5-HTP and Anxiety: Jiggle away those Jitters

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In day to day life most people will experience anxiety. It stems from an innate reaction called our fight-or-flight response, which is a response that attempts to protect us from harm.

Anxiety can be ….

Caused by minor every day hassles such as missing your train or handing in a project at work. Alternatively it can be caused by large and life changing events such as such as moving house or getting married.

Anxiety can be irrational or rational. An example of rational anxiety is your first day at a new job. An example of irrational anxiety is not being able to touch a door handle in the belief it will make you severely unwell [1].

Symptoms of anxiety will effect a person both physically and mentally. Psychological symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Dwelling on negative experiences
  • Feeling as if someone is constantly judging you
  • Restlessness

Psychological symptoms can go on to cause physical manifestations. Physical Symptoms include:

  • Nausea, and an unsettled stomach
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Panic attacks

There are number of different disorders classified under the term “Anxiety” such as Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) Panic Disorder (PD), Phobias, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [1].

What is the cause of Anxiety Attacks?

One manifestation of anxiety called Panic Disorder (PD) has be extensively studied and has found a prominent link between Serotonin/5-HTP and the disorder. It has been shown conversely by medication that low levels of Serotonin causes high levels of anxiety and attacks. In addition, a 2002 study found that decreased level of Tryptophan, the precursor of 5-HTP and Serotonin caused a decrease in direct Serotonin production and led to an increase in panic disorder attacks [3].

There are many ways to reduce anxiety including medication or psychotherapy. In addition, anxiety can be reduced by over-familiarising yourself with the object/person/situation that causes the anxiety in the first instance. Lastly, focus on your well-being through nutrition, exercise and supplements.

One supplement that is particularly popular with anxiety sufferers is 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan). 5-HTP has been clinically proven to decrease physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety [4]. Tryptophan is a precursor to 5-HTP which is a precursor to Serotonin that as we know calms the flight-or-fight response [5]. One study found that taking 5-HTP was almost as effective as Clomipramine (synthetic anxiety medication)[6].

How to take it?

5-HTP is advised to be taken from 50mg to 200mg, however a  dosage of up to 300mg can be effective and non-toxic. Always be concious of the amount you are dosing, especially when using 5-HTP powder. Approximately 70% of an oral dosage will reach the blood stream and thus be effective. Advice states that you should start off at a lower dosage and build-up until you reach the one that is most effective for you. Do not exceed the upper limits of 5-HTP. You are advised to only take it for a a few months as it is not long term solution.

Just because it is natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for all. There are very few cases of side effects such as aggressiveness, headaches, stomach pains or heartburn, if these do occur cease taking 5-HTP. The best way to take 5-HTP is alongside a Vitamin B6 Tablet as this is known to increase 5-HTPs conversion efficiency to Serotonin [4,5].

Anxiety can take a grip on life as you know it, altering your cognitions and feelings, this is no way to live. 5-HTP is a well-tested and popular natural supplement that can help reduce anxiety and normalise life again. Take hold of your life today!

  1. MindUK. (2015). Anxiety and Panic Attacks. Available: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/#.V9vzdigrKUk.
  2. Maron.E, et-al. (2008). Tryptophan Research in Panic Disorder.International journal of Tryptophan Research. 1, Pg. 3-12
  3. Schrueurs, K. (2002). Acute L-5-hydroxytryptophan administration inhibits carbon dioxide-induced panic in panic disorder patients..Psychiatry Research. 113 (3), Pg.237-243.
  4. Birdsall, TC. (1998). 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor.. Alternative Medicine Review : A Journal of Clinical Therapeutics. 3 (4), Pg.217-280.
  5. Alban, D. (2016). 5-HTP Benefits for Anxiety, Depression, Sleep.Available: http://bebrainfit.com/5-htp-benefits-side-effects/.
  6. Kahn.RS, et-al. (1987). Effect of a serotonin precursor and uptake inhibitor in anxiety disorders; a double-blind comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan, clomipramine and placebo.. International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2 (1), Pg.33-45.

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