Posted by Nicole on February 25, 2014

5-HTP, otherwise known as “5-Hydroxytrytophan”, is a compound that is produced in your body whenever it makes serotonin. In previous articles, we've discussed the importance that serotonin has in mood regulation, which is why for some, boosting or regulating serotonin can often lead to an improved mood. Our bodies naturally make 5-HTP from trytophan, which we can help to promote through the consumption of carbohydrates. It's converted into serotonin.

One of the main benefits of taking 5-HTP is that it's able to cross the blood brain barrier, which is the protective layer that our brains have to keep out or let in important chemicals and hormones. It's what makes 5-HTP more effective than taking straight serotonin supplements, in fact. By taking 5-HTP, it's possible to both improve your mood, and to help to control your appetite as well. Once your body gets the signal that it's got enough serotonin, it's likely to stop giving you the green light on carbs. This could be one of the reasons why poor mood and overeating are so entwined.

Other Benefits

5-HTP has also occasionally be suggested to assist with:

  • Anxiety
    As a natural mood booster, serotonin, and thus 5-HTP, can help to cut down on anxiety. 5-HTP is effective for supporting positive moods, although it should not be a replacement if you've prescribed medication for depression. Speak with your doctor if you are taking any antidepressants before trying 5-HTP, just to be safe.

  • Weight Loss, or Weight Gain
    Both can be related to fluctuations in hormone levels, stress, or other issues. If you're currently attempting to lose weight, and need “carb control,” 5-HTP may actually be beneficial due to its inherent property of satisfying your brain's serotonin needs.

  • Sleep Issues
    Serotonin converts into a chemical called melatonin, which the body uses to regulate sleep cycles and promote more restful nights of sleep. That means that increasing your serotonin may help you to fight off difficulty sleeping, or erratic sleeping that can hurt your ability to focus.

A Supplemental Boost

While 5-HTP is one of the many supplemental chemicals available, it can often work well in combination with other mood-boosting herbs and compounds, especially when taken on a consistent basis. Supplements that contain 5-HTP can be especially beneficial during the winter, which we've covered in another article. It can also be a more natural way to deal with stress from work, as opposed to alcohol and other intoxicants. If you've been searching for a better way to get your mind back on the level, then you might find 5-HTP to be the support you've been looking for.