If you took a close look at our little Turkey Sleep diagram here, you’d notice something interesting.
Did you spot the 5-HTP that comes right after the Tryptophan molecule?
And then right after that you see the Serotonin and the rest of the molecular gang?
Well, that’s because while its technically true that 5-HTP is a precursor to Serotonin and Melatonin as advertised.
But, its also true that 5-HTP itself is a product of Tryptophan metabolism directly.
There are very few natural sources for just getting 5-HTP, instead of Tryptophan directly.
Tryptophan is the natural precursor to 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) in the body. Supplements that offer 5-HTP directly are usually derived from the seed of the Griffonia Simplicifolia plant which is native to West Africa.
The theory was that skipping the Tryptophan metabolism, which is the normal and natural step, and getting 5-HTP directly would improve sleep as 5-HTP then converts to Serotonin and Melatonin.
Unfortunately many research studies and anecdotal evidence are now pointing towards the negatives of this approach.
The natural tryptophan metabolic pathway has “pressure release” mechanisms built into it, which are designed to allow the body to deal with over production or over-stimulation, by redirecting excess elsewhere.
Because 5-HTP bypasses this system and does not provide any biochemical feedback, flooding the body with perhaps more than it needs, excessive 5-HTP is much more likely to cause negative effects, and in the worst case can lead to “serotonin syndrome.”
5-HTP is also known to often cause severe stomach cramps and nausea as it is often badly tolerated by many people.