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5-HTP for Constipation

5-HTP for Constipation


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.

5-Hydroxytryptophan is a chemical having the potential to improve serotonin levels which can relieve depression and improve gut motility. Brain chemicals play an essential role in regulating the central nervous system and enteric nervous system. Serotonin helps control these systems' developments and functions including mood and gastrointestinal motility.

This article will detail 5HTP for constipation and its association with central nervous system functions.

What is 5HTP?

5HTP also known as oxitriptan is a chemical naturally produced in the body from an amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid commonly obtained from foods.

Once the tryptophan is converted to 5HTP, it gets transformed into a brain chemical known as serotonin which sends signals between nerve cells. Serotonin has great impact on mood, behavior, sleep, appetite, and pain sensation.

5HTP is not found in food, we get tryptophan from foods that are converted to 5HTP and then to serotonin. Eating food does not increase 5HTP levels too much however we need to take dietary supplements (5HTP supplements) to meet the need for this compound in the body. 5-hydroxytryptophan supplements are prepared from the seeds or roots of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia.

Is 5HTP Effective for Constipation?

Constipation is a common GIT disorder that affects 27% of the population and leads to other GIT disorders. Research showed that consumption of 5HTP in rats resulted in reduced depression, increased colonic motility, and regulated GI transit time.

Studies revealed that 5HTP increases the levels of serotonin in the body which help reduce depression and improve gastrointestinal motility. Constipation and depression both cause discomfort and affect the quality of life. Research revealed that there is a strong connection between these two health issues.

It is claimed that people having depression are more likely to be suffering from chronic constipation. GIT problems especially bowel difficulties are common factors that affect the quality of life.

It is claimed that the intestine is our 2nd brain with millions of neurons and neurotransmitters just like in the spinal cord. Low serotonin levels affect the nervous system and cause sleep problems, mood changes, depression, and reduced appetite. It also affects digestive health as the gastrointestinal system also uses serotonin to control intestinal movement.

The research was conducted in mice affected by a genetic mutation that disturbed the serotonin synthesis in the brain and gut. The mutation occurred in the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 enzyme which reduced the synthesis of serotonin. The serotonin levels decreased to 60-70% and resulted in the development of depressive symptoms in the mice. Decreased serotonin levels also affected the neurons in the gut and resulted in decreased bowel movement.

What does Research Say?

In a study, effects of serotonin and slow release of 5HTP on GIT motility were observed in depressive mice. The study revealed that the slow release of 5HTP resulted in an increased number of neurons in the gut. It was a surprising finding which encourage the researchers to evaluate the effects of slow release of 5HTP on gut neurogenesis in humans.

Well, it was the first study showing that gastrointestinal neurogenesis is possible and improves gut motility which helps relieve constipation. Although, 5HTP has long been found in supplement forms and immediate release of these supplements is not as effective in relieving intestinal problems as slow release.

It is because the slow release of 5HTP supplements helps provide a constant supply of compounds to the body.

How Does it Work?

The GIT is a host to various bacteria and other living organisms. Gut microflora produces various small chemical compounds from food precursors and substrates. This conversion signifies the regulatory mechanisms that encourage the gut microflora to modify the physiology of the host’s gut including its motility.

For instance, bacterial decarboxylation of dietary tryptophan activates serotonin receptors and G-protein coupled receptors and speeds up GI transit in mice. It results in an increase in anion-dependent fluid secretion in the intestine. As a result, chemicals derived from gut microbiota seem to improve host gut motility.

Research showed that lower serotonin levels in the gastrointestinal tract resulted in a decreased number of neurons in the gut. It may lead to deterioration of gut lining and reduce the movement of GIT contents. Well, for this purpose researchers have come to know that slow-release delivery of 5-hydroxytryptophan which is a precursor of serotonin and increases the number of neurons in the gut.

Gut neurogenesis helps improve gut motility and GI transit time which relieves constipation and prevents the complications of constipation.

Other Benefits

May also Increase Weight Loss

5HTP supplements are commonly prescribed as an effective remedy to losing weight. These dietary supplements have the potential to increase feelings of fullness, induce satiety and suppress appetite which helps you limit your calorie intake leading to weight loss.

Reduce the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disorder of the musculoskeletal system with symptoms like muscle pain, bone pain, and general weakness. There is no known cause for this disorder, however, it is claimed that low serotonin levels may cause fibromyalgia.

Relieve Migraines and other Headache

Supplementing 5HTP may reduce migraine and throbbing headaches associated with nausea and disturbed vision. Researchers believe that low serotonin levels may cause migraine and headaches. The study revealed that consumption of 5HTP for six months resulted in decreased migraine attacks in 71% of individuals.

Can Improve Sleep

5HTP is a precursor to serotonin which is then converted to melatonin, a sleep hormone. A study concluded that consumption of 5HTP supplement with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) remarkably helped to fall asleep, and improve sleep time and quality.

Possible Risks or Side Effects

5HTP supplements offer a variety of benefits to the health however, some people may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach upset. These symptoms may get worse by increasing the dose. It is suggested to take start from smaller doses like 25-50mg to limit side effects.

These supplements may interact with some medications like sleep-aiding drugs. Consuming 5HTP supplements with sedative medicines can increase serotonin to dangerous levels leading to serotonin syndrome, a life-threatening condition.

5HTP can only be obtained through supplements because these compounds are not present in food. L-tryptophan is found in food like poultry, chickpeas, meat, soybeans, and dairy products.

Bottom Line

5HTP is a chemical naturally produced in the body and is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that controls mood, behavior, sleep, appetite, and pain sensation. Supplementing 5HTP improves serotonin levels which help improve sleep, relieve depression, control appetite, and increase intestinal motility help to relieve constipation.

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