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5-HTP the Serotonin Connection

5-HTP the Serotonin Connection

Friday, January 19th 2007

For an ever increasing number of people, symptoms such as sugar and carbohydrate cravings, carrying excessive weight, suffering bouts of depression, insomnia, headaches and chronic muscle pain are an everyday struggle. Is it possible that simply raising brain serotonin levels may help resolve these issues?

Serotonin, an important neuro-messaging chemical produced in the brain and gut, is responsible for the management of many different body functions including appetite, mood and the production of melatonin, the key neurotransmitter for regulating the sleep/wake cycle.

There is a growing volume of evidence suggesting that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of living in the stress-filled 21st century, and that low serotonin may cause a variety of symptoms including all of those listed above.

Other conditions that are frequently associated with low serotonin levels include obsessive or compulsive behaviour, anxiety, addiction, bulimia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, migraine, tension and chronic headaches, premenstrual syndrome and fibromyalgia.

In the 1960's, 5-hydroyptrptophan (5-HTP), an intermediate metabolite of the amino acid tryptophan and a precursor to the production of serotonin, was discovered as a natural constituent in the seeds of the West African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. 5-HTP became widely available in several European countries as a medicine in the 1970s and has been the subject of intense research over the last three decades. Since its introduction to the New Zealand market, 5-HTP has become an increasingly popular natural supplement to help support healthy serotonin levels.

The majority of treatments designed to modulate serotonin levels in the brain, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), are specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's). These drugs effectively block the reuptake of serotonin in the body, thereby raising serotonin levels. However, SSRI's often have unpleasant side effects especially after prolonged use.

Clinician 5-HTP offers a natural alternative, providing 50mg of natural Griffonia seed extract 5-HTP per capsule. 5-HTP words by providing more of the base material the body needs to produce serotonin and therefore naturally raise serotonin levels. Unlike SSRI's, 5-HTP has few known side effects with excess 5-HTP or serotonin passing safely out of the body.

Naturopathic doctor Michael T. Murray, widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine and author of over 20 books, believes that as well as having an appetite suppressant effect, 5-HTP may prove to be better than melatonin for insomnia. Dr Murray states that "several clinical studies have shown 5-HTP to produce good results in promoting and maintaining sleep in normal subjects as well as those experiencing insomnia. One of the key benefits with 5-HTP in the treatment of insomnia is its ability to increase sleep quality".

More than 25 years of research, including double-blind studies, have shown that 5-HTP can also help improve the painful symptoms of primary fibromyalgia and migraine, both now believed to be low serotonin syndromes.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for Mood Enhancing:

5-HTP 120mg
B Max
Clean Lean Protein
5HTP 160mg 1-A-day
Enzogenol with ACE and Selenium
Enzogenol 120mg
Hi Strength Liquid Fish Oil
Ginseng 5 Exhaustion Relief
Good Green Stuff
Multi Power
Opti CoQ10 150mg
Lecithin 1200
Pure Vitality Deer Velvet
Recharge & Relax
Super B Daily Stress + B
Superior Magnesium
Super Multi Plus
Superior Iron

Related health information can be found here:

Depressed, anxious or unable to sleep? You could be low in the brain chemical serotonin
Do you suffer from muscle cramps, PMS, insomnia or nervousness? Then you could be low in magnesium
Mineral Power - a supplement high in calcium & magnesium
Neuromuscular system and nutritional support
Recommended Calcium Intake for New Zealanders
Weight loss naturally

Related articles can be found here:

Help Mood, and Normalise Serotonin Levels
Magnesium's Abundant Health Benefits
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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