High serotonin levels are important for controlling intestinal movements, among other things, and HTP (Hydroxytryptophan) supplementation is one of the best ways to increase these levels and keep them high. HTP represents an amino acid that is used in the synthesis of serotonin.
Uses of the HTP Supplement
HTP is available on the market as a dietary supplement. It is used for a wide range of health problems, but it is more popular for being an:
- Appetite suppressant
- Sleep aid
The symptoms of the following health conditions will improve significantly after administering the HTP supplement:
- Binge consumption of food correlated with obesity
- Chronic headaches
- Friedreich’s ataxia
- LSD-induced psychosis
- Primary fibromyalgia syndrome
However, additional research is required for establishing whether it is or it is not a proper treatment for clinical depression and dysrhythmia.
HTP turns into serotonin through decarboxylation, a process in which vitamin B6 and an enzyme called aromatic-L-amino-acid decarboxylase are involved. As HTP is able to go beyond the blood-brain barrier, decarboxylation does not take place only in the liver, but also in the nervous system. If there is more HTP than the body requires, the surplus is metabolized and eliminated. This happens especially when HTP is taken along with vitamin B6.
Functions of Serotonin
You may wonder why it is so important to have more serotonin in your body. Besides regulating bowel movements, this monoamine neurotransmitter is also able to improve:
- Cognitive functions such as learning and memory
- Muscle contractions
Serotonin also has vasoconstrictor characteristics. As a consequence, it is also able to regulate blood pressure, stop the hemorrhage in damaged tissue and decrease healing time. This happens because platelets, the blood cells involved in the clotting process, collect serotonin from the blood.
Potential Side Effects of the HTP Supplements
HTP supplements may interact with other medication and cause side effects, but these aspects are not documented very well at the moment. An HTP overdose may lead to the following:
- Heart valve damage
- Acute serotonin syndrome, if administered with monoamine oxidase inhibitor or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
- Nausea and vomiting, if taken along with carbidopa
In the last case, however, the symptoms can be improved if you take granisetron. Even though HTP supplements are classified as dietary supplements, you may still need to see a health care provider before taking them, so the side effects listed above are prevented.
If you are concerned about the potential side effects of HTP supplements or about its possible interactions with other drugs, then you need to know that serotonin levels can also be increased without any drugs. More precisely, you can achieve high serotonin levels through:
- Exposure to bright light
- Physical activities
- Self-induced disposition changes
Another factor that may cause you to choose natural ways of increasing the serotonin levels over HTP supplements is the price. Sometimes HTP supplements are rather expensive, and considering that apart from the diet the other methods are free, you may be able to save significant amounts of money. In this case, you will also be able to efficiently reduce stress levels and depression.