5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin. There is a massive amount of evidence that suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living. The lifestyle and dietary practices of many people living in this stress-filled era results in lowered levels of serotonin within the brain. As a result, many people are overweight, crave sugar and other carbohydrates, experience bouts of depression, get frequent headaches, and have vague muscle aches and pain. All of these maladies are correctable by raising brain serotonin levels. The primary therapeutic applications for 5-HTP are low serotonin states as listed in Table 1 below.
Table 1. Conditions associated with low serotonin levels helped by 5-HTP
•Depression •Obesity •Carbohydrate craving •Bulimia •Insomnia •Narcolepsy •Sleep apnea •Migraine headaches •Tension headaches •Chronic daily headaches •Premenstrual syndrome •Fibromyalgia
Although 5-HTP may be relatively new to the United States health food industry, it has been available through pharmacies for several years and has been intensely researched for the past three decades. It has been available in several European countries as a medicine since the 1970s.