Studies show 5-HTP could relieve symptoms for fibromyalgia sufferers
Fibromyalgia sufferers could find relief from the symptoms of their condition by taking a supplement called 5-HTP.
Dr James Thompson says while fibromyalgia is a condition for which no cause has yet been found, 5-HTP could help ease symptoms. “Fibromyalgia sees sufferers experience pain all over their body and they often feel tired all the time too,” he says. “While there are some theories to the cause of fibromyalgia, nothing has been proven clinically.”
Treatments offered for this condition currently include medication, talking therapies and relaxation exercises. However, fibromyalgia sufferers may also wish to consider adding a 5-HTP supplement to their diet.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP or 5hydroxytriptophan is a naturally-occurring amino acid which is used by the body to make serotonin.
Serotonin is one of a group of important chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. These carry messages from our brain to our body and determine how we feel. Serotonin in particular helps regulate our mood.
Low levels of serotonin are thought to be responsible for poor sleep, depression, anxiety, pain and fatigue.
“It is thought that low levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain play a role in causing fibromyalgia,” says Dr Thompson. “One of the treatment options for fibromyalgia sufferers is anti-depressants as they boost the levels of these neurotransmitters.”
A Natural Alternative
Our body’s serotonin levels can be affected by our supply of 5-HTP. The body converts 5-HTP from another amino acid known as tryptophan, which we can include in our diet from sources such as turkey, milk and green vegetables.
“As 5-HTP can be made into serotonin by the body, there is a possibility that by supplementing the diet with 5-HTP, sufferers might be able to raise serotonin levels, which in turn would help to treat fibromyalgia symptoms,” explains Dr Thompson.
5-HTP is available in supplement form and, as no conversion process is needed from tryptophan, can be used by the body immediately.
Research and results
Several high-profile studies have found 5-HTP could offer relief from the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
In 1992, a study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health looked at the effectiveness and tolerability of 5-HTP in an open 90-day study involving 50 patients affected by what researchers called primary fibromyalgia syndrome.
The results of the study showed a 'good' or 'fair' improvement in almost half of the patients treated with 5-HTP. It concluded 5-HTP is effective in improving the symptoms of primary fibromyalgia syndrome and that it maintains its effectiveness throughout the 90-day period of treatment.
Two years earlier, in 1990, the Journal of International Medical Research published a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 5-HTP for fibromyalgia. The study showed every parameter studied was improved in fibromyalgia patients who took 5-HTP, with only mild side effects reported, if any.