November 23rd, 2007 10:35 PM #1Junior Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
Too much 5-HTP?
Hi, all you kind and generous people --
My question is if I should lower my 5-HTP intake. It's currently at 600 mg./nightly. As you'll soon see, this isn't a post from a relatively healthy person who is just finetuning. I have VERY serious health problems and while I know they all won't be solved in this thread, I'm just hoping that getting the 5-HTP matter resolved might provide some much-needed relief (no matter how tiny). I've created one other thread on here some of you might recognize about my health problems (http://forums.wrongdiagnosis.com/sho...ghlight=noonej) but I would urge people not to read it as much of the information in there is now outdated.
Anyways, recently a test showed my 5-HIAA levels being so high that it fooled both my psychiatrist and a GI doctor into believing I had a carcenoid when (further testing revealed) I didn't. I've researched 5-HTP quite a bit, but there's so much conflicting info on it that I'm confused and my pschiatrist knows next to nothing about it. Is there a way to test if you're taking too much? Is having extremely high levels of 5-HIAA even a bad thing if you don't have a carcenoid?
Hopefully, some of you will read on so I can elucidate my circumstances to give you more to work with. I'll try to avoid a Tolstoy-length explanation, but be warned that it's a complex case and I want to avoid leaving out details that might be important. Those of you who are looking for a challenge have come to the right place.
In 2003 (when I was 20) I started having all sorts of symptoms (impotence, loss of libido, depression, and then anorexia). I recovered from the anorexia, but the rest has remained the same and around 2004 things just started going haywire with my brain (anhedonia, chronic insomnia, inability to concentrate, extreme jumpiness, complete loss of appetite, near inability to read, understand what I was watching on TV, or function socially, etc.). I had extensive testing for 1/2 year (even flying to Mayo in Arizona) but no physical cause could be determined. So...late 2004 it was decided I had a psychiatric disorder (which one was a moot point). For two years I was treated (pills and psychotherapy) for depression and also briefly for ADHD (or ADD, I forget) but there was no change. Then I moved to Los Angeles in April this year and ended up with a wonderful psychiatrist. He, too, believed I had psychiatric problems but that they weren't the full story. A test revealed I had adrenal fatigue. That's still a symptom and not a cause, but it was easily treatable and I felt better after supplementing with DHEA and Cortef (synthetic Cortisol).
His greatest gift to me, though, was 5-HTP which I took daily at bedtime. We started at 50 mg./nightly but slowly worked up to 600 mg./nightly after finding it had a "the more the merrier" effect on me. See, at the time I arrived to him, I had serious insomnia and had been having that problem since that second dip in my health in 2004 (There were once 6 months straight that I averaged around 8 hrs sleep/week!). Doctors had prescribed me pills to help (Ambien, Zyprexa, Baclofen) but (with the exception of Baclofen) I'd describe their effect as knocking me out, not putting me into restful sleep. Baclofen was a miracle drug the first month I used it, but just stopped working and didn't respond even when I upped the dosage. I knew that regardless of the root problem, my insomnia was a major cause of my symptoms. He agreed and, hence, recommended the 5-HTP. The 5-HTP didn't make me sleepy or give me that "good night's sleep" feeling, but it acted in the way I'd hoped the anti-depressants would have: making me feel more "up" throughout the day, helping me slouch less, allowing me to speak and think more clearly, and making my eyes less sensitive to sunlight. Don't worry, I'm basically through with background info.
This September I moved to Oregon and switched psychiatrists. Again, I had good luck and landed with someone kind and knowledgeable. He's actually taken me on for free because he considers me such a medical anomaly and is devoted to cracking the case. Again, he wasn't convinced my problems were purely psychiatric, but we had several meetings before he ordered labwork. In the meantime, he put me on Xanax. I use 3.5 mg./day (2x1 mg. throughout the day and 1.5 to put me to sleep). Xanax had an immediate positive impact on my health, making it the first psychiatric med to have helped. It boosted energy, lowered anhedonia, improved memory, confidence, helped with clearer thinking and speaking, and (much to my relief) allowed me to drop my Baclofen/Ambien nightly knock-out combo. There were no changes in libido, impotence, or reading abilities, however. Anyways, it was after about two weeks of Xanax that I had blood and urine tests. They yielded three interesting results:
1. No cortisol deficiency. I attribute the improvement to Xanax's relief of much of my stress, gladly discontinued Cortef, and lowered my daily DHEA to 30 mg. (while I wait to get it actually tested).
