5-HTP for Anxiety
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
Anxiety is a psychological problem that is common in all age groups. It can manifest itself in different forms and may hinder your ability to fulfill important daily responsibilities.
There are different ways to tackle this anxiety including therapy, medical treatment, and mindfulness techniques. But if you cannot commit to them then including a dietary supplement such as 5 HTP in your daily routine can come in handy.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5 HTP) supplementation does not only manage anxiety but also helps you deal with the symptoms associated with it.
Follow the article below to know more about anxiety, its causes and symptoms, and how 5 HTP can help you fight it.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is the body's natural response to stressful and overwhelming situations. It can be simply described as a feeling of fear or apprehension about the near and distant future.
This feeling of fear is often out of your control and may interfere with daily activities. There are multiple types of anxiety disorders some of which are listed below:
- Generalized anxiety disorder – It is described as constant excessive anxiety even about ordinary matters of life. You worry out of proportion to the actual circumstance and find it difficult to control that persistent feeling of fear.
- Panic attacks – This type of anxiety disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden and intense anxiety at unexpected times. The anxiety reaches its peak within minutes and may be accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, and palpitations.
- Agoraphobia – It is a feeling of intense fear of being trapped in an unescapable situation or place. People suffering from this type of anxiety disorder often avoid any place or situation that may cause them to panic.
- Social anxiety disorder – Also known as social phobia it is a type of anxiety disorder in which people avoid social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and fear of being judged by others.
- Specific phobias – A major anxiety upon exposure to any particular object or situation is known as a specific phobia. The fear is so intense that people wish not to encounter that specific situation or object under any circumstances. It may sometimes also provoke panic attacks.
- Selective mutism – It is described as the consistent failure of children to speak in different situations such as talking to teachers at school, even when they can speak very well in other situations.
- Separation anxiety disorder – The fear of being away from home, parents, and loved ones is known as a separation anxiety disorder.
- Illness anxiety disorder – The anxiety regarding personal health or anxiety due to any medical condition can be described as an illness anxiety disorder.
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder – It is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs as a direct result of substance abuse or withdrawal from drugs.
SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY
Common signs and symptoms of any type of anxiety disorder include:
- Nervousness or restlessness
- Sense of impending doom
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Sleep disturbances
- Inability to focus
RISK FACTORS FOR DEVELOPING ANXIETY
There are numerous reasons why a person can develop anxiety but below is a list of some of the factors that make you more vulnerable to anxiety disorders:
- Personality traits – People with certain personality traits such as perfectionism, shyness, and overthinking are more prone to anxiety issues than others
- Trauma – Someone with traumatic life history like physical or mental abuse or someone who has experienced any traumatic events is more likely to develop anxiety disorders than people who have never undergone such circumstances in their life
- Stress buildup – Family problems, difficulties at the workplace, financial issues, and deteriorating health are some of the factors that can lead to stress buildup and may eventually trigger a major anxiety episode
- Family history – Anxiety is also linked with genetics. If any one of your first-degree blood relatives has had anxiety disorder then you may also be affected at some point in life
- Substance abuse – The use, misuse, and withdrawal of drugs can also increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders
5 HTP also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan and oxitriptan is a naturally occurring amino acid that acts as a precursor for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Commercially 5 HTP is produced from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia. 5 HTP works by increasing the level of serotonin and is used to treat different conditions such as migraine, depression, sleep disorders, and anxiety.
HOW DOES 5 HTP MANAGE ANXIETY?
The neurotransmitter serotonin or popularly known as the happiness hormone in the brain is responsible for regulating your mood, emotions, sleep, and other body functions.
Hence, serotonin deficiency can lead to anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. So the basic mechanism by which 5 HTP fights off anxiety is by increasing the production of serotonin in your body.
One of the most promising features of 5 HTP is that it can directly increase the serotonin levels in your brain. Because most of the serotonin in your body is produced in intestines and it doesn't reach the brain as serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.
On the other hand 5 HTP can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Hence, regular consumption of 5 HTP supplements increases the supply of 5-hydroxytryptophan in brain and eventually increases serotonin levels.
5 HTP doesn't only manage anxiety by boosting the production of serotonin but it can also protect against carbon dioxide-induced panic attacks.
Stress is one of the factors that trigger anxiety. 5 HTP also counteracts the effects of cortisol i.e. stress hormone by producing more serotonin. 5-hydroxytryptophan also tackles sleep disturbances which is often a key symptom in individuals struggling with anxiety.
RECOMMENDED DOSAGE AND SIDE EFFECTS
The typical dose of 5-hydroxytryptophan for adults ranges from 150 to 800 mg daily. Within this limit 5 HTP is considered safe to use in daily routine but can sometimes lead to following side effects, especially if consumed in a large amount:
- Stomach pain
- Muscle spams
- Sexual dysfunction
5-hydroxytryptophan is a safe dietary supplement and can be used by people of all ages. However, following are the circumstances in which you should consume it with great care or under the supervision of your healthcare provider:
PREGNANCY AND BREASTFEEDING
Women should always be cautious about what they eat or drink during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it can have a direct impact on the physical and neurological growth and development of the baby.
Although 5 HTP is safe to use in daily routine there is no sufficient amount of knowledge available regarding the safety of 5-hydroxytryptophan supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Therefore, it is advised to stay on the safe side and avoid using 5 HTP while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Drugs that are administered during the surgery can affect serotonin levels in your brain. 5 HTP consumption also causes your brain to synthesize more serotonin.
Taking 5-hydroxytryptophan before the surgery can lead to excessive production of serotonin in your brain and may eventually result in cardiac problems, shivering, and other health issues.
To avoid such complications during and after the surgery you should stop taking 5 HTP supplements at least two weeks prior to the scheduled surgical procedure.
INTERACTIONS WITH MEDICINAL DRUGS
5 HTP can interact with different therapeutic drugs and may increase the risk of their side effects. Some of the common interactions of 5-hydroxytryptophan with different medications are explained below:
- Sedatives – These medications suppress the central nervous system activity and cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. 5 HTP has the same effect and using it along the sedatives can result in too much sleepiness and breathing difficulties.
- Serotonergic drugs – Both 5 HTP and serotonergic drugs work to increase the synthesis of serotonin. When used simultaneously they can result in excess production of serotonin and cause adverse effects such as vomiting, seizures, and cardiac problems.
- Carbidopa – This drug is indicated for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Taking carbidopa with 5 HTP can increase the risk of side effects such as headache, restlessness, rapid speech, and aggressiveness.
All of us experience anxiety in different situations. Occasionally, it is completely normal to feel that way as it is our body’s natural response to overwhelming life events.
However, some people experience this feeling of anxiousness and fear persistently and find it difficult to overcome that. It can also hinder them from fulfilling their daily responsibilities and may affect their social life as well.
5-hydroxytryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid extracted commercially from an African plant. It is a chemical precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin (happiness chemical) and can help you fight off anxiety and its associated symptoms efficiently.
It is recommended, that you speak with your healthcare provider before starting 5 HTP supplements especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health conditions.
Here you can check out Vorst’s Premium Supplement 5 HTP 100mg 60 Capsules.