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Thread: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

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    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Hiyaguha Cohen
    07/30/2016

    They sample it at Costco, promising that you’ll feel better if you take just a few doses daily. The name makes it sound like a type of car oil, but 5-HTP (short for hydroxyl L-tryptophan) actually is a chemical that the body produces as it processes the amino acid tryptophan in the foods you eat.1 It’s what the tryptophan in your milk becomes after you drink it. Once tryptophan becomes 5-HTP, it converts again to serotonin—a key neurotransmitter that supports good mood and sleep. You need naturally produced 5-HTP to maintain your sunny disposition, but if you’re stressed, it could be in short supply. In that case, you can buy 5-HTP supplements derived from the seeds of a West African shrub.2
    The touted benefits of 5-HTP are many, but then again, so are the warnings about taking it. What’s the real story?

    Read more: https://jonbarron.org/depression/pros-and-cons-5-htp-0#
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    Moderator Julieanne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    I tried 5-HTP some years ago when going through a bout of depression. It didn't help a lot, but it may be useful for mild depression. Insomnia wasn't helped either, but I never read of combining it with GABA. On its own, that didn't work either, but maybe the two together might be more effective.

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    Veteran Member Maurya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    For mild depression or for anxiety, 5-HTP may be an effective way to increase serotonin; for promoting sleep, not so much. 5-HTP has been found to increase cortisol, not what we want to have just prior to sleep (personal communication from Nora Gedgaudas). Taking l-tryptophan prior to bedtime might be a better option.

    For GABA, which does not readily cross the blood / brain barrier, a more effective way to get this important compound into our system would be to take Phenibut (4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid HCl). This will go through the blood stream and will be converted into GABA. There have been reports, however, of people becoming dependent upon taking Phenibut, so that sleep will be elusive without it.

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    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Good information, Maurya. Thanks!
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    Veteran Member bmc65's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    I had a pt in the ER once a few yrs ago. He was on SSRIs and had been taking 5-HTP for several days and he was really out of control. From all appearances he was having a serotonin storm. It's why I maintain that people need to use caution with supplements.
    Day before yesterday I had a guy come in after a bout of shortness of breath. He feared he has having a heart attack. Discovered that in addition to smoking and drinking 4 cups of coffee a day, he had just purchased a new supplement that he had taken for the past 2 days prior. I read the ingredients on it. It had a lot of stuff including soy, caffeine, and Yohimbe (herbal ephedrine).
    Last edited by bmc65; 08-19-16 at 04:49 PM.

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    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Yowsah! It's so important to understand what the ingredients in your supplements will do... and even then, start slowly. What they do for others may not be what they will do for you!
    I have had overwhelming anxiety upon awakening, for over a year. As an experiment, I replaced morning coffee with tea. Almost immediately I felt better, and 2 weeks later my anxiety is almost completely gone. Isn't that strange?
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Veteran Member Maurya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Am I the only one who sees some cause for concern about a person who has been taking some strenuous synthetic drugs, then taking a dietary supplement, blaming said supplement for the poor consequences of the interaction? What about the drug itself? If the drug had been discontinued prior to taken a supplement, would any untoward symptoms have been experienced? Why is the supplement always to blame, rather than the drug? Just wondering.

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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Corporate manipulation? Because we must be made to believe that drugs can do no harm?
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    Veteran Member Katee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    It has been about five years ago now but i was going through the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. She writes of how they utilize supplements and diet in dealing with mental health issues. One of the supplements utilized for depression, anxiety, and other issues is 5-HTP. I tried using it for about a week or 10 days. It was suppose to be taken in the evening to help with sleep, but it didn't work that way for me. I tried taking it earlier and earlier in the day. I have problems with energy. The 5-HTP didn't help with that at all, but i was having manic thoughts. I'd be working on a knitting project that would take several days to finish, but i was thinking, "When i finish this in a couple of hours, i'll go on to _______ (also a long term project) and when i finish that i'll . . ." It felt like my brain was racing at 200 MPH. I also felt shaky and light-headed.

