To the GemBalance(tm) formula, 50 mg of 5HTP (5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan) per capsule has been added. 5HTP is the immediate precursor to serotonin, a straight path to serotonin enhancement in the brain. Supplementation with 5HTP has been found to improve mood, reduce appetite and sugar cravings, and promote restful and refreshing sleep.
5HTP stands for 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan. In the brain, 5HTP is converted directly to serotonin. Serotonin nerve circuits promote feelings of well being, calm, personal security, relaxation, confidence & concentration.
5HTP is derived from Tryptophan, a naturally occurring amino acid required by the human body for the production of melatonin and serotonin, two vital brain chemicals necessary for sleep and mood regulation. Once readily available as a nutritional supplement, tryptophan has since been one of the most difficult substances to obtain in the U.S. since being banned by the FDA in November of 1990. Batches of tryptophan being manufactured by a single Japanese company, Showa Denko, were found to have been tainted and all tryptophan was therefore banned by the US FDA. Showa Denko was the source for up to 60% of all the tryptophan sold in the United States.
Now only 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) is used and produced in the US. 5HTP is considered by many researchers to be the safest tryptophan alternative available, is normally converted in the body from L-tryptophan, and as an intermediate metabolite, is further converted into melatonin, a neurohormone, and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT), a neurotransmitter. While 5-HTP is more expensive than tryptophan, it is also ten times as effective (a 50 mg. capsule of 5-HPT is generally regarded as the equivalent of 500 mg. of tryptophan).
Supplementation with 5HTP has been found to improve mood, reduce appetite and sugar cravings, and promote restful and refreshing sleep. It has been shown to be a helpful adjunct on weight loss regimens. 5HTP is a straight path to serotonin enhancement in the brain.
GemBalance w/ 5HTP is a potent, natural, neuro-enhancing cocktail. GemBalance w/ 5HTP supplies the amino acids and metabolic cofactors to promote the natural production of the mood elevating, energy boosting, and mental clarity and focus-giving norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.
More on 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan
If you're one of the 14 million people who previously took L-tryptophan to obtain relief from sleeping difficulties, premenstrual syndrome, obsessive/compulsive behavior, stress and depression, a newly available nutritional supplement, 5-HTP (5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan), may be of special interest to you.
Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid required by the human body for the production of melatonin and serotonin, two vital brain chemicals necessary for sleep and mood regulation. Once readily available as a nutritional supplement, tryptophan has been one of the most difficult substances to obtain in the U.S. since being banned by the FDA in November of 1990. The FDA's decision to remove all tryptophan-containing supplements from store shelves was in response to an outbreak of Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS) that was linked to the use of tryptophan. EMS is a dangerous and potentially deadly blood disease that is usually associated with parasitic infections or severe allergy. From July of 1989 to December of 1990, more than 1500 cases of EMS and 27 deaths were associated with the outbreak in the United States.
In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in August of 1992, researchers revealed that tryptophan was not the cause of the of EMS outbreak. The CDC, working with scientists from the Mayo Clinic, the Oregon State Health Division and the Minnesota Department of Health, traced the cause of the EMS crisis to a contaminant found only in batches of tryptophan manufactured by a single Japanese company, Showa Denko. Showa Denko, the source for up to 60% of all the tryptophan sold in the United States, had produced the tainted tryptophan after introducing an untested manufacturing process that reduced the amount of activated charcoal used to filter fermented raw tryptophan.
After tryptophan was cleared of any role in the EMS outbreak it was natural to expect that tryptophan supplements would soon reappear in health food stores. In reality, tryptophan has been kept off of the market by the FDA, which currently has no plans for lifting the ban on sales of this supplement. This position is ironic, since the FDA feels that tryptophan is safe enough to use in infant formulas and parenteral (IV feedings) solutions. Still, it is doubtful that this unique supplement will ever be found on store shelves again.
In the absence of access to tryptophan, several new prescription drugs designed to regulate brain serotonin levels (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs) have been introduced. Drugs such as Prozac work through the selective enhancement of serotonin levels, and Dexfenfluramine, used in Europe to reduce carbohydrate-cravings and suppress appetite, works by mimicking serotonin activity in the brain.
Unfortunately Prozac can present unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects, and the safety of dexfenfluramine is in question after a study found it may cause brain damage in monkeys.
