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  • 5-htp

    I suppose he mentioned it because he knows how apprehensive I am about pharmaceuticals. He also mentioned Prozac as a fairly safe option, with the least amount of side effects compared to other SSRIs. So I'm trying to gather info. This doctor(psychiatrist) has a few patients who have done well on the 5-htp.

  • #2


    Please use the "Post Reply" button to respond to a forum posting rather than starting a new topic when posting a reply.

    Herbal remedies may have effectiveness but unfortunately the producers of these compounds do not provide any scientifically supported data to support their claims.

    Furthermore the various manufacturers of these compounds are not required to adhere to any standards of quality control, so dosages and quality of ingredients may vary from batch to batch.

    Herbal remedies are considered food supplements rather than medications and are not governed by the same regulations.

    Reluctance to using accepted medical treatment options is often due to a perception that herbal remedies are somehow more natural. The reality is that the human body sees any compound being ingested as a chemical compound and its source, whether harvested from a field or produced synthetically in a lab, is irrelevant.

    The case for using prescription medications, under the supervision of a qualified and competent physician provides the patient with proven scientific research, along with a proven scientific clinical experience.

    By all means do your research and look into all options, and make your decision based on facts. Do not be swayed by people who have a self serving interest in promoting a treatment option. People who are serving their own interests will tell you what you want to hear...that effectiveness is guaranteed with no discomfort or adverse effects.

    The truth is there are no guarantees in medicine and treatment decisions are made on a benefits vs risk basis.

    This is where your physician is your best ally. An ethical physician will provide you with information on all benefits and risks of a particular treatment option so you can make an informed decision.

    If your physician is proposing using a medication from the Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitor class of medications, (SSRI) there are several options available. Not all SSRI's work well for all people, so it is not uncommon to either titrate (vary) the dose or even change compound until the best combination of effectiveness and ability to tolerate is found.

    The bias of the TSFC is clearly in favor of scientifically supported treatment options where the claims are supported by data rather than anecdotal evidence.
    TouretteLinks Forum


    • #3

      Steve, I very much disagree with you on this subject. SSRIs have never been proven safe, in fact, they have proven to have severe side effects and to be extremely addictive. So much so, that it is almost impossible for some people to ever go off them, because the withdrawal symptoms are so horrendous. Plus, it isn't even approved for children, and has never been proven safe for them.

      And as I said before, people with AS get depressed because of LOW levels of serotonin, and need to boost it, not block it. And 5HTP is a precursor to serotonin and helps the brain make more of it. Which is what autistic people need.

      And personally, I don't trust doctors to make any right decisions for me, as they have failed me all my life. I self-diagnosed the TS, AS and Celiac disease (later all confirmed by specialists), after being told all my life that it was 'all in my head', or to 'grow up', or 'stop those annoying habits'. Doctors were no help at all in any of this.

      I do my own research, and base whatever happens to me on my own decisions. I've thrown out many prescriptions for unneccesary medications, and have relied on natural remedies instead, which actually cure the cause, rather than cover up symptoms.

      And that's what SSRIs do, cover up symptoms. They don't cure anybody of anything. There is a cause for depression. Taking away your feelings won't fix this cause.

      Personally, now that I found out what causes my depression (food intolerances, plus abuse), I am combatting it with diet and therapy (since I can't fix my husband's attitude).

      Originally posted by Steve
      The bias of the TSFC is clearly in favor of scientifically supported treatment options where the claims are supported by data rather than anecdotal evidence.
      Actually, a lot of the 'scientific' data out there comes directly from the pharmaceutical companies, who skew it to sell their products. Often herbal remedies don't have this data, because you can't patent natural compounds. Plus, doing controlled studies is so costly, that only huge pharmaceutical giants, or people with government grants can afford it. And since I have no reason to trust either the pharmaceutical companies or the government, I'd rather go by 'anecdotal' evidence.

      And Maria, I am not taking 5HTP currently (even though I'd like to), because I need to find out if they contain salicylates (which I have a severe intolerance to, I just found out). If they don't, I'll take them again, because they really help me sleep well. And if you get good sleep, your mood improves.
      German citizen, married to a Canadian for 28 years, four daughters, one son, eight grandchildren (and one on the way).


      • #4


        We may find through this discussion that our respective points of view are very different, and I respect your opinion.

        However the science does not bear out your statement about unproven safety of SSRI's.

        SSRI safety in overdose
        Barbey JT, Roose SP
        Division of Clinical Pharmacology,
        Georgetown University Medical Center,
        Washington, DC, USA.
        J Clin Psychiatry 1998; 59 Suppl 15:42-8


        BACKGROUND: The morbidity and mortality caused by tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) overdose are well recognized. Among newer antidepressants, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are thought to be safer in overdose. This study was designed to describe the signs, symptoms, and mortality associated with SSRI overdose. METHOD: English-language articles identified through MEDLINE (1985 through 1997), and case reports from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) (1987 through 1996) and United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adverse event database (through 1997) that describe findings of fatal and nonfatal overdoses involving SSRIs alone or in combination with other ingestants were reviewed. RESULTS: SSRI antidepressants are rarely fatal in overdose when taken alone. During the 10 years that SSRI antidepressants have been marketed, there have been remarkably few fatal overdoses reported in the literature or to the AAPCC or FDA involving ingestion only of an SSRI. Moderate overdoses (up to 30 times the common daily dose) are associated with minor or no symptoms, while ingestions of greater amounts typically result in drowsiness, tremor, nausea, and vomiting. At very high doses (> 75 times the common daily dose), more serious adverse events, including seizures, electrocardiogram (ECG) changes, and decreased consciousness may occur. SSRI overdoses in combination with alcohol or other drugs are associated with increased toxicity, and almost all fatalities involving SSRIs have involved coingestion of other substances.

