With Cathy Schram

Kids’ Colds & Coughs

What is 5-HTP?

Q: Now that my kids have gone back to school, they keep coming home with either a runny nose, cough or a cold. What can I do to help prevent them from getting sick?
A: You are not the only parent going through this dilemma. The kids just seem to keep sharing their germs. The key to staying well is to keep the immune system strong so that it can fight off anything that starts attacking it. There are many things you can do to help keep your immune system strong. Besides the obvious; a healthy diet and plenty of rest, there are a number of supplements you can take. Acidophilus is always a good choice because it replenishes the “friendly” or “good” bacteria. Vitamin C is important, especially during the cold and flu season. Elderberry has been widely used for prevention of colds. It provides nutrients which strengthen and maintain immunity and healthy respiratory function. It also helps to prevent ear and throat problems. This herb is safe to take on a daily basis and comes in a chewable or liquid form for small children. It is also very pleasant tasting.

Q: Is 5-HTP an antidepressant or a weight loss aid? I’m confused as to what it is used for.
A: Actually, it is both. 5-HTP or Hydroxytryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, mood and sleep. If someone has low serotonin levels 5-HTP can help increase the levels. It is especially helpful for people with O blood types because it raises dopamine levels. People with type O blood are typically low in dopamine when they are feeling depressed.
As far as the weight loss aspect of 5-HTP it helps to reduce carbohydrate cravings. Again, because of low serotonin levels, you sometimes crave carbohydrates. Combined with another weight loss supplement, such as green tea, or another fat metabolizer, this could really help to achieve some weight loss.
5-HTP is also used as a sleep aid. When a room is dark, 5-HTP is converted to serotonin and the pineal gland converts the serotonin to melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep.
You should not use 5-HTP if you are ADHD since high dopamine levels are associated with hyperactivity. Consult your health care professional if you are taking any other medications before using this supplement.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011.