5-HTP is short for 5-Hydroxytryptophan, and it is the immediate amino acid precursor to serotonin, meaning that 5-HTP is converted in the body into serotonin, an important neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) involved in regulating numerous bodily functions, in particular brain and nerve function. Serotonin may also be converted in the body to melatonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Research has shown that 5-HTP can help alleviate symptoms associated with fybromyalgia, including anxiety, stiffness and fatigue due to sleep relief. Fybromyalgia patients tend to have lower levels of serotonin, leading to doctors prescribing anti-depressants, however 5-HTP boosts serotonin levels in the brain, making it a good alternative for sufferers wanting to try an alternative to anti-depressants.
Because of its role to increase serotonin in the body, 5-HTP is also involved in producing melatonin, a hormone vital for a good nights sleep. This helps the body's internal clock stay in sync, regulating sleep cycles and rest time. A strong internal clock is essential for a healthy, restful sleep. Research suggests that 5-HTP can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, creating great sleep relief for those that find it hard falling asleep at all.
Although there is very little research, 5-HTP has been known to curb cravings and reduce calorie intake in people using the capsule in a balanced diet and reduce weight in people classed as obese. A study was also published (the international journal of obesity and metabolic disorders in 1998) that showed significant weight loss results in people with type 2 diabetes.
5-HTP has been shown in scientific studies to promote relaxation and alleviate stress and anxiety. The relaxation and anti-anxiety properties of 5-HTP appear to come from its ability to elevate levels of serotonin. Research has demonstrated that 5-HTP may reduce the risks of panic attacks and symptoms of panic, as well as anxiety and emotional stress. Research also indicates 5-HTP may be effective in helping to alleviate depression.
There are no reported side effects of using 5 HTP however before incorporating the supplement into your diet it is recommended that you seek medical advice if using for sleep relief or any other 5 HTP benefits in advance.