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5htp menopause supplements menopace menopause mood swings menopause and sleep

5-HTP for menopause: hope or hype?

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Menopause is a natural phase in the life of women. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years. Women undergo new life-changing symptoms they need to adapt to. Around 80% of women experience hot flushes and night sweats during menopause[1]. Mood swings are reported by 50% of women and 40% of them have disturbed sleep[2,3]. While there are currently limited treatments for menopausal hot flushes, there’s a need for a natural supplement that could safely and effectively improve the symptoms.  

Is serotonin low in menopause?

In short, yes - low serotonin and menopause are a thing. Your feel-good chemical serotonin regulates mood. At night, it’s converted to melatonin, the sleep chemical that promotes restful sleep[4]. Low serotonin levels are associated with low mood and dysregulated temperature of the body. Your brain has a built-in thermostat. It is a fine-tuned system to maintain optimal body temperature by boosting sweating if the temperature rises or inducing chills if the temperature drops. Oestrogen and serotonin are two brain chemicals involved in maintaining the thermostat. During menopause, the levels of oestrogen decrease. This leads to a decrease in serotonin and disruption of the thermostat balance, causing hot flushes[5,6]. 

What can I take for mood swings during menopause?

Serotonin must be produced in the brain for temperature, mood, and sleep benefits. Its building block, tryptophan found in protein-rich foods, enters the brain and is converted to serotonin. In certain countries like the USA, medications that increase serotonin availability in the brain are used to treat hot flushes. A few studies found that these medications decreased hot flushes by 60%[7]. But they can cause serious side effects and in certain cases, increase night sweats[8]. Serotonin also promotes positive mood and lowers stress. Low serotonin levels are associated with low mood and depression[9]. Serotonin plays a part in sleep regulation. At night, serotonin is converted to melatonin, the sleep chemical that promotes restful sleep - low levels of serotonin impact melatonin production[4]. Read more about serotonin and sleep. Let’s take a look at how you can boost your serotonin levels with natural supplements for menopause.

What is the best mood enhancer for menopause?

5-htp is a supplement that is directly converted to serotonin, your feel-good chemical. 5-htp has been studied for its role in mood and depression. A review of 13 studies of 5-htp supplementation in depressed individuals found that even doses as low as 50 mg per day had a beneficial effect in lowering depression scores and improving mood[4]. Another study comparing 5-htp with an antidepressant found equal benefits in managing depression in 2 weeks[10]. 5-htp has also been shown to improve troubled sleep. Participants with sleep disorders provided 50 mg of 5-htp reported improved sleep quality and lessened episodes of disturbed sleep[11]. Those supplemented with 100 mg of 5-htp fell asleep faster[12]. Therefore, 5-htp could be the best natural treatment for menopause.

Is 5-htp good for menopause?

5-htp is a safe supplement and long-term side effects are unreported. Positive results were seen among other population groups supplemented with 5-htp. Menopause symptoms like hot flushes, mood and sleep issues and their resolution warrant further research because the theory of 5-htp action is logical and promising.

Does 5-htp help with hot flashes?

5-htp could help your inner thermostat. Based on serotonin’s involvement in temperature regulation and its oestrogen-led decline in menopause, 5-htp supplements for hot flashes seem like a viable solution despite limited evidence. In a small study on 24 women with hot flushes, they were supplemented with 150 mg of 5-htp. They found a lack of significant benefits[9]. Though this group reported a decrease in the number of hot flushes episodes, the small study size meant the evidence is weak and needs further research. 

What are the most popular menopause supplements?

Look for high-quality and high-dose 5-htp supplements for menopause. Many menopause supplements on the market contain a low dose of 5-htp. For example, Vitabiotics’ Menopace ingredients contain 20 mg of 5-htp per tablet. Research has found beneficial effects at doses of 50 to 300 mg per day[13]. brain feed’s 100 mg 5-htp is extracted and isolated from Ghanian Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds. 98% of the tablet is comprised of 5-htp making it the smallest, nutrient-dense tablet available and no unnecessary bulking agents.


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So, what do studies say on does 5-htp help menopause? A few studies have shown favourable results about the benefits of 5-htp for some menopause symptoms. To explore this further, a group of 10 menopausal women (9 women completed the study) volunteered to partake in a pre-clinical study conducted by brain feed to explore the effects of 5-htp on menopause symptoms. This study was designed to assess short-term (5 days) and long-term (30 days) intake. These participants took one 100mg tablet with food every morning. After 5 days and 30 days of intake, they filled out a 12-item validated questionnaire reporting their symptoms and mindset. The questionnaire was designed for participants to scale their responses from -5 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (Strongly agree) with 0 being Neither agree nor disagree.

Despite the small study size, the results were overall positive. Statistically significant results (those unlikely to occur by chance), were observed for a decrease in feeling tension and improvement in sleep quality and libido.

 

Participants reported being almost 10% less tense in a month of 5-HTP intake.
There was an almost 40% increase in sleep quality over a month, with improvement in all sleep aspects. This follows the results from previous studies.
There was an almost 30% improvement in libido over 30 days of 5-HTP intake.

 

Despite positive results, this study is insufficient to establish 5-HTP as a proven solution for menopause symptoms. Below are the results of this pre-clinical study. The results are a stepping stone towards bigger, higher-quality research.

