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Old 04-09-2015, 05:59 PM   #1
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5-HTP

Does anyone take this supplement? If so, does it work? It seems to have some success with suppressing food cravings as well as promoting a good mood and better sleep. All of these are things I could use
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Old 04-10-2015, 04:51 AM   #2
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I take this stuff, which includes 5-HTP as one of three active ingredients, when I need to be sure of having a full night's sleep:

Webber Naturals SleepCalm Natural Sleep Formula Chewable Tablets Tropical Fruit

It works great. I sometimes use Benadryl instead, which is a bit more effective, but leaves me with a Benadryl hangover in the morning.
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Old 04-10-2015, 12:59 PM   #3
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I just finished a bottle of 250 tablets of 5-HTP last night. I don't think I'll buy another bottle as I don't think it helped to keep me asleep.

I've been using melatonin and I do think that helps me to fall asleep.

So far, the best thing I have found to do is to hit the gym around 5pm and do an hour to an hour and a half of aerobic exercise. I have been sleeping much better. If I exercise hard early in the day then I tend to nap.
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Old 04-18-2015, 04:11 PM   #4
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I've been using melatonin and I do think that helps me to fall asleep.
I keep some melatonin on hand, left over from when I was fixing my sleep a couple of years ago, but I almost never use it. My concern was even the smallest dosage of melatonin for sale is several times greater than what your body would produce. There is a dual risk there: Overloading the receptors by flooding them with much more melatonin than your body naturally produces and the risk that your body will stop producing it's own melatonin since it's receiving all it needs (and more) from an outside source. I used it briefly (a few days), but even then I only used about 1/3 of the smallest capsule I could find.

Dr. Kirk Parsley is, imo, one of the best experts on fixing sleep in an effective and healthy way (i.e. without drugs). He was a Navy Seal who went back to the teams as a physician. He discovered that the Seals had major performance issues because their sleep was horrible due to operational demands and the chronic use of sleep meds. He set out to fix the problem, but found that the medical literature was inadequate. He figured out how to fix the SEALs and moved on to other military, cops, firefighters and doctors. Recently he's started sharing his ideas with the large corporations.

Here is Parsley's TED talk on chronic sleep deprivation in America:

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Old 04-19-2015, 05:15 PM   #5
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Nothing works for me. Melatonin gives me a headache; 5-HTP, valerian, all that stuff does nothing; I used to go to sleep with a small acupuncture needle in my earlobe but that stopped working; the relaxation downloads get me all revved up instead of relaxed and I have some not-so-funny stories about Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta, each tried one time only. A benadryl will make me groggy until 12 noon.

When I have time - no excuse since I am mostly retired now - I will watch the Ted talk. Maybe there's something I haven't tried to do.

My mother used to say that I never slept more than 2 hours a night from the time she took me home from the hospital as a newborn.

Go figure.


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Old 04-19-2015, 06:22 PM   #6
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Being sleep deprived is just miserable. I think I've determined that melatonin does help, but HTP does nothing. Also, when I was going through a rough patch (menopause plus anxiety issues) I used melatonin every night for at least 3 months. When I started to feel better I stopped it. I sleep fine these days and had no problems stopping the melatonin cold turkey.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:08 PM   #7
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Have you tried experimenting with changing your bed? I bought a Serta memory foam mattress last year and I've never never slept on anything more comfortable. In fact I just woke from an extremely restful nap. The problem is now I am always wanting to take naps "for just a minute" because the thing is so comfortable.
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:38 PM   #8
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Here is Parsley's TED talk on chronic sleep deprivation in America:

Leonidas, I listened to his talk, and he suggests that he can help sleep deprivation, but does not seem to give any ideas how in a way that might help those who can have trouble getting full nights of sleep even though they have time to do so.

What does he suggest for those who have chronic or intermittent trouble sleeping?

Ha
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:19 PM   #9
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Leonidas, I listened to his talk, and he suggests that he can help sleep deprivation, but does not seem to give any ideas how in a way that might help those who can have trouble getting full nights of sleep even though they have time to do so.

What does he suggest for those who have chronic or intermittent trouble sleeping?
I've listened to Parsley talk half a dozen times or more, and he makes it clear there is no simple answer. He never prescribes, but is very informative so I pieced it together for myself. Unfortunately, I don't have my notes so I'm doing this by memory. I will include links to a couple of his talks where he discusses the process in detail.

Rather than try to explain Parsley, I'll tell you what I did and am doing now.

