- 5-HTP Benefits & Information
- 5-HTP health benefits
- Atkins Diet — reduce cravings
- Help with Depression and Anxiety
- 6 Health Benefits of Griffonia Simplicifolia Seed Extract
- What is Griffonia simplicifolia?
- Active Components
- Potential Health Benefits of Griffonia simplicifolia
- 1) Headaches and Migraines
- Insufficient Evidence For
- 2) Depression
- 3) Sleep
- 4) Appetite
- 5) Motion Sickness
- 6) Stress and Anxiety
- Limitations and Caveats
- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- User Reviews
- Griffonia Simplicifolia -The Plant Responsible for 5-HTP and Sweet Dreams
- How is it used in its native country?
- How is it used in the Western world?
- How is it processed?
- How does it work and what is its effect?
- What is the correct dosage?
- Are there any side effects?
5-HTP Benefits & Information
Most 5-HTP also known as oxitriptan (INN)is extracted from the seeds of a woody climbing shrub native to West Africa, called the Griffonia simplicifolia plant.
5-HTP or «hydroxy L-tryptophan» (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally-occurring amino acid and is the precursor and metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan.
5-HTP is converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT), with the help of vitamin B6. This occurs both in nervous tissue and in the liver. 5-HTP crosses the blood-brain barrier (while 5-HT does not).
Supplementation with 5-HTP therefore increases production of serotonin.
5-HTP health benefits
Widely used to help with obesity (dieting), PMS, migraines, depression, anxiety, insomnia and addictive behaviour. 5 HTP increases production of serotonin. Serotonin levels in the nervous system are essential for so many aspects of our daily lives.
Serotonin is responsible for feelings of well being, satisfaction and for normal sleep patterns. Obesity, PMS, migraines, depression, anxiety, insomnia and addictive behavior have all been associated with low levels of serotonin.
Serotonin plays an important role in controlling anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, human sexuality, appetite, and metabolism, as well as stimulating vomiting.
It is thought the hectic modern lifestyle of stress and bad eating habits lowers serotonin levels in the body. It is known that irritability, aggression, impatience, anxiety and worrying cause the body to release serotonin. This serotonin then needs to be replenished by the body from the food you eat.
But serotonin is not found in large quantities in most diets so the body has to makes it itself from foods which contain L-tryptophan, such as chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey, chicken, sesame, chickpeas, and peanuts.
Many people therefore crave the foods listed (fats and carbohydrates), especially when stressed, causing weight gain, depression, headaches, and muscle aches.
Atkins Diet — reduce cravings
Clinical studies have shown that supplementing with 5-HTP produces positive results in weight loss, anxiety and depression. It improves sleep patterns and reduces carbohydrate cravings in those on low carbohydrate diets (such as The Atkins Diet).
Anyone using a weight loss program similar to the Atkins Diet could experience a reduction in serotonin levels due to the fact that carbohydrates stimulate serotonin production in the body. Serotonin release is triggered by a carbohydrate load (sugar etc.
) and it is thought that's why we often crave Carbohydrates under stress as we want to stimulate this serotonin release. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased.
Conversely when the brain produces dopamine or norepinephrine (noradrenaline), we tend to think and act more quickly and are generally more alert. Therefore eating carbohydrates seems to have a calming effect, while proteins increase alertness.
Taking 5-HTP supplements can stop this craving for fats and carbohydrates, as well as providing the body with the means to control all those other functions listed above, such as anger, appetite and sleep.
Help with Depression and Anxiety
Some research has been done into 5-HTP and shows it has potential to help with depression and possibly anxiety, panic disorder, sleep disorders and obesity. 5-HTP seems to have the same effects as SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) antidepressants.
Prescription drugs that raise serotonin levels are prescribed for all of these problems, but many people believe 5-HTP is a natural way to accomplish the same thing.
For improving sleep, it is widely recommended to take 5-HTP 30 mins before going to bed, as apart from producing Serotonin, 5-HTP also produces Melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone. The usual dosage is either a 50mg or 100mg tablet. The effects of taking 5-HTP can be felt within 10 to 30 mins.
Try to buy 5-HTP which also contains vitamin B6, as Vit B6 is needed for 5-HTP conversion into serotonin.
Much higher doses seem to be required for weight loss and to reduce migraines. Dosages up to around 900mg a day seem to be widely reported. 5-HTP is usually tolerated much better than traditional antidepressants. Excess 5-HTP is thought to be metabolized and excreted, especially when taken with Vitamin B6.
