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Ingredient Spotlight


5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptophan, is a substance made naturally by the body from the amino acid, tryptophan. It can also be extracted from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia. 5-HTP is converted in the body to a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) called serotonin, often referred to as the ‘feel good’ or ‘happy’ hormone. Serotonin can then further convert to another important hormone known as melatonin which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. 

Serotonin has many important functions in the body such as the regulation of mood, promoting restful sleep, reducing the overall sensation of pain and suppressing appetite. 5-HTP is often supplemented to help boost serotonin levels in the body, similar to the way in which SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) anti-depressants work by making the amount of serotonin more available to the brain. A deficiency in serotonin can lead to issues such as depression, anxiety, poor sleep, weight gain and other health problems such as fibromyalgia, migraines or hot flushes. 

The best dietary sources of L-tryptophan (which the body uses to convert to 5-HTP) include turkey, chicken, pumpkin seeds, spinach, milk and bananas. 

If using the supplement form of 5-HTP then caution should be taken and advice sought from a healthcare professional or registered nutritional therapist to ensure safety. Individuals on SSRI anti-depressants should avoid any supplements containing 5-HTP but dietary sources of L-tryptophan are completely safe to consume.