5 HTP has been touted as a cure for various Serotonin deiciency related illnesses such as Anxiety, Panic Attacks, weight los, insomnia, and depression. 5 HTP, or 5 hydroxytryptophan to give it it’s full name, is manufactured from an African Plant called Griffonia simplicifolia, it is not really practical to get enough of this in your natural diet, so concentrated supplement form is the only way forward. It is commonly found in Healthfood shops and is not normally classed as a drug. Relying on drugs and supplements might not be wise.
Dosage of 5 HTP. When it comes to supplements slack regulations allow manufacturers to be vague. For anxiety, depression, panic attacks and agoraphobia normally 50-100 mg are recommended three times a day. This can be adjusted depending on success and tolerance. For insomnia a single dose half an hour before bed is recommended, again of approximately 50-100 mg. For weight control the same dosage is suggested twenty to thirty minutes before eating. To avoid side effects it is better to start on a low dose and gradually increase.
Dangers: 5-HTP is pretty safe ***but*** there is some evidence that 5-htp can cause damage to heart valves over time…I can find no definitive scientific answer to this question, so maybe more research is needed. It is not associated with the same number of severity of side effects as traditional medical antidepressants such as Prozac, Celexa, and the other SSRIs. There was a rumpus in the past about a contaminated batch of l-tryptophan in the USA which caused serious illness and death. This was not due to the supplement but to the contamination of one brand in one factory.
Side effects: nausea, constipation, gas, drowsiness, or a decreased sex drive. These are usually mild if present at all, and pass quickly. Generally 5-htp’s side effects are considered to be much less than SSRIs. Check this post on 5-HTP side effects as well.
Length of time
Generally it can take 2-4 weeks for 5 htp to start working, or achieve clinical effectiveness
Efficacy of 5 HTP
Definitely some clinical trials have found that 5-htp is for some people more effective than SSRIs. As ever the results of all the studies are hard to interpret and be sure about as researchers are oftened skewed. Pharmacology is a dirty business.
Speak to your doctor! 5 HTP can react badly with SSRIs, MOAIs, some over the counter medications and may not be suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor! (worth saying twice!)
In my opinion, 5 HTP can do good things for the anxiety, panic attack, and agoraphobia sufferer. It may be possible to get the same effect by increasing tryptophan rich foods into your diet! More about that tomorrow!