6 Health Benefits of Griffonia Simplicifolia Seed Extract
Griffonia simplicifolia contains 5-HTP, a precursor to serotonin, so researchers are looking into its effect on depression, anxiety, appetite, sleep, and motion sickness. Learn more here.
What is Griffonia simplicifolia?
Griffonia simplicifolia is a small, green shrub found in West Africa. In traditional African medicine, it is used to treat a wide range of illnesses .
The main active component of interest in Griffonia simplicifolia is 5-HTP, the immediate biological precursor to serotonin and melatonin .
5-HTP is considered the most ly component behind the reported mood, weight loss, and sleep benefits of this plant .
Potential Health Benefits of Griffonia simplicifolia
Griffonia simplicifolia supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use and generally lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.
1) Headaches and Migraines
In a study of 374 children with migraine symptoms, Griffonia simplicifolia (50 mg twice a day along with other supplements, including tryptophan, vitamin PP, and B6) reduced the number, length, and intensity of headache symptoms .
However, while Griffonia simplicifolia was effective, children who received an extract of Ginkgo biloba (ginkgolide B) instead experienced greater improvement after six months .
Another study of 49 people found that a Tanacetum parthenium, Griffonia simplicifolia, and magnesium formulation reduced migraine symptoms, including aura, by 50% .
Insufficient Evidence For
The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of Griffonia simplicifolia for any of the below-listed uses. Furthermore, the best evidence of potential benefits comes from studies on 5-HTP rather than seed or plant extracts.
Remember to speak with a doctor before taking Griffonia simplicifolia supplements, and never use them in place of something your doctor recommends or prescribes.
5-HTP, a core component of Griffonia simplicifolia, is known for its antidepressive effects, improving mood disorders (such as depression) by increasing serotonin levels in the brain .
5-HTP improved symptoms in a study of 15 women with drug-resistant depression .
Unfortunately, no clinical studies have directly investigated Griffonia simplicifolia or its extracts; all the available evidence in humans is limited to studies of 5-HTP.
In multiple small clinical studies, 5-HTP derived from Griffonia simplicifolia reduced the severity of insomnia [8, 9].
In a study of 45 children, a low dose (2 mg/kg per day) of 5-HTP at bedtime prevented night terrors in over 80% of the subjects after 6 months. This effect has not been investigated in Griffonia simplicifolia, only in standardized 5-HTP .
In a DB-RCT of 20 women, a Griffonia simplicifolia extract and 5-HTP spray increased feelings of fullness (satiety). The authors suggested that it may be helpful in preventing overeating .
5) Motion Sickness
Motion sickness is a serotonin-related condition. In a study of 254 children, a complex of Griffonia simplicifolia and magnesium (50 mg and 200 mg, respectively) twice a day reduced motion sickness symptoms .
6) Stress and Anxiety
The leaves of Griffonia simplicifolia are traditionally ground into a tea and used for calming and stress-reducing effects. The seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia also reduced anxiety symptoms in rats .
5-HTP, which is abundant in the seeds, has shown promise in a number of neurological conditions, such as mood disorders (anxiety and depression), insomnia, and migraine headaches .
Limitations and Caveats
The major limitation associated with Griffonia simplicifolia is the lack of extensive large, controlled studies for evaluating the effectiveness of the supplement in humans. Some of the studies were only conducted with the main ingredient, 5-HTP .
The majority of research supporting the positive effects of this plant is over 20 years old or is anecdotal. In addition, many studies involve a small number of subjects or animals .
Furthermore, in many studies, Griffonia simplicifolia is often administered with another supplement, which makes it hard to identify if the observed benefits were due to Griffonia simplicifolia alone or not [12, 14].
In animals, side effects have ranged in severity and included gastrointestinal ulcers, vomiting, and stomach cramps; however, there are few reported cases of these adverse events in humans .
In rats, Griffonia simplicifolia reduced sex drive [3, 16].
A dog treated with 5-HTP developed serotonin syndrome .
Due to the high levels of 5-HTP, individuals taking medications for Parkinson’s disease (e.g., carbidopa) experience severe side effects when taking 5-HTP as a supplement .
5-HTP, abundant in Griffonia simplicifolia, is a precursor to serotonin. Individuals taking SSRIs or MAOIs as antidepressants should avoid Griffonia simplicifolia due to potential side effects caused by increased serotonin levels .
To avoid adverse effects and unexpected interactions, talk to your doctor before using Griffonia simplicifolia supplements.
