5-HYDROXYTRYPTOPHAN (5-HTP) is the immediate precursor in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptamine(5 HT or serotonin). 5-HT is synthesized from the amino acid L-tryptophan. 5-HTP has replaced the use of L-tryptophan in the United States. In 1989 patients taking L-tryptophan developed a negative and debilitating reaction called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome.
Upon further study it was determined that the culprit was not the L-tryptophan. It was actually a bacterial contaminant in the formula. L-tryptophan products associated with the syndrome were found to come from genetically modified bacterial recombinant production methods. Even though L- tryptophan was proven to be safe it never recovered from this incident. 5-HTP was created to fill the gap created by the removal of L-tryptophan in the marketplace.
Small amounts of 5-HTP, as well as serotonin, are found in: bananas, tomatoes, plums, avocados, eggplant, walnuts and pineapples. A common commercial source of 5-HTP is Griffonia simplicifolia, a relative to carob. 5-HTP’s possible pain reduction benefit comes from its conversion to serotonin and to the observed effect of raising beta-endorphin and platelet met-enkephalin levels.
Serum leptin levels increased following 5-HTP injection in mice. This may explain 5-HTP’s beneficial effect on weight management. Additionally, 5-HTP has been shown to reduce carbohydrate intake.