        CONCLUSION: The SSRI antidepressants are far safer than the TCAs in overdose. There is no apparent difference among SSRIs with respect to overdose safety.
        Theses medications have been shown to be non toxic, even when taken in overdose, have shown effectiveness in published peer reviewed articles and have enjoyed over fifteen years of successful clinical use.

        Prior to SSRI's which are among the so called designer drugs developed in the 1980's, treatments for depression were limited to medications developed in the 1960's and 1970's that often resulted in very severe adverse effects caused by the effects of these older drugs on other neurotransmitters other than the real target neurotransmitters thought to be associated with depression, namely seretonin and norepinepherine.

        There is no data I am aware of that indicated SSRI's are addictive; however withdrawl symptoms are common with the short half life SSRI's like Paxil and Effexor unless the patient follows the physicians instructions to taper the medication over a few weeks when the medication is to be withdrawn.

        The withdrawl is due to blood levels dropping more rapidly that the the body can acclimate itself to the change in the bloodstream. It is not due to addiction which manifests itself other ways.

        And that's what SSRI's do, cover up symptoms
        I would respectfully submit this statement is not borne out by the literature, as patients tested using accepted psychological testing to determine the degree of mood change before and after treatment.

        Anti depressant medications do not mask symptoms, they alter the balance of neurotransmitters to return a person to a state where their quality of life has improved.

        In later years after SSRI's were in widespread use, thousands of studies were conducted worldwide to investigate their effectiveness in treating OCD and later to treat various anxiety related disorders and later many other disorders.

        I am not going to defend marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies, but much of the data used by pharmaceutical companies comes from independent research by competent and respected researches worldwide.

        And since I have no reason to trust either the pharmaceutical companies or the government, I'd rather go by 'anecdotal' evidence
        This may be your personal choice, Uschi based on your own research and for your personal comfort factor. It is not the position of the TSFC because there is no evidence the Health Protection Branch of Health Canada or the FDA is in collusion with the pharmaceutical industry to mislead the public.

        Uschi...we may have to walk away from this discussion agreeing to the most amicable and respectful way.

        TouretteLinks Forum


        • #5

          I never wanted my son on Risperdal from all the reading I did on it. But the dr thought it would help him with his habits. So we tried it and the difference is enough that I am glad I did. Now I am worried about Prozac. But if it will stop the voices my son has from his OCD, his obsessional thoughts, and live as close to a normal life as his brothers and friends, and continue in school to learn along side his peers, and not have people look at him weird or his family not look at him at all, then isn't it worth taking this SSRI? I tell you the pride he had when his own brother said Glenn shouldn't be getting is drivers license because of his habit, and sure enough he got it and is a very good driver, then I have learned that these drugs are for a reason and that is for them to live as normal a life as possible. I don't still want him on these meds, but seeing the outcome I won't take him off of them.


          • #6

            My understanding of a SSRI (re-uptake inhibitor) is that it it increases serotonin levels in the brain by inhibiting the re-uptake and not blocking it. The re-uptake is the life span of serotonin. It keeps the life of serotonin longer so the the little bit that is made can slowly build up to normal values. It works differently than 5-htp. 5-htp the precursor to serotonin is converted to serotonin. This means that 5-htp actually increases the levels of serotonin in the brain as opposed prozac witch lets it build up by keeping serotonin alive longer. My understanding is that the brain actually regulates serotonin by regulating L-Tryptophan into the brain. Which is converted to 5-htp which is converted to serotonin. Giving 5-htp to the brain bypasses this regulatory system. If your brain detects that it has sufficient serotonin, it will stop asking for more tryptophan. you won't notice this until 5-htp is discontinued. I'm afraid we are chasing (which came first, the Chicken or the EGG) scenario.

            Another interesting fact that I found out was, (not sure if this is 100% real), is that although L-Tryptophan is in the blood and crosses the blood Brain Barrier it is only converted to 5-htp after the BBB in the brain. There should be no 5-htp in the blood. If one takes 5-htp as a supplement , it actually crosses the BBB and we end up with 5-htp before and after the BBB. The arguments were that 5-htp could be converted in the gut to seretonin and be available in the blood but nobody can state what the side effects could be if there are any.

            Nothing concrete. Just interesting and something to think about and to ask our MDs about.




            • #7


              Reuptake is a concept sometimes misunderstood, so the term blocking is unwittingly substituted.
              • Definition of Reuptake

              Reuptake: The reabsorption of a secreted substance by the cell that originally produced and secreted it. The process of reuptake, for example, affects serotonin as you alllude to.

              For the benefit of Forum members following this discussion.

              Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger). It is produced by nerve cells in the brain and is used by nerves to communicate with one another. A nerve releases the serotonin that it has produced into the space surrounding it.

              The serotonin either travels across that space and attaches to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or it attaches to receptors on the surface of the nerve that produced it, to be taken up by the nerve, recycled, and released again.

              This process is referred to as reuptake.

              A balance is reached for serotonin between attachment to the nearby nerves and reuptake. A medication that acts as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) blocks the reuptake of serotonin and thereby changes the level of serotonin in the brain.

              Reuptake is sometimes written as re-uptake.

              although L-Tryptophan is in the blood and crosses the blood Brain Barrier it is only converted to 5-htp after the BBB in the brain. There should be no 5-htp in the blood. If one takes 5-htp as a supplement , it actually crosses the BBB and we end up with 5-htp before and after the BBB. The arguments were that 5-htp could be converted in the gut to seretonin and be available in the blood but nobody can state what the side effects could be if there are any.
              This is a question for a psycho-pharmacologist due to its complexity.

              I will try to gain some insights from one of my resource persons, and get back to you.

              Thanks for your comments!
              TouretteLinks Forum