5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

5-HTP is an amino acid that occurs in the body. The body makes 5-HTP from tryptothan (an essential amino acid) and coverts it to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter. 5-HTP supplements help raise serotonin levels in the brain, which may have a positive effect on many body functions. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an intermediate in the natural synthesis of the essential amino acid, tryptophan, to serotonin. In clinical studies, administration of 5-HTP increased serotonin levels. The enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase adds a hydroxyl group (OH) to tryptophan, forming the 5-HTP intermediate. In the body, it converts to serotonin with the removal of a carboxyl group (COOH) by a second enzyme. The 5-HTP supplied in this supplement is derived from the Griffonia simplicifolia plant. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of endocrine and brain activity responsible for emotion, appetite and wake/sleep/wake cycles.

5-Hydroxytryptophan is a metabolite of tryptophan and, in low doses, is thought to have benefits for attention deficit, sleep disorder, and concentration. Unfortunately it is very expensive and there have not been enough studies done on the right dose. 5-Hydroxytryptophan is also thought to augment the benefits of antidepressants, and it may also cut the carbohydrate appetite. Because it has a paradoxical stimulating effect in some patients, it should be taken in the morning. For those on whom it does not have a stimulating effect, it should be taken at night to build the serotonin level.

5-HTP may be helpful in treating a wide variety of conditions related to low serotonin levels. Studies suggest it as effective as some antidepressant drugs in treating mild to moderate depression, with patients reporting improvements in mood, anxiety, insomnia, and physical symptoms. 5-HTP may also benefit fibromyalgia patients. The primary cause of fibromyalgic pain is believed to come from low serotonin levels. 5-HTP has been shown to increase tolerance to pain, improve the quality of sleep, and relieve anxiety and depression associated with fibromyalgia.

Tryptophan (Trp) is an amino acid (balances nitrogen in adults) that the body makes from 5-HTP. In turn, Trp is converted into serotonin, which is found in platelets (maintains homeostasis) in the brain cells and the intestine. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter and 5-HTP helps to raise levels of this chemical in the brain. Serotonin positively effects anxiety, aggression, sensation to pain, sleep, temperature, and sexual behavior.

Many anti-depressant drugs increase the level of serotonin in the brain. These drugs are used to treat mild to moderate levels of depression thereby improving mood, anxiety, and ability to sleep. Fibromyalgia is a disorder that presents symptoms of tender joints, pain throughout the body, stiff muscles, and fatigue. Low serotonin levels may affect pain tolerance. 5-HTP raises pain tolerance, reduces anxiety, and has been shown to improve the quality of sleep.

5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP is also known as L-5-HTP,L-5-hydroxytryptophan, oxitriptan and L-2-amino-3-(5-hydroxy-1-H-indol-3-yl)propionic acid. Its molecular formula is C11H12N2O3 and its molecular weight is 220.23 daltons. A major commercial source of 5-HTP is the African plant Griffonia simplicfolia, a relative of carob. Small amounts of 5-HTP, as well as serotonin, are found in food sources,including bananas, tomatoes, plums, avocados, eggplant, walnuts and pineapples.

The mechanism of the possible antidepressant activity of 5-HTPis accounted for by its conversion to the neurotransmitter serotonin which plays a central role in the affective state. Antidepressants may work by either binding to one or more of the family of serotonin 5-HT receptors (5-HT1 -5-HT7) or by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin. Thetricyclic antidepressants may work, in part, by binding to the serotonin 5-HT6 receptor, a member of the G protein superfamily which is positively coupled to an adenylate cyclase second-messenger system. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) selectively inhibit the reuptake of serotonin. 5-HTP most likely binds to one or more of the 5-HT receptors, although which one(s) in not known for sure.