What is 5-HTP and how does it work?
Griffonia simplicifolia is a shrub native to Africa and it’s seed contains a high concentration of the brain and sleep booster, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
5-HTP is an amino acid the body produces in the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter largely responsible for our moods, depression, and anxiety levels. It has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and is sold across the world for its beneficial properties as a nutritional supplement.
The theory behind its usage is that serotonin deficits are to blame for depression, anxiety, and sleep issues. Serotonin is essential for body clock functions and regulation of sleep-wake behavior, making this vegan and natural supplement great for getting a healthier, more restful night of sleep - which we can all use a little help with.
Where does 5-HTP come from?
5-HTP occurs naturally in the body. We make our own supply, which is turned into serotonin. A 5-HTP supplement is extracted from the seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia tree. It is a climbing, woody, shrub that flowers thick green blooms with hard black pods.
Manufacturers extract it from the exuberance of wild Griffonia simplicifolia trees, package, and sell it as a supplement. Until 1995, it was only available with a prescription from a doctor or medical professional.
How Does 5-HTP Work?
Ingesting 5-HTP causes increased production of serotonin in the brain and central nervous system, according to WebMD. 5-HTP affects a wide variety of functions that serotonin is used for in the body, aiding the body in appetite, sleep, mood, pain levels, and libido.
Diseases and health issues thought to be governed by serotonin release are often treated with 5-HTP because it speeds up serotonin synthesis.
What is serotonin used for in the body?
Serotonin relays signals between the brain cells and the body. This hormone plays a central role in many body functions, including sleep, mood, nausea, digestion, bone health, wound healing, sexual desire, and blood clotting. It also influences learning, body temperature, and hunger.
Sleep: serotonin, together with dopamine, influences sleep quality. The brain uses serotonin to manufacture melatonin – the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle. Insufficient serotonin levels in your body could affect your sleep pattern and quality.
Mood: serotonin is often referred to as the "feel good" chemical because it regulates mood. At normal levels, serotonin makes you feel happy, calm, focused, and emotionally stable. However, at lower levels, you feel depressed. For this reason, medications for depression and anxiety typically aim to increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain.
Nausea: when serotonin is released in your gut faster than it's digested, you are likely to feel nauseated. Nausea is the chemical message your brain receives when too much serotonin is in your digestive lining. Therefore, medicines used to reduce nausea target serotonin receptors in the brain.
Digestion: ninety percent of serotonin is found in the digestive tract, where it helps protect your gut and control bowel function. The production of serotonin increases when there is a need to speed up digestion. Serotonin also reduces appetite.
Bone health: while serotonin is crucial for bone density, high levels of the hormone may contribute to weaker bones, leading to a medical condition called osteoporosis.
Wound healing: serotonin also plays a role in healing wounds. Blood platelets release this chemical to constrict the tiny blood vessels (arterioles) and slow down blood flow. This promotes blood clotting and helps wounds to heal faster.
Sexual desire: serotonin also influences your sexual function. However, this is related to its interaction with dopamine. For example, a study showed that women with lower dopamine activity but higher serotonin levels were likely candidates for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSSD).
Certain psychological and physical problems are caused by the variations in serotonin levels in the body. Deficient amounts of this chemical manifest in the form of mania, depression, anxiety, and other health complications.
What are the benefits of 5-HTP?
5-HTP can potentially aid in the reduction of symptoms for any malady stemming from a lack of serotonin. Because of its aid in increased production of serotonin, some of the benefits of 5-HTP you might find are that they can help against the symptoms of:
- Sleep issues
- Chronic pain
Does 5-HTP help with sleep?
Let's have a closer look at the science behind 5-HTP and sleep. 5-HTP is produced in the body from Tryptophan, another amino acid used in the production of serotonin.
Tryptophan is also a promoter of health sleep within the body. It is found in proteins in the food we eat. Ingesting 5-HTP helps induce better sleep by encouraging further synthesizing of amino acid Tryptophan.
Lab tests on animals show that those that were administered caffeine to induce insomnia were affected by a combination of 5-HTP and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Once exposed to the combination of amino acids, deep and lengthy sleep was induced.
How to use 5-HTP for sleep?
After reading about the benefits of 5-HTP before bed, you may wonder how do I incorporate 5-HTP into my sleep routine? Luckily, there are a few different approaches available.
Supplements can be found in pill and powder form. Pills are in 25, 50, and 100 mg capsules. There may be smaller amounts in multi-vitamin tablets. There is no recommended daily allowance. The FDA has not approved the medicinal usage of 5-HTP.
How much 5-HTP to take for sleep?
A common dosage is 50-100 mg a day and most experts recommend starting with a 25 mg dose (a serving of FOCL Night contains 50 mg). After a few days, you will be able to gauge effects and adjust the dosage to what’s right for you. As with any supplement, a healthcare professional should be consulted.
Using 5-HTP to support a healthy life and sleep routine can be as easy as taking a daily supplement. If you’re looking to optimize this natural sleep aid even further, you can also take it with other botanicals that support sleep cycles. Valerian root, Purple Passion Flower, and Hops, which upregulate GABA, are also synergistic with 5-HTP.
Not into buying a bunch of different supplements and taking dozens of capsules? FOCL Night combines Premium Hemp CBD with Valerian Root, Purple Passion Flower, Hops Flower, and 5-HTP to give you the ultimate night of sleep in 2 nightly capsules.
How fast does 5-HTP work?
This depends on why you're taking 5-HTP. If your goal is to improve your sleep quality, you should experience the effects soon after taking the supplement. However, if you're using 5-HTP for other reasons, such as to help lose weight or treat depression, it could take a few weeks before you feel the full effects.
When to take 5-HTP for sleep?
Take your 5-HTP supplements 30-45 minutes before going to bed, integrating the supplement into your "wind-down" sleep routine. Do not watch TV or use the computer when preparing for sleep, as this hinders melatonin. Keep off these gadgets once you’ve taken 5-HTP.
We hope you found this article insightful! You may also enjoy reading about getting What are Chronotype Sleep Cycles if you are having issues sleeping, or this guide on how to get motivated when you are Too Tired to Work Out.
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