Griffonia seed extract - a rich, natural source of 5-HTP
The Griffonia Simplicifolia plant grows along the coastal shores of Western and Central Africa, and to a lesser degree deep within the jungles of that area. Combining the stems and leaves of this plant together produces a natural antiseptic, and its seeds have been used for medicinal purposes across the continent of Africa for many years.
Griffonia seed extract for sleep
In the West, one of the reasons Griffonia seeds are being recognised and researched is that they contain large quantities of the active ingredient 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). This is considered important because 5-HTP is a key precursor in the body's synthesis of serotonin, the "happiness chemical".
Extracts of Griffonia seed have been successfully used to treat a number of disorders and disease conditions. But in this article we're going to focus on its ability to combat insomnia and enable people to get the sleep they need to remain healthy and happy.
What is Griffonia Seed extract?
Griffonia Seed extract is a natural supplement derived from the Griffonia simplicifolia plant native to West and Central Africa. A woody, climbing shrub, the plant grows to a height of up to 3 meters, and bears black seed pods.
These seeds are the most interesting part of the plant, because they have been found to contain relatively huge amounts (up to 20% by weight) of the herbal compound 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
5-HTP is an important building block in the human body, because it is used to synthesise serotonin. Serotonin is a critical neurotransmitter, in charge of controlling mood and sleep. Increased levels of 5-HTP in the body have been found to alleviate anxious thoughts, to promote feelings of well-being, and to improve sleep.
What does Griffonia seed extract do in the body?
Serotonin is synthesised using tryptophan, which is naturally found in many protein-rich foods such as milk, eggs, red meat, spinach, green beans, nuts, garlic, and lentils. Given its essential nature in the body, many people also take tryptophan in the form of supplements.
Whether it comes from natural sources or supplemental ones, what happens to tryptophan in the body is that it is broken down in the liver into 5-HTP and other metabolites. The 5-HTP travels through the blood stream to the brain – actually crossing the blood-brain barrier – and there it is converted into serotonin.
Which is more important to increase serotonin – tryptophan or 5-HTP?
People with low levels of tryptophan due to deficient diets create lower levels of 5-HTP and thus have lower levels of serotonin. This has been shown to be reflected in these people having higher levels of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other mood disorders.
Treating these problems by supplementing with serotonin directly has been found to be ineffective because serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. And while tryptophan supplements have been found to be moderately successful in treating these problems, it is often much more effective to use 5-HTP supplements, because 5-HTP is converted to serotonin at a faster rate than tryptophan is.
Griffonia Seeds are one of the rare natural sources of 5-HTP
Griffonia Seed extract produces its beneficial effects by raising the levels of serotonin in the brain. The extract is quickly metabolised in the liver, releasing the active ingredient 5-HTP. When it reaches the brain, 5-HTP triggers increased production of serotonin.
Serotonin is often referred to as the "happiness chemical," because as a neurotransmitter it is responsible for sending signals of pleasure and contentment between the neurons. So when Griffonia Seed Extract increases the amount of serotonin, it sets the stage for a wide number of benefits.
General benefits of Griffonia Seed extract
Benefits of taking supplements derived from Griffonia seeds have been shown to include:
- Increased feelings of well-being, relaxation, confidence, and tranquility
- Improved release of tension
- Alleviation of pain from migraine or fibromyalgia
- Because serotonin reduces appetite, it may be of use as an appetite suppressant for weight loss
- Because Griffonia Seed Extract helps to control impulsive feelings, it has been used as an experimental treatment for ADHD
- It may alleviate the symptoms of depression; some studies have shown it to be as effective as Prozac or other prescription depression medications.
Specific benefits of Griffonia Seed extract for sleep
Serotonin has been found to influence sleep and the body's sleep-wake cycles in many ways. For example, serotonin is needed for the body to produce the sleep hormone, melatonin, in response to the presence of darkness.
Healthy serotonin levels are considered essential for healthy melatonin levels, and both are essential for good sleep and a well-functioning biological clock. With its proven ability to increase serotonin levels, Griffonia / 5-HTP supplementation provides support for a neuromechanical process that enables high-quality sleep and helps to keep the body's biological clock "in sync."
Its effect of reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety can be an additional aid when falling asleep. The less anxiety you feel, the better you'll sleep.
How to add Griffonia seed extract to your diet
You can, of course, purchase and consume supplements made from Griffonia seed on their own. Our experience at The Restored, however, suggests that there is a better way to benefit from 5-HTP.
"Stacking" the 5-HTP extracted from the Griffonia seed with other ingredients such as L-Tryptophan and taurine creates a synergistic effect, and increases its efficacy for better sleep. That's one of the theories behind our Advanced Night-Time Nutrients formula.
Information about The Restored's Sleep Aid
We feel that one of the best utilisations of Griffonia seed extract is in our sleep aid. This formulation contains a full range of ingredients that have been proven to make it one of the most effective anxiety-reduction and sleep-aid supplements on the market.
These ingredients include:
- Magnesium, to reduce tiredness and fatigue.
- L-Tryptophan, an amino acid that increases production of the chemical serotonin.
- 5-HTP from Griffonia seed extract, to increase serotonin production, and reduce anxiety and insomnia.
- Montmorency cherry, which is high in melatonin, and helps to regulate sleep and wake cycles.
- Grape skin, also a natural source of melatonin.
- Watermelon, high in L-tryptophan and a natural source of mood-boosting magnesium.
- Chamomile, to calm the mind and reduce anxiety
- L-Taurine, an amino acid that has a naturally calming effect on the nervous system.
- Biotin, a B vitamin which helps to maintain a positive, relaxed mood.
The standard recommended dosage of our Advanced Night-Time Nutrients is one to two 200mg capsules, taken orally before bedtime.
Visit The Restored Blog for more practical guidance to help restore your foundations in sleep, nutrition, movement and mindset.