L-Tryptophan AND 5-HTP, a Comparison
FALL 2013
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By the way, what is the difference between L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP?


a)L-Tryptophan is the essential amino acid from which your body produces 5-HTP, Sero-tonin and Melatonin and a wide array of structural proteins, enzymes, and other essential biochemicals, including vitamin B3 (niacin). L-Tryptophan, as such, cannot be re-placed by any other amino acid, herb, vitamin, mineral or prescription chemical. Turkey con-tains only modest amounts of L-Tryptophan.

b)Lidtke L-Tryptophan is manufactured by a fermentation process using pure glucose as a substrate. Many types of foods and beverages are made by fermentation, including yogurt and wine. The resulting solution is then sepa-rated and purified using highly specific filtra-tion and re-crystallization procedures. Purification steps are repeated until the purity is as close to 100.0% as possible. Often our as-says are higher than 100.0% because our L-Tryptophan is superior to the chemical refer-ence standards normally used in testing.

c)L-Tryptophan is an essential (aromatic) amino acid that must be included in the diet. For this reason, L-Tryptophan is commonly added to baby formulas and to hospital intrave-nous solutions, where it clearly is essential for the growth and survival of babies and adults.


a)An enzyme in serotonin-producing cells, typically located in your nervous system or digestive system, converts L-Tryptophan to 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan). At that point, another enzyme converts 5-HTP to serotonin. In effect, 5-HTP is merely a stepping stone to the production of Serotonin. While it is true that 5-HTP converts more quickly to Serotonin than L-Tryptophan does… because it takes one less step… 5-HTP has far fewer functions in the body than L-Tryptophan and cannot replace L-Tryptophan. If you have an L-Tryptophan deficiency, 5-HTP cannot correct it.

b)5-HTP is extracted from an herb, Griffonia simplicifolia, using only water and the same type of alcohol found in beverages to squeeze out the 5-HTP. Griffonia principally grows in the Gold Coast region of Ghana, Africa. The plants are not cultivated; but rather they grow naturally, and the seed pods are then hand-picked (wild crafted). The pods only contain 3 or 4 seeds, about the size of lentils, and they are spread out in a field to dry in the Sun. Once the seeds of the Griffonia plant are dried, they are shipped to the extraction facility where 5-HTP is extracted and purified. Even during a good year, extraction yields only about 4% pure 5-HTP. hence, fine quality 5-HTP is fairly expensive. Less expensive 5-HTP can be made, of course, by using harsh chemicals or skipping purification steps.

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d)L-Tryptophan has long been used by doctors in the United States and Europe to treat a variety of deficiency symptoms, especially physical and emotional disorders such as those found in Serotonin Deficiency Syndrome (SDS). These symptoms include nervousness, anxiety (stress), sleep disorders such as common sleeplessness, mood disorders such as common depression, and excessive appetite. According to medical research, L-Tryptophan is the amino acid most commonly lacking in the American diet.

e)When recommending L-Tryptophan as a dietary supplement, medical practitioners typically start low, often one capsule before bedtime, and work up to the ideal dosage. Sixty days may be needed for full benefit when a deficiency exists. Dosage seldom exceeds 500 mg per 50-pounds of body weight.

f)L-Tryptophan is most effective when taken with little or no protein. Low-protein snacks or beverages are O.K. Certain other amino acids, especially aromatic amino acids and branched-chain amino acids, including Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine may compete with L-Tryptophan for passage through the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Hence, when L-Tryptophan is taken without these competing amino acids, more L-Tryptophan passes through to the brain.

g)The thorough testing of L-Tryptophan should include tests for EBT (a product of genetic engineering that has been associated with eosinophilia myalgia syndrome), total contaminants including organic volatile impurities (OVI’s), the full battery of tests required for pharmaceutical certification, pyrogens, and a full microbiological battery of tests. ••


c)5-HTP is not essential except in rare cases when a patient does not produce the ratelimiting enzyme that converts L-Tryptophan to 5-HTP. On the other hand, because supplements of 5-HTP bypass this rate-limiting step that acts like a faucet - controlling the amount of serotonin your body produces - your body has less ability to modulate proper Serotonin levels. Therefore, 5-HTP dosage typically requires more monitoring and adjustment.

d)Although 5-HTP has been prescribed extensively in Europe to correct many of the same Serotonin deficiency symptoms that LTryptophan corrects… such as helping to normalize mood, sleep, stress, and appetite… 5-HTP cannot reverse its direction and convert itself back into L-Tryptophan, so there are many vital functions that 5-HTP cannot perform. Also, unlike the essential amino acids, 5-HTP only rarely occurs in our diet and must be taken as a supplement.

e)Health practitioners commonly recommend between 50 mg and 200 mg of 5-HTP per day when alleviating Serotonin deficiency symptoms in adults. Large doses of 5-HTP, however, may cause nausea on an empty stomach, so always give 5-HTP with a snack or beverage.

f)The thorough testing of 5-HTP should include tests for Peak X, total contaminants including organic solvents, the full battery of tests required for pharmaceutical certification, and a full microbiological battery of tests. ••

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