Saturday, March 5, 2011


The Griffonia simplicifolia vegetable, a native to Africa, is known for high levels of 5-HydroxyTryptophan, better known as its abbreviation: 5-HTP. 5-HTP is an amino acid, or a building block for protein, that is a precursor of serotonin. Serotonin plays an important part in our lives, as it is a neurotransmitter with relaxing and soothing effects. The typical American diet does not rate very highly for 5-HTP. The closest the American diet sees to 5-HTP is L-Trytophan, another animo acid found most commonly during Thanksgiving from ingesting turkeys. However, L-Trytophan does not elevate 5-HTP significantly.

5-HTP and Carb Cravings
Researchers have discovered that poor serotonin levels are partially responsible for overeating. Therefore, obese individuals who crave high amounts of carbs tend to exhibit abnormally low levels of serotonin. Taking a 5-HTP supplement 30 minutes before a meal can kill cravings and hunger pain by increase serotonin, keeping you from craving extra food. In this way, 5-HTP is a great assistant in a weight-loss diet.

5-HTP and Serotonin
5-HTP, due to its ability to raise serotonin, improves and elevates mood, lowers anxiety and is helpful in weight loss. In structure, 5-HTP is an amino acid that acts as an intermediary between L-Tryptophan and serotonin. Evidence exists suggesting that low serotonin is a common repercussion of modern living. The dietary practices and sedentary lifestyle of many people living in this stress-riddled era results in lower serotonin levels in the brain.

5-HTP and PMS
Women experiencing PMS sufferers exhibit pain relief, along with lower irritability and less frequent (to non-existant) mood swings from using 5-HTP supplements. The supplement counters the serotonin drop that naturally occurs during the menstrual cycle.

5-HTP and Addiction
Many commonplace addictive substances, including alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and some narcotics, raises serotonin. If ever eliminated, serotonin levels drop dramatically, causing stress, cravings and anxiety. Using a 5-HTP supplement will help even out serotonin and works to minimize the withdrawal symptoms.

5-HTP and Sleep
Because of the calming side effect attributed to serotonin, many people use 5-HTP to alleviate stress, and to assist in restful sleep. Unlike sedatives, 5-HTP is not land-mined with unwanted side effects, such as grogginess or unusual sleep patterns. Supplements can be taken regularly about an hour before going to bed as a cure for tossing and turning or insomnia.

Side Effects
Extreme intakes of 5-HTP have been shown to cause muscle spasms in guinea pigs, and both spasms and diarrhea in lab mice. Rats have experience kidney damage when injected with high levels of 5-HTP. These symptoms, to date, have never been recorded by human consumption. "Serotonin syndrome," an uncommon condition caused from excessive serotonin, has not been reported by 5-HTP users; however, in theory, this could still cause serotonin syndrome. Follow dosage amounts recommended by packaging or doctors to avoid this serious condition.

5-HTP should not be taken with any serotonin-modifying chemicals or supplements, or substances which cause liver damage, because when combined with these types of substances, 5-HTP can have serious side effects. Consumers with liver disease may not be able to ingest 5-HTP properly, and those with autoimmune diseases (such as scleroderma or HIV) tend to be more sensitive than others. These people should not consume 5-HTP without speaking with a healthcare professional.

Conditions which have been alleviated by 5-HTP are:
-Carbohydrate craving
-Sleep apnea
-Migraine headaches
-Tension headaches
-Premenstrual syndrome
-Chronic daily headaches

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