I am a big fan of taking 5 HTP over taking SSRIs because I feel often SSRIs are prescribed when not needed and that they may be extremely hard for some people to quit using.
What do you think about 5 HTP?
I think there is evidence to support the use of tryptophan as a primary or adjunct treatment for depression and anxiety disorders. However, remember that it works by basically doing the same thing as the SSRIs (increasing available serotonin) - whether on its own it is effective in treating more severe cases of depression is uncertain.
I'm not certain about the situation in the US currently - in Canada, I believe it is only available by prescription, since some deaths caused by contaminated batches imported from overseas a number of years ago. You should also be aware that taking tryptophan or 5HTP in combination with SSRI medications should only be done under a physician's recommendation since, like taking St. John's Wort along with an SSRI, there is a possibility of inducing a so-called "serotonin effect" (basically an overdose).
It appears that tryptophan is controlled in the US as well, for the same reason, since 1990.
Information Paper on L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan
FDA took action to limit the availability of dietary supplements containing the amino acid that is the biological precursor of L-5-hydroxytryptophan, that is, L-tryptophan, because of the association between dietary supplements containing L-tryptophan and the 1989 epidemic outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) in the United States. In the summer and fall of 1989, an epidemic outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) occurred in the United States. This illness is associated with the use of dietary supplements containing L-tryptophan. In all, more than 1500 cases of EMS, including at least 37 deaths, have been reported to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although the true incidence of the disorder is thought to be much higher. Some individuals suffering from L-tryptophan-related EMS have recovered, while other individuals' illnesses have persisted or worsened over time.
In certain epidemiological studies, more than 95 percent of the cases of EMS were traced to L-tryptophan supplied by Showa Denko K.K. of Japan. However, many people who consumed Showa Denko L-tryptophan did not develop EMS and cases of EMS and a related disease, eosinophilic fascitis, have occurred prior to and after the 1989 epidemic. EMS and related disorders are also reported to be associated with exposure to L-5-hydroxytryptophan, which is not made in the same manner as L-tryptophan (e.g., via fermentation processes). Based on these observations, FDA concluded that other brands of L-tryptophan, or L-tryptophan itself, regardless of the levels or presence of impurities, could not be eliminated as causal or contributing to the development of EMS. The serious nature of this disease necessitates that caution be exercised.
Numerous trace level impurities have been identified in the L-tryptophan implicated in many of the EMS cases. Based on the epidemiologic data, several of these impurities, including 1,1'-ethylidenebis[L-tryptophan] (EBT), have been associated with EMS. However, the role, if any, of these impurities in EMS is unclear. Animal studies in the Lewis rat showed that EBT caused some, but not all, of the pathologic effects associated with EMS. In addition, these studies showed that significant myofascial thickening and pancreatic fibrosis occurred in rats treated with the control L-tryptophan that did not contain EBT. These data, as well as data from a number of experiments employing different strains or species of animals indicate that L-tryptophan, when ingested by susceptible individuals either alone or in combination with some other component in the product, results in the pathological features in EMS. These findings raise serious questions regarding the safety of high dose levels of "uncontaminated" L-tryptophan. EBT and the other impurities epidemiologically associated with the EMS epidemic cases may only be markers for a yet unidentified substance(s) which trigger(s) EMS in a susceptible host. Other environmental factors could also act as "triggers."
Taken together, these findings support previous suggestions that the L-tryptophan-associated EMS was caused by several factors and is not necessarily related to a impurity in a single source of L-tryptophan. Based on the scientific evidence that is available at the present time, we cannot determine with certainty that the occurrence of EMS in susceptible persons consuming L-tryptophan supplements derives from the content of L-tryptophan, an impurity contained in the L-tryptophan, or a combination of the two in association with other, as yet unknown, external factors. Furthermore, results from published studies suggest that the risk of developing EMS may be linked in part to different patterns of xenobiotic metabolism and immune response genes in patients with EMS. Consequently, FDA cannot determine that oral dosage forms of L-tryptophan and related compounds such as L-5-hydroxytryptophan can be safely used as dietary supplements.