I started with trying to fix hormonal issues. There is a diabetes - low testosterone link, and a sleep - testosterone link. While I had fixed my blood sugar, I found that my testosterone was well below normal (187 total free). I worked on that naturally for several months (good sleep hygiene, heavy weights, meditation, and eating the right kind of foods). I managed to get it up to 297 which is still low and definitely sub-optimal. I started testosterone replacement therapy and am currently above 800 free.

I will say that making sleep a priority did have a benefit. I went to sleep the same time every night and got up 8 hours later, and I removed any distractions (lights, noise, etc.).

Parsley also talks about the need to stop taking sleep aids like Ambien (the SEALs "candy"), especially if combined with alcohol, and not do extreme exercise to an excess (we're talking what a SEAL would think extreme).

Parsley breaks down the hormonal issues and tried different supplementation strategies. While it sounds like he will have patients use melatonin, or 5HTP, he really thinks it's important to provide the substrate for all that with vitamin D3 supplementation. If I recall correctly, he says D3 is the raw material for 5HTP, which is converted to serotonin, which is converted to melatonin. There is a danger in supplementing too much or too long in the midstream (especially melatonin) because you overload the receptors and can shut down the creation of natural melatonin). He isn't too concerned about short term use because 5htp and melatonin are water soluble, and D3, while fat soluble is something almost everyone is deficient in.

Cortisol disregulation is also an issue, but I didn't delve into that in my case. I need to check my levels, but I was working on the theory that I had enough other things to deal with and hoped that fixing all of them would fix cortisol issues.

So I took a small amount of melatonin for a while (1mg or less for a week), and 5htp for a month, coupled with the strict sleep hygiene I was already doing, sensible exercise, good nutrition (low carb and lots of veggies), little to no alcohol use, I've never taken sleep drugs or anti-depressants, and I was on TRT. I also began to meditate regularly to reduce stress.

Now, I just do my best to maintain good sleep discipline most nights. I live downtown now and ambient noise was an issue for a while, but I've adjusted and it doesn't seem to be a problem. I sleep 7-8 hours most nights and rarely feel tired during the day. Occasionally, on weekends when I go out, I'll stay up late and usually drink some alcohol, and I'll feel the effects the next day or two. I.e., sometimes I'll sleep late, or be sleepy during the day, and occasionally my athletic performance suffers.

Kirk Parsley FAQs on sleep Doc Parsley

Kirk Parsley's first appearance on Robb Wolf's Podcast (audio and transcript available) Dr. Kirk Parsley - Paleo Solution Podcast Episode 181

Kirk Parsely on Barbell Shrugged (video and he goes into depth on the hormonal issues)
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Old 04-20-2015, 06:34 PM   #10
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I started taking 5-HTP a few weeks ago for insomnia. Within a few days, I started getting mild headaches (very tolerable but noticeable). I wasn't sure if the 5-HTP was what was causing it, but the headaches went away when I stopped taking it. It did seem to help me sleep a little better but wasn't worth the side effect for me.
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:41 PM   #11
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Leonidas,

Testosterone at 800 seems amazing for someone in our group here. How has the TRT worked out for you?


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Old 04-20-2015, 09:05 PM   #12
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Don't know about testosterone, but progesterone is working for me.
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Old 04-21-2015, 07:50 AM   #13
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Leonidas,

Testosterone at 800 seems amazing for someone in our group here. How has the TRT worked out for you?
It's helped transform my life.

In 2011, everything was going wrong with me physically, and my mental faculties were being impacted negatively as well. I didn't get my testosterone levels checked until 2013, by which time I had been eating right, sleeping better and exercising with an emphasis on weight training for more than two years (all of which helps boost testosterone levels), and at that time my free T level was 187. God knows what it was like in 2011, but I think the low T levels I must have been experiencing then accounted for the brain fog and dissatisfaction with life I was experiencing. At least in part. The sky-high glucose levels I had no doubt contributed, but I think that there is an interaction between high blood sugar, diabetes and testosterone levels.

One thing I have learned is that there is no one answer to fixing the physical ailments caused by modern life. Kirk Parsley is a sleep guy who also talks about nutrition, exercise, and hormones because he has learned that they are all connected. I completely agree with a statement he has made in several of his talks - you have to work on everything because everything is important.

So I won't say that any one thing I have worked on is what changed my life, because every piece from nutrition to sleep to hormones are connected.

I worked on everything including diet, exercise, sleep and hormones. The result is that I feel terrific.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:12 PM   #14
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It's helped transform my life.

