Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for January 02, 2007


Well I’ve had some time to do the research and what I’ve found is somewhat disturbing.

Too much serotonin damages blood vessels, particularly in the lungs, and may also harm heart valves. Such damage may have led to primary pulmonary hypertension and heart valve lesions in a small number of the millions of Americans who took the anti-obesity drug combination from 1992 until 1997, when one of the drugs, fenfluramine, was voluntarily withdrawn by its manufacturer. The other drug, phentermine, is still used to treat obesity. Because the two drugs were never in one pill, their use in combination didn’t require U.S Food and Drug Administration approval.

I can’t find anything that directly says that 5-HTP will effect the valves of the heart but in my case, I know it was the same pain I get with my mitral valve so I’m not taking the chance. The articles all seem to mention that raising serotonin levels could harm the heart valves and that’s exactly what 5-HTP does. It could be partly my fault because I should’ve started at a lower dosage. Not the way I want to start the new year…

Serotonin is absolutely essential for your brain–and thus your body–to function properly. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that carries vital signals from one cell to the next. Without adequate levels of serotonin, those signals cannot move at the proper speed or intensity. What’s more, serotonin acts as a kind of master control chemical. The activities of many other important brain compounds–including those that govern your muscle movements, your state of alertness, your mental activity, even your ability to fall asleep–depend on serotonin.

But poor diet, lack of exercise, use of harmful substances such as caffeine or alcohol, and overall physical and emotional stress can rob your brain of the ability to make enough serotonin to meet your body’s demands. This produces a range of significant complications: depression, obesity, insomnia, migraine headache, chronic fatigue. Increasingly, scientists, doctors, and other health experts around the world are coming to recognize that this group of complaints all arise from problems with basic brain chemistry. The disorder has a name: serotonin deficiency syndrome.

And here’s the exciting news. All of these maladies can be corrected through the same technique: by raising serotonin levels.

Serotonin was first discovered about fifty years ago. Since then an enormous amount of research has been done to unlock the secrets of this multitalented molecule. In the past few decades, findings in the laboratory have led to the development of many potent serotonin-active compounds. Among these are Prozac, the popular antidepressant, which enhances the mood-regulating activity of serotonin; Imitrex, a treatment for migraine headaches, which works by activating serotonin nerve pathways to constrict blood vessels; and Redux, the appetite suppressant that was recently removed from the market, which controls eating by delivering a dose of serotonin to the appetite control centers in the brain. Other serotonin-altering drugs relieve anxiety, enhance sleep, and ease muscular and skeletal pain.

But these medical miracles come with a pretty high price tag. The side effects of synthetic serotonin drugs can be severe. To take just one example: In September 1997 Redux and its chemical cousin fenfluramine, part of the “fen-phen” combination, were yanked off the market. The reason? Doctors suddenly discovered these drugs had caused permanent damage to heart valves in as many as one third of the people who took them.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to overcome serotonin deficiency. But because of the way the body makes neurotransmitters, you can’t simply take a dose of serotonin as a pill or a tonic. What you can do, though, is provide your body with the raw material it needs to produce its own serotonin.

That raw material is called 5-hydroxytryptophan–5-HTP for short.

5-HTP is not a synthetic drug. It is a compound produced by the body from tryptophan, an amino acid found in many foods. It can be very difficult to consume enough tryptophan in the diet to overcome serotonin deficiency. However, 5-HTP can also be extracted from plants. This form of 5-HTP is now widely available–without a prescription–as a nutritional supplement. As you will learn in this book, 5-HTP promises to revolutionize the treatment of serotonin-related emotional and physical conditions.

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January 2, 2007 - Posted by | Health | , , , ,

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