2. A very serious Vitamin D deficiency. This wouldn't qualify as an interesting result if it weren't for the fact that I am one of the healthiest eaters on the planet (no, seriously) and ingest WAY more than the necessary amount of Vit D as well as the fact that I run 50 miles a week outdoors, getting plenty of sunlight.
3. I have extremely high levels of 5-HIAA. A second test revealed I don't have a carcenoid.
Thanks SO, SO much to all you troopers who stuck it out to the end. E-hugs all around! For you, I have the additional question, though, of if it's possible that the relief I've received from Xanax has made such a high dosage of 5-HTP unnessary (or possibly harmful) in the same way that it's allowed me to discontinue supplementing Cortisol because that was making me get too much.
(Also, for the record, I know the horrors of Xanax dependence and bad withdrawals. I'll get off it ASAP. Just wanted to let you know this isn't an area of ignorance for me.)
December 18th, 2007 11:39 AM #2Senior Member
- Join Date
- Mar 2007
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
I just happened upon your post after googling 5-HTP. If it helps any, you're very near the top of the search results
I really hope you get this figured out because it will help me by proxy. Much of what you wrote rang true with me, even down to the photosensitivity to sunlight. I just started 5-HTP about 2 weeks ago and like you, while it has had a terrific effect on my depression, it hasn't touched my insomnia (it's 633am here and i havent fallen asleep yet, and i'm up to 200mgs) - i'll be lucky of i get 4 hours of sleep. No more ambien, neurontin or prozac for me which used to be my knockout formula - i had the memory recall of a 90 year old. Btw, have u ever had any issues with RLS? And, when you're ready to ditch the xanax, tyrosine counteracts the anxiety that the 5htp exacerbates - source naturals makes a nice formula
anyway, i wanted to give u a shout-out and let you know you're not the only one...
December 19th, 2007 03:58 AM #3Junior Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
Thanks for the reply. Don't take this the wrong way, but it's good to know that I'm not the only one with these problems. Since I posted this about a month ago there have been developements. I did quite a bit of research on 5-HTP and have been in touch with an expert on it.
Before any of that, thanks for the recommendation of tyrosine. I researched it and it looks like I'm probably fine on that because I consume a lot of casein protein. I'm down to 2.5 mg. Xanax/day and am lowering it .5 mg every five days. As for the RLS, I've never had a problem with that.
Okay, first off I should tell you about the Vitamin B6/5-HTP connection if you don't already know it. (note: I didn't at the time I first posted) Vit B6 converts 5-HTP into seratonin before it reaches the brain. That may sound harmless, but 5-HTP passes easily into the brain (and is then converted to seratonin) while seratonin in your blood is mostly unsuccesful at entering the brain due to a strong blood/brain barrier. I eat an EXTREMELY healthy diet and way more than enough B6 without supplementation. However, my psychiatrist had me on something called Neuropower which is this mega multi-vitamin/herbal supplement and contains 5,000% of your daily B6. If you eat a relatively healthy diet you're probably getting enough B6 and I'd strongly recommend not supplementing this vitamin (if any). Excessive seratonin in the bloodstream is not benign. Immediate symptoms include facial flushing and diarrhea, but longterm it can cause carcenoids and heart damage.
When I initially began 5-HTP I was not taking Neuropower and it had an immediate positive result. Unfortunately, I started Neuropower at the same time as I started taking a new med. The med was to treat adrenal overdrive which the doctor suspected when (tests later revealed) I actually had adrenal fatigue. The symptoms are actually quite similar surprisingly. I think the B6 in the Neuropower was weakening the positive effects of the 5-HTP but the med drained my energy so much that I attributed all the negative effects to it. Normally I try things one at a time, but I just thought of Neuropower as a multi-vitamin and thought the worst thing that could happen would be I'd have expensive urine. My theory is that after starting the Neuropower, it made the 5-HTP far less effective and less seratonin was making it to my brain. So, in order to get that same level of seratonin in my brain that 150 mg. was giving me without all the B6, I was having to take far more 5-HTP (600 mg.).
The 5-HTP expert actually recommends trytophan over 5-HTP, but I haven't tried that yet. He also definitely recommends 5-HIAA testing.
Anyways, the 5-HTP expert recommended that I first drop the Neuropower, then drop the 5-HTP cold turkey, wait for a while, and then add 5-HTP back to see if and how much I need now that I'm not bursting with Vit B6. After quitting 5-HTP I was surprised that there wasn't some immediate change. Then after about 3 days I actually felt much better. About four days later I started to feel worse. That's the present. I have several theories about why I might be feeling worse:
1. Maybe 5-HTP takes a week or so to get out of your system. If so, it's possible that the amount I had in my system three days after dropping it was perfect and now that it's all gone, I'm too low.