5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) is considered by many researchers to be the safest tryptophan alternative available. 5-HTP is normally converted in the body from L-tryptophan, and as an intermediate metabolite, is further converted into melatonin, a neurohormone, and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT), a neurotransmitter. While 5-HTP is more expensive than tryptophan prior to the 1990 ban, it is also ten times as effective (a 50 mg. capsule of 5-HPT is generally regarded as the equivalent of 500 mg. of tryptophan).
5HTP & You
Should just any person who suspects that low serotonin levels are the cause of their depression, overeating, substance abuse or insomnia consume 5-HTP? What are the contraindications of 5-HTP and is it safe for all persons? Who should not take 5-HTP? Lastly, what is the safe and appropriate daily dose of 5-HTP in persons who are otherwise healthy? These are important questions.
It is advisable that professional advice should be solicited by persons having (or suspected of having) emotional or physical conditions such as those mentioned above. Listed at the end of this article are the pre-existing conditions that contraindicate (that is, advise against) the use of 5-HTP or strongly indicate that its use should be under the guidance of a physician.
Obviously, individuals who are already under medical treatment using drugs which alter serotonin metabolism should not take 5-HTP unless under the supervision of the prescribing physician. Anti-depressants, weight-loss drugs and L-dopa (used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease) are examples of types of drugs that might contraindicate unsupervised use at the same time as 5-HTP. An expanded list of possibly contraindicated drugs is also included at the end of this article.
As a nutritional supplement in most individuals 5-HTP can safely be consumed at a dosage of up to 100 milligrams (mg) per day. Recall that 100 mg of 5-HTP produces, in the body, a rise in the blood (plasma) concentration of serotonin equivalent to the amount that is produced from the consumption of about 10 bananas. Much higher doses of several hundred to nearly 3000 mg per day of 5-HTP have been used in the treatment of severe muscular (myoclonic) contractions. As will be described, a particular side effect can occur in certain susceptible individuals.
It is important to note that in persons experiencing certain underlying medical conditions (mentioned below), long-term elevations of serotonin have been associated with the deposition of connective tissue (fibrosis) in the heart, muscles, skin, and blood vessels. A predisposition to a heart disease called endomyocardial fibrosis (EMP) exists among chronically malnourished populations who consume low protein/high carbohydrate diets rich in serotonin-containing foods (such as bananas, plantain or cassavas). This indicates that persons on a weight loss program who use 5-HTP should be on a high protein/low carbohydrate diet.
Another factor in the development of fibrosis is the simultaneous presence of both high levels of serotonin and another tryptophan metabolite that is not derived from 5-HTP, but that is toxic. The level of this toxic metabolite was highly elevated in 1 out of 8 people who developed fibrosis of the skin (scleroderma) after long-term treatment with 5-HTP for myoclonic contractions. Conditions such as AIDS, cancer, aging and autoimmune diseases frequently cause an elevation in the level of this toxic tryptophan metabolite. Persons with these conditions (and those listed at the end of this article) should, therefore, not consume 5-HTP unless under the guidance of a physician.
Vitamin B-6 is a cofactor for the enzyme that degrades toxic tryptophan metabolites. Since the enzyme that converts 5-HTP into serotonin also needs B-6, this vitamin should regularly be taken on the same day as 5-HTP, but at least 6 hours before 5-HTP consumption. This preliminary use of B-6 before 5-HTP both helps to prevent the accumulation of toxic tryptophan metabolites and delays somewhat the rise in plasma levels of serotonin (from 5-HTP). No additional B-6 is needed beyond that obtained in a typical B-vitamin pill or a minimum of 10 mg per day
Alcohol effects the metabolism of 5-HTP. Therefore, persons who have taken 5-HTP should not drink alcohol within six (6) hours of its use. Persons with liver damage should not use 5-HTP. For example, those who are chronic alcoholics, or intravenous drug users, or who have cirrhosis, hepatitis or parasitic infections should not use 5- HTP. Experimental 5-HTP use in animals -- at the same time that liver toxic drugs were administered -- produced heart fibrosis. 5-HTP administration alone did not produce this effect. Malnourished African persons who consume serotonin-rich foods and have heart fibrosis also probably have liver damage induced by chronic viral hepatitis and parasites like malaria. Therefore, drugs that damage the liver -- and probably effect tryptophan metabolism -- such as cancer chemotherapies and powerful antibiotics, should not be used at the same time as 5-HTP.
