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5 HTP for Depression and Insomnia

Updated on December 16, 2012

Serotonin may help these conditions

5 HTP is a term that is used to denote 5-Hydroxytryptophan. This is an amino acid that occurs naturally and a very important constituent of Serotonin. Serotonin is a very important element in the transmission of information by the brain.

There is therefore a close relationship between feeling sad and serotonin.

This is brought about by the fact that we have several clinical causative theories of depression and are all closely related to 5 HTP. In as much as 5 HTP is naturally-occurring, it is not gotten from the food that we eat. The food that we eat has very low levels of 5 HTP and we therefore rely on food supplement sources to get 5 HTP. These supplements are very good elements that are used in addressing issues related to 5 HTP and insomnia as well.

Griffonia Simplicifolia is the African plant behind the sourcing of and supplementation of 5 HTP. The seeds of this plant are used to provide 5 HTP supplements. It is good to realize that L- Tryptophan is used in the production of 5 HTP. In this way, tryptophan as an essential amino acid is used in the synthesis % HTP. This amino acid is needed in the body to do only one basic action. This is only to raise the levels of serotonin.

Both 5 HTP and tryptophan have the capabilities of passing the brain barrier to reach the brain. However, 5 HTP is more suited and more preferred due to a number of reasons. These reasons include the fact that 5 HTP unlike tryptophan does not share the same transport mechanism with others. Tryptophan shares this mechanism with valine, leucine and others in its efforts of crossing the brain-barrier. It is also notable that tryptophan is only available in very low levels and therefore may not compete well with other amino acids. In line with improving or raising the serotonin levels in the brain, then the use of 5 HTP supplements is definitely the preferred one.

Once 5 HTP gets to the nervous system, it is converted to serotonin. This also happens in the liver. It known that serotonin cannot pass the brain barrier and therefore only the 5 HTP that will cross the barrier to the brain will be used to produce the serotonin needed by the nervous system. The serotonin in the nervous system usually acts as monoamine neurotransmitter. In this way, it acts to control an individual’s mood, appetite as well as sleep. It will also control the individual’s memory and learning capabilities. Serotonin in the body is also very important in the sense that it aids in the wound healing processes, stops bleeding as well as acting as a vasoconstrictor.

Due to these properties, serotonin is used as antidepressant and sleep aids. It has also been used in addressing weight loss as well as migraines. The basic foundation of 5 HTP in its use to treat depression is supported by the role it plays as a precursor of serotonin.

5 HTP and Depression

Depression is a condition that is characterized by low mood, low self-esteem and loss of interest in those things that once excited an individual. The most visible signs of depression include loss of interest in day-to-day normal activities. Those who suffer from depression usually get socially disconnected from others as well as those actions and duties that once pleased or excited them. They also find difficulties in concentrating, find it hard to remember or things, experience loss of appetite or find that they want to eat more. Depression also causes the sufferers to find it very hard to make decisions on very trivial nature.

In some cases, depression has been associated with cases of suicide or homicide. Due to the emotional detachment that is caused by depression, some people have been able to do horrible things that they would not have otherwise done. It is therefore very important to ensure that you are informed of the causes and treatments of depression.

When a person has depression, he or she will find that other feelings are affecting him or her. Among the most common feelings that are brought about by depression include the feelings of anxiety, sadness, worry and hopelessness. Others include the feelings of guilt, irritability, despair and very low levels of personal-worth. Among the most common attributes that are brought about by depression are sleeplessness and fatigue. Others will find that they are oversleeping.

There are several causes of depression. In most cases, depression is attributed to events that occur in life that threaten the composure of the mind and health of the individual. Among the most common are those ones that cause emotional pain or threaten to destabilize the social and emotional balance of the individual. Such events may include sudden deaths, loss of property, ill-fates among others. These social causes of depression may be hard to address in a medical approach. However, there are other causes of depression which are particularly of concern here that those ones mentioned above.

Depression can also be caused by use or misuse of drugs and other medications. Depression can also be caused by diseases and other medical or psychiatrically related reasons. It is good to note that depression is common and that it affects women more than men. All in all, the most important thing to remember should be that fact that depression has clinical causes in addition to the mentioned ones. The most common is the serotonin theory that seeks to explain the importance of serotonin and other factors in the brain.

Serotonin and 5 HTP theory of depression

It has been documented that serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter that is generally associated with depression. The most common factors that are associated with depression may follow any of these reasons;

· If the transportation of L-tryptophan into the brain has been ineffective, then this is a factor that can cause depression.

