More about 5-HTP
5-HTP is the nutrient our bodies use to create the chemical messenger serotonin, which is found in the brain and affects mood, behavior, and sleep patterns. With modern-day living, low serotonin levels appear to be common because of poor nutritional choices mixed with high-stress living. Because of these conditions, many people are overweight, crave sugar and other carbohydrates, or suffer from depression, headaches, and vague muscle aches and pains.
In fact, low levels of serotonin are associated with a variety of ailments, including insomnia, depression (including winter depression), tension, migraines, low pain tolerance, and overeating.
Turn off hunger
It is theorized that many people are overweight because their bodies have a decreased conversion of the essential amino acid tryptophan to 5-HTP and, as a result, have lower levels of serotonin. By providing 5-HTP, this chemical reaction may be bypassed, so more serotonin is manufactured to help "turn off" hunger.
5-HTP is also believed to cause a feeling of early satiation. In other words, you may get full faster, causing you to eat less, and is believed to be especially helpful for people who have a difficult time controlling how much they eat, specifically high-sugar and/or carbohydrate foods.
One study demonstrated that 5-HTP was able to lower calorie intake and encourage weight loss, even in women who made no conscious effort to lose weight. The average amount of weight loss during this five-week study was over three pounds.
Another study showed that 5-HTP helped people stick with their nutrition plans over a 12-week period. Those on the placebo lost only 2.28 lbs, while those supplementing with 5-HTP lost 10.34 lbs.
Turn on sleep
Because 5-HTP helps increase amounts of serotonin, it has also been shown to improve sleep habits. Not only does it appear to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep but it also increases REM, so you sleep deeper and wake up less during the night.
Turn off depression
5-HTP may be most popular for its potential antidepressant abilities. In fact, it is sometimes called a "natural Prozac." Again, depression is believed to be caused at least in part by low serotonin levels. And what does 5-HTP do? Yes again. Raise serotonin levels in the brain!
A number of studies have been done showing 5-HTP is effective for lifting mood even in people who suffer from severe depression. One study compared 5-HTP to Prozac and found that the two were equally effective. Other studies have shown that 5-HTP may help people who have not responded to the traditional medications used to treat depression.
If you're one of the many who overindulges in Krispy Kreme donuts, suffers from the winter blues, or feels vaguely achy, it may be that your body is simply not producing enough serotonin. If that is the case, a seemingly simple solution may be to just turn to 5-HTP.