    I also found myself wide awake in the middle of the night, and very uncomfortable. And about 2 in the morning i'd start thinking, "Well, i don't see any reason for me to keep living. It wouldn't mean much if i were to die. We have plenty of rope . . . " After two or three nights of this i stopped taking the 5-HTP. It may have benefits for some people, but it needs to be used with care. Many other supplements probably also fall into the same category. I'm not in favor of supplements to be restricted as they are in other countries, or only available by prescription, but people need to be very careful in their use.

    It wasn't a bad experience entirely. It helped me to learn caution with supplements. It also helped me to look at my thought processes differently. In the past i'd had suicidal thoughts, and i'd always considered it a personality defect. That had mostly resolved when i began eating healthy food and being careful of toxins. But the fact that the 5-HTP brought it on so clearly helped me to see brain function was more involved than i'd previously realized, and it helped me to be a little less harsh on myself.

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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    I still look in on mercola.com intermittently and have seen a broad difference in people's reaction to this particular supplement. When I suffered from persistent insomnia, I ordered a bottle in the hope that unlike everything else I had tried, this would be the answer. But there were so many unpredictable reactions to balance the positive reports that in the end I never opened the bottle.

    BTW, I am happy to report that I have resolved the insomnia and the life threatening anxiety I was awakening with every morning. The answer was so simple, I wonder why it took so long to occurr to me: give up coffee entirely. I am a new person, a mere month later!
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Islander View Post
    Yowsah! It's so important to understand what the ingredients in your supplements will do... and even then, start slowly. What they do for others may not be what they will do for you!
    I have had overwhelming anxiety upon awakening, for over a year. As an experiment, I replaced morning coffee with tea. Almost immediately I felt better, and 2 weeks later my anxiety is almost completely gone. Isn't that strange?
    Good point, Islander. I'm so glad you found the culprit of that morning anxiety. It sounds awful.

    And I don't think it's strange about the effect coffee was having on you. I've never been able to drink coffee. The few times I did, I hated its effect on me. It affects me like a drug, like speed, I guess. I drink cocoa and eat dark chocolate with no ill effects, but I am not a person who should drink coffee!

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    Moderator Julieanne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Islander, I'm probably asking an obvious question, but did you try decaffeinated coffee? Although I only have coffee once a day, after breakfast, I only drink decaffeinated. With chronic insomnia, I don't want to add any kind of stimulants!

    Katee, I read The Mood Cure too, but I felt she rather overdid some of the supplements. I tried the recommended SamE, which made me extremely anxious, so I stopped it after a few days. I also thought she recommended far too much meat - around 12 ounce a day if I remember right.

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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Julie, I always laughed at the concept of decaffeinated coffee. Don't we all want the caffeinated effect? Isn't that why we drink coffee? I like the flavor and aroma of coffee, but I always thought the main idea was to get your heart started in the morning. Since organic coffee is expensive, I'd never waste my money on a pound of something whose purpose was not to stimulate me! (BTW, I've learned that organic is not as necessary in coffee as I used to believe). I'm so acclimated to a cup of something hot in the early morning that tea was an easy alternative.

    I liked The Mood Cure but can't remember whether I tried anything as a result of owning it. And whoever borrowed it never returned it, so....
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Veteran Member Maurya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    England seems to have built an empire based on their tea drinking, so tea must have some redeeming social virtues.

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    Default Re: Pros and Cons of 5-HTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Maurya View Post
    Am I the only one who sees some cause for concern about a person who has been taking some strenuous synthetic drugs, then taking a dietary supplement, blaming said supplement for the poor consequences of the interaction? What about the drug itself? If the drug had been discontinued prior to taken a supplement, would any untoward symptoms have been experienced? Why is the supplement always to blame, rather than the drug? Just wondering.
    Very good questions and points, Maurya.

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