The natural source of Griffonia simplicifolia is the plant itself or prepared extracts .
For weight loss studies, the extract was prepared as an oral spray .
The main active ingredient, 5-HTP, is also available as a supplement.
People who took Griffonia simplicifolia or purified 5-HTP had positive results, finding that supplementation helps enhance their mood, appetite, and sleep.
Most people say they take the supplement at bedtime to promote sleep. Some individuals take the supplement with other anti-anxiety medication and/or antidepressants, with positive effects.
Griffonia Simplicifolia -The Plant Responsible for 5-HTP and Sweet Dreams
The Griffonia Simplicfolia plant is found within the Western and Central regions of Africa. It is acclimatized to growing in conditions close to coastal shores but also deep within the jungle . It is a large shrub plant that grows thick and fibrous brown branches .
Its flowers are long cylindrical and bud between August and October. It also produces a seed, this seed is rich in the active ingredient, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). In vivo this 5-HTP is a precursor to the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
The whole plant is rich in health containing properties the raw unprocessed seeds contain approximately 6-14% 5-HTP, and the leaves contain 5-HTP and 5-hydroxytryptamine, all of which contribute to the production of Serotonin within the body.
How is it used in its native country?
In Native African countries the Griffonia Simplicifolia is used as medicinal source also. The chemicals of the leaf are used to treat coughs, sickness and act as an aphrodisiac.
The stems and leaves combined together are used as an antiseptic. Additionally, a powdered extract of the roots of Griffonia Simplicifolia are used to treat sickle cell anemia.
Across the continent of Africa it’s not only used to treat humans but livestock such as chickens too.
How is it used in the Western world?
The Western world witnessed and copied the use of plant from African culture. We now also use 5-HTP for its medicinal effects. We tend to purchase the powdered plant and process it into nutraceutical supplements to aid ailments such as Insomnia, Depression or ADHD.
How is it processed?
The seeds are sustainably sourced from the native African Countries. It is sustainable due to the shear wealth of plants grown across these parts of Africa.
The plant is cut, sorted, cleaned and extracted for its seeds. The seeds are then ground to a white/grey powder containing between 95% and 98% 5-HTP. The most precious and expensive 5-HTP is upwards of 97-98% 5-HTP.
Majority of the processed plant is bought by the UK and USA .
How does it work and what is its effect?
The seed of Griffonia Simplicifolia is rich in a chemical called 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP is also found in the body, a chemical made from Tryptophan. Tryptophan enters the body via the diet through foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt and red meat.
Once absorbed it is converted to 5-HTP which travels to, and through the blood brain barrier to activate the brain. 5-HTP is then converted to active brain neurotransmitter Serotonin, with the help of cofactors Vitamin B6, C, Zinc and Magnesium.
Serotonin has many effects in the body, most act therapeutically on the following disorders and diseases:
- Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy and Insomnia
- Pre-Menstrual Syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Epilepsy [3,4]
What is the correct dosage?
5-HTP is available from almost all health food stores in varying degrees of strength. A typical singular dose is between 50-200mg taken up to twice a day and never more than 500mg.
There is very little research on taking 5-HTP during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so to be safe you are advised not to take 5-HTP in any trimester.
If you are thinking of starting to take 5-HTP then please contact your Doctor or practitioner before doing so .
Are there any side effects?
any drug/supplement/tablet there are side effects but these occur very rarely. Very mild side effects include gas, nausea, heartburn and loss of appetite. Some that are even more rare are nightmares, loss of libido and abdominal cramps. If any side effects occur from taking this supplement you should cease use immediately.
Moreover there is much more serious side effect called Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) which is caused by a contaminant called “Peak X” formed from poor extraction and poor quality product. It causes flu- symptoms, fatigue and can sometimes be fatal. However, this is very rare and is unly to happen in a quality product .
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- Pathak,K. (2010). A review on Griffonia simplicifollia — an ideal herbal antidepressant.
International Journal of Pharmacy and Life Sciences. 1 (3), Pg. 174-181.
- Nootropic. (2014). 5-HTP. Available: http://www.nootropicsinfo.com/5-htp/griffonia-seed-extract-and-benefits/.
- Birdsall, TC. (1998). 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor..
Alternative Medicine Review : A Journal of Clinical Therapeutics. 3 (4), Pg. 271-280.
- Examine. (2016). 5-HTP. Available: https://examine.com/supplements/5-HTP/.
- Tarr Kent,L. (2013). Griffonia Seed Side Effects. Available: http://www.livestrong.