Sunday, August 28, 2005


Fat and Grumpy is a Bad Combo

Years back, a doctor tried to prescribe Prozac for my wife's weight issues. She was so incensed that she dumped the doctor. Granted, Prozac is a lousy drug unless you want to feel good about taking to the bell tower and mowing down the citizenry with a semi-automatic rifle. Nevertheless, the doctor may have been onto something with the wrong drug for the wrong reason.
Problems and solutions travel in constellations. It's why a disease has several symptoms. It's why a cure has the desired effect plus side-effects. Several factors combine to make up saiety:
If any of these misfire, you may overeat. Some of these are geared together. If you eat calorie intesive food, you won't be full. If leptin reception is poor, you may also have poor serotonin reception. If you are depressed or OCD, overeating will throw off your leptin levels. If you're overweight, that could get you down. What if you eat when you're depressed?
There may be a therapy that can attack this issue on a few fronts at once: 5-HTP. 5-HTP or 5-hydroxy tryptophan is a supplement that is made from Griffonia seeds, a cactus from South Africa.
Often used as an antidepressant, evidence from small double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials suggests that 5-HTP may also help people lose weight. It is thought to work by raising levels of serotonin may influence eating behavior. L-Tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP before becoming serotonin; taking 5-HTP bypasses this first step of the process. What's more wild: there is evidence that 5-HTP boosts leptin levels. As I wrote in an earlier piece, leptin is a big deal.
So, I am starting a one month trial of 5-HTP. I am going to take 50mg of 5-HTP three times a day for 30 days. If the research is on target, leptin should help me feel full. More than that, leptin stimulates metabolization. If it works, what I eat will give me more energy. Less food plus more energy is a good combo for weight loss.

Hi Mike - just curious to know how your 1 month trial went with 5-HTP. I'm struggling to loose weight and have been reading out leptin therapy, and came across your blog.
Hi Jennifer,
5-HTP has some interesting effects. On the good side: It did help with my diet, making it easier to keep weight off. I found I was able to run on less sleep. While on 5-HTP I didn't get colds (go figure).
On the bad side: you get to a saturation point. After a few months, I felt sick from them (headache, irritable). I stopped taking them for a while; those side effects stopped and I picked up a cold.
Overall for weight loss, 5-HTP was a step in the right direction. I look forward to something that has a more direct effect on leptin. I am still looking forward to the "silver bullet" combination of diet, exercise, vitamin/supplement therapy. I'm still trying to dial it in.
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