supervision.
General recommended dosage: 50mg, 1-3 times daily.Therapeutic dosages vary; consult your physician for guidance.Note: If 5-htp does not seem to work or produce any effects when taken with food, try taking it without food. Allow at least 2 weeks of consistent use to experience its full benefits or make a determination as to its effectiveness in your circumstances.
Mild nausea, heartburn, and other gastrointestinal discomfort may occur due to 5-htp. These side effects are shown to decrease over time. There is insufficient data regarding the use of 5-htp in pregnant/nursing women, diabetics and children to assert its safety and appropriateness in those circumstances. Consult your physician before using this supplement if taking any prescription medication. 5-htp has been shown to have negative interactions with the following prescription medications; Anti-depressants, Carbidopa, Sumatriptan, Tramadol, Zolpidem