8

votes

tryptophan and hunger

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 21, 2011 at 11:39 AM

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.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 11, 2012
at 02:29 AM

i know i'm late to the party, but just wanted to add my thoughts about GABA and 5htp. i have fibromyalgia and struggled with insomnia for years before taking GABA. also, my appetite is regulating nicely. 5htp did nothing for me, sleepwise or appetite wise. actually, i think i slept less. food for thought!

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on December 22, 2011
at 06:52 PM

I suspect that supplementing with 5-htp exclusively has left the other neurotransmitters out of balance. I again highly recommend Julia Ross' books and website as an excellent resource for how to DIY balance your brain chemistry...I sing the praises of the effects of amino acid therapy a la Julia Ross on my family!

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on December 22, 2011
at 06:50 PM

As far as GABA goes, I have sufficient anecdotal evidence that it strongly and rapidly affects the mood of myself, my family, and various clients who have tried it in front of me. Taken sublingualy, it produces a very relaxed mind set, including undeniable physical relaxation. Sometimes, I don't care about scientific "evidence" if it doesn't coincide with what I have felt and seen in enough people(including young children) that I have ruled out the possibility of placebo. As far as a continued seratonin(or possible other neurotransmitter) deficiency despite tryptophan supplementation

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 22, 2011
at 09:14 AM

Especially as individual abilities to absorb/process B6 are variable. Some people need the P5P form - I am fine with the (much cheaper) ordinary B6.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 22, 2011
at 09:14 AM

You might be short of B6, which is a vital prerequisite for synthesis of both serotonin and dopamine - it is certainly a limiting factor for me. (If we are eating plenty of meat I don't see how we would be deficient in tryptophan, or tyrosine!) I read recently that dysbiosis can deplete B6 and I have started supplementing again - as a result I am sleeping better and my mood is pretty good. You've mentioned issues with dysbiosis in other questions, so this might help you - it's perhaps worth a try, anyway.

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 02:46 AM

Great advice and thanks for sharing your experience. I have the f. lux program, but I need shades that block out light. I agree about the band aid thing, I'm just taking it til I can find out what the root cause is and find the treatment that fixes it.

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 02:38 AM

I'm not sure if Rogue Nutritionist is recommending GABA itself but maybe a precursor or analog. Everything I've read says GABA itself is unable to cross the bbb. I do take l-theanine which is a precursor and is supposed to increase gaba levels. Really good point about anorexics though I hadn't thought of that.

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 01:56 AM

It seems that either I have a deficiency in serotonin for some reason or a problem of some other kind that increasing my serotonin levels via 5htp/trp is masking. For the former, the question becomes, why am I deficient in serotonin if that's the case? I've read that some people are born with a tendency to make less serotonin and therefore develop depression or eating disorders and I'm wondering if I'm one of those people.

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 01:48 AM

I agree, I think serotonin is overrated, I'm just taking it's precursors because I've tried everything else for sleep and nothing worked, or was too powerful in the case of melatonin. I'm waiting til I can afford lab tests to see what other things might be wrong with me. Thanks for sharing your experience though.

9dd74d3941535d0aaa2c8d3cf454fb7e

on December 22, 2011
at 12:52 AM

I agree almost completely with your statements above, with the exception of GABA. There is no convincing evidence that I've seen that it crosses the blood/brain barrier, if taken as a supplement.

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5 Answers

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3
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

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/

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 02:38 AM

I'm not sure if Rogue Nutritionist is recommending GABA itself but maybe a precursor or analog. Everything I've read says GABA itself is unable to cross the bbb. I do take l-theanine which is a precursor and is supposed to increase gaba levels. Really good point about anorexics though I hadn't thought of that.

9dd74d3941535d0aaa2c8d3cf454fb7e

on December 22, 2011
at 12:52 AM

I agree almost completely with your statements above, with the exception of GABA. There is no convincing evidence that I've seen that it crosses the blood/brain barrier, if taken as a supplement.

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 01:56 AM

It seems that either I have a deficiency in serotonin for some reason or a problem of some other kind that increasing my serotonin levels via 5htp/trp is masking. For the former, the question becomes, why am I deficient in serotonin if that's the case? I've read that some people are born with a tendency to make less serotonin and therefore develop depression or eating disorders and I'm wondering if I'm one of those people.

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on December 22, 2011
at 06:50 PM

As far as GABA goes, I have sufficient anecdotal evidence that it strongly and rapidly affects the mood of myself, my family, and various clients who have tried it in front of me. Taken sublingualy, it produces a very relaxed mind set, including undeniable physical relaxation. Sometimes, I don't care about scientific "evidence" if it doesn't coincide with what I have felt and seen in enough people(including young children) that I have ruled out the possibility of placebo. As far as a continued seratonin(or possible other neurotransmitter) deficiency despite tryptophan supplementation

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on December 22, 2011
at 06:52 PM

I suspect that supplementing with 5-htp exclusively has left the other neurotransmitters out of balance. I again highly recommend Julia Ross' books and website as an excellent resource for how to DIY balance your brain chemistry...I sing the praises of the effects of amino acid therapy a la Julia Ross on my family!

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 11, 2012
at 02:29 AM

i know i'm late to the party, but just wanted to add my thoughts about GABA and 5htp. i have fibromyalgia and struggled with insomnia for years before taking GABA. also, my appetite is regulating nicely. 5htp did nothing for me, sleepwise or appetite wise. actually, i think i slept less. food for thought!

4
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

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.

2
C7e3ba0ed51a6195ae022822a8f056ac

(673)

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:

http://www.radiantrecovery.com/4r.htm

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).

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 02:46 AM

Great advice and thanks for sharing your experience. I have the f. lux program, but I need shades that block out light. I agree about the band aid thing, I'm just taking it til I can find out what the root cause is and find the treatment that fixes it.

2
559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

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!

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 22, 2011
at 09:14 AM

You might be short of B6, which is a vital prerequisite for synthesis of both serotonin and dopamine - it is certainly a limiting factor for me. (If we are eating plenty of meat I don't see how we would be deficient in tryptophan, or tyrosine!) I read recently that dysbiosis can deplete B6 and I have started supplementing again - as a result I am sleeping better and my mood is pretty good. You've mentioned issues with dysbiosis in other questions, so this might help you - it's perhaps worth a try, anyway.

Medium avatar

on December 22, 2011
at 01:48 AM

I agree, I think serotonin is overrated, I'm just taking it's precursors because I've tried everything else for sleep and nothing worked, or was too powerful in the case of melatonin. I'm waiting til I can afford lab tests to see what other things might be wrong with me. Thanks for sharing your experience though.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 22, 2011
at 09:14 AM

Especially as individual abilities to absorb/process B6 are variable. Some people need the P5P form - I am fine with the (much cheaper) ordinary B6.

1
Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:11 PM

No kidding, I had been using 5-HTP before meals in order to reduce post-prandial appetite. No wonder it wasn't working! XD

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