L-Tryptophan VS 5-htp: What You Need To Know

AminoAcidProducts | May 30, 2020 | Amino Acid Supplements

If you’re looking for a natural treatment for mental health conditions one of the options you have is l-tryptophan vs 5-htp. These are two different amino acids that can provide benefits when treating different conditions like anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It’s important to know the pros and cons of each one. These amino acids are natural treatments for health conditions so they offer benefits over prescription meds. One of the main problems with them is they include strong chemicals that are more likely to cause various side-effects. This can make a bad situation worse since you’re already using the medicines to treat certain conditions. These two amino acids are similar. Meanwhile, they work differently and affect the body differently.

What are these two amino acids about? 5-HTP is a natural amino acid that the body uses to produce serotonin. It’s produced when the body breaks down tryptophan. 5-HTP is available in a supplement and often sourced from an African shrub’s seeds. Then there’s L-tryptophan that’s sometimes just known as tryptophan. This amino acid is found in foods like poultry, eggs, and yogurt. This amino acid is converted to 5-HTP that’s used to produce different substances the body needs. It’s critical to know how they’re similar and different.

What Is L-Tryptophan?

This is an essential amino acid (EAA) that helps the body produce proteins and chemicals to signal the brain. The body converts L-Tryptophan into something called “serotonin.” This is important for different functions that help control a person’s mood and sleep.

You can actually get all the amino acid you need from food like:

  • Bananas
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Dates
  • Fish
  • Oats
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soy
  • Tofu
  • Tree nuts

However, if you want more convenience then dietary supplements are a good option.

This amino acid is often used to treat people with conditions like depression. Supporters claim a daily dose of 1-3 grams can help to boost a person’s mood and even help to prevent mental health disorders including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder.

It’s important to note that there isn’t solid scientific evidence that this amino acid can treat those conditions effectively. The same is true about using L-tryptophan for treating mood swings caused by PMS. More research is needed.

However, some studies seem to show that this amino acid can effectively treat certain conditions. They include seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This results from factors like less sunlight during the winter months.

The amino acid might also help to treat sleep apnea. This is a sleep disorder that can become dangerous if the patient stops breathing while sleeping.

This supplement can include various side-effects including:

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Twitching (head)
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Strong heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Fatigue

This supplement can interfere with various other meds. So, it’s important to research which ones cause that result. This can cause a lot of problems in terms of possible side effects by combining the two substances.

It’s important to note there are some risks linked to L-Tryptophan. This includes a possibly serious condition known as EMS. This can cause skin changes, muscle pain, nerve damage, and other major symptoms.

What Is 5-HTP?

5-Hydroxytryptophan is also known as 5-HTP. This is a compound that the amino acid tryptophan produces in the body. It’s made before the hormone melatonin and neurotransmitter serotonin.

This chemical compound is made from an African shrub. This supplement has become popular since it’s believed that supplying the body with it using a pill form can boost the body’s serotonin levels. This can provide several benefits

Experts believe this amino acid supplement can work as an antidepressant. Supporters believe this will boost the brain’s serotonin levels.

In fact, scientists think 5-HTP supplements might be effective in treating various conditions including:

  • Anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Hot flashes
  • Depression
  • Weight Loss
  • Insomnia

It’s worth noting that more research is needed to prove whether if 5-HTP can treat any of the conditions effectively and safely. As of now, the results are mixed. Here are the results of research for 5-HTP to treat different conditions:

1. Migraine

Some studies seem to show that 5-HTP might help to reduce how serious and frequent migraines are. It might even help to prevent headaches. Meanwhile, more studies are needed to verify the findings.

2. Depression

Various studies show the 5-HTP can be as effective as antidepressants. However, in terms of professional standards, there isn’t solid proof that the amino acid can treat depression effectively. So, more research is needed to determine whether or not that’s the case.

3. Insomnia

It’s believed that 5-HTP can boost serotonin levels. So, it might boost melatonin and allow people to sleep normally. That’s because serotonin gets converted to melatonin. This hormone is needed so people’s sleep/wake cycles are regulated.

However, there are also some possible side effects of 5-HTTP. They include dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea. Sometimes the dietary supplement can also cause allergic reactions. However, this is quite rare.

Some OTC/Rx drugs also interact with 5-HTP.

L-tryptophan vs 5-HTP

It’s important to talk about the similarities and differences of these two amino acids. They have a lot in common but there are some differences worth noting.

1. Anxiety

5-HTP has been shown to be a good option for treating panic disorder and anxiety. Various studies showed that amino acid can produce benefits when used to treat either of these conditions.

2. Depression

Both of these amino acids are used to treat depression. Several studies have been conducted about their effects on depression. Some studies show that combining the amino acids sometimes produced better results as a mood-booster.

On the other hand, the results have mostly been mixed in terms of using these two dietary supplements to treat depression. It’s important to review some of them to determine which product is better for your needs.

3. Insomnia

Studies show that L-tryptophan and 5-HTP can be effective in helping to treat mild/moderate cases of insomnia. However, the results have been mixed and sometimes the results are caused by drug combos that include one of the amino acids and other meds.

In terms of safety and side-effects, they both can cause mild-side-effects including nausea, blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, and others. One thing to note is L-Tryptophan is usually taken just before bedtime since it causes drowsiness.

In terms of safety both amino acids are generally considered to be healthy. An L-Tryptophan issue took place around the early 1990s. However, this was based on one OTC batch of the amino acid.

Since then there haven’t been any reported cases of safety issues related to either of the amino acids. One of the main benefits of these amino acids is they’re based on a substance that exists naturally in the human body. As a result, when considering treatments for mental health issues you should definitely consider l-tryptophan vs 5-htp.

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