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  • 5-HTP decreases food intake in stressed rats and those deprived of food

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    Monday, September 27, 2010 6:25 am Email this article
    5-Hydroxy-L-tyrptophan (5-HTP) dose-dependently decreased food intake in rats deprived of food, and in rats that were stressed according to a study by Richard Wurtman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tim Maher from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston, Mass. Dose-dependent effect

    The reduction of food intake was dose-dependent, that is, the higher the dose the greater the effect.

    5-HTP eight times more effective at reducing stress-induced eating

    However, the effect was at least 8 times more effective for the rats that were stressed than those that had been deprived of food.

    The amino acid L-valine blocked the effect

    The effect was blocked by giving rats the amino acid L-valine—another large neutral amino acid which competes with 5-HTP for taxi molecules to carry them into the brain.

    This suggests that 5-HTP should be taken away from protein. (Amino acids such as L-valine are the building blocks of protein.)

    No carbidopa necessary

    This appetite suppression occurred without giving the animals a drug called carbidopa which prevents 5-HTP from being converted to serotonin in the body before reaching the brain.

    Some researchers previously believed that it was necessary to give 5-HTP with carbidopa to be effect, however, this does not seem to be the case.

    Conclusion: 5-HTP may reduce stress-induced eating

    “These observations suggest that 5-HTP may be useful in controlling the excessive food intake sometimes generated by stress, even if given without decarboxylase inhibitors [carbidopa] or other drugs,” the researchers concluded.

    5-HTP is the immediate precursor to serotonin

    5-HTP is the immediate precursor to serotonin.

    5-HTP increases leptin, carbidopa reduces this effect

    A previous study found that 5-HTP increases leptin—the hormone released by fat cells that decreases appetite and may increase metabolism.

    However, they also found that giving carbidopa with 5-HTP suppressed this effect, suggesting that it is better to give 5-HTP alone than with carbidopa.

    Practical advice: 5-HTP should be taken on an empty stomach

    5-HTP should be taken on an empty stomach away from protein. This study shows that taking it with protein will block the effect.

    Other articles about 5-HTP

    Other articles about 5-HTP can be found here.


    Amer A, Breu J, Mcdermott J, Wurtman R, Maher T. 5-hydroxy-l-tryptophan suppresses food intake in food-deprived and stressed rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Jan, 77(1):137-43.


    A. Amer
    Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
    Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
    Boston, MA, US

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