In this post we’ll be talking about hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is probably the most controversial ingredient we’ve discussed, which isn’t saying much as none of the others have any controversy around them.
The reason: Hydroxytryptophan reliably increases serotonin levels.
Serotonin is generally touted as the happy hormone and also has numerous other effects on the body including reduced cravings, reduced appetite, and reduced compulsive actions, which lead to weight loss.
If you are taking a medicine for mental health, THEORETICALLY it raises the risk of serotonin syndrome; however, using normal doses of hydroxytryptophan, side effects and serotonin syndrome have not yet been observed in humans even with coingestion of antidepressants such as MAOIs.
Another reason to talk to your doctor about the supplements you take. 🙂
Now, let’s get to how hydroxytryptophan helps you get into deeper, more restorative sleep.
Also known as: the precursor to serotonin, the nightmare killer
Main effects: decreases time to get to sleep, improves sleep quality, improves sleep duration, reduces sleep terrors and nightmares, anti-panic
Additional effects: reduces overall cravings, reduces withdrawal symptoms, increases satiety, decreases binge eating, decreased food intake without affecting mood, reduces carb. and sugar cravings, weight loss, possible anti-depressant effects
Lifestyle considerations: reduce access to foods that induce cravings
Additional interesting info: has been studied menopausal hot flashes with no effects (good try!)
Hydroxytryptophan is really interesting as it is the direct precursor to the hormone serotonin. Tryptophan itself (which people claim is why eating turkey makes you sleepy), is actually a direct precursor to hydroxytryptophan.
In studies of obesity and weight loss, it’s main effects are on satiety and feeling full, as well as reducing cravings, which all lead to weight loss (naturally eat less, lose weight).
If you are feeling full, you’re less likely to eat before going to bed, which reduces the time to get to sleep but also improves sleep quality and growth hormone spikes.
Hydroxytryptophan is also implicated in getting to sleep faster and deeper on it’s own; however, it seems most of the effects revolve around the reduction of food intake prior to sleep.
Have you ever heard of the old saying “don’t eat before bed or you’ll have nightmares?”
Well, believe it or not, this is actually true!
Hydroxytryptophan literally reduces nightmares and night terrors, which means more of your nights are filled with “happy sleep” vs stressful sleep. And yes, you can stress during sleep as nightmares do lift cortisol and other fight or flight hormones, which can cause you to wake up and not be able to return to restful, rejuvenating sleep.
In this case, nightmares really can be worse than SMOKING on the body… how crazy is that?
It really is the nightmare killer!
Other really interesting facts about hydroxytryptophan revolve around its ability to reduce withdrawal symptoms as well as MINDLESS, ocd-type eating.
Frankly, if all hydroxytryptophan did to reduce cravings so you didn’t eat before sleep…
… it would be enough!