Updated: Jun 6
Have you heard of 5-HTP? A natural serotonin and melatonin booster. Read on, I promise this is something worth knowing.
Before we delve into the benefits, I want to talk about one of the conditions that it can help with: anxiety.
Anxiety is a completely natural physiological response, which has helped our species survive. If it weren’t for anxiety, humans would not have survived during the hunting and gathering time when protecting ourselves from wild animals was life or death. It has one job: to keep you safe.
It is our body’s natural alarm system. Think about the purpose of a home security system: it alerts us if an intruder is attempting to enter our home, allowing us to sleep safely at night. An alarm can be set off by broken windows, opening a door, or motion detection.
In the same way, our brain has a complex system that works together, much like an alarm system. Within the limbic system is the amygdala, which plays a significant role in anxiety since it is responsible for activating our fight/flight/freeze response. Just like motion detectors, the limbic system has parts of the brain that scan for danger, and if it assesses something as threatening, then it begins a chain reaction with the ultimate goal of alerting you that something isn’t right.
So this is good stuff, but just like a home security system, sometimes we get false alarms. Our sensors get a little faulty and begin to alarm us when there is no actual danger. Our brain gets flooded with neurotransmitters.
Okay, now that we have that covered: What is 5-HTP?
5-Hydroxytryptophan is an amino acid (the building blocks of proteins needed for the production of hormones and neurotransmitters.) 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. This means that the body breaks down 5-HTP into serotonin and then into melatonin.
Low serotonin levels can cause depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Since 5-HTP can only be converted into serotonin, supplementing with it is a natural way to boost our levels.
5-HTP has incredible benefits in addition to helping with anxiety, including:
Migraines and tension headaches
Weight loss: Studies show this supplement can help decrease carbohydrate cravings and reduce overall caloric intake.
Alcohol withdrawal: preliminary research shows that taking 5HTP with D-phenylalanine and L-glutamine for 40 days can help reduce withdrawal symptoms.
It is possible to increase serotonin levels too much, so if you are already taking an antidepressant (SSRI and MAO inhibitors), please discuss it with your doctor. Overall, 5-HTP is generally safe, effective, with minimal side effects!
The recommended dose for anxiety is 150- 300 mg daily
In addition to 5HTP, there are essential vitamins and natural alternatives to treat anxiety. In fact, I am the clinical director at bekome- we've formulated a multivitamin blend proven to help alleviate anxiety!!
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I hope this helps!
5-HTP - Your Comprehensive Guide on this Prized Amino Acid. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.patchmd.com/5-htp.html
Integrative Medicine, 3rd Edition, David Rakel MD. Saunders, Philadelphia (2012), ISBN: 9-781-437-717-938
5-HTP: MedlinePlus Supplements. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/794.html
Stevens, C. J. (2019, August 20). 5-HTP: Side Effects and Dangers. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/5-htp-side-effects-dangers#side-effects