My very positive experience is the primary reason I started this blog, originally titled "5-HTP, Parkinson's and Me." I was convinced I'd discovered an over-the-counter supplement that would greatly enhance the quality of life for many PD patients dealing with these side effects.
I also touted 5-HTP to my Parkinson's support group, friends and family. Several tried it, and I soon learned that no one in my circle -- or on the internet, for that matter -- shared my positive results. I did find reports that carbidopa (which is mixed with the dopamine-enhancer levodopa so that it can better cross the blood-brain barrier) has the same effect when mixed with 5-HTP. Carbidopa also helps the serotonin get past the blood-brain barrier. See http://bit.ly/11jmCyC.
This information supported my theory. 5-HTP boosts serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep and appetite. Levodopa boosts dopamine, which Parkinson's destroys. Carbidopa is combined with Levodopa, the key Parkinson's med, to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Since carbidopa plays the same enhancing role with 5-HTP, the 5-HTP should promote better sleep and mood for those with Parkinson's who are taking carbidopa-levodopa.
My experience substantiated the theory. But since I didn't hear of others sharing the experience, I didn't tout it as a "magic pill" for Parkinson's.
Several recent developments have renewed my interest in the interconnection between serotonin, dopamine, and Parkinson's. I decided to write the following letter to my neurologist:
Letter to Dr. Bahroo
Dear Dr. Bahroo:
- My blood pressure readings have stabilized with virtually all of the systolic readings in the 130's or 140's, which is optimum for someone my age.
- My mood and energy level are much improved.
- My sleep, which had averaged about 7 hours a night, now is averaging closer to 8 hours and the vivid dreams that I'd experienced 3 years ago when I first was taking levadopa with 5-HTP have returned, indicating a deeper sleep.
- Constipation which had been a minor problem remedied by bedtime Metamucil and prunes no longer is a problem.
- I've lost 3 or 4 pounds in weight.
- And I'm experiencing an even greater flood of early a.m. creative ideas and problem solving. (The idea for this letter came to me immediately on waking a few days ago.)