The 5-HTP sip tryp: a timely word to the wise
Priyoneel Basu, Muniyandi Singaravel
Chronobiology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India
Recently, an editorial in Nature Neuroscience pointed out the need for exercising caution in the use of over-the-counter drinks purporting to promote relaxation and containing, among other substances with chronobiotic activity, L-5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).1 This reality-check certainly raises an issue worth the attention of scientists who deal with, and laymen who dabble in, biological rhythms. Proprietary and patented formulations often project an image of safety, which is augmented by their over-the-counter availability as attractively packaged nutritional supplements. The allure of these bottled shots of bliss may seem undeniable to the general public. An online search of the words "5-HTP relaxation drink" returns > 7 million websites. Websites promoting these drinks do carry limited warnings or disclaimers (in fine print). The actual concentration of constituents is sometimes not provided in the online information leaflets. Certain websites provide a Natural Standard Editorial Board blinded review,2,3 which summarizes known scientific literature (exhaustively) and mentions likely safe doses. In view of the rising popularity and wide availability of 5-HTP containing drinks, we feel that scientists and the general public alike would profit from an additional nugget of information regarding a previously unforeseen effect of 5-HTP consumption at an inappropriate time, as brought to light by recent literature in the area.
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