5htp benefits those suffering from a host of problems, including depression, fibromyalgia, and insomnia. Now anxiety symptoms can also be tackled with this natural supplement, according to research studies conducted in the Netherlands.
What It Is
A naturally occurring amino acid used by the body to manufacture the neurotransmitter serotonin, 5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5htp, is essential for normal nerve and brain function to occur. Serotonin is responsible for regulating sleep, mood, and the perception of pain. Low serotonin levels have been linked to the symptoms of depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and anxiety.
Where It Comes From
5htp is typically extracted from the seeds of the West African Griffonia simplicifolia plant. A similar amino acid, tryptophan, is more difficult for the body to use efficiently, and is many times less effective as a supplement than 5htp. Small amounts of 5htp can be found naturally occurring in foods such as eggs, fish, nuts, and seeds, but in order to experience maximum 5htp benefits, taking a supplement is recommended.
What It Does
Anti-depressant medications such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, effect serotonin levels by slowing the pace at which the brain uses available serotonin. These medications artificially manipulate of the brain's physiological regulatory system, and do not cause an actual increase in serotonin production. They are also associated with numerous unwanted side effects, including nausea and vomiting, inability to orgasm, weight gain, dry mouth, diarrhea, insomnia, heart palpitations, tremors, and agitation.
By comparison, 5htp provides the brain with more of the necessary material to manufacture serotonin, without disruption to normal metabolic processes and without the serious side effects of SSRIs. 5htp allows the brain to naturally increases serotonin levels, with minimal side effects. When side effects do occur, they are usually limited to mild gastrointestinal complaints.
5htp For Anxiety
A study conducted in the Netherlands made a strong case for the use of 5htp supplements to treat the symptoms of anxiety. The subjects in the study suffered from two types of anxiety, panic attacks and generalized anxiety. Panic attacks often include feelings of intense fear, rapid breathing (known as hyperventilation), increased heart rate, tingling sensations, sweating and nausea. Generalized anxiety is frequently characterized by excessive, uncontrollable worrying, muscle aches, restlessness, insomnia, and irritability, among other symptoms.
During the study, the subjects each took 300 mg of 5htp daily over the course of 12 weeks, during which their anxiety levels were repeatedly tested and recorded. By the end of the study, the vast majority of the subjects showed significant improvement in anxiety symptoms, and those who had been previously experiencing panic attacks reported their occurrence to have decreased dramatically while taking 5htp supplements.
Some research has shown that people with anxiety disorders may have very sensitive serotonin receptors which hyper-react to bursts of serotonin production which would not normally result in feelings of anxiety. Therefore, when a person experiencing an anxiety disorder takes 5htp or an SSRI, the extra serotonin produced may initially aggravate the anxiety. However, with continued stimulation, these receptors eventually become less sensitive, and anxiety levels start to decline.
Most people using 5htp for anxiety take between 50 and 300 mg daily. Some people obtain more favorable results while taking a lower dose, so it's advisable to start with 50 mg and add more over time if necessary. For maximum absorption, 5htp should be taken with or shortly before a meal, with a full glass of water. Avoid taking more than 200 mg of 5htp at a time. 5htp may not be medically appropriate for everyone, and should not be taken by those using anti-Parkinson's or prescription antidepressant medications. Consulting a health care professional before beginning a 5htp regimen is advised.