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Thursday, March 24, 2011


Dear Heppy
for a while now i've been looking into natural, and over the counter means of battling HCV related depression and mood swings, without having to join an ever-growing number of antidepressant users.
my problem with ADs is, they suck all the available serotonin from within the body and pump it into the brain. in the long term it's like running a battery completely flat, without providing any refill on the way, and after it's sucked dry - then what?
nope - i don't like that, it doesn't appeal to me, there has to be another way.
so i ventured forth on a quest and here's the result.
i found that serotonin is metabolised from 5-HTP (L-5-Hydroxytryptophan) - i got excited, it seemed like i had found the solution fairly quickly, but with more in depth reading, obstacles have started to mount.
in itself 5-HTP crosses the blood-brain barrier very easily, but when administered orally as a supplement, it is readily converted into serotonin while still in the blood stream, and serotonin molecule is too big to get to the brain where it's required. especially, if someone like me, infected with you, Dear Heppy, is taking vit B6, which facilitates that conversion.
dang! so now what?
well there is a way of stopping 5-HTP from converting into serotonin, before it reaches the brain, with a drug called carbidopa - awesome? erhm not as much as it seems again, for carbidopa carries its own set of possible side effects, and in overall there is no consensus, whether it's better to take 5-HTP with or without it.
uuugh i'm getting confused and frustrated!
this neat fact sheet could ease my mind, but it's based on research and studies dating back from '90s and its authors seem too eager with promoting 5-HTP without single mention of any drawbacks - hmmm.
still, i wasn't giving up that easily.
i took another step back in the chemical process and dug fiercely into L-tryptophan, immediate precursor to 5-HTP.
future looked bright again, as i read more about benefits of this fantastic essential amino acid. not only it is good for depression, but also for insomnia, food cravings and aging - yes, tryptophan stimulates production of HGH (human growth hormone) - too good to be true?
tryptophan requires vit B3 to metabolise into 5-HTP, it has to compete with other amino acids for a lift to the brain (that's why it should be taken away from food and with quick releasing carbohydrates ie fruit juice), plus a significant amount is catabolised into other various by-products including kynurenine and quinolinic acid which are neurotoxic, so it's not exclusively converted into 5-HTP only - whatta bummer.
nevertheless research supports that either, L-tryptophan or 5-HTP, are better solution to depression, rather than conventional ADs.
even more so, in case of HCV infection and especially tx, it's been proven that plasma level of tryptophan drops dramatically in presence of INF-α during the treatment resulting in irritability, mood swings and depression.
this small study presents that supplementing with tryptophan during tx for HCV can alleviate severity of depression. and it has been later followed up by discussion in favour of 5-HTP.
despite certain drawbacks to use of either L-tryptophan or 5-HTP, there is no question, as to how hugely beneficial they can be, for anyone who suffers from HCV related depression or even more so, when undergoing grueling tx for hepC.
in the end, my dilemma only boils down to the choice - which one should i pick to treat myself with?
i think, i shall experiment with tryptophan first, and if it doesn't take me on a trip-to-fun, then i would switch to 5-HTP.
it's just ironic, that in ireland, being a country with high prevalence of depression and suicide rate, both are forbidden and unavailable.
thank god for the internet and online shopping!
but please Dear Heppy shhhh! don't tell anyone ok?


Fiona said...

Have you researched St John's Wort or does it contraindicate with Hep C.

AnnMaRou said...

thank you for your question Fiona.
i haven't mentioned st john's wort on purpose, main reason being, it has numerous and serious contraindications with other medicines (here's a link containing a list of side effects, interactions and warnings ). even though st john's wort may be beneficial against depression, in my opinion it shouldn't be taken lightly without thorough medical consultation and supervision, especially if a patient is on various medications. it can be dangerous for anyone on immunosupressants after receiving transplants eg liver, it may lead to serotonin syndrome, photosensitivity (just like on INF), interfere with protease inhibitors (not good news for those waiting for new upcoming hcv drugs) just to name a few serious ones. please bear in mind i am not a medical professional, just an average person infected with hcv, who likes to do her own research and share an opinion. good luck and thanks for stopping by :)))