Pure 5-hydroxytryptophan, also called oxitripan, is the major component used in the production of the neurotransmitters, serotonin and melatonin. It is a very popular food supplement used to treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, loss of appetite and the symptoms of winter blues and can be purchased over the counter from various drug stores and health food stores across the United States.
Pure 5-HTP is important for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder or SAD, also called winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder is a disease that affects a lot of people during the changing of the seasons but is more pronounced during the winter months.
SAD has two types, one is the more common winter-onset depression whose symptoms start to manifest towards the end of fall or the start of winter and is gone at the onset of summer; and the less common type which is the summer-onset depression whose symptoms start to show by the end of spring or the start of summer and is gone by the onset of winter.
The most common symptoms of winter blues is oversleeping and overeating. The person experiences difficulty in getting out of bed in the morning and craves more for carbohydrates-rich foods which could result to increase in weight.
Persons suffering from SAD show symptoms very similar to common depression such as lethargy, anxiety, loss of appetite, anti-social behavior, irritability, increased appetite for sex and suicidal tendencies.
5-hydroxytryptophan is important in fighting symptoms of SAD especially among those suffering from the disorder year after year. The onset of fall signals the changing colors of the season from summer to fall colors but it seems that it is the opposite of what actually happens with some people's mood and behavior.
5-HTP is important in the production of serotonin in the brain and the central nervous system because it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier which serotonin cannot do. If serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier then it cannot assert its function in beating the winter blues during these cold and dreary winter months.
Besides being effective in beating the symptoms of winter blues, 5-HTP has been proven to be effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia, overeating, depression, recurring headaches, irregular sleep patterns, and insomnia.When taken in excess, 5-hydroxytryptophan can cause damage to the heart valve, nausea and vomiting when mixed with medication for Alzheimer's disease and serotonin syndrome.
It is found in large amounts in the Griffonia simplicifolia plant, a type of vine with beautiful green petals indigenous to the African continent.