The supplement 5htp, also known as 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan, has recently gained national attention for its weight loss abilities thanks to The Dr. Oz Show. 5htp (5-HTP) is a compound found in the human body that is naturally created from the amino acid l-tryptophan. Amino acids are what make up protein, so a diet with plenty of protein foods, such as meats, poultry, eggs, cheese, nuts and whole grains, will typically provide the tryptophan necessary for the body to create 5htp.
Once 5-HTP is created the body can manufacture serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate moods, insomnia and food cravings. Serotonin deficiencies can cause anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, headaches, panic attacks, obesity and epilepsy. However, the power of 5-HTP comes from the fact that it can cross the blood-brain brain, meaning it can be used directly by the brain via the bloodstream; serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.
What does this have to do with weight loss? It turns out, quite a bit. Having been studied for nearly 30 years, many things have been found about 5-HTP that help regulate weight. Insomnia has been linked to weight gain, so when 5-HTP helps with sleep there is usually an accompanying weight loss. If overeating is caused by emotional issues, the mood stabilizing effects also aid weight management. Many studies also found that carbohydrate cravings were reduced. When taken 20-30 minutes before meals the appetite is lessened and less food is needed to feel full. According to Doctor Oz, 5-HTP will help suppress hunger and curb weight gain.
While there is never a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise program, when you need a little extra help to lose weight taking a pure 5-HTP supplement made from griffonia simplicifolia extract might make things easier. However, please be cautioned, there are some side effects which include: nausea, diarrhea, constipation, decreased libido and wild dreams or even nightmares have been reported. Those with existing gastrointestinal conditions should consult their physician before taking this product.
Do not take 5-HTP for more than 12 weeks, even when it may take several weeks to work. It is also strongly recommended that you consult your health care professional before taking this supplement if you have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, allergies, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, lung disease, anorexia, sickle cell anemia or edema.
Further side effects include to avoid this supplement if you are taking anti-depressants or if you are seeing a mental health professional for severe depression or bipolar disorder, as it could interfere. Also, do not take while pregnant or breast feeding.
Choose a high quality brand of 5-HTP because impurities or contaminates can cause unpleasant reactions. Preferably ask an integrative or naturopathic physician, or a knowledgeable health food specialist, for a trusted manufacturer.
There are different recommendations for dosage, which may also vary depending on the individual, but the recommendation from the Doctor Oz website is a good one to use – “When starting, try to ease your body into taking 5-HTP by taking a small dose. Start with 50mg doses, three times per day. Take it 20-30 minutes before meals. If you dont think 50 mg is working, speak with your doctor about potentially increasing the dose.”