9 participants completed 30 days of supplementation of 5-HTP. The collective results of all participants’ responses to the statements in the questionnaire are as follows:

 

  1. I am “calm, cool and collected”: There was a 3% increase over 5 days and a consequent 9% increase in feeling calm, cool and collected over 30 days.
  2. I am less irritated by things than I ever was: There was a 16% decrease in feeling irritated over the short term with a 20% decrease in feeling irritated.
  3. I am less tense: There was a massive 20% decrease in feeling tense over the short-term of 5 days, which averaged on 9% decrease over the month.
  4. I take a positive attitude towards myself: There was a stable 11% increase in self-directed positive attitude over short and long-term periods.
  5. I have felt particularly excited or interested in something in the past few weeks: There was an initial 12% increase in feeling particularly excited over the short term which stabilized to a 3% increase long term.
  6. In general, I consider myself a very happy person: There was an initial decline of 3% over the short term, which could be due to varied reasons, but an overall 7% increase in considering themselves a very happy person over 30 days
  7. I can sleep better than usual: There was a major 33% increase in 5 days of taking 5-htp, which further bumped up to a 38% increase in sleep quality over the month.
  8. I have no trouble falling asleep on most nights: There was a 12% increase in trouble falling asleep short term. This changed to an overall 1% improvement in falling asleep easily over 30 days
  9. I have uninterrupted sleep: There was a 15% increase in having uninterrupted sleep disruption over 5 days and this increased further to 19% in a month.
  10. I have noticed a decrease in the number of hot flushes: There was a 7% decrease over the short term period with a stable 8% decrease in the number of hot flushes over 30 days
  11. I have noticed a decrease in the severity of hot flushes: There was a small 2% decrease in the severity over 5 days and a major 16% decrease in the severity of hot flushes over 30 days
  12. I have noticed a positive change in my libido: There was a positive 34% increase in libido over 5 days and a 27% improvement in the group’s libido over 30 days

 

This study is the first step towards producing a strong evidence base to possibly recommend 5-htp for menopause symptoms. It shows promising results to become one of the supplements for hot flashes. There are many areas of improvement that can be implemented for a robust study. brain feed strives for the best possible evidence to promote nutrient benefits. The recommendations for future research include:

  • Bigger sample size for more reliable results. Involving a large sample in the study can help produce substantial results that can be applicable to the population.
  • Using the gold standard research design of a randomized placebo-control trial, where 2 randomly allocated groups are provided either 5-HTP or a placebo (a replica capsule without 5-HTP) to assess the benefit on symptoms.
  • Use of objective assessment methods along with validated questionnaires. The use of wearable devices to measure heart rate and temperature for 24 hours can help assess the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Conducting the study in a sleep lab can provide stronger evidence for sleep quality and hot flashes at night.
  • Assessment of dietary intake and physical activity levels of participants for a deeper analysis of all variables involved.



5-htp could become a natural way to manage menopause symptoms. For now, it remains the best building block of your feel-good chemical serotonin.

 

References

[1] Menopause: diagnosis and management (2019). National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng23

[2] A fact-based focus on Perimenopause and Menopause issues faced by women (2021). Health and Her. https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/39340/pdf/

[3] Augoulea, A., Moros, M., Lykeridou, A., Kaparos, G., Lyberi, R., & Panoulis, K. (2019). Psychosomatic and vasomotor symptom changes during transition to menopause. Menopause Review/Przegląd Menopauzalny, 18(2), 110–115. https://doi.org/10.5114/pm.2019.86835

[4] Poza, J. J., Pujol, M., Ortega-Albás, J. J., & Romero, O. (2022). Melatonin in sleep disorders. Neurología (English Edition), 37(7), 575–585. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nrleng.2018.08.004

[5] Wiśniewska, I., Jochymek, B., Lenart-Lipińska, M., & Chabowski, M. (2016). The pharmacological and hormonal therapy of hot flushes in breast cancer survivors. Breast Cancer, 23(2), 178–182. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12282-015-0655-2

[6] Rybaczyk, L. A., Bashaw, M. J., Pathak, D. R., Moody, S. M., Gilders, R. M., & Holzschu, D. L. (2005). An overlooked connection: serotonergic mediation of estrogen-related physiology and pathology. BMC Women’s Health, 5(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6874-5-12

[7] Freedman, R. R. (2014). Menopausal hot flashes: Mechanisms, endocrinology, treatment. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 142, 115–120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2013.08.010

[8] Mold, J. W., & Holtzclaw, B. J. (2015). Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Night Sweats in a Primary Care Population. Drugs - Real World Outcomes, 2(1), 29–33. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40801-015-0007-8

[9] Freedman, R. R. (2010). Treatment of Menopausal Hot Flashes with 5-Hydroxytryptophan. Maturitas, 65(4), 383–385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.11.025

[10] Jangid, P., Malik, P., Singh, P., Sharma, M., & Gulia, A. kumar D. (2013). Comparative study of efficacy of l-5-hydroxytryptophan and fluoxetine in patients presenting with first depressive episode. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 6(1), 29–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajp.2012.05.011

[11] Meloni, M., Figorilli, M., Carta, M., Tamburrino, L., Cannas, A., Sanna, F., Defazio, G., & Puligheddu, M. (2022). Preliminary finding of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of 5-hydroxytryptophan on REM sleep behavior disorder in Parkinson’s disease. Sleep and Breathing, 26(3), 1023–1031. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-021-02417-w

[12] Sutanto, C., Heng, C. W., Gan, A. X., Wang, X., Fam, J., & Kim, J. E. (2021). The Impact of 5-Hydroxytryptophan Supplementation on Sleep Quality of Older Adults in Singapore: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Current Developments in Nutrition, 5, 372. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzab037_082

[13] Javelle, F., Lampit, A., Bloch, W., Häussermann, P., Johnson, S. L., & Zimmer, P. (2020). Effects of 5-hydroxytryptophan on distinct types of depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 78(1), 77–88. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuz039

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