· Insufficient levels of serotonin and 5 HTP in the cerebrospinal fluid can also be a factor that leads to depression. This will also be the case if the individual also experiences low levels of tryptophan.

· If the receptors responsible for the activity of serotonin has been increased in number, or have increased their sensitivity, can also be a factor leading to depression. This will also be the case if some of the receptors have been decreased in number or their sensitivity decreased by any reason.

It has been proved through research that there is a correlation between 5 HTP and depression. In this way, treatments that have included 5 HTP and other natural supplements are highly successful. It is also good to use other medications such as antidepressants and inhibitors.

How does 5 HTP work?

5 HTP treatments work through increasing the amount of serotonin. The level of serotonin that is produced in the brain is increased through a simple process. Once you have increased the amount of 5 HTP that gets through to the brain cells, then this will increase the production of serotonin. These direct treatments through the application of 5 HTP supplements ensure that there is increased concentration of serotonin in the blood plasma as well as in the cerebrospinal fluid.

It is however good to realize that studies done on this area have indicated that the serotonin theory is not conclusive in explaining all there is in depression. This is because, firstly, increasing the levels of serotonin on the depressed individuals does not work for everyone. Secondly, serotonin does not require a lot of time for it to build up. This means that the results should be notable within less than two weeks. However, it has been observed that this takes more than two weeks for positive signs to be seen. Thirdly, it has been shown that reducing serotonin levels in humans does not necessarily lead to loss of mood or being depressed to everyone.

This has therefore meant that there are other factors or theories that need to be explored on the causes of depression. Among the most common theory that has been advanced to explain the causes of depression is the neurogenesis theory.

Neurogenesis theory of depression

Since the serotonin theory of depression has been found to be inconclusive, other theories have been advanced to explain the causes of depression. Among them is the neurogenesis theory. This theory argues that there is a close relationship between the number of new brain cells and the effects of or causes of depression. This posits that the production of new brain cells can lead to arresting depression. It has been documented that the neurogenesis process takes some time and that this may be an indication that antidepressants take some time to bring about positive results due to the possibility that they are triggering the production of new neurons. In this way, the theory is supported by the fact that increased production of new cells has been tested on animals and results indicative of the trend.

However, there are a few reasons that are advanced on the ineffectiveness of the theory. Research has shown that there are no visible differences between neurogenesis in healthy individuals and those who are depressed. However, the theory is important that it triggers more research and in-depth scientific inquiries.

Taking 5 HTP for depression has been effective. Studies have indicated that this treatment method is comparable to using antidepressants. In this way, it has been documented that the use of 5 HTP is effective and can be used. However, there are a few side effects that are associated with the use of 5 HTP in the treatment of depression. Among these side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people may also experience insomnia and hasty heartbeats.

It should be born in mind that the use of 5 HTP should be guided by a qualified physician when it comes to being used together with other treatment methods such as the use of antidepressants. There should also be caution in the use of 5 HTP treatments by those who have liver or kidney problems. It should also not be used by pregnant or lactating women.

5 HTP and Insomnia

There are correlations between 5 HTP and insomnia. Recent studies done in this area have indicated that 5 HTP supplements are effective in addressing sleep disorders. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can be managed by the use of 5 HTP supplements.

5 HTP has been seen to treat insomnia in such a straight-forward way and manner. This is specifically done by ensuring that the levels of serotonin are brought back to normal. The right balance of serotonin is arrived at by the use of 5 HTP such that the optimal condition is restored and therefore the disorder is done away with.

Related to insomnia, there is this sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that results in abnormal breathing stoppages while sleeping. In this way, the path that is taken by airflow is blocked temporarily occasioning the breathing stoppage. It should be noted that most victims of this disorder are not usually aware of it, and they do not feel any stoppage of breathing.

In most cases, those who suffer from this sleep disorder also experience snoring. Due to the fact that this cannot be noticed easily by the person who is suffering from it, then there is this method of examination with the use of a test called polysomnogram. This is done overnight and results used to determine any sleep disorder.

Among the most visible symptoms of sleep apnea include feeling fatigued during the day, drowsiness, being moody, feeling irritated as well as vision problems. It is good to note that this sleep disorder is also associated with increased risks of stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. It is also associated with a host of other cardiovascular problems. Due to the fact that this sleep disorder affects the flow of oxygen to the brains, the disorder can cause brain injuries in the long run.

