The effects of mixing this supplement with alcohol are not well studied or understood by scientists, making it difficult to tell what effects may occur. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a chemical that the body makes from tryptophan . After tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP, the chemical is changed into another chemical called serotonin . Since serotonin helps regulate mood and behavior, 5-HTP may have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain sensation.
- For some people, mild side effects may include loss of appetite, cramping, diarrhea, gas, and heartburn.
- One neurotransmitter used by many neurons throughout the brain is serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT).
- Acetaldehyde is a toxic intermediate and plays a large role in the damaging effects by alcohol.
As you can see from the excerpt above, hypodopaminergic refers to low dopamine and hypoopioidergic refers to low endorphins. During withdrawal from ethanol/alcohol, both low dopamine and low endorphins cause withdrawal symptoms. You should speak to your doctor about the benefits and risks of 5-HTP before taking the supplement.
Effects of Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
It is caused by over-excitation of the central nervous system due to the absence of its usual and expected depressant effect from alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption initially triggers increased serotonin secretion in the brain. As the blood alcohol concentration increases, it begins to act as a depressant in the central nervous system shifting to a sharp fall in serotonin release and an increase in GABA activity. 5-HTP supplementation has been found to be an effective way of increasing serotonin levels. It can also be used to treat fibromyalgia, obesity, insomnia and anxiety disorders. Most 5-HTP supplements are sourced from the African plant, Griffonia simplicifolia.
Most people that take serotonin supplements are looking to boost their mood. To get the best results, it’s wise to choose a supplement that contains other mood boosting substances like mucuna pruriens, ashwagandha and curcumin. Internet forums are full of horror stories of people vomiting, blacking out or having seizures after drinking while on 5-HTP. It’s impossible to know if the stories are reliable, but there is little other evidence of known interactions between 5-HTP and alcohol.
Andrew Solomon, in his excellent book The Noonday Demon, describes it as ‚grief disproportionate to circumstance‘. Researchers currently cannot directly measure serotonin concentrations in the human brain or within the synapses in laboratory animals. To gain information about serotonin levels in the brain, physicians and researchers have measured the concentrations of serotonin breakdown products generated after the neurotransmitter has been removed from the synapse (i.e., serotonin metabolites). Serotonin receptors contribute to the release of inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters including GABA and dopamine which are also affected by alcohol.
This increase may reflect enhanced signal transmission at serotonergic synapses. For example, increased serotonin release after acute alcohol exposure has been observed in brain regions that control the consumption or use of numerous substances, including many drugs of abuse (McBride et al. 1993). Researchers currently are trying to determine the exact mechanisms underlying the alcohol-induced changes. For example, they are investigating whether the net increase in synaptic serotonin levels results from alcohol’s direct actions on molecules involved in serotonin release and uptake or from more indirect alcohol effects. Serotonin is an important brain chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter to communicate information among nerve cells.
Research also shows that taking 5-HTP along with conventional prescription drugs does improve development, social skills, or language skills. Effects of serotonin uptake blockers and of 5-hydroxytryptophan on the voluntary consumption of ethanol, water and solid food by UChA and UChB rats. Even then, 5 HTP should not be used solely in the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
For example, alcohol modulates the serotonin levels in the synapses and modifies the activities of specific serotonin receptor proteins. Moreover, SSRI’s and receptor antagonists can reduce alcohol consumption in humans and animals, although these agents are only moderately effective in treating alcohol abuse. When the concentrations of different neurotransmitters were determined in various brain regions of these animals, the levels of serotonin and its metabolites were lower in P rat brains than in NP rat brains.
Alcohol and 5-HTP Side Effects
Serotonin released by the signal-emitting neuron subtly alters the function of the signal-receiving neurons in a process called neuromodulation. All of these side effects of alcohol consumption are signs of low serotonin levels in the brain. Therefore, experts believe that increasing serotonin activity in the brain can improve the side effects of alcohol. Because alcohol reduces the level of serotonin, chronic alcohol intake, or alcoholism may also cause other problems related to chronic low levels of serotonin.
