5-HTP: A Complete Guide For Men
Many people, including a large number of men, struggle with issues of insomnia, depression, sleep disorders, overweight/obesity issues, and anxiety. These are problems that are not only increasing but increasing at a fast rate. Additionally, these disorders are often linked together so that many people not only experience just one of these maladies but two or more at once.
Therefore, there is a never-ending search for safe and effective solutions to these problems in people’s health. People are tired of suffering and need solutions. Also, many people are growing tired of being given prescription drugs as a solution that initially calms the storm of the original symptoms but then produces more symptoms later on, which are unrelated to the original diagnosis and that end up resulting in additional health problems.
In society’s quest to find better options, natural supplements have become more and more popular, gaining credence as science proves their potential to alleviate the symptoms of many health problems, if not curing them completely over time.
One such natural supplement is 5-HTP. In this article, 5-HTP and its potential to aid in reducing, or even eliminating the above-mentioned health issues, will be heavily discussed, therefore giving the reader everything they need to know about 5-HTP and if it may be the right option for them.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP is becoming more and more well-known as it becomes an increasingly popular product in the natural remedies community. But what exactly is it?
5-Hydroxytryptophan is a Naturally Occurring Amino Acid
5-HTP, or hydroxytryptophan, is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps the brain have access to more serotonin and melatonin. It easily acts as both a carrier and a converter for these two compounds. How does it do this?
Unlike other amino acids which have to compete in order to get into the brain, 5-HTP can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, without any lapse of time. Therefore, it quickly gets inside the brain where it then either releases serotonin and melatonin that has already been converted, or it goes to work actively converting into these two needed compounds, hence giving the brain the serotonin and melatonin levels it needs to function more properly.
It can come From L-Tryptophan or The African Plant Known as Griffonia
5-HTP can come from two different sources. The first source is through L-Tryptophan. L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that turns into 5-HTP when taken into the body. So although people can buy L-Tryptophan for their depression, anxiety, or insomnia issues, it is much more effective to buy 5-HTP because it has already been converted from L-Tryptophan, therefore avoiding an added conversion step that the body would have had to perform in order to get serotonin and melatonin.
5-HTP can also be found in the Griffonia simplicifolia plant, or more specifically, in the plant’s seeds. In this way, 5-HTP is sourced directly with no conversion necessary. These plants are grown commercially to produce adequate 5-HTP supplies due to the increasing demand for it.
5-HTP is Also Known as Oxitriptan
Oxitriptan is the French name for 5-HTP and is given in small milligram dosages under the names Cincofarm, Levotonine, Levothym, Oxyfan, Serotonyl, Serovit, Telesol, Trimag, Tript-OG, Tript-OH, Triptene, and Triptum.
The Established 5-HTP Benefits for Health and Wellbeing
Although there are other potential benefits of 5-HTP, the following heavily studied health benefits below have been, for the most part, accepted, making 5-HTP a big star in the treatment of depression, sleep disorders, and anxiety.
5-HTP Could Help with Depression Symptoms
Studies, although not extensive in scale, have proven that 5-HTP has the ability to alleviate depression in people. In a study done on depressed males, there was evidence to prove that 5-HTP worked better than a placebo.
In another study, it was proven that 5-HTP helps to not only ease symptoms in people taking the supplement by itself, but also in people taking SSRI antidepressants. It seems that 5-HTP combined with antidepressants increased mood improvements more so than the people that had just taken the antidepressant by itself.
5-HTP Supplements Can Improve Sleep Quality
Studies have also revealed that 5-HTP has the potential to drastically improve people’s circadian rhythms. A study done using both GABA and 5-HTP over an extended period of time revealed that the studied patients had large improvements in their quality and length of sleep.
Another study done using a mix of GABA and 5-HTP as well as a placebo revealed that the nine people taking the mixture and not the placebo saw a remarkable improvement in their sleep.
Although there has been some evidence to suggest that 5-HTP has no ability to relieve anxiety, and in some cases actually increase it, studies nonetheless have proven that for most people, it helps significantly.
In a six week study involving people who had extreme anxiety related to their love lives, serotonin levels increased in just three weeks, relieving the patients considerably. Another study involving people who suffered from panic attacks took 5-HTP and also found substantial relief. Yet another study revealed that 5-HTP increased both GABA receptors and actual GABA levels themselves, therefore helping the patients to feel more calm, relaxed, and peaceful.
Possible 5-HTP benefits that require more research
The following possible benefits are not as well researched nor are they as well known; however, if you choose to take this supplement for a reason mentioned above, you might also find relief in one of the symptoms below, although it is not recommended to take 5-HTP solely for one of these lesser-known benefits simply because there has not been enough evidence to prove them.