2. I'm quickly going off Xanax and also the decline in my health happened the day I arrived in Utah for a ski trip and am at a very high altitude.
Anyways, I'll try building back up in a bit and see if that helps or if I don't need 5-HTP. Recent tests have indicated some sort of malabsorbtion problem with my body, so hopefully I won't have to be on these supplements forever once I get fully diagnosed and (*fingers crossed*) treated.
So, yeah, my advice is don't supplement with B6, definitely have your 5-HIAA tested, and consider trytophan (which also converts to seratonin and I think is more associated with sleepiness). As for the insomnia, I agree about not using knock-out drugs like Ambien. Two things that have worked for me are Baclofen (it's primarily a muslce relaxer, but is sometimes used for sleep) and Xanax. These may not work for you because it's obvious that I have anxiety and tenseness, which you may not. Best of luck to you. I hope you found some of this useful and that you're working with a good, sympathetic doctor who can help you on your way to good health. Take care.
June 15th, 2008 03:24 AM #4Junior Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
Your post is pretty old so I'm not sure you'll actually read this...I'm wondering what your outcome has been? I too have had adrenal fatigue for about a year now, but don't feel I'm getting much better. I haven't taken the cotisol replacement you spoke of, just a lot of supplements including glandulars, etc. all from Dr. James Wilson's website, who is supposed to be an expert on adrenal fatigue. My naturapath, who diagnosed me, doesn't know that much about it. Two of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are depression and anxiety and still have both of them, which I never had before this illness. One of my supplements has 5-htp (50mg) in it and I've taken it for about 6 months without feeling better. I don't have any insomnia somehow, but have little enegry in the afternoons still and still get irritable, moody and weepy often. I often wonder if it's hormonal because I haven't been able to get my sex hormones completely balanced again. DHEA seemed to help the first couple months, but then I started feeling tired a nd awful again and now am on pregnenolone, which doesn't seem t help either, in fact, at 20 mg a day, I had to cut back to 10 because I was feeling so dizzy. I seem to have more blood sugar lows easily now (moreso than when I was first diagnosed) even though I eat very healthy, usually a healthy fat, whole grains, veggies and protien w/ every meal.
The depression from the ad. fatigue has been wreaking havoc w/ my life (very hard on my marriage) and I had my first panic attach during a public speaking obligation! Because of this I just started Amoryn, but worry the 5htp in my other adrenal supplement coupled w/ that may be too much as I also take 1,000mg a day of sublingual B12, which is also in the Amoryn I just noticed!
I live in a really small town so there are no physchiatrists here, and none that have ever heard of Adrenal Fatigue in the nearest city ( I checked!). I don't want to go on any drugs that are not natural. I'm still not thinking clearly, have poor memory, poor social functioning, get dizzy easily, and have limited energy. All of this since the adrernal fatigue started a year ago. I don't know where to go from here. Any advice for me?
June 16th, 2008 02:06 AM #5Junior Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
You posted on the exact right day, because I'm about to go on a trip for several months and won't have any internet access.
Well, in my case, I found out that the reason it took so much 5-HTP to help me out was because I was on this MEGA-dose multi-vitamin which contained a ton of Vit B6, which converts the 5-HTP to seratonin BEFORE it got to the brain (thereby blocking it). Anyways, once I stopped the multi-vitamin, I was able to take only 100 mg. of 5-HTP and got the same positive result.
My adrenal fatigue is gone. It's like the Cortisol got things moving again, and then I didn't need it anymore.
If 5-HTP isn't working for you after 6 months, stop it. Seriously. The less we tamper with the brain the better, unless we REALLY know what we're doing is working. Dizziness is also a symptom of 5-HTP use. I had no withdrawal from it, so just stop it, see how that goes, and decide if it was actually giving YOU a boost or just your naturopaths wallet. If nothing else, stopping it will give you the sense that you're taking some action in your struggle and aren't totally powerless.
Adrenal fatigue is something which can be exactly measured. There's a 24-hour urine test for cortisol and for DHEA levels. I would HIGHLY recommend having this done, because you may be treating a condition that you don't have. Did you know that adrenal fatigue and adrenal overdrive (Cushing's) have very similar symptoms? If you do have an adrenal disorder, you may be treating it in the wrong direction. I know this firsthand, because I was treated for Cushing's for 1 week before it was discovered I had adrenal fatigue. That was a rough week and I felt extremely weak.
