Posted 3/16/07CLICK TO PRINT

NAME: 5-HTP / 5-hydroxy-tryptophan
DESCRIPTION: Amino acid derivitave; precursor of seratonin
FUNCTION: The primary uses for this supplement are to help offset depression, improve sleep and to inhibit appetite. (Most people with HIV, though, need to eat.)

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is part of a pathway used by the body to produce serotonin.

The amino acid tryptophan is converted to 5HTP and then to serotonin.

Seratonin is a chemical used for a variety of functions in the brain, and part of a class of compounds that deliver messages between brain cells (neurons) called neurotransmitters. Increasing serotonin levels in the central nervous system may help to offset depression. This is also important for production of melatonin.

DOSAGE: 100mg per day with meals or as directed by your qualified healthcare provider. To avoid appetite suppression conflicts, use 1 hour before bedtime - or well after you have eaten dinner.
DATA: A placebo-controlled study and a randomized study comparing 5-HTP against methysergide each showed benefit in reducing migraine headache severity and duration.

Indeed, this may be a true alternative to Prozac and other such drugs for some people (all of which have their own significant limitations in terms of efficacy and their significant side effects). One study showed comparable activity with fewer side effects in treating depression when compared to fluvoxamine/Luvox.

L-Tryptophan and 5-hydroxy L-tryptophan were briefly banned by the FDA: in 1989, there was an outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), caused by products from manufacturer Showa Denko K.K. of Japan. The ban was lifted in 2001 by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements.

CAUTIONS: PWHIV Alert: 5-HTP has been used to treat obese subjects, as it results in decreased appetite and reduced carbohydrate intake with early satiety (feeling full faster). This may not be a wise choice for people with HIV who do not need to lose appetite.

Do not take vitamin B-6 at the same time - at least not within two hours of using HTP: B6 is a coenzyme that works with the decarboxylase enzyme. This latter decarboxylase clips a COOH of 5-HTP, turning it into serotonin. Fine if this happens in the brain - not fine if this happens in the liver. Peripheral blood increase in serotonin is important. Use this supplement only if you are cutting back on B6 intake (max 25 mg/day) and for as short a period of time as possible. Again, if you separate multi usage by a few hours at least and take this an hour before bedtime, this should reduce any interaction problem with vitamin B6.

Do not take with MAO inhibitors or other antidepressants. Also, it may not be a good idea to mix with St. John's wort.

Do not use if: pregnant or nursing, trying to conceive or under 18. If you have a medical condition, take only under the advice of your healthcare provider.

For more information on best use, dose, time, with/without food, the best book on 5-HTP appears to be Dr. Ray Sahelian's 5-HTP: Nature's Serotonin Solution (Avery Publishing Group, New York, 1998).
5-HTP (Jarrow Formulas) Each bottle, 60 capsules. Each capsule, 100 mg.
PRODUCT NOTES: Suggested dose is 1 capsule per day with meals or as directed by your qualified healthcare provider. To avoid appetite suppression, use 1 hour before bed time.

From the manufacturer: "Jarrow Formulas 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is an extract of Griffonia simplicifolia seeds from coastal West Africa and is verified to be free of “peak X” contaminant. Purity is assured by HPLC. 5-HTP is the direct metabolic precursor of serotonin and is important for the production of melatonin."

DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.