Alleviate Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The assumption is that if you increase serotonin production in the brain, schizophrenia symptoms are improved. But the problem with this is that schizophrenia involves an exact science of balancing serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain and also knowing which areas of the brain to effectively stimulate while treating.
A test was done to see how 5-HTP performed alongside schizophrenic drugs but, while it did initially help the condition, it was a small study and 5-HTP’s effects on schizophrenia were not studied alone but with the drugs.
The bottom line is that scientists have their hypothesis on treating this mental illness with 5-HTP but it is a very tricky game and most definitely requires more research and trial before being confirmed and used on the masses of people who struggle with this devastating mental illness.
Weight Loss Could Be Assisted with 5-HTP
In two separate studies, obese people were given 5-HTP over a period of time, revealing improvements in food intake and in their weight. Another study was done on overweight diabetics, also resulting in weight loss and appetite control.
But although these studies indicate that 5-HTP helps with reduced appetite and weight control, there hasn’t been enough people that can verify this nor are there enough studies.
5-HTP May Help with Heroin and Alcohol Withdrawal
It is known that both heroin and alcohol produce a short-term serotonin rush in the brain, therefore temporarily relieving serotonin deficiency symptoms.
As already stated, 5-HTP helps in producing more serotonin. Therefore, the assumption is that this supplement can help in easing people off of their addictions by giving them a healthier way to obtain more serotonin.
However, drugs and alcohol both produce a quick over-abundance of happy chemicals in the brain, which is a part of why people get hooked on these stimulants, to begin with. 5-HTP is much more subtle, producing a gentler relief over time.
Consequently, it is arguably as to whether or not 5-HTP is a sufficient answer for drug and alcohol-dependent individuals who are used to quick and powerful relief.
What The 5-HTP Reviews Say
Below are four reviews of 5-HTP from Everydayhealth.com, two reviewing the product for depression and two for generalized anxiety disorder:
Here are two reviews (one good and one bad) of 5-HTP from Amazon.com:
It is good to keep in mind that although most ratings are good for this product, some people have adverse experiences with it or simply do not ever feel anything at all; therefore, the ratings are not always good. If you are considering taking 5-HTP, make sure you do your own research before you decide if it’s right for you.
5-HTP vs. Tryptophan
Tryptophan is the precursor to 5-HTP. This means that 5-HTP comes from Tryptophan. Tryptophan, before converted into 5-HTP in the body, is one of the nine essential amino acids that make up proteins.
5-HTP is also an amino acid. It acts as the middle-man when tryptophan is taken for depression and sleep disorders because Tryptophan has to be converted into 5-HTP before it can then be converted into serotonin and melatonin.
Additionally, tryptophan has to compete with other chemicals in order to cross the blood-brain barrier. 5-HTP does not and therefore enters the brain easily, making it the preferred product to purchase over Tryptophan.
Where You Can Buy 5-HTP supplements
5-HTP can be bought online as well as in most health stores in your area. If you decide to buy 5-HTP locally, simply research your local health food stores for quality brands. Buying your 5-HTP supplement locally means that you get it right away with no wait. However, one thing to keep in mind is that most health food stores charge retail prices on supplements, although you may be able to catch them on sale if you find out when your local stores are holding sales.
Online stores such as Amazon.com and Vitacost.com give you wholesale prices at all times, although this is not true for every health food/supplement site. On the downside, however, this method of purchase doesn’t supply the product for you right away; there is a wait required while it ships to your home.
How To Choose The Proper 5-HTP Dosage
How much 5-HTP you take depends on what you’re taking it for due to the fact that you are wanting to produce a certain percentage of serotonin/melatonin for a certain health struggle you are facing.
If you are taking 5-HTP for depression, studies indicate that effective dosages range from 150-400 milligrams daily. Note that if you are just starting out in taking the supplement, start off at the minimum dosage and work your way up. Also, it is very important to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
If you are taking 5-HTP to improve your sleep, then the recommended dosage is from 100-200 milligrams. But higher dosages are possible as long as you first consult your doctor.
If you are taking 5-HTP for anxiety, you want to start at 50 milligrams a day and work your way up if not seeing any relief.
Is 5-HTP For You?
In determining whether or not 5-HTP is the right supplement for you, it is important that first, you consult your doctor; secondly, that you know whether or not a natural solution to your symptoms is what you truly need, at least starting out.
Some people that have extreme symptoms of depression, sleep disorders, weight gain, and anxiety might need a stronger intervention since 5-HTP tends to work best over time and is a more subtle relief in most cases than medications or heavy amounts of therapy.
Only you know what is right for you. Get advice from your doctor. Do your own research. After this, it is easier to determine your course of action based upon the severity of your health struggles.