Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Well, I see the main Google site on it includes a doctor endorsement as well as a few books. BEWARE - just because a 'doctor' (this guy isn't an M.D. but an N.D.) endorses something doesn't mean it's good stuff or even safe...especially if he/she has something to gain ($$$ that is!) from its promotion.
Here's what SupplementWatch.com has to say about it. with plenty of references to boot:
Description 5-HTP is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan (a hydroxyl group added to the 5-position). In the body, tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP, which then can be converted into serotonin (a potent neurotransmitter in the brain). Although 5-HTP is not found at any significant level in a normal diet, tryptophan is found in a wide variety of protein foods. The 5-HTP used in dietary supplements is derived from the seeds of and African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia).
Claims: Relieves mild to moderate depression
Relieves insomnia and promotes restful sleep
Promotes weight loss by suppressing appetite
Reduces overall sensation of pain (migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, general muscle pain)
Theory 5-HTP is typically used to treat mild depression based on the theory that as a precursor to serotonin, supplements of 5-HTP can increase serotonin levels and influence mood, sleep patterns and pain control. The amino acid, tryptophan, can also be broken down in the body to yield ribose and/or NAD – both of which have been associated with increased energy levels. While these are certainly logical theories, the scientific evidence supporting them remains moderate at best.
Scientific Support As indicated above, the overall scientific evidence for the effectiveness of 5-HTP is not very strong. In a few small studies, however, 5-HTP has been shown to be as effective as prescription antidepressant medications – and with fewer side effects – but there are just as many controlled clinical trials which have shown no effect of 5-HTP in alleviating mood disturbances. In other studies, doses of 5-HTP in the range of 300-900mg/day have resulted in benefits in reducing pain (migraines and fibromyalgia), reducing appetite and promoting sleep (possibly by increasing blood levels of melatonin). In some studies, it appears that there are “responders” – those individuals who experience an elevation in 5-HTP levels in the blood, as well as “non-responders” – who see no such increase
Several studies have investigated 5-HTP supplementation in conjunction with SSRI medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fenfluramine and fluoxetine – Prozac). In this combination, 5-HTP could be expected to help increase serotonin synthesis, while the SSRIs would keep those levels elevated – but this hypothesis has not been shown to be particularly effective. In at least one study, 5-HTP actually appeared to cause an increase in depressive symptoms in healthy subjects – exactly the opposite effect that users of the supplement are looking for.
Safety The most significant safety concern related to 5-HTP supplements is the remote possibility for contamination with a compound linked to a disorder known as eosinophilic myalgia syndrome (EMS). Several years ago (1989), an outbreak of EMS (which results in muscle pain and weakness, vomiting, headache and in rare cases, death) was linked to contaminated tryptophan supplements (not to the tryptophan per se, but to a contaminant in the tryptophan supplements). As a result, the FDA banned the sale of all tryptophan supplements (a move that has been widely criticized by people on both sides of the supplement debate). In some rare cases, 5-HTP supplements have been linked (anecdotally) to gastrointestinal distress, muscle pain, lethargy and headaches.
The banned tryptophan supplements were manufactured from a bacterial source (fermentation process), while 5-HTP is extracted from the seeds of a plant – so it is less likely (though not impossible) that the contaminant associated with EMS is present in 5-HTP supplements (commonly known as “peak X”). However, the FDA issued a “talk paper” in 1998 which seemed to confirm the presence of “peak X” at low levels in several commercially available brands of 5-HTP – raising the possibility that EMS could strike those taking 5-HTP supplements (see FDA statement below). Although the FDA has not taken any action, such as removing 5-HTP from the market or issuing any precautions against using 5-HTP, anybody considering using this supplement should use a brand from a reputable company (such as the Serotain brand of 5-HTP from Triarco). Some supplement manufacturers and raw material suppliers conduct quality control tests to confirm the absence of “peak X” in their 5-HTP supplements. If you decide to try 5-HTP, we suggest contacting the manufacturer of your supplement for confirmation that their products have passed this type of analysis.
In addition to the above safety considerations, 5-HTP supplements are not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or lactating. Those individuals currently taking prescription antidepressants, weight control medications or herbal remedies for depression (such as St. John’s wort) should not combine these treatments with 5-HTP supplements (except on the advice and guidance of a nutritionally-oriented physician).
**Note: the following text comes from the Food and Drug Administration. This report is based on an FDA-supported analysis of 5-HTP supplements and confirms findings reported in a short letter that Mayo Clinic researchers published in the journal Nature Medicine. The original letter has been widely criticized for having “political overtones” and for being openly “anti-supplement” – which is to say that the results should probably speak for themselves (that the “peak X” contaminant was indeed found at low levels), but that the interpretation of these findings (that 5-HTP supplements pose a health threat) is open to debate. Of particular interest is the fact that, worldwide, only 10 cases of EMS have been associated with 5-HTP-containing products (not linked directly to purified 5-HTP). When considered in terms of the millions of people currently using 5-HTP supplements on a regular basis, the “threat” of 5-HTP contamination as a public health menace is probably not large – but more research certainly needs to be done to confirm safety.
