5-HTP update – hmm, not working so well now

October 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 5 Comments
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I don’t know if the 5-HTP (which I’ve been taking for a while to help me sleep, as sleep (or lack of it) seems to be a probable cause for fibromyalgia) becomes less effective after a certain amount of time, but I’ve just recently stopped finding it very effective. My bro takes it sometimes too and he reckons that if he takes it for a while he becomes kind of desensitized to it, so perhaps it’s that.

It was fantastically helpful for a couple of months, but then I started to find that if I woke up, even if it was only an hour or two after falling asleep on taking the tablet, I couldn’t get back to sleep again.

Now the flipping hot flushes have started again, I’m waking up about once an hour and hot flushing BIG TIME. Of course that makes me feel utterly disgusting and I usually have to get up for a bit, after which I’m wide awake for a few minutes. Only a few minutes doesn’t sound so bad, does it … until you realise that this is happening six times a night or so.

Surprise, surprise – the fibro is coming back. Off to see my lovely cake-recommending physio this afternoon so that will help, but I fear I’m going to have to try the meds that the consultant recommended months ago but that I’ve been avoiding as the side effects include weight gain. (I know, I know, my favourite lecture is about how you mustn’t assume you’ll get all the side effects going, but I know when it comes to me and weight gain I’m doooooomed!)

Any advice on getting rid of the flushes (or packets of roasted soya beans in the post, and instructions on the uses thereof, Maggie, if you’re reading this) would be much appreciated!!



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  1. Hi Pollyanna —
    Sorry to hear you’re having a hard time sleeping because of hot flashes (flushes, flashes, same diff, eh?). Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, but those of us with RA need it even more, I think. To that end, here’s what I did that helped immensely in cutting back the number and intensity of my menopause-caused hot flashes:
    1. Try taking grape-seed extract. Like most natural remedies, it takes some time to work, but if you stick with it for a while, it might help you.
    2. If you drink a fair amount of caffeine (coffee, tea, Coke, etc) each day, try cutting back rather a lot — or stopping entirely. I’m a true coffee addict, but I cut down to a couple of cups in the morning, and a couple after dinner, and to my considerable surprise, the hot flashes decreased drastically in frequency, duration and intensity. Wow. Worth a try, if you drink beverages with caffeine in them.
    I hope these suggestions help. Good luck!

  2. Hmm yes … really MUST try the coffee thing. I’m a total coffee adict. I have cut right back on caffinated but it maybe that decaf is just as bad when it comes to hot flushes (flashes in the US and flushes in the UK – same diff!) Might give the grapeseed a go too but definitely must try cutting back on coffee. Hmm, gonna be tough!

    Do you drink another hot drink instead, or might it be the lack of hot drinks that helps, do you think?

  3. I absolutely love Indian chai, so I buy an herbal rooibos (redbush) tea with chai spices (cinnamon, cadamom, ginger) in and drink it when I want a hot drink (which is all the time. Love them!) To help me cut back on caffeinated coffee, I started making it by the cup using a cup-size Melitta filter. For each cup (about 12 ounces) I use one tablespoon of regular coffee, and one of decaf. I don’t much LIKE decaf coffee (tastes funny to me) so mixing it with real coffee hides the taste and, incidentally, cuts down the amount of caffeine I drink per cup. I USED to drink three, 10-cup POTS of coffee each day, so you can see how drastic the cutback was for me. I find as long as I get enough caffeine to keep that horrendous withdrawal headache away, I’m good. And with the herbal chai, I still get something hot to drink during the daytimes. The amount of caffeine you’ll need to cut down by is an individual thing, but it’s sure worth trying. Amazing difference. Really.

    My doc told me it’s actually the caffeine in the beverages that can cause the problem (it doesn’t for everyone, I guess). When I expressed surprise, since coffee, even in large amounts and right up to bedtime had never bothered me before, she smiled and said, “You’re older now. Our bodies change as we age, so we have to compensate.”

    What can you say to that?? I wanted to cry, “It’s not FAIR!” but I didn’t…

    Anyway, hope that helps, Polly. I think the hot flashes were truly the worst part of menopause for me. Now I’m sleeping better most nights, except when the rheuma decides to beat me up for a while. I’m thankful for all the rest I can get!

  4. I’m not an chemist but as I know if you want to use 5-htp as an sleeping aid you should consider taking some vitamin C with it, which instead of your body turning it to serotonin (and melatonin) it’ll turn it into more melatonin which is responsible for the “sleeping part” of the brain.
    Normally serotonin isn’t very helpful in sleeping .. it might even counteract it.

  5. Interesting! Well I know 5-HTP tends to help me sleep, but not always. Might try adding some vitamin C and seeing what happens … or just eating an orange before I go to bed! ;o)

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