The conventional method of treating this sleep disorder that is currently used is the use of devices that are geared towards building positive pressure of the airflow to the brain. These devices may be sometimes cumbersome or uncomfortable to use. In this way, if these devices prove to be too uncomfortable, then there is usually no other recourse apart from surgical operations.

According to research done in this field, there have been documented evidence that the use of 5 HTP in treatment of this sleep disorder is effective. It has been established that the use of 5 HTP supplements are efficient in relieving the symptoms of the disorder. It has also been established that the cortisol is involved in this treatment. The major studies done in this area also established that those people who use 5 HTP supplements to treat the sleep disorder had higher levels of cortisol than those who did not use the supplement. In this way, though the levels of cortisol were the same in the initial stages, those who used the supplement were able to have more cortisol that those who did not use the supplement. This was a clear indicator that the supplement was able to trigger or stimulate the production of more serotonin than eventually stimulated the production of cortisol.

Research on this field also showed that there are repercussions on both low and high levels of serotonin. In this way, it was discovered that serotonin levels should be optimal; not too low or too high. Both can cause sleep apnea. Optimal levels of serotonin are required to ensure that there is constant flow of air to the brain while the individual is asleep.

It is good to note that 5 HTP supplements are very effective methods of treating insomnia. This is brought about by the management of serotonin levels in the individual where the right levels contribute to the balance that will be required for insomnia treatment. However, 5 HTP supplements as used in the treatment of sleep apnea have not been very successful. This is because there is always the need to maintain the right balance of serotonin and 5 HTP supplements.

It should be realized that serotonin is an integral part in ensuring that the nerves that control breathing muscles are working properly. In this way, too low serotonin levels cause these muscles to lose this control and therefore the onset of sleep apnea. In the same breath, too high serotonin levels will cause too much sleep in such a way that this will make the same muscles lose control. In this way, the individual will suffer from sleep apnea. To arrest this situation, 5 HTP supplements are efficient in maintaining the suitable balance.


5 HTP is such an important dietary supplement. It has been used in a number of treatment and monitoring areas for different conditions, diseases and disorders. There have been documented evidence that 5 HTP and depression is an area that has well been examined and in-depth studies done. These studies have indicated that the supplement can be used in the management and treatment of depression. There has also been evidence that the same can be said of 5 HTP and insomnia. The supplement can also be used in the treatment of insomnia.

Different causes of depression have been singled out and addressed. However, the realization that depression can be caused by clinical or medical conditions is more important in the use of medical methods of treating the condition. In this way, different medical and clinical balances have been sought and therefore examined as a treatment option for the condition.

The most important of these medical inquiries and methods of treatments applied to depression have been the realization of the balance of the amount or level of serotonin. The use of the direct supplementation of 5 HTP methods of treating depression has been known to increase the levels of serotonin. This happens in the concentration of the same in the plasma as well as the cerebrospinal fluid. These increase in the neurotransmitter ensures that more and more antidepressant properties are realized by the individual which translates into relieve and better management of depression.

In the same breath, other scientific enquiries have shown the probability of increased neurogenesis. In this way, it has been established that more production of new brain cells also contribute to lessening the effects or probability of depression. This position has been supported by the fact that the first signs or results of using the supplement and other antidepressants usually take some time. This eventual and slow process points to the possibility that the process also involve neurogenesis and therefore the reason why it takes some time.

On the other hand, 5 HTP as applied in the treatment of insomnia is highly effective. The process also involves the stimulation of the production of serotonin as well as doing this in a manner that will bring about the right balance. Serotonin is involved in the control of sleep, mood and appetite. In addition to this, the same also controls other bodily functions and processes.

Among the most notable sleep disorders where 5 HTP has been applied in its treatment include sleep apnea. This is a sleep disorder that is caused in most cases by the obstruction of oxygen to the brain cells. In this way, the person will suffer from sleep pauses and obstruction of airflow that will also be accompanied by snoring.

There are devices that can be used to treat the condition. These devices have chances of failure and therefore surgical operations may be the only option. However, the use of 5 HTP supplements has proved important and effective.

5 HTP and insomnia are simple to grapple with. However, the same as applied to the treatment of sleep apnea may be a little hazy. The most important thing here is to remember that the condition requires the optimal levels of serotonin and that the 5 HTP is used to ensure this balance.


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