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Generalized Anxiety Disorder and 5-Hydroxytryptophan

Written by sshowalter, FoundHealth.

Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid in certain foods. In the human body it acts as a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted in Melatonin. A substitute form, 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is a more common and readily available form of Tryptophan.

Effect of 5-Hydroxytryptophan on Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Tryptophan (5-HTP) has been historically prescribed for the treatment of depression, but since anxiety is often a symptom of depression, this is sometimes also prescribed for anxiety as well. (The same is true for insomnia, which is also a symptom of depression that can be beneficially affect with a 5-HTP supplement.)

Read more details about 5-Hydroxytryptophan.

Research Evidence on 5-Hydroxytryptophan

An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study compared 5-HTP and the drug clomipramine in 45 individuals suffering from anxiety disorders.31 The results showed that 5-HTP was effective, but clomipramine was more effective.

5-HTP should not be used in combination with antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) or herbs that have MAOI activity. 4

As Tryptophan is sometimes recommended for relieving insomnia, it may cause some drowsiness.

Some users have reported nausea in the first few days of usage, but it typically goes away.

References

  1. Sternberg EM, Van Woert MH, Young SN, Magnussen I, Baker H, Gauthier S, Osterland CK. Development of a scleroderma-like illness during therapy with L-5-hydroxytryptophan and carbidopa. N Engl J Med. 303(14):782-7.
  2. Gwaltney-Brant SM, Albretsen JC, Khan SA. 5-Hydroxytryptophan toxicosis in dogs: 21 cases (1989-1999). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 216(12):1937-40.
  3. Coleman M. Myoclonus in the young after 5-hydroxytryptophan [letter]. N Engl J Med. 1977;296:820.
  4. De Giorgis G, Miletto R, Iannuccelli M, Camuffo M, Scerni S. Headache in association with sleep disorders in children: a psychodiagnostic evaluation and controlled clinical study--L-5-HTP versus placebo. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 13(7):425-33.
  5. Klarskov K, Johnson KL, Benson LM, Gleich GJ, Naylor S. Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome case-associated contaminants in commercially available 5-hydroxytryptophan. Adv Exp Med Biol. 467():461-8.
  6. Belongia EA, Hedberg CW, Gleich GJ, White KE, Mayeno AN, Loegering DA, Dunnette SL, Pirie PL, MacDonald KL, Osterholm MT. An investigation of the cause of the eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome associated with tryptophan use. N Engl J Med. 323(6):357-65.
  7. Castot A, Bidault I, Bournerias I, Carlier P, Efthymiou ML. ["Eosinophilia-myalgia" syndrome due to L-tryptophan containing products. Cooperative evaluation of French Regional Centers of Pharmacovigilance. Analysis of 24 cases] Therapie. 46(5):355-65.
  8. Ito J, Hosaki Y, Torigoe Y, Sakimoto K. Identification of substances formed by decomposition of peak E substance in tryptophan. Food Chem Toxicol. 1992;30:71-81.
  9. Martin RW, Duffy J, Engel AG, Lie JT, Bowles CA, Moyer TP, Gleich GJ. The clinical spectrum of the eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome associated with L-tryptophan ingestion. Clinical features in 20 patients and aspects of pathophysiology. Ann Intern Med. 113(2):124-34.
  10. Mayeno AN, Lin F, Foote CS, et al. Characterization of “peak E,” a novel amino acid associated with eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. Science. 1990;250:1707-1708.
  11. Toyo'oka T, Yamazaki T, Tanimoto T, Sato K, Sato M, Toyoda M, Ishibashi M, Yoshihira K, Uchiyama M. Characterization of contaminants in EMS-associated L-tryptophan samples by high-performance liquid chromatography. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 39(3):820-2.
  12. Trucksess MW, Thomas FS, Page SW. High-performance liquid chromatographic determination of 1,1'-ethylidenebis(L-tryptophan) in L-tryptophan preparations. J Pharm Sci. 83(5):720-2.
  13. Trucksess MW. Separation and isolation of trace impurities in L-tryptophan by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Chromatogr. 630(1-2):147-50.
  14. Das YT, Bagchi M, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. Safety of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan. Toxicol Lett. 150(1):111-22.
  1. Kahn RS, Westenberg HG, Verhoeven WM, et al. Effect of a serotonin precursor and uptake inhibitor in anxiety disorders; a double-blind comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan, clomipramine and placebo. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1987;2:33-45.

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