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August 1998
5-HTP is the Right Step in Several Directions

What do depression, insomnia, anxiety, suicide, migraines, PMS, obsessive/compulsive behavior, stress, obesity, and addiction have in common? All of these conditions are manifestations of low levels of serotonin.

Now, a natural and safe alternative to pharmaceutical drugs is available in the form of 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan (5- HTP). 5-HTP, a compound synthesized in the body from the amino acid tryptophan, is ten times more active than L- Tryptophan and is the immediate precursor to serotonin (5-Hydroxy typtamine or 5-HT) which is found in the brain, blood platelets, and duodenal mucosa cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Since serotonin is found in the brain and central nervous system, it has many implications on mood, behavior and sleep patterns.

The function of Prozac, and many other antidepressant drugs, is to increase the availability of serotonin in certain brain synapses. Unfortunately, these drugs can produce many unpleasant and dangerous side effects.

Researchers have clinically investigated 5-HTP in comparison to antidepressant drugs. The results of the studies were astounding. Using the standard depression scale, both the drug and 5-HTP groups displayed identical reduction in depression. Depressed patients who received 100 mg of 5-HTP , three times daily, showed at least a 50% improvement in their symptoms, without any reported side effects. Beta-endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones, were also significantly elevated after consumption of 200 mg of 5-HTP by patients with severe depression.

Subsequent studies were performed using 5-HTP for anxiety, panic disorder, sleep difficulties and obesity. In his research R.S. Kahn observed an obvious decline in anxiety symptoms when supplementing with 5-HTP and patients with panic disorder noticed a feeling of relief after receiving 5-HTP .

Melatonin , which helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, is a metabolite of serotonin. Early research studies show that supplementing with 5-HTP may have positive effects on sleep patterns. In a six week clinical study with obese patients, those supplemented with 5-HTP were able to reduce carbohydrate intake and experienced a feeling of early satiety, which contributed to significant weight loss. The versatility of 5-HTP makes it a valuable and cost-effective supplement.