5-HTP is the precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It is obtained commercially from the seeds of the plant Griffonia simplicifolia . 5-HTP has been suggested as a treatment for many conditions. There is some research to support the use of 5-HTP in treating cerebellar ataxia, headache, depression, psychiatric disorders, fibromyalgia, and as an appetite suppressant or weight-loss agent. There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of 5-HTP for any other medical condition. 5-HTP may cause gastrointestinal disturbances, mood disturbances, seizure, or abnormal blood counts. Some reported side effects might result from contaminants in 5-HTP products.
SAMe was first discovered in 1953 by a researcher named Cantoni. It is formed in the body from methionine and adenosine triphosphate in a reaction catalyzed by methionine adenosyltransferase. SAMe functions as a primary methyl group donor in a variety of reactions in the body. After donating a methyl group, SAMe is converted to S-adenosyl-homocysteine. SAMe is used for psychiatric illnesses, infertility, liver concerns, premenstrual disorders and musculoskeletal disorders, among others. SAMe has been studied extensively in the treatment of osteoarthritis and depression. Many trials provide evidence that SAMe reduces the pain associated with osteoarthritis and is well tolerated in this patient population. Some evidence is available for the use of SAMe for intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy although additional study is needed in this area. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) activity has also been attributed to SAMe. Future well-designed clinical trials are required in the areas of depression, fibromyalgia and liver cholestasis before a strong recommendation can be made in these areas.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an endogenous hormone (made in the human body) secreted by the adrenal gland. DHEA serves as precursor to male and female sex hormones (androgens and estrogens). DHEA levels in the body begin to decrease after age 30, and are reported to be low in some people with anorexia, end-stage kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes), AIDS, adrenal insufficiency, and in the critically ill. DHEA levels may also be depleted by a number of drugs, including insulin, corticosteroids, opiates, and danazol. There is sufficient evidence supporting the use of DHEA in the treatment of adrenal insufficiency, depression, induction of labor, and systemic lupus erythematosus. There is a lack of available studies on the long-term effects of DHEA. However, DHEA may cause higher than normal levels of androgens and estrogens in the body, and theoretically may increase the risk of prostate, breast, ovarian, and other hormone-sensitive cancers. Therefore, it is not recommended for regular use without supervision by a licensed healthcare professional.