5-HTP: A Highly Effective Appetite Suppressant

August 10, 2015

In order to achieve a state of fitness, a healthy weight must be maintained. For many people, however, weight maintenance is a long way off, and can only occur after a significant amount of weight is lost in the first instance. The fact is, losing weight and keeping it off is not a simple or consistently successful process as evidenced by the fact that the majority of persons who lose weight regain the weight within one to five years.1 Frequently, a gross oversimplification of the problem is the proffered solution to “just eat less.” While eating less will indeed result in weight loss, it is difficult to eat less when your appetite is telling you to eat more. The real trick then, is figure out a way to reduce your appetite so that eating less is easier to do, allowing you to lose the weight and keep it off. That’s where 5–HTP may be able to help.

5–HTP stands for 5–hydroxytryptophan. It is a type of amino acid. More specifically, the amino acid L–tryptophan is converted into 5–HTP in the body. 5–HTP can be synthetically produced, or it can be derived from natural sources. For example, 5–HTP is naturally occurring in significant levels in seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia.2 This plant grows in western African countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo. In the traditional therapeutic application of those countries, the leaf and juice of the plant can be used for the treatment of wounds and nerve conditions, and also as an aphrodisiac.3 Many 5–HTP products on the market are derived from concentrated extracts of Griffonia simplicifolia.

Serotonin is a nervous system messenger, also called a neurotransmitter, with many functions in the body. One of those functions is that it can help to reduce appetite. In fact, in the pharmaceutical market, the role of serotonin in appetite control and satiety (which means the state of being satisfactorily full and unable to eat more) is well established, and is the basis for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications, which increase serotonin levels and help reduce food intake.4 Such medications are available by prescription only, and may have limited long–term efficacy.

An effective alternative to prescription SSRI medications for appetite control is 5–HTP. In the body, 5–HTP is converted into serotonin. In fact, 5–HTP readily crosses the blood–brain barrier and increases central nervous system (CNS) production of serotonin.5 And once the serotonin is produced it reduces or stops the hunger pangs. This is possible because there are numerous types of serotonin receptors in the brain, and two of them (called 5–HT1B and 5–HT2C) have been specifically recognized as promoting serotonin–induced satiety.6

There are five, double–blind, placebo–controlled, published clinical studies demonstrating that 5–HTP is effective for reducing appetite and promoting satiety.

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