The wonders of modern medical science and biochemistry have paved the way for an all-new method of healthy living. This is quite evident with a gradually increasing global life expectancy over the span of the past several decades. It has become simpler to be able to adjust our daily diets to fit all the nutrients required everyday. Supplements play a huge part in this objective. A supplement basically fulfills a part of your diet that may be lacking in any form of necessary nutrient or mineral. These can also trigger certain chemical reactions within your body to aid in many health-related activities such as sleeping. They can be used to aid our dietary, visual, and sleeping processes amongst many others.
What Is 5-HTP?
5-HTP (also referred to as 5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical compound used in sleeping supplements. It is an amino acid that occurs naturally and helps in the chemical process that creates serotonin. The special thing about 5-HTP is that it can cross the blood-brain barrier, thereby causing an effect within the brain. It increases both serotonin and melatonin levels within the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that is produced in our body and is involved in the regulation of our digestion, mood, sleep, and even wound healing. Much like melatonin, lavender, and camomile, 5-HTP is a natural sleep aid. However, it is not commonly found in the food we eat so it’s important to supplement.
What Does 5-HTP Do?
- Increases REM sleep duration: 5-HTP works to raise both serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain. Both hormones can cross the blood brain barrier. The increasing level of melatonin in the brain makes 5-HTP a good supplement to manage healthy sleeping patterns. Melatonin causes sleepiness and drowsiness. These lead to a deep slumber with increasing levels of REM sleep duration. It is important to get appropriate amounts of REM sleep because this is the stage that is involved in the most amount of memory processing as well as learning and dreams.
- Regulates mood and behavior: When 5-HTP is converted to serotonin in the brain, it can regulate mood and behavior. It has been found to be as effective as antidepressants in improving depression and anxiety with fewer side-effects. It is advised that you consult a health-care specialist before purchasing such supplements.
- Reduces stress: 5-HTP has shown positive results in numerous scientific studies showing that when taken in combination with anti-anxiety medication, it can significantly reduce anxiety and improve sleep as well.
- Promotes weight-loss: 5-HTP is also classified as a dietary supplement. Some studies have shown that 5-HTP can regulate appetite and promote weight-loss as a result. It is advised that if you are suffering from excessive weight gain or obesity to contact a health-care professional before purchasing supplements.
- Reduces brain fog: If serotonin levels fall too low within the brain, then a phenomenon known as brain fog may occur. This consists of mental fatigue, tiredness, and problems with concentration. 5-HTP can restore the serotonin levels in the brain, thereby reducing brain fog.
Implications of Excess:
Like anything we consume, it is important to know the appropriate amount so that we do not fall too far below or above our threshold. Too little or too much can have negative implications. While 5-HTP has no specifically stated daily allowance, it is important to consult a specialist or read the label of the bottle before taking any supplement. An excessive amount can trigger negative long-term consequences. 5-HTP does have some side-effects that can result due to excessive doses.
- Excessive serotonin levels: Too much 5-HTP can spike serotonin levels in the brain and cause severe anxiety, shivering, and heartburn.
- Stomach and muscle problems: An excessive dose of 5-HTP can be considered around 6-10 grams daily for the average adult. Such amounts have shown to cause not only nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness but also severe stomach pains and muscle spasms.
- Serotonin syndrome: While this is an extreme case, 5-HTP is still a serotonin precursor which means that a very high dose of it can lead to serotonin syndrome. This often happens when you change the quantities of certain medications. Serotonin syndrome can range from mild cases to severe ones which include seizures and muscle spasms. Serotonin is needed by the body to perform and regulate many of our health-related activities. It is produced in our body as well. However, an excess of anything can lead to negative consequences. The most severe case of serotonin syndrome can also result in death.
Supplements are one option that can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. 5-HTP is among one of the best natural sleeping aids and has shown tremendously positive results throughout its testing history. Like any supplement, an informed decision is important in terms of quantity. Always consult a healthcare professional and conduct thorough research before purchasing supplements.
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