"The (natural source of serotonin) 5 HTP did exactly what you said it did for you Merri Ellen! I used it to help me ween off the antidepressants and I no longer am on any medication! I haven't felt so great in years!" - Rachael
If you’re looking for a good natural source of serotonin to cure depression, anxiety and a sleep disorder, search no more. We’ll cover some excellent ways to boost your mood and sleeping patterns.
Serotonin is a chemical in our brain that is made naturally from proteins (amino acids) and it is the chemical that gives us a sense of well-being – happiness, sexual libido, appetite, and regulates our emotions. A decrease in serotonin can lead to depression and insomnia.
You can boost your serotonin with 5-HTP supplements to cure depression (which is what I used after weaning off antidepressants to stop those nasty side effects I got from Paxil) and eat foods rich in tryptophan that turns into a natural source of serotonin; such as turkey, tuna, salmon, cheese and bananas. Before bed, I also often drink a mug of warm milk if I’ve had a very stressful day. I have found this helps for a better night’s sleep. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds are also a favourite snack for a natural source of serotonin. According to Dr. Allan Lieberman, MC, FAAEM, vitamin B6 and magnesium can also elevate it; which is why you often find supplements of 5 HTP with VB6 added.
Because 5-HTP is more directly linked to the production of serotonin than tryptophan, you’re better off taking a 5-HTP supplement on top of eating those good foods rich in tryptophan to cure depression.
Some psychiatrists report that the natural production of serotonin can be impaired by:
•Artificial sweeteners (aspartame)
•Dietary deficiencies of nutrient co-factors
•Ecstasy, Diet Pills and certain medications
•Hormone Imbalances (thyroid, adrenal, estrogen)
•Lack of Dietary Protein
•Lack of exercise
•Lack of sunlight
•Problems converting tryptophan to Serotonin
•Problems with Digestion
•Stress and Anger (Dr. Paul Meier would enthusiastically agree).
David Wolfson, N.D., a physician, nutrition educator and writer as well as a consultant to the natural products industry reports on Healthy Place that there have been numerous studies on 5 HTP. One in particular showed that 5-HTP was as effective as fluvoxamine (Luvox ).1 Perhaps the most convincing evidence, however, comes from scientists who examined research from around the world on the use of 5-HTP in treating depression. 13 out of 17 cases confirmed that 5 HTP is as affective as an antidepressant. 2
The good news is that there side effects are very rare using 5 HTP as a natural source of serotonin. The only side effects reported are having a bit of gas. (… Excuse me.) 4 Compare that to the long list of possible side effects from antidepressant drugs and it’s often an easy choice. (Possible side effects from antidepressants are: sedation, fatigue, blurry vision, urine retention, constipation, palpitations, EKG changes, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and mild to severe agitation.)
According to Dr. Van Praag’s writings in the Biology Psychiatry Journal, it appears to be between 50 and 500 mg daily.3 However, if you choose to use 5 HTP as a natural source of serotonin to use alongside an antidepressant, the effective dose may be even lower. (There are dangers in combining 5 HTP with certain meds so talk to your doctor.) Research shows that some people respond better to lower doses, so it’s a good idea to start at the low end of the dose range and increase if necessary. It is recommended to take it on an empty stomach before falling asleep, or in smaller doses throughout your day.
Research is showing 5-HTP to be one of the most helpful natural substances to be discovered in recent years. Hey, I’m one of the ‘statistics’ that shows it works!
5-HTP may not be appropriate for all types of depression and may not be compatible with all types of medication so it’s a safe move to speak with your health care practitioner first. I consulted my doctor and told him I wanted to wean off Paxil and go on to 5 HTP. As a result, he gave me a day by day plan to do this safely. You should do the same. It made all the difference in the world for me. I hope it can be for you too! (After 3 months on 5-HTP, I was able to stop and haven’t used meds now for over 5 years.)
More medical info on 5-HTP as a natural source of serotonin (opens in new window).
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1. Poldinger W, et al. A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency as a target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxamine. Psychopathology 1991;24:53-81.
2. Zmilacher K, et al. L-5-hydroxytryptophan alone and in combination with a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor in the treatment of depression. Neuropsychobiology 1988;20:28-35.
3. van Praag H. Management of depression with serotonin precursors. Biol Psychiatry 1981;16:291-310.
4. Byerley W, et al. 5-hydroxytryptophan: a review of its antidepressant efficacy and adverse effects. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1987;7:127.
5. Physician's Desk Reference. 49th ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Data Production Company; 1995.
6. Caruso I, et al. Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia syndrome. J Int Med Res 1990;18:201-9.
7. Cangiano C, et al. Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;56:863-7.
8. Maissen CP, et al. Comparison of the effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan and propranolol in the interval treatment of migraine. Schweiz Med Wochenschr 1991;121:1585-90. http://www.healthyplace.com/Communities/Depression/ treatment/alternative/brain_chemistry_2.asp