5-HTP

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Latest Edit: General 2014-2-11 (EDT)

5-Hydroxytryptophan (L-5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP) is a metabolite of L-tryptophan and an immediate precursor to serotonin. The rate-limiting step in serotonin synthesis involves the enzyme Tryptophan hydroxylase, which converts L-tryptophan to 5-HTP. Serotonin synthesis may in some circumstances be enhanced to a greater extent by administering 5-HTP over L-tryptophan.[1]

Contents

Uses

The following is a list of uses for 5-HTP:[2]

  • Cerebellar ataxia: Studies have reported that some features of cerebellar ataxia have been found to regress with long-term administration of 5-HTP. Such features include improvements in time of standing upright, the spread of feet, the speed of walking, speaking, and writing.[3]
  • Depression: Oral adminitration of 5-HTP has been found to significantly improve symptoms of depression. There is also evidence that 5-HTP may be comparable to conventional antidepressants such as fluvoxamine (Luvox) and imipramine (Tofranil).[2]
  • Fibromyalgia: Studies have found that taking 5-HTP orally can improve symptoms of primary fibromyalgia syndrome, including pain severity, morning stiffness and sleeplessness.[2]
  • Insomnia: Serotonin levels have been implicated in the regulation of sleep, among other things. Studies indicate that therapeutic doses of 5-HTP has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions including insomnia.[4]
  • Migraine: 5-HTP has been found to induce a significant decrease in migraines. Results from studies suggest that central nervous system abnormalities underlying the mechanism of migraine can be changed by 5-HTP[5]
  • Sleep terrors: Some studies have revealed that treatment with L-5-Hydroxytryptophan is able to modulate the arousal level in children and can induce long-term improvement of sleep terrors[6]

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.[1]

  • Commonly used dosages of 5-HTP are 50-100mg 3 times per day.
  • Depression: 150-300 mg daily [2]
  • Fibromyalgia: 100 mg 3 times daily [2]
  • Sleep terrors:
  • Child: 2mg/kg of body weight at bedtime
  • Cerebellar ataxia, 1,000mg/day

Ingesting 5-HTP at the same time as a protein-containing meal might decrease its effectiveness.

Safety

The safety precautions of 5-HTP include[1]:

  • Side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, heartburn, myalgias, headache, drowsiness, and parasthesias.
  • Adverse Effects:Excessive doses may cause nystagmus, listlessness, euphoria, hyperactivity, inappropriate behaviour, and in certain types of psychiatric patients, sexual disinhibition.
  • Interactions:
  • Co-administration of 5-HTP and antidepressants that increase serotogenic activity (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], amitriptyline, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors) can increase both the efficacy and toxicity of the drugs.
  • L-Tryptophan has been reported to compete with other large amino acids (such as phenylalanine, tyrosine, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, and valine) for transport across the blood-brain barrier, and possibly for absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gaby, Alan R. (2011)Nutritional Medicine, Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 5-HTP Monograph: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http://ezproxy.ccnm.edu:2076/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=100&id=794&ds=&name=5+HTP+(5-HTP)&searchid=45087484
  3. Trouillas, P., Brudon, F., Adeleine, P. (1988)Improvement of cerebellar ataxia with levorotatory form of 5-hydroxytryptophan. A double-blind study with quantified data-processing,Archives of Neurology;45(11):1217-122
  4. Birdsall, TC(1998)5-hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor,Alternative Medicine Review: A Journal of Clinical Therapeutic;3(4):271-280
  5. Nicolodi, M., and Sicuteri, F.(1999)L-5-hydroxytryptophan can prevent nociceptive disorders in man,Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology;467:177-82
  6. Bruni, O., Ferri, R., Miano, S.,Verrillo, E.(2004)L-5-hydroxytryptophan treatment of sleep terrors in children,European Journal of Pediatrics;163(7):402-407
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