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Why does 5-HTP work?
Sunday, April 08, 2012 11:54 am Email this article
Although 1/3 of patients lose weight well with simple phen-pro, 2/3 of them lose only some of their excess weight and then get "stuck". When one asks them about it, many of them say that although the basic phen-pro suppressed their appetite well in the beginning, after a few weeks or months, their excess appetite spartially returned. If one adds 5-HTP to the mix at that point, the extra hunger goes away again and the patients resume their weight loss.
There are two theories about this. The most common idea is that when patients have been on Prozac or other SSRI drugs for a prolonged period, the brain may be depleted in serotonin. SSRI drugs cause serotonin to spend more time in the synapse whence it is more easily lost than when it is sequestered in the neuron. When the serotonin level falls low enough, release into the synapse is reduced and Prozac has less effect since it is only a re-uptake inhibitor. When Prozac starts to falter, phentermine loses its effect also just as it does when taken alone (see the graph from the Eli Lilly study on this website). 5-HTP , 5-hydroxytryptophan, is the material from which serotonin is made. Taking 5-HTP orally causes an increase in serotonin in the brain if a sufficient dose is taken . When the serotonin level is restored, Prozac resumes its action on phentermine. The second theory is based on research by Japanese researchers (Yamada, Sugimoto and Ujikawa, European Journal of Pharmacology 1999; 383: 49-51). They gave 5-HTP to mice and showed that it considerably raised their levels of leptin. Leptin is the hormone produced by adipose tissue that signals to the brain the total body fat content. It reduces hunger. Therefore, 5-HTP may reduce hunger through leptin without ever itself entering the brain.
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