Natural Connectors: Be at One

The amino acid tryptophan, found in protein foods such as milk and turkey, is the building block of both serotonin and DMT. In addition, the brain's chemistry is carefully and intelligently kept in order by catalysts, SAMe and B vitamins, that have the ability to change tryptophan into a number of natural connectors. They add or remove what are known as "methyl" groups. It has long been known that a deficiency in B vitamins can induce schizophrenia – the profound "dis-connection" of a person. These combinations of nutrients therefore help to fine-tune brain chemistry and allow for a more a natural and consistent state of connection.

Tryptophan and 5-Htp (5-Hydroxytryptophan): Crucial Connectors
An adequate supply of tryptophan, combined with B vitamins, is critical to the chemistry of connection. We have seen how tryptophan deficiency leads to depression, impulsivity, and aggressiveness, while tryptophan supplementation is an effective antidepressant. In addition, a recent study showed that healthy volunteers given 1 g of tryptophan three times daily for twelve days showed an increase in their self-confidence and sociability and a decrease in quarrelsomeness. Meanwhile, the placebo group showed no such effect until the pills were switched. Only after the former placebo group was given tryptophan did it show the same positive changes.

Tryptophan is currently available only by prescription from special compounding pharmacies. Because it competes with other amino acids for absorption into the brain, it is best taken with fruit or another carbohydrate snack. Avoid eating proteins an hour before or after taking it.

5-Htp: Over-The-Counter Tryptophan
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a more readily available form of tryptophan and may even be more biologically active. While not a direct precursor for DMT, it is the most effective precursor for serotonin. By providing the brain with the raw material to make serotonin, it spares tryptophan for production of other important tryptamines, such as DMT.

5-HTP can have profound mood-lifting effects, as Alex can attest:

I had recently ended a long-term relationship and was feeling lonely and a bit down, missing that company and connection. There were some good days when I felt fine, looking forward and getting on with life, but they were few and far between. Then I started taking 200 mg of 5-HTP a day. Within a couple of days, I felt much more "up," in the moment, and basically happier. I had more of an enjoyable, warm sense of detachment, that everything was all right, rather than a kind of gloomy seriousness. These days I don't take it all the time, but when I feel like I'm losing my balance, I include it in my daily supplement regime.

Here we have a temporary situation that might have lasted a lot longer if not for Alex's use of a natural connector and mood elevator. Why suffer needlessly when help is right there in a bottle? And remember, we are not talking about alcohol or other temporary escapes, but a truly restorative compound that produces lasting, positive effects.

Like tryptophan, 5-HTP has proven to be at least as effective as the best antidepressant drugs, but without the same high risk of side effects. 5 HTP occurs naturally in the African plant Griffonia simplifica and is available as a nutritional supplement.

Because 5-HTP doesn't compete for absorption with other amino acids, it is well absorbed, with or without food. The amount needed to promote a sense of connection is 100 mg a day, or less if taken in combination with other "connecting" nutrients, plus vitamin B6. The dose range is one-tenth that of tryptophan.

A word of caution: more is not better. Serotonin overload can trigger serotonin syndrome – tremor, nausea, vomiting, elevated temperature, abnormal heartbeat, and, in extreme cases, coma, leading to death. It occurs within two hours, and symptoms subside within six to twenty-four hours. These side effects do not occur when taking the dose ranges we have suggested. We do not recommend simultaneously supplementing these nutrients with antidepressant drugs unless under medical guidance. The SSRIs effectively keep more serotonin in circulation by stopping its breakdown. Nor do we advise combining these nutrients with entheogens that temporarily raise serotonin levels. That being said, serotonin syndrome is still a rare occurrence, and has not been reported with either tryptophan or 5-HTP.


From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

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