December 1, 2020

Dr Traj Nibber, CEO and Director of Research at AOR has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of nutritional science and supplementation. We have asked him for his expert opinion on a number of nutrients, to feature in our blog. We hope you enjoy these insights and overviews of some key nutrients.

Now, more than ever it is crucial that we focus on our mental health. Here, Dr Nibber looks at 5HTP.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a precursor to the chemical (neurotransmitter) serotonin. Serotonin acts on the brain and is important in mood stabilisation and is also involved in generating feelings of happiness and general wellbeing. Unfortunately, serotonin when taken as a supplement cannot penetrate a barrier around the brain (called the blood brain barrier).  This means that we cannot derive the benefits of serotonin when taken as a supplement. However, the precursor 5-HT, is well absorbed orally and can penetrate the blood brain barrier. Once in the brain, 5-HT can be converted into serotonin.

Unfortunately, response to standard treatments can be highly variable. We know that the neurotransmitter levels are affected in mood disorders. As such, 5-HTP can support mood by boosting the levels of serotonin in the brain and is a good option to augment other  therapies. Indeed, studies have shown that 5-HTP has comparable effects to antidepressants and the addition of 5-HTP as an add on therapy improved patient’s depressive symptoms.

5-HTP is derived from the seed of Griffionia simplicifolia, which is a small shrub that grows off the Ivory Coast and Ghana and is processed in France. We ensure that our preparation of 5-HTP is devoid of any “peak x” (toxic) contaminants, which can be found in other 5-HTP products on the market.

If you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing and would like to talk to someone, an organisation such as MIND is a good place to start. They have a lot of support online and a telephone helpline.

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