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Help Mood, and Normalise Serotonin Levels

Help Mood, and Normalise Serotonin Levels

Saturday, October 1st 2005

5-hydroxytrptophan (5-HTP) is a standardised extract of the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia. Traditionally, extracts of this African plant have been used to inhibit diarrhea and vomiting and also as an aphrodisiac.

5-HTP is a precursor of serotonin. In the body serotonin's actions are as a neurotransmitter, a regulator of smooth muscle function in the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems and a regulator of blood platelet function. Serotonin is involved in numerous central nervous system actions such as regulating mood, sleep and appetite.

Considerable research has been conducted regarding the activity of 5-HTP including the following:

Mood - 5-HTP helps to normalise serotonin levels and thereby positively affect mood. In the double-blind study, researchers in Zurich reported significant improvements in mood. Psychopathology 24:53:81, 1991 Like-wise in a double-blind, multi-centre study in Germany, researchers reported significant improvements in both objective and self assessment indicators of mood. Arch Pschiat. Nervenkr. 224:175-186. 1997

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 these maladies may be helped by raising brain serotonin levels.

5-HTP naturally increases the serotonin levels in the brain and body, whereas the antidepressants Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil etc, unnaturally increase serotonin levels and have many significant side effects. Do not take 5-HTP together with these drugs or you may increase the serotonin too much and create unpleasant symptoms.


Serotonin in the central nervous system is recognised as a causative factor in some depressed persons. A comprehensive review of seven open and seven controlled clinical studies found that oral consumption of 5-HTP improved the mental and emotional status in 60 to 70 percent of depressed people. The results varied from "modest" to "marked." Dosages ranged from 50 to 300 mg daily.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence, however, comes from scientists who examined research from around the world on the use of 5-HTP in treating depression. One such researcher, writing in Neuropsychobiology, sums up the findings this way: "Of the 17 reviewed studies, 13 confirm that 5-HTP has true antidepressant properties."

Reproduced unabridged from the October - December 2005 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for depression and insomnia:

5-HTP Mood Care
5HTP 120mg
Deep Sleep
Sleep Support Tart Cherry
5HTP 160mg 1-A Day
L- Phenylalanine
Sleep Enhance
Ester C 1000mg + Bioflavonoids
Mineral Power
Clinical Strength St Johns Wort
Stress & Well-Being
Superior Magnesium
Vitamin B Complex 60's

Related health information can be found here:

Depressed, anxious or unable to sleep? You could be low in the brain chemical serotonin
Feeling depressed, anxious or irritable? Beat the blues with St John's Wort
Heart Problems
Party Pack Information

Related articles can be found here:

Is this the secret weapon against chronic fatigue, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease?
Minerals: Critical for well-being
Mood, sleep, serotonin and 5-HTP
Not only to fight obesity and depression - Rhodiola - more powerful than Ginseng!
The mood food connection

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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