Recently I was researching serotonin and appetite. I keep coming across research showing that tryptophan and 5htp decreases appetite and helps with insomnia. I've been taking it for several months and it helps me sleep but also increases my appetite. This is actually a good thing for me because when I don't take it I have no appetite at all and I can't figure out why. Not only that, but I feel constantly stressed out and depressed. I'm wondering why I seem to be completely dependent on 5htp for a normal appetite and mood. Could it be that the 5htp is calming me down and in effect lowering cortisol levels which may have been high and could have been shutting down my digestion? Personal experience as well as research are welcome, thanks.
asked byChris_Antenucci (2570)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on December 22, 2011
at 12:00 AM
5-HTP and L-tryptophan are given to anorexics and bulemics to raise seratonin levels, which plays a role in appetite regulation. An anorexic has no appetite, and returning seratonin levels to normal will help a normal sense of hunger return, while a bulemic has no turn off switch for satiation, and seratonin helps to regulate that as well. So it makes sense to me that raising your levels of seratonin would give you an appetite if you didn't have one. I normally wouldn't recommend 5-htp to someone with sleep issues, I would recommend L-tryptophan to that person. If you feel stressed out and depressed on 5-htp, I would recommend trying l-tryptophan instead, as well as some GABA to help cool your stress and some DLPA to help lift the depression. I love to also refer people to Julia Ross(who I have studied with and use her principles in my family's daily life for years now), the pioneer in using amino acids for mood disorders. SHe has treated many thousands of people in her Bay area clinic for drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, etc. using nothing but amino acids, supplements and diet(pretty much WAPF, leaning towards Paleo). Her website: http://www.moodcure.com/
on December 21, 2011
at 02:41 PM
5htp supposedly raises cortisol(http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/36/1/204.short) which could definitely make you feel better by suppressing inflammation, raising adrenalin/BG etc. Cortisol is also associated with increased appetite. It also raises prolactin which has some nasty long term side effects.
From what you describe the 5htp sounds like a band aid fix that may have long term consequences. Tons of info on the negative role of serotonin, cortisol and prolactin. Ray peat has a ton of articles on the subject.
on December 22, 2011
at 12:43 AM
I used melatonin, 5-htp, and serotonin to try help with sleep issues. Varying dosages, times (tho usually later in the day), etc. Long story short, don't use these supplements. Stop. Avoid. Someone above noted that they are band-aid fixes to other issues, I agree 100%.
I've read a bit about a high carb snack/infusion prior to bed (3 hours after a normal dinner) will help shuttle tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier. Here's the link:
I thought it interesting because it appears to be a watered down version of the Kruse leptin-reset protocol plus a higher dosage of carbs in the evening. I will say I don't eat the (sweet) potato skins. I wouldn't say my sleep problems are cured, but definitely improving.
Other unrelated things that help/affect me are:
1) Unplugging from the world 2-4 hours before bed (computer, tv, lights. Highly recommend the program "f.lux" for your computer, which auto adjusts the blue light emitted from your monitor to match the outside sun).
2) Temperature (prefer it cool with a slight breeze/fan).
3) Blacked out curtains are the best home improvement I've ever done (damn neighbors!!!).
4) A routine of sorts (Shower at 7, food at 8, or what have you).
on December 21, 2011
at 11:40 PM
My experience of supplementing with tryptophan was of increased appetite and sugar cravings. As you probably know, tryptophan has a similar effect to 5-HTP as it is also a serotonin precursor and is therefore probably comparable.
It certainly did not reduce cortisol and I suspect it made it worse over time. On a low-ish carb diet, I have lower prolactin levels, better motivation (likely to be increased dopamine) and, of course, less hunger. Cortisol is going down gradually over a period of months.
I am beginning to think that serotinin is overrated.
I should add that tryptophan did improve my sleep, but the drawbacks outweighed this advantage!