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The wonderful 5-htp (5-hydroxy-tryptophan)

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The wonderful 5-htp (5-hydroxy-tryptophan)

Postby WanderingDave » 09 Jun 2004, 16:22

5-htp (5-hydroxy-tryptophan) is an amino acid that your body converts directly into the neurotransmitter seratonin. It was a health craze in the US awhile back as I remember, and many people still find it makes a better antidepressant than St. John's Wort or SSRIs like Prozac (both of which should NEVER be used together with 5htp!).

In any case, I'm sold on it. I take 100mg of 5htp every day, and have never felt better. Screw prozac and its ilk.

In the US, you can buy 5htp at any pharmacy or health food store, for a reasonable price. But I've talked to many a Taiwense pharmacist, and I've found the only place where I've had any luck is Zhongli Pharmacy (1F No. 13-5 Xiangyang Rd. Taipei City). This is the giant place across the street from the Er Er Ba Peace Park, in the neighborhood of Taipei Main Station. They need to special order it through China Petrochemicals, and it costs NT$1800 for 50 100mg capsules. (ouch!)

It seems that 5htp's legal status is Taiwan is a lot like in Australia -- not approved by the Ministry of Health for sale to the public, but not explicitly banned either. It boggles my mind why this wonder chemical has trouble getting approved by a lot of governments. I have a sneaking suspicion it's because this chemical is widely known and used by recreational ecstasy users, because it ameliorates the unpleasant side effects of this drug. By making 5htp not widely available, do governments hope to curb ecstasy use? Sounds a lot like a handing - out - condoms - in - schools type problem. :roll:
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Postby jlick » 13 Jun 2004, 21:24

Wow, you actually found someplace that has 5-HTP in Taiwan even if it is expensive! I agree that it is good stuff too. It's good for insomnia as well as depression. A friend mentioned it to me because it helped with her insomnia. By the way, I also take L-Tyrosine 500mg along with 5-HTP. 5-HTP works strictly on Serotonin, while L-Tyrosine works on the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine which are other mood-related neurotransmitters. There's a lot of literature on the web that recommend taking these together. I've found that they work wonderfully together, even better than 5-HTP on its own. I had been taking Prozac before, but didn't like the side effects such as insomnia and sexual dysfunction. I haven't had any of that trouble with 5-HTP or L-Tyrosine.
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Postby WanderingDave » 16 Jun 2004, 16:00

I'll bet L-tyrosine is just as tough to find here.

Update. I had a question about some medication interactions, so I took my bottle of 5-htp with its literature (in Chinese) to a local pharmacist to ask if it could be taken together with some other things I was taking. My 5-htp definitely raised an eyebrow on him. Rather alarmed, he demanded to know where I got a hold of it, and how. For a minute, I thought he was going to confiscate it. He grow more alarmed to learn where I purchased it, and that I was able to order it without a prescription.

Is there some lore surrounding 5-htp in the Taiwanese medical community that I'm not privy to?
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Postby gary » 11 Jul 2004, 19:44

Cool,

I wonder if L-Tryptophan is available in Taiwan. It was banned in the US shortly before the introduction of Prozac. It seems to be safe despite what the FDA says. People suspect the FDA bribing is behind everything that's said about it.

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Postby jlick » 13 Jul 2004, 02:23

gary wrote:I wonder if L-Tryptophan is available in Taiwan. It was banned in the US shortly before the introduction of Prozac. It seems to be safe despite what the FDA says. People suspect the FDA bribing is behind everything that's said about it.


L-Tryptophan has some serious problems as it has definitively been linked to a permanent and very serious nervous disorder called EMS. The main controversy is whether this is caused by L-Tryptophan itself, or was a contamination of a substance called "Peak-X" which was detected in batches of L-Trytophan. L-Tryptophan is not banned in the US per se, as it is a natural substance found in Turkey, Milk, and many other products. What is banned is selling L-Tryptophan manufactured by bacteriological methods. You can still get some multi-amino formulas which are milk-derived and contain L-Tryptophan along with other amino acids. The Amino drinks sold in 7-11, et al probably have some amount of L-Tryptophan as well.
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