Can 5-HTP Treat Anxiety?

5htp pic 14Anxiety is often treated using anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy. 5-HTP is another treatment, albeit a more natural and easily accessible one. 5-HTP has been studied for its usefulness in treating other mental illnesses. Results say that it can be helpful in assisting anxiety treatment.

The use of 5-HTP

5-HTP, short for the term 5-hydroxytryptophan, is formed naturally in the body from the conversion of tryptophan to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Over-the-counter 5-HTP supplements come from the extract of African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. Drugs.com says that taking 5-HTP supplement instead of tryptophan is better because 5-HTP is absorbed better in the gut and can be converted quickly into serotonin.

An effective source of serotonin

The August 1998 issue of Alternative Medicine Review published a study stating that 5-HTP was an effective source of serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for the regulation of anxiety, depression, and sleep. With this basis, scientists concurred that 5-HTP may be useful for anxiety treatment as long as further investigations can verify its efficacy.

The International Clinical Psychopharmacology published a double-blind placebo controlled study where the effects of Clopiramine and 5-HTP were compared. Clopiramine is an anti-anxiety drug. Forty five individuals with anxiety were involved in the study. According to the results, 5-HTP had a moderate effect on the reduction of the symptoms of anxiety. For professional anxiety treatment we recommend finding a local physician.

5-HTP for treatment

5htp pic 45-HTP is currently used in the treatment of Down syndrome, depression, and autism. However, the FDA does not approve the various uses of 5-HTP because of a contamination of some supplements that led to a fatal condition called eosinophilic myalgia syndrome. A significant number of individuals who used the contaminated supplements developed the syndrome characterized by nerve pain, muscle pain, heart problems, and abnormal blood test results. It is worth clarifying that the syndrome was linked to the contaminant and not 5-HTP itself.

Side effects of 5-HTP supplement include nausea, excessive gas, and heartburn. People with hypertension and diabetes should not use the supplement without contacting their physicians. The same goes for children and pregnant or breast-feeding mothers.

Dosage and recommendations

The recommended dose of 5-HTP for a new user is 50mg taken 1-3 times a day. An unsupervised and sudden large dose may cause serious adverse reactions. It is best to consult a health care provider to know what the optimal dosage of 5-HTP is. Experts can also advice you of the possible effects of taking 5-HTP in medications you are taking. It’s also worth mentioning that 5-HTP should not replace anti-anxiety prescriptions and that it should not be taken as anxiety treatment without the recommendation of a doctor.

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