There may be undiscovered interactions or possible complications that have not yet been uncovered, and without evidence to prove that it is safe, no one should mix these two substances. 5-HTP is not recommended for people with Down syndrome, as it has been linked to seizures. Also, do not take 5-HTP less than two weeks before surgery as it may interfere with some drugs commonly used during surgical procedures. A few small studies have investigated whether 5-HTP can help people lose weight. In one study, those who took 5-HTP ate fewer calories, although they were not trying to diet, compared to those who took placebo.
According to one study, taking a 5-HTP supplement of 50 to 300 milligrams every day might improve symptoms of depression, binge eating, chronic headaches, and insomnia. CBT is a finite treatment, usually consisting of six to eight sessions, but the diet and lifestyle changes are ongoing, if I want to remain above the surface. It is not easy to accept that, for me, depression is not merely a response to a particular event, but part of me, something that will have to be controlled rather than cured, and that I can never be certain it wouldn’t return. Everyone who has experienced depression has his or her own description or image (Plath called it ‚the bell jar‘; Churchill the ‚black dog‘); to me it has always felt as if someone is holding me underwater and I can’t fight my way back to the surface. On this morning, I wake feeling that I have broken through to light and air, and it is so marked a difference that it makes me laugh aloud. My son starts laughing too, and for the first time in months I am aware of the extraordinary sound of a child’s laughter.
In approximately 25% of the rats tested, 5HTP resulted in a prolonged rejection of ethanol so severe that it resulted in death. Selected rats offered water during this ethanol rejection period readily drank it and survived. 1Throughout this article, the term “alcohol abuse” is used to describe any type of alcohol consumption that causes social, psychological, or physical problems for the drinker.
Drowsiness, Central Nervous System (CNS) Depression
While most people will not experience side effects when taking 5-HTP, side effects can occur. For some people, mild side effects may include loss of appetite, cramping, diarrhea, gas, and heartburn. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not take 5-HTP supplements, as it has been deemed Possibly Unsafe in these cases.
With regards to 5-HTP, they used 5 mg 5-HTP which is considered extremely low. Serotonin support with 5-HTP is very beneficial for the worry-type of ruminating anxiety. Learn about the potentially dangerous effects of mixing alcohol and 5-HTP.
In humans, the 5-HT3 the last house sober living and recovery community antagonist ondansetron reduced total alcohol consumption and the desire to drink in alcoholics; as with the SSRI’s, however, this effect was relatively modest (Johnson et al. 1993; Pettinati 1996; Sellers et al. 1994). Since most of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be alleviated by increasing serotonin levels in the central nervous system, dietary supplements such as 5 HTP can safely be used as an adjunct therapy in the management of alcoholism. People who drink alcohol heavily have increased rates of liver damage, liver disease and other diseases and disorders. Liver damage is one of the risks of mixing alcohol with other substances that can cause harmful reactions, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and supplements. You should not drink alcohol while taking 5-HTP or any other herbal supplement.
More than another system, alcohol binds to GABA receptors and acts just like drugs like barbiturates and benzodiazepines which also work at those receptors. Well designed trials evaluating interactions between dietary supplements and alcohol use are often lacking, even though herbal products, vitamins and dietary supplements are widely used by the public. So, in many cases, you’ll need to check with your doctor and pharmacist and use a dose of good sense too. Some people may also experience more euphoria, depression, irritability or all three. A combination of alcohol and 5-HTP leads to significantly more lethargy which can easily tip over into coma, respiratory depression seizures and death. Be cautious about continuing on with your daily life as a functioning alcoholic as it can disguise some of the more serious health impacts.
If your goal is to boost your serotonin, you should take a supplement that contains all 3 ingredients that you body needs to make it. 5-HTP (5- hydroxytryptophan) is an herbal supplement that is available for purchase over the counter at several grocery and retail stores. Like other herbal supplements, it doesn’t require Food and Drug Administration approval before being sold to consumers. Our community offers unique perspectives on lifelong recovery and substance use prevention, empowering others through stories of strength and courage. From people in active recovery to advocates who have lost loved ones to the devastating disease of addiction, our community understands the struggle and provides guidance born of personal experience.
Mixing Alcohol and 5-HTP Affects Serotonin Levels
Ethanol consumption of free feeding animals during restricted ethanol access. In small doses, alcohol causes euphoria and relaxation which is also expressed as talkativeness. It does not endorse any particular treatment provider and does not guarantee the quality of treatment services of featured providers.