See also Tryptophan
Many people found tryptophan to be a safe and reasonably effective sleep aid, probably due to its ability to increase brain levels of serotonin (a calming neurotransmitter when present in moderate levels) and/or melatonin (a drowsiness-inducing hormone secreted by the pineal gland in response to darkness or low light levels). Clinical research tended to confirm tryptophan?ectiveness as a natural sleeping pill and for a growing variety of other conditions typically associated with low serotonin levels or activity in the brain. In particular, tryptophan showed considerable promise as an antidepressant, alone and as an adjunct to antidepressant drugs. Other promising indications included relief of chronic pain and reduction of impulsive, violent, manic, addictive, obsessive, or compulsive behaviours and disorders.
See also L-Tryptophan - nature’s answer to Prozac
I take 5 HTP whenever I feel bad. I am not necissarily perpetually depressed anymore (I was suicidally for a few years when I was a nuclear reactor operator on submarines in the US navy). The only reason I got into internet marketing is that I wanted the world to know how bad I thought the navy was.
I know when I am about to feel like garbage and I usually feel way better within a half hour after I take 5 HTP. I know that by raising your blood ratio of tryptophan / LNAA it helps some people boost their synaptic serotonin levels. Certainly a portion of my quick reaction time can be attributed to the placebo effect, but I think something also makes me exceptionally sensitive to it. Normally I really overeat a bunch, but if I take 5 HTP it really takes away my hunger.
Only after I got kicked out of the navy for eventually using drugs did I start to learn anything about understanding depression. Going back to when I was I kid I have always ate a ton of yogurt, turkey, and other foods high in tryptophan. While on the submarine I would eat a ton of peanut butter - somewhat of a self medication technique (although at the time I knew nothing about serotonin or neurochemistry). Perhaps my natural serotonin levels are somewhat low.
The SSRIs block reuptake and require a decent amount of time (I have been told a few weeks to a month or so) to raise your serotonin levels. I have heard tons of stories about them ruining peoples lives. I think often prescription drugs for these sorts of ailments are a band aid that just mask symptoms.
When I left the navy they even lost (most likely destroyed) some of my work records prior to my release from service. I really do not have a bunch of faith in Government organizations or big drug companies. They linked Tryptophan to EMS because a company from Japan used genetic engineering and a new activated charcoal filtering system which did not work and they tested the product at the consumer level.
They still add Tryptophan to infant formula to this day, and I believe it is legal in the UK and many other conservitive countries.
There is a ton of good info on the web about various psychological and mental issues related to depression, the problem is that the profit margins in selling people drugs they do not need is so large that often the best information slips through the cracks. thanks for making this site
I have been reading a small amount on cognitive behavioral theropy recently and have found it really interesting.
I don't know about "ruining people's lives" - I do know that some people experience side effects from these medications, but these can usually be eliminated by switching to another medication in the SSRI family - I also know that literally thousands or hundreds of thousands have been helped by these medications and many are alive today because of them. I also always caution my clients to be cautious about interpreting "horror stories" about medications posted in forums because these are anectdotal only and it often is not clear that the problms are in fact caused by the medications. It is also difficult to predict who will have side effects at all, let alone which side-effect: most people have no side-effects except for an adaptation period of a few days to a week. Furthermore, in any list of potential side-effects reported for any given medication, one must also be careful to look at the control or placebo groups. Fot example, with one common SSRI medication, in the trials, 12% of the medication group reported increased somnolence, while 11% of the placebo group reported that side-effect. In that same study, almost the same percentages of both groups reported increased insomnia. Does this reflect a medication effect? Or does it reflect variations in sleep patterns that are known to be symptoms of the disorders (depression, anxiety) for which the medications are prescribed?Originally Posted by seobook
If used properly and in combination with psychotherapy, these medications can help people to recover from depresson, anxiety disorders, and related disorders (including OCD and eating disorders). All of the research that has looked at the question has been very clear: medication plus psychotherapy is more effective, produces faster effects, and produces longer lasting benefits than either medication or psychotherapy alone.
There is a lot of excellent information on the net, but unfortunately there is also a lot of misinformation and many people do not have the background to be able to tell the difference. That is one of the reasons I began this forum. I am by no means a defender of the policies of large corporations but I am also very aware of the benefits of many of the products they produce. It's a matter of finding competent phsyicians and therapists to monitor the individual's response to treatment and to be alert to adverse side-effects or drug interactions.
Yes - CBT is a well-established effective treatment for depression. An excellent starting point for reading about this is a book by David Burns, titled Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (Avon, 1999), which can be used to some effect as a self-help resource.
See related story here:
Brain serotonin enzyme and psychiatric disorders
|Disclaimer: PsychLinks is not responsible for the content of posts or comments by forum members.|