5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is the precursor to serotonin, and is an amino acid produced naturally in your body. In supplement form, 5-HTP is produced from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant.1 This form of tryptophan has been studied and found to safely convert to serotonin in the brain.2
In addition to the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia being used to manufacture 5-HTP, other parts of the plan have long been used by indigenous people for healing purposes. For example, the juice from the leaves has been used for kidney and bladder problems.3
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Some Potential Benefits of 5-HTP
Because of its ability to increase the production of serotonin, 5-HTP may have some physical and emotional benefits. Serotonin plays an important role in many aspects of our body’s functioning, including sleep, digestion, and mood. While depression is contributed to by many factors, some people may experience depression as a result of a serotonin imbalance.4 There is compelling evidence for the use of 5-HTP in depression, though further investigation is required.5
5-HTP can also promote better quality sleep. One study found that, when combined with GABA, 5-HTP positively influenced sleep by reducing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and increasing the duration and quality of sleep.6
In certain GI issues, 5-HTP may help with digestion. One study found that administering 5-HTP slow release to mice returned GI motility levels to normal.7
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new treatment method. While 5-HTP may help some people manage their symptoms of depression, if not used correctly, it may lead to issues such as serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Other side effects can include diarrhea, stomach pain, or vomiting.4
Nutrition Coach Philadelphia Sarah Tronco, CMHIMP, is a Philadelphia Nutrition Coach specializing in mental nutrition. Sarah offers individualized mental health nutrition coaching that empowers you to make sustainable changes to improve your overall well-being.
Image source: https://www.utep.edu/herbal-safety/herbal-facts/herbal%20facts%20sheet/griffonia.html