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5-HTP Related Links

5-HTP - SSRI Alternative

–    For SEROTONIN - Against Depression

–    For SEROTONIN - To Aid WeightLoss

–   For MELATONIN - To treat insomnia and other sleeping disorders

- How to Supplement 5-HTP

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SSRI alternative - 5-HTP for depression, anxiety, insomnia

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

Natural Alternative to SSRIs (Selective SEROTONIN Reuptake Inhibitors)

5-HTP is a precursor to SEROTONIN and MELATONIN

Tryptophan from food is metabolized to SEROTONIN and MELATONIN via 5-HTP

Deficiency of SEROTONIN is related to several Health problems

SSRIs (Selective SEROTONIN Reuptake Inhibitors)

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) increases brain's SEROTONIN

5-HTP is a precursor to SEROTONIN and MELATONIN

5-HTP is produced by the body from the protein amino acid tryptophan(found in many foods)

5-HTP can be taken as a supplement to increase brain levels of the body's hormones:

-   SEROTONIN - to help alleviate: Depression, hunger, OCD's, Migraine, Fibromyalgia pain;

-   MELATONIN - level to help with: Insomnia;

(MELATONIN is also a powerful antioxidant in the body)

Tryptophan from food is metabolized to SEROTONIN and MELATONIN via 5-HTP

Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid found in certain foods (especially protein) required by the human body for the production of SEROTONIN and MELATONIN.


Essential amino acid:(i.e. must be eaten, since body cannot make it; L-tryptophan is also obtainable by prescription)

Via Tryptophan hydroxylase

(vitamin B3 dependent enzyme*)

Mainly converted in intestines;

B3 shortage reduces 5-HTP, SEROTONIN, MELATONIN production


Via 5-HTP decarboxylase

(vitamin B6 dependent enzyme.

However, too much B6 can convert 5-HTP to SEROTONIN before it reaches the brain **)

B6 shortage reduces SEROTONIN, MELATONIN production


Alleviates:depression, hunger, OCD's, Migraine, Fibromyalgia pain;See: SEROTONIN

Via SEROTONIN n-acetyl transferase (NAT)


Via Hydroxy-indole-O-methyltransferase (HIOMT)

+ SAMe (Donates a methyl group molecule to HIOMT )

SAMe –And Other Methyl Donor Molecules

(vitamin B6, B12, folate dependent)


Aids Sleep; Potent antioxidant;


* The body often uses Tryptophan to make vitamin B3, at a very high cost of 60mg L-Tryptophan to make just 1 mg B3.

** Too much vitamin B6 can cause 5-HTP to convert into SEROTONIN before it reaches the brain? – and consequently raise blood SEROTONIN levels

–   5-HTP can pass the blood brain barrier, whereas SEROTONIN is too large amolecule –thus it is desireable that some 5-HTP enters the brain before conversion, which may not happen if B6 is available to excess. As to how much B6 is too much is debateable, but is conservatively in the 5-10 mg range.

–   Experiments with monkeys and rats found that ample amounts of B6 (Even to the point of "moderate excess") increased production of brain SEROTONIN from 5-HTP by up to 60%.

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;102:91-97.

Dakshinamurti K, Sharma SK, Bonke D. Influence of B vitamins on binding properties of serotonin receptors in the CNS of rats. Klin Wochenschr 1990;68:142-145.

–   Conversely, however, a notable rat study found that rats with vitamin B6 deficiency produced very little SEROTONIN in the rat brain.

Dakshinamurti K, LeBlancq WD, Herchl R, Havlicek V. Nonparallel changes, in brain monoamines of pyridoxine deficient growing rats. Exp Brain Res. 1976;26:355-366.

Deficiency of SEROTONIN is related to several Health problems

SEROTONIN regulates mood -the work of HM van Praag, SN Young and others over the past 20 years, shows that SEROTONIN, a neurotransmitter (a chemical that carries messages between nerve cells, to and from the brain), plays an important role in the regulation of mood (anti-anxiety, antidepressant), impulse control (inhibits aggression and obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD)), pain control, appetite, body temperature, sleep, the secretion of various hormones and a feeling of calm and well-being. (Note that SEROTONIN can be converted to MELATONIN by the pineal gland).

van Praag HM, Management of Depression with SEROTONIN Precursors. Biol Psychiatry. 1981; 16: 291-310

When levels of SEROTONIN drop too low -an array of problems can occur, including:



Obsessive/compulsive behavior

Sugar cravings


Night eating syndrome



Bulimia / Eating Disorders

Tension headaches


ADD in children


Parkinson's disease

Non-specific aches and pains


Low pain thresholds

Sleep disorders/ Insomnia




What are SSRIs? -SSRIs are a class of drugs that work by preventing SEROTONIN from being reabsorbed by nerve endings, thus keeping its circulating levels high and available to stimulate SEROTONIN receptors, however, they also have many undesirable side effects.

