5-HTP, the intermediate metabolite between the amino acid L-tryptophan and serotonin, is extracted from the bean of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia).
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a metabolite (a substance produced by metabolism) of the amino acid tryptophan. You may know tryptophan as the substance in turkey that makes you feel like taking a nap after Thanksgiving dinner. 5-HTP is a direct precursor of the important inhibitory neurotransmitter serotonin, which is secreted in response to mood or emotion swings. Serotonin soothes and calms and brings about feelings of contentment. It is also the precursor to the antioxidant and sleep enhancer called melatonin, which is produced in the pineal gland by the conversion of serotonin.
Is 5-HTP safe to take?
The FDA has warned that it has found batches with impurities similar to the Japanese batches of tryptophan in 1980. 5-HTP and tryptophan are not the same. 5-HTP is related to tryptophan, but is derived from a different source. The 1980 scare concerning the Japanese tryptophan was attributed to a large batch the Japanese produced that was contaminated during the fermentation and/or filtration process. The contaminant caused affected persons to develop symptoms of EMS (eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome).
5-HTP, unlike tryptophan, is now extracted from the seed of the Griffonia simplicifolia plant and is not produced via bacterial fermentation, virtually eliminating further occurrence of EMS. The contaminant believed to have caused the tryptophan contamination has not been identified as being present in 5-HTP.
Does NOW check for Peak X contamination in the 5-HTP product?
Our 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is the highest quality >99% pure material available. The culprit in the tryptophan problem some years ago was supposedly due to a compound dubbed Peak X. Our 5-HTP is Peak X free. We also require total Impurities [e.g. the synthetic D-form, determined by HPLC] to be not more than 0.5%, Chloride less than 100 parts per million, Tryptophan not more than 0.05%, and Serotonin has to be absent. Our website is a great source for info on our quality efforts particularly under our Elements of Quality section.