5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally occurring substance that is produced in the human body from the amino acid tryptophan. Its function is to provide a precursor for serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter that has many roles that include muscle control, regulating the endocrine system, the capacity for memory and learning, temperature and pain control, sexual response, mood regulation, sleeping patterns and our appetites. 5HTP can be found naturally in a number of plants including the seeds of griffonia simplicifoli, a West African shrub has long been used for its medicinal qualities. Although 5-HTP is being naturally produced in the body, like all supplements, it can be of use to people where the levels generated are not sufficient to meet their needs. Serotonin levels naturally decrease with age and can be adversely affected by stress at any time. 5-HTP is recognized as working more effectively than a supplement of serotonin as it can easily cross over from the blood stream into the brain where it can start to work, while ingested serotonin will not.

To benefit from a good night’s sleep
Insomnia is a debilitating condition that is known to increase with both age and stress levels. Not surprisingly, these factors also affect the production of serotonin. The results of insomnia can lead to a general impairment of faculties, a drop in the effectiveness of the immune system, depressed mood and an increase in levels of anxiety. 5HTP will boost the levels of serotonin, which in itself aids restful sleep, while at the same time easing the other symptoms. This two pronged approach helps to break the cycle whereby a lack of sleep leads to a general increase of symptoms that make restful sleep less likely. The supplement helps to re-establish healthy sleep patterns which aid overall recovery.

To guard against weight gain
As well as resulting from increased age and heightened stress levels, serotonin deficiency can be a result of genetic factors. The genetically resultant low levels of serotonin, known as serotonin deficiency syndrome, have been identified as leading to a higher risk of obesity. The serotonin works both by facilitating a release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which tells us when we are full after a meal, and also inhibits the cravings for carbohydrates. A failure in either of these mechanisms results in a tendency to overeat and subsequent weight gain. Taking 5-HTP helps the body to feeling fuller on less food and avoid the urge for a quick carbohydrate fix.

As a mood booster
Stress can result in a negative downward spiral of our feeling of well being and general health. The adverse result that stress has on serotonin production impacts a wide range of bodily functions that have both a direct and indirect effect on our mood, which increases stress levels and perpetuates the cycle. The boost that taking 5HTP gives enables the body to ward off illnesses as the efficiency of the immune system increases, cognitive powers are maintained, anxiety decreases,  comfort eating is curbed and we are generally more able to cope with the stresses of life. In addition, the increase in serotonin resulting from the 5HTP supplement can help to produce a more stable mood and general feeling of wellbeing.

Serotonin provides the body with a number of vital functions that have a direct effect on our sense of health and wellbeing. As well as a genetic disorder which results in serotonin deficiency syndrome, increasing age and stress can also result in a reduction of this vital neurotransmitter. Naturally occurring 5-HTP can be taken as a supplement that is converted in the body into serotonin, to boost depleted levels, and allow the body to maintain the healthy level it requires. The benefits can result in a better night’s sleep, better weight control and general lifting of the mood, tackling not only the symptoms but the root cause at the same time.

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