Re-uptake of neurotransmitters - for nerve cells to communicate, neurotransmitters are secreted by one neuron and picked up by receptor proteins on the surface of another neuron. Once the message has been delivered, a neurotransmitter is either destroyed or reabsorbed into the cell that made it and its activityis over. This process is known as re-uptake.

SEROTONIN's action in the synapses is normally terminated by reuptake of this neurotransmitter by the secreting (pre-synaptic) cell. SSRIs (a class of drugs) block the reuptake of SEROTONIN that does not bind to the target cell, leading to increased serotonergic action because there is more SEROTONIN left in the synapse to act as a neurotransmitter.

SSRIs include Prozac™, Zoloft™, Paxil™, Luvox™, Fluvoxamine™, Lexapro™and Effexor™, all of which prevent the 'presynaptic' nerve from reabsorbing previously secreted SEROTONIN.

Today, SSRI's, such as Prozac, have been made the gold standard of managing the SEROTONIN-deficiency syndrome. However, the Poeldinger study showed 5-HTP to be superior.

W. Poeldinger, et al. A Functional-Dimensional Approach to Depression: SEROTONIN Deficiency as a Target Syndrome in a Comparison of 5 -Hydroxytryptophan and Fluvoxamine. Psychopathology. 1991; 24: 53-810

A study reported by Risch and Nemeroff demonstrates, that even those successfully treated with SSRIs (ignoring their frequent and sometimes serious side effects), are still dependent upon their brains' producing adequate SEROTONIN from either tryptophan or 5-HTP.

Risch S, Nemeroff C, Neurochemical Alterations of Serotonergic Neuronal Systems in Depression. J Clin Psychiatry. 1992; 53: 3-7

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) increases brain's SEROTONIN

Clinical trials show that 5-HTP is a safe, natural way to boost the brain's SEROTONIN levels

5-HTP has been shown to produce results equal to or better than those of synthetic drugs - used in problems arising from SEROTONIN or MELATONIN deficiency, and has been used for decades in Europe as an approved and effective treatment for a wide range of health problems, including depression, fibromyalgia, sleep problems (including insomnia), binge eating, pain, obsessive compulsive behavior, chronic headaches, weight loss, and other medical complaints.

5-HTP is the precursor to SEROTONIN - usually produced by the body from tryptophan (a food amino acid) by vitamin B3-dependent enzyme

5-HTP for SEROTONIN – Against Depression

5-HTP for SEROTONIN – To Aid for Weight-loss

The body can convert SEROTONIN to the hormone MELATONIN - responsible for setting your biological clock and helping you sleep.

5-HTP for MELATONIN - Insomnia and other Sleep disorders

Advantages of 5-HTP over Tryptophan supplementation

5-HTP More easily passes blood brain barrier (BBB) - for many people, getting tryptophan through the blood brain barrier is the main bottleneck leading to inadequate brain SEROTONIN levels. 5-HTP passes through the BBB into the brain far more easily than tryptophan.

Less competition / more efficient -unlike tryptophan, 5-HTP is not used to make proteins in the body, so there is no competition for 5-HTP by cells outside the brain, as there is for the body's scarce tryptophan supplies. Human clinical studies show that 5-HTP is far more efficient at increasing brain SEROTONIN levels than L-tryptophan.

More effective against depression - 5-HTP has been a far more successful antidepressant, even when the Tryptophan dosage used is 10 to 15 times higher than the 5-HTP dosage. Also, relapses back into depression are more common with Tryptophan than with 5-HTP.

Not toxic to liver (especially when under stress) - L-Tryptophan can be broken down in the liver by pyrrolase, an enzyme that converts Tryptophan to kynurenine and its metabolites, which can be mildly liver toxic at high levels. 5-HTP is not metabolized through this pathway. The stress hormone, CORTISOL, activates pyrrolase, such that any L-Tryptophan supplementation should be kept to under 1 gram (1000 mg.),especially in those who are chronically stressed.

5-HTP also increases mood /alertness neurotransmitters - Unlike Tryptophan, 5-HTP has been shown to increase brain dopamine and noradrenaline activity. These are two key mood and alertness regulating neurotransmitters, and when tyrosine, the amino-acid precursor for brain dopamine/ noradrenaline is given along with 5-HTP, the effect is even more powerful.

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