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serotonin's role in anxiety

Posted by alesta on September 28, 2004, at 12:04:34

In reply to Cymbalta honeymoon is over, posted by steve12 on September 14, 2004, at 16:44:12

I now see that I made a mistake concerning serotonin’s role in anxiety, as I now think that it can definitely play an important role in anxiety. I didn’t see its importance, in part, due to my research concerning 5-htp’s not having much effect on anxiety for many people. However, I recently researched l-tryptophan, and see how, in contrast, it can work pretty well for anxiety. Here is some information that will shed some light as to why l-tryptophan is more effective for serotonin enhancement than 5-htp:

"L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP - How to decide which is right for you. Some people are helped by 5-HTP, others are not. There are several reasons for these differences that can help in deciding which is right for you.
1. The body remains in control with L-Tryptophan, but does not with 5HTP. The creation of neurotransmitter serotonin begins with L-Tryptophan which converts to 5HTP, which converts to serotonin. The rate-limiting step (the step the body uses to regulate serotonin production) is between L-Tryptophan and 5HTP. If you take 5HTP your body looses control of the serotonin pathway.
2. 5HTP converts to serotonin outside the brain. Since the conversion of 5HTP to serotonin is not regulated some of the 5HTP converts to serotonin in the gut, causing upset and nausea. Since serotonin does not cross the blood-brain barrier, serotonin produced outside the brain is not available to the brain. In Europe, 5HTP is combined with carbidopa, a pharmaceutical drug that reduces conversion of 5HTP to serotonin outside the brain. This is rarely done in the U.S.
3. Disease impairs 5HTP transport across the blood-brain barrier. In people with certain diseases, including severe depression, there is blockage of the transmission of 5HTP across the blood-brain barrier. In these patients supplementation with L-Tryptophan, which does cross the blood-brain barrier, can provide increased brain serotonin levels.
4. Unlike 5HTP L-Tryptophan has many other uses in the body. It can be converted to niacin. It is a required precursor to the kynurenines, a family of biochemicals that help regulate the immune system. As an essential amino acid, L-Tryptophan is required for your body to work properly.
Even though L-Tryptophan and 5HTP are metabolized to serotonin along the same biochemical pathway, individual differences in metabolism can cause significant differences in effectiveness.

L-Tryptophan 5HTP
Body regulates conversion to serotonin Conversion is unregulated
Body controls WHERE conversion occurs Partially converts to serotonin in the gut and blood, not the brain
Cross the blood-brain barrier in sickness and health Disease blocks the absorption process
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid 5HTP is not essential
Utilized in many body functions Can convert to serotonin only"

(I am not suggesting that serotonin alone can fully treat many anxiety disorders, but merely that it can play a role in anxiety. For instance, I don’t think SSRIs are sufficient to treat many anxiety disorders (although they help some people), and therefore other options are often necessary e.g. benzos, MAOIs, etc. (I also personally don’t prefer the SSRIs due to emotional numbness, anhedonia, akathesia, sexual side effects, etc., although some people find them tolerable.) )

Note: to anyone considering trying l-tryptophan, I think it might tend to poop out after a month or so. So it might be best used periodically, perhaps...

Another interesting note: I don’t know if this is true or not, but “For about 11 years now, Dr. Ann Blake Tracy (Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?), persistently warns the public against raising serotonin levels. Doctor Tracy has taught us that an increase in serotonin produces rushes of insulin dropping sugar levels and chemically inducing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in this way. Furthermore it has been established that too much serotonin damages blood vessels, particularly in the lungs, and may also harm heart valves. This would be due to the fact that serotonin is a powerful vasoconstrictor.” So, if this is true, perhaps it is unhealthy to vastly raise serotonin solely instead of raising it in moderation with several other neurotransmitters.





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