My naturopath suggested that I try 5-Hydroxytryptophan. I suffer from mild insomnia, mild depression, anxiety disorder (panick attacks), generalized muscle pain and extreme fatigue.
Could 5-HTP be the answer to some (or even all?) of my problems, without having to turn to conventional anti-depressants like Remeron or Effexor? I have an appointment with a psychiatrist on August 10, and I would prefer not having to take strong meds...
If your depression and anxiety are mild, then I would give it a try before going the medication route.
Sometimes Natural stuff like that can work if the depression is only mild.
I do know that it almost never works for people with severe chronic depression.
About the benzo your taking, as I recall a doctor one told me that benzos like Xanax and Klonopin almost never adversly interact with other meds and suppliments. Regardless I would double check with your doctor.
One can even take Benzos with MAOI and still be safe. (as you know there is little you can mix with an MAOI)
5htp is fine to take with klonopin. Benzos act on GABA receptors, while 5htp is the metabolite of tryptophan that manufactures serotonin in the body. So yes, you can take both. You might have a problem, however, if you tried relaxant herbs such as kava or passionflower or valerian, as they also act on GABA receptors, as does the amino acid taurine. By itself, I don't know if 5htp will help or not. Usually natural remedies are taken in combination, not singly, but it's certainly worth a try. For a good review of what's available naturally, pick up a book called Natural Highs by Hyla Cass, a psychiatrist at UCLA. She'll help you with proper dosing as well. Now, theoretically, your naturopath should know all this, too -- it's unusual for them to just recommend one remedy. Ask about adaptogens for handling stress as well, such as ashwagandha and eleuthero, and homeopathic remedies, which don't interact with anything. There's a lot of stuff out there. I also assume you're taking the klonopin before bedtime to help you sleep. I personally feel benzos are best taken when you most need them, which is when you're awake and anxious. Sleep remedies are better taken for sleep. So also ask your naturopath about melatonin or Calm's Forte or something like it, and talk to your psychiatrist about switching your klonopin to daytime. By the way, klonopin is usually taken twice a day for long-term use. Also ask your naturopath about St. John's Wort, which is also good for depression. 5htp, if it works, should help both anxiety and depression. There's a lot of stuff out there.
Hensley, I would say the depression is very mild, if we can even call it that. Anxiety is my big problem. That and extreme fatigue/weakness.
What I don’t understand is how I can be in a constant state of exhaustion when a recent 24-hour urine test revealed that my norepinephrine levels were very high. I mean, if my adrenal glands produce too much noradrenaline, shouldn’t I feel like I have more energy?
I’m glad to hear Klonopin doesn’t interact with most meds and supplements. I could not live without them at the moment. I’ve been taking 1 mg a couple hours before bedtime (otherwise I can’t sleep) and I feel their calming effect throughout the next day (clonazepam has a very long half-life—18-50 hours—, so I do better on it than on Xanax, which always made me need more and more).
I wonder if I should take the 5-HTP at bedtime, along with my melatonin (2 mg), or during the day. I guess that’s a question for my naturopath.
Try lowering the melatonin dosage to 1mg and see what happens. Studies show it actually works better at lower dosages. As for dosing 5htp, like most herbal remedies (the 5htp is extracted from a plant called griffonia), you usually take it more than once a day, but you're right, you should discuss that with your naturopath. And when you have high adrenaline or any other body part works overtime, it wears you out and makes you tired. Same with the thyroid. Same with anything. That's why I recommend you discuss adaptogens and holy basil with your naturopath.
Oh, and if your adrenal glands produce way too much adrenaline, you are not likely to have more energy. Since your body is basically stuck in fight or flight mode, it would most likely be exhausting. Most likely you will have elevated pulse and/or blood pressure, severe anxiety, and overall just feel like ****.
I would definitely say it's worth a try, and especially as 5-HTP is popularly seen as a more generic and cheaper alternative to anti-depressants. It's not for everyone though and takes times to work. I have a couple of friends who swear by it, but they take the patches rather than the tablets because apparently they are slow-release which is better at keeping the serotonin levels balanced.
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