About a year ago, I started having trouble getting to sleep at night. I was already having trouble staying asleep during the night, but chalked that up to the chronic pain I had been experiencing for some time. Finally it got to the point where I was unable to get to sleep at all. I'd be awake one night and then the next night would fall asleep out of exhaustion, but not sleep well, then the next night, back to being unable to sleep at all. I had tried a Melatonin supplement, which helped for about three or four months, but eventually stopped working.
A friend recommended that I try 5-HTP. I didn't really know anything about the supplement, but just tried it on her recommendation alone. I was also having chronic pain at that time caused by degenerative disc disease. I was having a lot of pain in my neck, shoulder and left arm. I usually managed my pain with trips to the chiropractor, using the ice pack, and taking Lortab when absolutely necessary. But the Lortabs weren't even working anymore, and chiropractic was only minimally helpful. I was facing a life of a lot of pain.
I went to the health food store and bought he cheapest bottle of 5-HTP I could find, about $17.99. They were 50mg tablets. I had done some reading and the literature suggested taking a dose of 100 milligrams with each meal and at bedtime. I took my first dose of 100 mg at noon.
I am used to ignoring my pain and trying to carry on with life because that was all I could do most of the time, so I don't really know when this happened, but about 4:30 pm I noticed that I no longer had any pain in my neck, shoulder or arm. This area had been throbbing for days despite two trips to the chiropractor and taking Lortabs. Now, I was virtually pain-free! I had been told that it might take up to four weeks for me to see any improvement in my sleep problems, but that night, after taking the lunch, dinner and bedtime doses, I drifted off to sleep with no problem and only woke up once during the night. Fantastic!
So how does this work?
5-HTP is produced by the body from the amino acid Tryptophan. It is then used to make Serotonin, an important neurotransmitter. Seratonin is 5-HT. Low levels of Seratonin can produce changes in sleep, mood, anxiety, aggression, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior and pain sensation.
Tryptophan is found to be naturally occurring in red meats, poultry, seafood such as tuna, salmon, halibut, and shrimp, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, peanuts, cashews and avocados. However, eating more of these foods in your diet does not seem to raise the amounts of 5-HTP in the brain. Probably because the person has other nutritional deficiencies which keep the body from converting Tryptophan to 5-HTP.
Studies on rats and monkeys showed that increasing the amount of Vitamin B6 consumed increased the amount of 5-HTP in the brain. Now, taking the 5-HTP by itself will still increase 5-HTP levels, but increasing Vitamin B6 simply increases the amount of 5-HTP that is converted. It increased levels of 5-HTP in the brain by up to 60% when accompanied by Vitamin B6.
The main source for 5-HTP is the African plant Griffonia simplicfolia.
5-HTP administration causes a significant increase in the hormone Leptin. Leptin plays an important role in the regulation of appetite and other physicological processes. 5-HTP administration results in significant increases in insulin, corticosterone and prolactin levels, and all of these hormones can increase leptin levels. 5-HTP can increase leptin levels. and can help prevent dieting-associated declines in serotonin, thus enhancing weight loss.
I also have diabetes so I am not sure yet what effect this increased insulin level will have on the diabetes, will have to let you know about that later. However, for now, I am sold on this supplement.
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Copyright 2015 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living
1. Hartvig P, Lindner KJ, Bjurling P, Langstrom B, Tedroff J. Pyridoxine effect on synthesis rate of serotonin in the monkey brain measured with positron emission tomography. J Neural Trans 1995, 102, 91-7.
2. Dakshinamurti K, Sharma SK, Bonke D. Influence of B vitamins on binding properties of serotonin receptors in the CNS of rats. Klin Wochenschr 1990, 68: 142-5.