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What Do You Know About 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)?

What do you know about 5-Hydroxtryptophan or 5-htp?  For many, this naturally occurring compound found in our food, is a mystery.

Food is an important part of our lives. Food supplies your body with energy and nutrients. Food can also be a great source of pleasure.  For some, food can also be a great source of comfort.  Enjoying a favorite meal or snack can be a very soothing way to find relief from boredom, stress, anxiety or depression.

Unfortunately, eating for these reasons can also lead to unhealthy food choices and eventual weight gain.   As the pounds pile on this cycle of emotional eating only gets worse.  A poor body image can just contribute to feelings of low self esteem,  increased anxiety, depression and more stress.  How then do you break this cycle?  Fortunately, there is a simple answer:  5-HTP.

5-HTP is a chemical compound that is naturally produced in your body from tryptophan. Tryptophan is found naturally in protein based foods like milk, eggs, tuna and poultry.  The body converts 5-HTP into serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that has many powerful effects on the brain.  Not only does serotonin improve mood, some doctors consider 5-HTP to be the best natural appetite suppressant.  As serotonin levels increase your hunger decreases.  You feel more satisfied more quickly and consequently tend to eat less.

Researchers believe that 5-HTP works best for individuals who constantly crave food, especially carbs. 5-HTP is also naturally produced in various plants, including the seeds of a West African shrub, griffonia simplicifolia.  In addition to suppressing your appetite, there is some research that suggests that 5-HTP can also help treating headaches, insomnia, depression and fibromyalgia.   As a mood regulator, it is believed that 5-HTP helps reduce calorie intake by also reducing emotional eating behavior.  It is also used in raising serotonin level for the treatment of  insomnia, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Clinical trials have shown that 5-HTP works to lower the number of calories eaten.

One Italian study compared overweight women who took 200 mg of 5-HTP before each meal and a group who took a placebo.  The women who took the supplement ate over 1000 fewer calories per day and felt less hungry.  In a separate study, women on 5-HTP lost an average of 10.3 pounds over 12 weeks, compared to 2.2 pounds in the placebo group.

5-HTP has been studied for over 30 years and because it's a naturally occurring compound in the body, is mostly considered safe for short-term use (up to twelve weeks).  Avoid taking this supplement if you are already taking prescribed anti-depressants such as an SSRI or MAOI or are seeing a mental health professional for bipolar disorder.  If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you should not use 5-HTP.  If you currently have existing gastrointestinal problems, you should speak to a physician before trying this supplement.

If you are interested in slow, steady weight loss and relief from the cycle of emotional eating, you might consider giving a 5-HTP supplement a try.  Together with a program of diet and exercise, 5-HTP can be an excellent way to improve your long-term weight loss success.