What is 5 HTP?
- 5-HTP is a chemical compound that is naturally produced in your body as it makes serotonin, an important hormone for regulating your mood. Some doctors consider 5-HTP to be the best natural appetite suppressant. 5-HTP is also naturally produced in various plants, including the seeds ofgriffonia simplicifolia, a West African shrub.
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), also known as oxitriptan (INN), is a occurring amino and chemical precursor as well as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan.
- The psychoactive action of 5-HTP is derived from its effect on the production of serotonin in central tissue. More specifically, 5-HTP increases the production of serotonin.
How does HTP work?
- The body makes 5-HTP naturally from tryptophan and, then, converts it into serotonin. This neurotransmitter has many powerful effects on the brain. Not only does it improve mood, it also suppresses hunger and helps to curb weight gain.
- Physicians suggest taking a 5-HTP supplement instead of a serotonin supplement because 5-HTP can access the brain from the bloodstream, while serotonin cannot. In order to access the brain, chemicals and compounds will have to access the blood brain barrier, which grants access to the brain. Therefore, you would need to take a supplement that can cross that barrier, like 5-HTP, in order to increase serotonin levels in the brain.
- As serotonin levels increase your hunger diminishes and you feel satiated faster without feeling the need to restrict your food intake.
Besides weight loss, 5htp has long been used and studied for a variety of reasons. It has proved to be useful in alleviating a broad range of health problems including:
- Anxiety disorders and panic attacks
- Eating disorders such as bulimia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Uncontrollable violent impulses.
All of these conditions have been successfully treated with 5–HTP. There are indications that these conditions may, in certain instances, be caused by underly¬ing brain dysfunction that might be improved by 5HTP.
A significant body of evidence supporting these claims has been acquired over the past 35 years in human clinical trials and animal experiments. 5HTP itself does not directly perform any specific function in the body. 5HTP’s only known role is to serve as the precursor, or raw material that some cells use to create the neurotransmitter serotonin.
How does 5HTP help you lose weight?
Body actually produces this chemical. It’s then converted into serotonin. The serotonin is then used to curb your appetite and improve your mood… and you lose weight. To get the most benefit from it, doctors are recommending an actual 5HTP supplement vs a serotonin one.
Why? The serotonin can’t access your brain directly from the bloodstream like 5HTP can and that’s needed in order to increase the levels of serotonin in your brain.
When you have higher levels of serotonin in your brain, your hunger dissipates and you actually feel fuller more often.
History of 5HTP for weight loss
Far back as 1975, researchers demonstrated that administering 5HTP to rats that were bred to overeat and be obese resulted in significant reduction in food intake (6). It turns out that these rats have decreased activity of the enzyme that converts tryptophan to 5HTP and subsequently to serotonin. In other words, these rats are fat as a result of a genetically determined low level of activity of the enzyme that starts the manufacture of serotonin from tryptophan. As a result, these rats never get the message to stop eating until they have consumed far greater amounts of food than normal rats.
There is much circumstantial evidence that many humans are genetically predisposed to obesity. This predisposition may involve the same mechanism as that observed in rats genetically predisposed to obesity. In other words, many people may be predisposed to being overweight because they have a decreased conversion of tryptophan to 5HTP and, as a result, decreased serotonin levels. By providing preformed 5HTP, this genetic defect is bypassed and more serotonin is manufactured. 5HTP literally turns off hunger.
- It’s actually been studied for more than 30 years. There have been clinical trials that prove just how effective it is at reducing the amount of calories that you eat.
- One study took overweight women and gave some of them 200mg of 5HTP to take just before eating. The other women were given a placebo instead. The participants that were taking the real 5HTP managed to lose over ten pounds in merely 12 weeks. Those who were taking a placebo? They lost just over two pounds. After further study, weight loss experts say that this is a supplement that usually works best if you’re the type who constantly craves food (carbs in particular).
- The early animal studies that used 5HTP as a weight loss aid have been followed by a series of three human clinical studies of overweight women, conducted at the University of Rome . The first study showed that 5HTP was able to reduce caloric intake and promote weight loss despite the fact that the women made no conscious effort to lose weight . The average amount of weight loss during the five-week period of 5HTP supplementation was a little more than 3 pounds.
- The second study sought to determine whether 5HTP helped overweight individuals adhere to dietary recommendations (9). The twelve-week study was divided into two six-week periods. For the first six weeks, there were no dietary recommendations; for the second six weeks the women were placed on a 1,200-calorie diet. As shown in Table 1, the women who took the placebo lost 2.28 pounds, while the women who took the 5HTP lost 10.34 pounds. As in the previous study, 5HTP appeared to promote weight loss by promoting satiety-the feeling of satisfaction-leading to fewer calories being consumed at meals. Every woman who took the 5HTP reported early satiety.
- In the third study involving 5HTP, for the first six weeks there were no dietary restrictions, and for the second six weeks the women were placed on a 1,200-calorie-per-day diet (10). The results from this study were even more impressive than the previous studies for several reasons. The group that received the 5HTP had lost an average of 4.39 pounds at six weeks and an average of 11.63 pounds at 12 weeks (They lost even without dieting in the first half of the study!). In comparison, the placebo group had lost an average of only 0.62 pounds at six weeks and 1.87 pounds at twelve weeks. The lack of weight loss during the second six-week period in the placebo group obviously reflects the fact that the women had difficulty adhering to the diet.
How to take it
- 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.
- 5-HTP should not be given to children.
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