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Second-tier natural antidepressants: review and critique

Both supplements of L-tryptophan and 5-HTP have been used in the treatment of depression, but the use of 5-HTP may offer the advantage of bypassing the conversion of L-tryptophan into 5-HTP by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase, which is the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of serotonin. Tryptophan hydroxylase can be inhibited by numerous factors, including stress, insulin resistance, vitamin B6 deficiency, and insufficient magnesium... Moreover, 5-HTP easily crosses the blood–brain barrier, and unlike L-tryptophan, does not require a transport molecule to enter the central nervous system (Green et al., 1980; Maes et al., 1990). Besides serotonin, other neurotransmitters and hormones, such as melatonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and beta-endorphin have also been shown to increase following oral administration of 5-HTP. All of these compounds are thought to be involved in the regulation of mood as well as sleep and may represent mechanistic pathways stimulated by 5-HTP administration.

Formulations of dietary supplements and herbal extracts for relaxation and anxiolytic action: Relarian

Mood: 5-HTP is helpful to managing depression and anxiety. SSRIs plug the serotonin leak, while 5-HTP and tryptophan helps fill the tank.  While an increase in synaptic serotonin can be achieved with SSRIs, either increasing serotonin synthesis, or identifying postsynaptic serotonin receptor agonist are additional anxiolytic strategies. In this regard, dietary supplementation with tryptophan and 5-HTP, which crosses the blood-brain barrier, increases brain serotonin… and produces anxiolytic effects.