I think there's a very good chance you don't have adrenal fatigue, though. Depression and anxiety are very general symptoms and the fact that your naturopath diagnosed you based off that and also admits to not knowing much about the condition indicates to me that he may not know what he's doing. Get the test done so you know for sure. It seems like when in doubt, naturopaths will recommend something over nothing even if they're clueless to the true problem. There are definitely some good naturopaths out there, but from what I've heard, this guy doesn't sound like one.
My advice is to 1. stop the 5-HTP completely and see how that goes. 2. Get the 24 hour DHEA and Cortisol tests performed. 3. Drive to a big city and get more knowledgeable doctors to work with you (I did this and it made all the difference in the world) even if it costs you a day and a bunch of gas money. It's worth it.
Anyways, hope that helps some because I won't be around to reply if you write back. Best of luck.
July 13th, 2009 12:34 AM #6Unregistered Guest
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
A recommendtaion, and a question...
First of all, for the insomnia, GBL (gamma-butyro-lactone) I think you all are in the states in which case this may not be possible to get hold of...but if you're in Europe it's pretty easy to get hold of, its a precurssor to the drug GHB, which is sold in the states under the perscription name Xyrem (as a treatment for insomnia)....it is different to all other sedatives, it's as if you actually make a conscious decision to go to sleep rather than collapse from tiredness, plus you wake up feeling very refreshed, even a 20 minute nap with GBL is very refreshing...
My question....I think I may have taken too much 5htp, I've taken 150mg in tablets throughout the course of the day and have now discovered that the protein shakes that I drink twice a day contain in total 0.6 (600mg) of Trytophan, which is an amino acid that is the same as 5-HTP ( i think), I've just been to bed, fell asleep, and had awful, scary, paralyzing hallucinatory dreams in which I had to struggle and fight to wake up..woke up with the sheets all bunched up around my legs as if I'd been thrashing crazily, which I felt I had....it was really scary....is there anything I a can do to bring me off the 5htp? was this definitely the cause?
December 16th, 2009 10:09 PM #7Unregistered Guest
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
I just wanted to add my 5htp experience, because there's not alot out there. This has been really helpful and informative, by the way.
I have been taking 100mg a day for the past seven months, for (pretty much generalized) depression and anxiety. I first started taking it a little over a year ago, at first not noticing much change (cause i wasn't regularly taking it) except that it really helped my social anxieties. So at first I would take it only if I knew I was going to be in a social situation that would make me uncomfortable (which at the time was pretty much any), and didn't really think any more about it. Then I went to a therapist and long story short, started taking 50mg twice a day regularly, and found it to be really great. Its not a huge drastic up, and it doesn't make me feel numb like the other anti-depressants I've been put on.
The most recent bottle i bought though, has b-6 already in the pill, and after reading this, I'm wondering why they would do that? I have been more depressed (although I was thinking it was situational/seasonal), and I wonder now if that's the reason.
Also, in response to the person above me, I read when I first started taking this that it is not recommended to take more than 150mg of 5htp daily without being told to, so maybe that was the problem after all.
December 22nd, 2009 01:54 AM #8Unregistered Guest
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
Julia Ross' books Diet Cure and Mood Cure give very detailed explanations of uses for many amino acids (including 5 HTP and/or Tryptophan) for optimizing the function and balance of all neurotransmitters. There are also tests that can be performed to ***** your true need for these aminos. Ross indicates that amino acids are usually just needed for a period of time and once things become stabilized, they can be discontinued. I consulted this post because my 12 y.o. has been on 50 mg 5-HTP for over a year with good results. In the last two months, though, she has reported that she feels very fatigued all the time. It may be time for her to discontinue 5 HTP. Good luck.
February 25th, 2010 04:22 AM #9Unregistered Guest
Re: Too much 5-HTP?
I am curious about timing and staging between B6, and 5-HTP.
Basically the hypothesis would be as one would ingest B6 separate and apart from the 5-HTP, and a specific amount of time would be allowed to allow the B6 to take up residency past the Blood Brain Barrier.
One page recommended about 8 hours to excrete excess Vitamin B6. This would be roughly the time, or say 12 hrs the 5-HTP is introduced, so basically you would take the B6 in the morning, and then the 5-HTP at night.
March 7th, 2010 02:46 PM #10Unregistered Guest