From the FDA website – view at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/tp5htp.html
August 31, 1998
IMPURITIES CONFIRMED IN DIETARY SUPPLEMENT 5-HYDROXY-L-TRYPTOPHAN
FDA scientists have confirmed the presence of impurities in some 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5HTP) products currently marketed and widely promoted as dietary supplements. These products are being used as aids for insomnia, depression, obesity, and in children with attention deficit disorder. FDA's analytical results are consistent with those obtained and published by researchers from the Mayo Clinic.
One of these impurities is known as "peak X." Although the significance of finding "peak X" and other impurities in dietary supplements containing 5-HTP is unknown, past experiences with these products suggests vigilance is warranted. "Peak X" was identified in one case of the illness eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) associated with 5HTP in 1991. Impurities similar to "peak X" were also found in L-tryptophan that was associated with a 1989 epidemic of EMS. 5HTP and L-tryptophan are related in that 5HTP is synthesized from L-tryptophan in the body. The exact cause of the 1989 epidemic and of the case of EMS associated with 5HTP remain unclear.
EMS is a serious systemic illness characterized by elevations of certain white blood cells and severe muscle pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified more than 1,500 cases of EMS, including at least 38 deaths associated with the use of L-tryptophan. The medical literature reports approximately 10 previous cases of EMS worldwide associated with use of products containing 5HTP.
Research has not resolved whether these EMS were caused by L-tryptophan or 5HTP, one or more impurities, or other factors. At this time, FDA is unaware of any recent illnesses associated with the 5HTP products being sold as dietary supplements. The widespread promotion and use of these products, however, began only recently.
Value Because commonly prescribed antidepressant medications are ineffective in about 30% of depressed patients, and because depression and anxiety disorders are associated with brains imbalances in serotonin, 5-HTP supplements would seem to be a logical approach to boosting serotonin levels and mood. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence for effectiveness is not strong – even though a few small studies have shown 5-HTP supplements to be beneficial in several serotonin-related conditions, many other studies have shown no benefits.
Dosage Should you decide to use 5-HTP, the typical dose is 300-900mg per day (usually in 2-3 doses throughout the day).
References 1. Birdsall TC. 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor. Altern Med Rev. 1998 Aug;3(4):271-80. 2. Juhl JH. Fibromyalgia and the serotonin pathway. Altern Med Rev. 1998 Oct;3(5):367-75. 3. Meyers S. Use of neurotransmitter precursors for treatment of depression. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Feb;5(1):64-71. 4. De Benedittis G, Massei R. Serotonin precursors in chronic primary headache. A double-blind cross-over study with L-5-hydroxytryptophan vs. placebo. J Neurosurg Sci. 1985 Jul-Sep;29(3):239-48. 5. Yamada J, Sugimoto Y, Ujikawa M. The serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan elevates serum leptin levels in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 1999 Oct 21;383(1):49-51. 6. Cangiano C, Laviano A, Del Ben M, Preziosa I, Angelico F, Cascino A, Rossi-Fanelli F. Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1998 Jul;22(7):648-54. 7. Beckmann H, Kasper S. Serotonin precursors as antidepressive agents: a review. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 1983 May;51(5):176-82. 8. van Praag HM. Management of depression with serotonin precursors. Biol Psychiatry. 1981 Mar;16(3):291-310. 9. Yamada J, Ujikawa M, Sugimoto Y. Serum leptin levels after central and systemic injection of a serotonin precursor, 5-hydroxytryptophan, in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 2000 Oct 6;406(1):159-162. 10. Byerley WF, Judd LL, Reimherr FW, Grosser BI. 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a review of its antidepressant efficacy and adverse effects. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1987 Jun;7(3):127-37. 11. van Praag HM. Serotonin precursors in the treatment of depression. Adv Biochem Psychopharmacol. 1982;34:259-86. 12. Fernstrom JD. Dietary effects on brain serotonin synthesis: relationship to appetite regulation. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 Nov;42(5 Suppl):1072-82. 13. Fernstrom JD. Effects on the diet on brain neurotransmitters. Metabolism. 1977 Feb;26(2):207-23. 14. Coppen AJ, Doogan DP. Serotonin and its place in the pathogenesis of depression. J Clin Psychiatry. 1988 Aug;49 Suppl:4-11. 15. 5-hydroxytryptophan. Altern Med Rev. 1998 Jun;3(3):224-6.
Highest weight: 265 pounds, size 24/26 (May 1990)
May 1991: 174 pounds (-91 lbs)
September 1996: 155 pounds (-110 lbs)
*LIVING at: 145-149 pounds, size 4/6 (-116/120 lbs)
*Maintenance = LIVING.
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