Aug 21, 2008
Treatment of Fibromyalgia
5-HTP Combination Therapy for Fibromyalgia
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a supplement that is manufactured from the seeds of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia). 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is converted to the important neurotransmitter serotonin. 5- HTP is believed to raise the levels of serotonin. Serotonin plays a key role in insomnia and depression. It has been found that people who suffer from fibromyalgia have a low level of serotonin. In addition to increasing the levels of serotonin, 5-HTP also causes an increase in the levels of endorphin and other neurotransmitters.
The use of 5-HTP in the treatment of fibromyalgia began with studies on a drug known as fenclonene. This drug blocks the enzyme that enables the conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP and, as a result, it effectively blocks serotonin production. When subjects took this drug, they experienced severe symptoms of fibromyalgia. This association led to the discovery of the link between low serotonin levels and fibromyalgia, as well as to the use of 5-HTP in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Several clinical studies confirm the usefulness of 5-HTP in treating fibromyalgia. In one double-blind study, fifty patients with fibromyalgia were given either 5-HTP (100 mg) or a placebo three times per day. The group that received the 5-HTP experienced significant improvements in their symptoms. In contrast, the group that received the placebo did not improve much at all. 5-HTP was rated significantly better than the placebo by subjects and evaluating physicians.
Patients receiving 5-HTP have shown improvements in all symptom categories:
Number of painful areas
People who take 5-HTP begin to show improvements in their fibromyalgia symptoms within thirty days. Better results are obtained at ninety days of use.
The beneficial effects of 5-HTP are thought to be due to elevation of serotonin levels, which increases pain tolerance and improves sleep quality.
Combined Therapy with 5-HTP, St. John's wort, and Magnesium
The effectiveness of 5-HTP in managing fibromyalgia can be improved by using a combination of 5-HTP, St. John's wort and Magnesium.
Use the following combination:
5-HTP (100 mg)
St. John's wort extract (300 mg, 0.3- percent hypericin content)
Magnesium (200 to 250 mg)
Experts recommend that you take this combination three times per day.
St. John's wort has shown to be effective for low level depressions. Low magnesium levels are a common finding in patients with fibromyalgia. Magnesium is critical to many cellular functions, including energy production, protein formation, and cellular replication. Magnesium participates in more than three hundred enzymatic reactions in the body, particularly those processes that produce energy. When magnesium levels are low, energy levels are low.
Magnesium supplementation has produced very good results in treating both fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This improvement may be due to magnesium's importance to serotonin function and the production of cellular energy.
Increase your consumption of the following foods that are good sources of magnesium:
Green leafy vegetables.
Safety Issues of 5-HTP
No significant adverse effects have been reported in clinical trials of 5-HTP. Side effects appear to be limited to occasional mild digestive distress and possible allergic reactions.
In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported detecting a chemical compound known as "peak X" in some 5-HTP products. Peak X is related to tryptophan. People taking Triptophan was found to develop a disabling and sometimes fatal blood disorder. This same contaminant, peak X, was found to be associated with that disaster.
It was assumed that 5-HTP could not possibly present the same risk as tryptophan because it is manufactured completely differently. Whether 5-HTP has the same effect as tryptophan is not clear at this time. Many researchers feel that 5-HTP is safe because it is derived from a natural substance. (There are many supplements that are derived from natural sources that are unsafe. So, this argument may not be very convincing.) Unlike tryptophan, 5-HTP cannot be converted to kynurenine and easily cross the blood brain barrier. We advice caution in using 5-HTP.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and those with liver or kidney disease has not been established.
If you are taking prescription antidepressants, do not take 5-HTP except on a physician's advice. There is a chance you might raise serotonin levels too high.
If you are taking the Parkinson's disease medication carbidopa, do not take 5-HTP at the same time. The combination might increase your chance of developing the disease scleroderma.
Caution on St. John's Wort and Magnesium
If you are on prescription antidepressants, do not take St. John's wort.
People with heart or kidney problems should check with their doctors before taking supplemental magnesium