5-HTP: What Can It Do for You?
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At first glance, 5-HTP is an intriguing set of numbers and letters that could stand for anything. In fact, 5-HTP is short for 5-Hydroxytryptophan. Isn’t that a mouthful? Fortunately, the name was shortened to make this particular supplement more consumer-friendly. According to webmd.com, it is derived from the seeds of an African plant and is actually a chemical byproduct of the protein building block L-tryptophan. So, enough with the technical jargon, because what you probably want to know is how this particular natural product can do for you. Read on to find out.
The Benefits of Taking 5-HTP
5-HTP is commonly touted as a treatment for a variety of disorders, including sleep disorders, migraines and tension headaches, fibromyalgia, PMS, ADHD, and depression and anxiety, according to medline.com. According to research published on the site, 5-HTP may be as effective as prescription antidepressants in the treatment of depression, and may cause fewer of the side effects that prescription antidepressants are notorious for. It manages this by affecting the production of a brain chemical called serotonin, the same chemical that many antidepressants target. Webmd.com states that, by affecting serotonin, it can treat several of the aforementioned diseases in which serotonin can play a role. Weight loss can also occur when losing this product because the supplement can curb cravings and prevent people from engaging in emotional eating.
Thus far, there is no recommended dosage for the supplement, so it’s important to follow the product label or consult a health professional prior to use.
The Downfalls of 5-HTP
Noted potential side effects of this supplement include drowsiness, sexual problems, muscle problems, heartburn, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid this supplement because it may be unsafe and people with Down syndrome may also experience seizures while taking this supplement, according to webmd.com
The supplement can interact with antidepressants because they both increase serotonin. Too much serotonin can lead to symptoms such as heart problems and shivering. This is true of both the older class of antidepressants called MAOIs and the newer SSRIs, such as Prozac and Paxil.
The supplement can also interact with Carbidop (Lodosyn), and can cause side effect such as rapid speech, anxiety and aggressiveness.
It’s important to note that the supplement can interact with dextromethorphan, which is in Robitussin DM, a common over-the-counter medication. They both affect serotonin in the brain and can lead to heart problems.
In addition to the supplement and antidepressants, Meperidine (Demerol) can also increase serotonin in the brain. Taking 5-HTP along with meperidine (Demerol) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Other drugs that affect serotonin and can interact with the supplement include pentazocine (Talwin) and Tramadol (Ultram).
There are no known food interactions with 5-HTP.