In 2011, everything was going wrong with me physically, and my mental faculties were being impacted negatively as well. I didn't get my testosterone levels checked until 2013, by which time I had been eating right, sleeping better and exercising with an emphasis on weight training for more than two years (all of which helps boost testosterone levels), and at that time my free T level was 187. God knows what it was like in 2011, but I think the low T levels I must have been experiencing then accounted for the brain fog and dissatisfaction with life I was experiencing. At least in part. The sky-high glucose levels I had no doubt contributed, but I think that there is an interaction between high blood sugar, diabetes and testosterone levels.

One thing I have learned is that there is no one answer to fixing the physical ailments caused by modern life. Kirk Parsley is a sleep guy who also talks about nutrition, exercise, and hormones because he has learned that they are all connected. I completely agree with a statement he has made in several of his talks - you have to work on everything because everything is important.

So I won't say that any one thing I have worked on is what changed my life, because every piece from nutrition to sleep to hormones are connected.

I worked on everything including diet, exercise, sleep and hormones. The result is that I feel terrific.
Your idea that there is a low testosterone-diabetes link is rooted in evidence. All steroids are made from cholesterol. Cholesterol is needed for proper pancreatic function. The lowering of cholesterol with statin drugs or a famous diet pill is soundly linked to an increased risk of diabetes (see Do Statin & Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects Boost Diabetes?). Low testosterone can be a sign that cholesterol is low (statins are also tied to erectile dysfunction) or that it doesn't get adequately converted to testosterone and other hormones.
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Old 04-21-2015, 06:23 PM   #15
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It's helped transform my life.
Good work! It took a lot of close attention to your situation to solve that.

Thanks for the background. Usually I sleep pretty well- not as well as years ago, but not too badly either. Most nights I wake up about 4-6 hours in, and the challenge is getting back to sleep easily.

Ha
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Old 04-21-2015, 06:26 PM   #16
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Wow Leonidas! That's quite a story! Thanks for sharing.

Ha - for years I would wake up after 4 to 6 hours and not be able to get back to sleep. I thought it was poor sleep habits, or having a book to read, or later the convenience of an iPad for reading in the middle of the night.

Started some hormone supplementation to correct an imbalance, and now if I do wake up (I often don't at all) I am able to go right back to sleep.
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Old 04-22-2015, 03:51 PM   #17
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Wow Leonidas! That's quite a story! Thanks for sharing.

Ha - for years I would wake up after 4 to 6 hours and not be able to get back to sleep. I thought it was poor sleep habits, or having a book to read, or later the convenience of an iPad for reading in the middle of the night.

Started some hormone supplementation to correct an imbalance, and now if I do wake up (I often don't at all) I am able to go right back to sleep.
That is super! It is no much nicer to live with full nights' sleep most of the time.

I did not know about these hormone connections.
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Old 04-22-2015, 04:01 PM   #18
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That is super! It is no much nicer to live with full nights' sleep most of the time.

I did not know about these hormone connections.
A poorly reported issue for Western women during the last decade before menopause is that the production of progesterone can drop drastically resulting in quite a few symptoms including poor sleep and some increase in anxiety levels.

Older women tend to be more focused on menopause, but hormonal changes can wreak havoc well before then.
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Old 04-22-2015, 06:14 PM   #19
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A poorly reported issue for Western women during the last decade before menopause is that the production of progesterone can drop drastically resulting in quite a few symptoms including poor sleep and some increase in anxiety levels.

Older women tend to be more focused on menopause, but hormonal changes can wreak havoc well before then.
Yup. Anxiety and insomnia hit me hard starting a few years before going into menopause. Only in hindsight did I realize that it was hormone related. I went to my (female) primary care physician many times to try and get help for this. I was put on Lexapro, then Zoloft and given Xanax and Ambien. I don't recall hormones ever being discussed.

I still have some Xanax that I take a small amount for insomnia periodically but I ditched everything else a long time ago. The anxiety is totally gone now, but I really struggle to get a good night sleep.
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Old 04-22-2015, 06:23 PM   #20
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It is really helpful to know that other women have experienced the anxiety/insomnia that comes with menopause. It hit me hard and freaked me out. I've never experienced anything like that before. At the same time hot flashes multiplied. I was a real wreck for several months. I'm a lot better now and credit some of the OTC things my doctor suggested: magnesium, a B-complex, fish oil, D. I did not want to go on prescription meds and am now very glad I didn't start them.
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