5-HTP (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)
The acronym for 5-hydroxytryptophan (or 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan) is 5-HTP, a compound found primarily in the brain. This compound is made from tryptophan, a natural amino acid inherent in foods. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means that it cannot be made by the body. It must be obtained from food, particularly proteins. In the liver and brain, 5-HTP is converted to an important monoamine neurotransmitter called serotonin. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain.
Taking 5-HTP increases the body's supply of the compound, which leads to higher serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin, also called 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT, plays an important role in controlling behavior and moods. It influences many normal brain activities and also regulates the activity of other neurotransmitters. Having adequate levels of serotonin instills a feeling of relaxation, calmness, and mild euphoria (extreme happiness). Low levels of serotonin, serotonin deficiency syndrome, leads to depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and many other problems.
Conditions associated with low levels of serotonin include:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
(The entire section is 1258 words.)
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