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Can a herbal supplement really prevent depression and panic attacks?

WHAT DO depression, panic disorders, insomnia, anxiety, migraines, obsessive/compulsive behaviour and stress have in common? The sufferers all have low levels of a chemical called serotonin.

Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, this means it is a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain, where it performs its primary functions, some 90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets.

How do your serotonin levels affect depression?

There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in your serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. The causes include low production of serotonin in your brain, a lack of the receptor sites which receive your serotonin, inability of your serotonin to reach the receptor sites, or a shortage in an amino acid called tryptophan (which serotonin is made from). If you have one or more of these problems, researchers believe it can lead to depression, as well as obsessive- compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and even excess anger.

It is widely believed that depression is linked to the regeneration of brain cells – a process which is controlled by serotonin. According to Princeton neuroscientist Barry Jacobs, PhD, depression may occur when there is a suppression of new brain cells and that stress is the most important precipitator of depression.

New research has uncovered a natural serotonin booster
Griffonia Simplicifolia is a West African shrub whose seeds contains a large amount of an amino acid known as 5-HTP. This amino acid has been shown to have a powerful effect on increasing the production of serotonin in your brain.

Researchers have clinically investigated the effect of 5-HTP in comparison to antidepressant drugs. The results of the studies were astounding. Using the standard depression scale, both the drug and 5-HTP groups displayed identical reduction in depression. Depressed patients who received 5-HTP, three times daily, showed at least a 50% improvement in their symptoms, without any reported side effects. Similar studies with depressed children demonstrated equal benefit

Clinically proven effectiveness

Subsequent studies were performed using 5-HTP for anxiety, panic disorder, sleep difficulties and obesity. In his research R.S. Kahn observed an obvious decline in anxiety symptoms when supplementing with 5-HTP, and patients with panic disorder noticed a feeling of relief after receiving 5-HTP. Melatonin, which helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, is related to serotonin. Early research studies show that supplementing with 5-HTP may also have a positive effects on sleep patterns.