What is 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)?
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is an amino acid and a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, cognition, appetite, and sleep. The body uses tryptophan to synthesize 5-HTP, which then converts to serotonin. However, chronic stress, hormones, and imbalanced gut microbes can reduce serotonin production. Low serotonin levels can cause a multitude of health problems, including weight gain, problems sleeping, emotional unease, and more.
Taking 5-HTP supplements can help bridge the gap when external factors reduce serotonin production. The seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia shrub are the primary dietary source of 5-HTP and can contain up to 20% 5-HTP by weight. 5-HTP supplements offer the benefits of Griffonia simplicifolia with more reliable results, as individuals have control over the dosage.
Potential 5-HTP Benefits
5-HTP and Appetite
Many individuals notice an uptick in hunger when they first begin dieting. However, a reduced calorie intake isn’t solely to blame. The body responds to a restricted calorie intake by producing hormones that increase hunger and drive food-seeking behavior. 5-HTP supplements help offset this by counteracting hunger, reducing calorie intake, and improving satiety.
5-HTP and GABA
promotes relaxation and synergizes with 5-HTP to improve both supplements’ sleep-enhancing benefits.
5-HTP for Sleep
5-HTP supplements may facilitate better sleep by boosting serotonin levels, which then convert to melatonin. One study noted 5-HTP’s effects on sleep dramatically improved when paired with GABA. The combination of 5-HTP and GABA helped reduce sleep latency, enhance sleep quality, and increase sleep duration.
Other 5-HTP Uses
Imbalanced serotonin can cause emotional distress and low moods. 5-HTP supplement may improve mood by restoring serotonin levels. It may also reduce the negative effects of romantic and emotional stress.
Potential 5-HTP Side Effects
5-HTP supplements may cause digestive side effects, including heartburn, nausea, upset stomach, or diarrhea. Individuals can reduce the likelihood of 5-HTP side effects by splitting their dose and taking it twice per day instead of one larger dose. Individuals taking MAOIs, SSRIs, or other tryptophan supplements should not take 5-HTP supplements, as they also increase serotonin levels. Individuals should always consult with a physician before taking new supplements.
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