Fibro Woman Holding Painful ShoulderThis is an interesting question for several reasons.

ONE. Fibromyalgia (FM) is different for each person with the diagnosis. Symptoms range from fatigue and light achiness to all over, intense pain. Other symptoms include poor sleep with next day brain fog, irritable bowel and/or bladder and intolerance to drafts, multiple chemicals and damp weather.

TWO. Symptoms change. For some, FM symptoms wax and wane and are unpredictable on a daily basis. For others, symptoms may get worse over time and with aging.

THREE. Yet a third reason is whether or not there is a co-existing condition. If you already have arthritis or another auto-immune disorder, it is difficult to know whether it is the FM or the “other” condition that is causing symptoms.

Yet, even with the complexity of FM, research has shown that treatment with 5-HTP is beneficial in reducing many of FM symptoms.

How much you take makes a difference in whether you get those benefits or not.

What is 5-HTP and why take it for FM? Your body cannot make serotonin, a critical neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain) without 5-HTP Serotonin is necessary to help regulate sleep, pain and mood. Research points to a serotonin dysregulation in FM which means you either don’t have enough or your body has trouble regulating its use. That’s why one of the suggested treatments for FM is a prescription selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI). 5-HTP is a supplement that will help your body make serotonin but you need to take enough 5-HTP to do so.

You may not know you have a serotonin regulation problem because the symptoms of low serotonin are so vague. Restless, poor sleep. Fatigue in spite of a seemingly good night’s rest. Sugar, carb or alcohol cravings. Mood swings and “the blues”. Depression and/or an increase in anxiety. A nagging irritability. Bowel and bladder issues. Chronic, unrelenting pain. These symptoms could belong to any disorder but are especially well known to fibromyalgia

Can you get 5-HTP from food sources? Not enough, even from turkey and milk sources. However, 5-HTP taken as a supplement can raise serotonin levels. Improved serotonin levels mean less symptoms associated with the known dysregulation such as improved sleep, mood, appetite and decrease pain.

One way to decide how much to take is to look at the research.

For example, in one double-blind study of 50 FM patients who experienced significant symptom improvement, the dose given was 100 mg three times a day. Relief was noted in the decrease of painful areas, improved sleep, less fatigue, morning stiffness and anxiety.

Of note, although symptoms improved in 30 days, even greater improvement was noted after 90 consecutive days.

You may be wondering if 5-HTP will work for you. Given that people with FM may have multiple sensitives, proceed slowly! Start with an initial dose of 100 mg and increase to the research dose of 300 mg/day in a divided dose. Keep in mind that if you are low, you may need a bit more to help replenish levels, such as 500 to 1000 mg a day. Fibromyalgia is different for each person and you need to start at a dose specific to your needs. Even if you find yourself closer to the 500 mg dose, once your symptoms start waning, you’ll know your levels are recovering and can then start lowering the dose to a maintenance amount for you.

Be aware that 5-HTP has a very short half-life, meaning it does not stay in your system long. TyH has a sustained release (SR) form that extends the time 5-HTP is in your system to offer better symptom relief. Thus, taking David’s 5-HTP SR in the divided dose (100 mg three times a day) will benefit you nicely by keeping levels more “steady-state”.

Caution: If you are already on a prescription medication that affects serotonin, do not take 5-HTP without consulting your doctor first. Although some people successfully switch from a drug to a supplement, they do so with their doctor’s help and approval.

David’s 5-HTP SR is not the only supplement we offer based on successful research for fibromyalgia -- and SEID (ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) -- by the way. Check out Get with the Program™ and learn more ways to help with these two syndromes.

©TyH Publications (M. Squires). For informational purposes only.