What is 5-HTP?
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin.
There is a massive amount of evidence that suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living.
The lifestyle and dietary practices of many people living in this stress-filled era results in lowered levels of serotonin within the brain.
As a result, many people are overweight, crave sugar and other carbohydrates, experience bouts of depression, get frequent headaches, and have vague muscle aches and pain.
All of these maladies are correctable by raising brain serotonin levels.
Conditions associated with low serotonin levels helped by 5-HTP
Chronic daily headaches
What advantages does 5-HTP have over L-tryptophan?
There are many advantages of 5-HTP over L-tryptophan. First of all, because it is one step closer to serotonin, 5-HTP is more effective than L-tryptophan.
How does 5-HTP compare with melatonin for insomnia?
5-HTP may prove to be better than melatonin. Several clinical studies have shown 5-HTP to produce good results in promoting and maintaining sleep in normal subjects as well as those experiencing insomnia (11-14).
Because chronic headache sufferers have low levels of serotonin in their tissues, some researchers refer to migraine and chronic headaches as a "low serotonin syndrome" (15). There have been several clinical studies with 5-HTP in headaches, both migraine and tension headaches, that have showed excellent results (15-20).
In particular, the use of 5-HTP in the prevention of migraine headache offers considerable advantages over drug therapy. Although a number of drugs have been shown to be useful in the prevention of migraine headaches, all of them carry significant side effects. In contrast, 5-HTP is very safe.
What is the best way to take 5-HTP?
For depression, weight loss, headaches, and fibromyalgia the dosage should be started at 50 mg three times per day.
If the response is inadequate after two weeks, increase the dosage to 100 mg three times per day. This recommendation will greatly reduce the mild symptoms of nausea often experienced during the first few weeks of 5-HTP therapy.
For insomnia, I recommend 100 to 300 mg thirty to forty-five minutes before retiring. Start with the lower dose for at least three days before increasing dosage.
Caution: Very high doses of 5-HTP can be metabolized peripherally and can trigger excess serotonin formation. 5-HTP is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women and should be avoided by those with any form of cardiovascular disease. 5-HTP should not be used by those taking serotonin, 5-HTP, or receptor agonists (naratriptan, sumatriptan, zolmitriptan).