Since serotonin is involved in the constriction of blood vessels and the clotting of blood by platelets, it should not be used in persons at risk of heart disease or strokes or who have high blood pressure. Its use in elderly persons should be under the supervision of a physician, especially those individuals receiving L-dopa for Parkinson's disease. Persons with severe allergies should not use 5-HTP. Persons who have previously experienced either flushing of the skin should not take it or diarrhea with it use. If 5-HTP induces nausea, the dosage should be reduced or, if symptoms persist, its use discontinued entirely.
The effect of 5-HTP on fetuses and in pregnant women has not been investigated clinically; therefore its use during pregnancy is contraindicated. Lastly, persons driving an automobile or operating machinery should not consume 5-HTP within six hours prior to that activity. 5-HTP can potentate the effects of certain tranquilizing drugs and alcohol.
One of the titles of this article "Listening to 5-HTP" is a parody of the title of the book "Listening to Prozac". The author of "Listening to Prozac" generally extols the virtues of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs, like Prozac, especially underscoring their marked improvement over previously developed types of anti- depressants. Yet ironically, one six-week study of 69 subjects that compared another SSRI to 5-HTP found that both compounds have equal antidepressant capabilities. Moreover, 5-HTP had one-half as many moderate-to-severe side effects as the SSRI. One article, which reviewed the results of 17 clinical trials that used 5-HTP - mostly for depression - concluded, "Oral administration of 5-HTP is associated with few adverse effects". Two other facts surrounding 5- HTP are ironic vis-à-vis Prozac. For one, the efficacy of Prozac and other SSR's are still dependent upon the brains availability or serotonin precursors like tryptophan or its derivative, 5-HTP. When patients receiving SSR's were fed a special diet devoid of tryptophan, a relapse into depression was experienced, despite the continued presence of the SSRI. Tryptophan supplementation restored the antidepressant effects of the SSRI. Finally, 5-HTP is an amino acid and is available without a prescription
2 capsules in the morning or at bedtime to assist with mood, energy, and appetite control. For maximum effects, 2 capsules may be taken three times daily one half hour before meal times, whether eating or not. It is suggested to begin taking the GemBalance with 5HTP in the evenings at first as it may cause drowsiness. To provide DL-phenylalanine at levels found to relieve chronic pain, the recommended intake is 2 capsules 3 times/ day before meals.
DL-Phenylalanine, L-Tyrosine, L-Glutamine, L-5 Hydroxytryrtophan (5HTP), Ascorbic Acid (Vit.C), L-Methionine, Magnesium Chelate (Mg), Zinc Chelate, Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), Aloe Vera 200:1, Thiamine Monohydrate (B1).
Contraindications to 5-HTP use or conditions under which 5-HTP Should Be Monitored
Cardiovascular Diseases (high blood pressure, post-stroke, post-heart attack); Extremely Elderly Persons; those with Parkinson's Disease, Cancer or Autoimmune Diseases (Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus); Lung Diseases; Chronic Alcoholism; Liver diseases (hepatitis or cirrhosis); parasitic infection; AIDS; Anorexia Nervosa; Low protein Diets; Allergies (severe); Myalgia (persistent pain and weakness of the muscles); Peripheral Neuropathy (pain weakness of the muscles); Rash or Flushing; Edema; Nausea; Diarrhea; Sickle cell anemia; hemophilia; Pregnancy
Concurrent drug use: 5-HTP should not be used if taking: Anti-depressant drugs; Monoamine oxidase inhibitors; Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's e.g., Prozac); Tricyclic medications; Weight Loss medications (i.e., dextenfluramine); Anti-parkinson medications (e.g., L-dopa); Barbiturates and other tranquilizing drugs; Antihistamines and cold medications; Alcoholic beverages; Intravenous (illegal I.V.) drugs; Cancer chemotherapy or antibiotic medications.
Warning: Dosages of 5-hydroxy L-tryptophan (5-HTP) greater than 100 milligrams per day should be taken only under the guidance of a physician. 5-HTP use at doses greater than 100 mg per day should be taken with the prescription drug carbadopa to prevent excessive levels of serotonin production in the peripheral blood circulation. 5-HTP can increase the effect of tranquilizing drugs and can impair the ability to drive an automobile.