The last few months have been especially hard on my anxiety and depression. I had surgery for my endometriosis after leaving my second job, I’ve barely been keeping afloat but most of my time has been spent stuck inside with little time outdoors and not much social interaction. Times when I know that I need to leave the house for something, I get panicky and I try putting it off and most of the time I’m extremely fatigued anyway because of my illness, so I end up feeling extremely depressed and often tearful.
It doesn’t help that the days have been shorter over the Winter and the weather is less than appealing. For some reason, being cooped up in a cold, dark flat with no view is pretty depressing all on its own. I’ve been keeping myself busy with the blog and working on getting bookings for the summer with my photography business but my mood has been so low, I’ve been comfort eating to pass the time too and my body is just so tired and also very pudgy right now!
The lovely people at Herbal Alchemist sent me some 5-HTP and Forskolin Extract to try. I’d heard some different things about both supplements – that they’re good for dieting, energy, depression, anxiety, sleeping etc. So I was keen to see how they would affect me. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…
5-HTP for Anxiety & Depression
This is what WebMD has to say about 5-HTP:
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It is also produced commercially from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia 5-HTP is used for sleep disorders such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizure disorder, and Parkinson’s disease..
How does it work?
5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.
Read More Here.
Now, I suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia, asthma, PCOS & Endometriosis which causes me to also struggle with PMS and Chronic Fatigue. I’m overweight and because of that, my PCOS symptoms are worse but because it’s harder to lose weight with PCOS, it’s a huge vicious cycle.
I waited until after my surgery to give these supplements a real go because a) I didn’t want them to interfere with the medication I was temporarily taking pre and post surgery and b) I wanted to wait until I was recovered and out of the 6 week post surgery window where I’d be exhausted and feeling shitty anyway.
Another disclaimer, I also am not currently on any prescription medication as I don’t really react very well to typical prescription antidepressants and I had to ditch my progesterone contraceptive pill as my skin literally itched like crazy. I also only took these supplements for the first couple of weeks to be completely sure that any affects weren’t happening due to another supplement. You might want to make sure that they’re safe to take with your current medications if you have any and choose to use 5-HTP as I’ve heard that they can react with some antidepressants and painkillers.
Right, onto my actual experience; The first day I started taking them I could tell the difference within an hour. It was pretty fast. It wasn’t miracle/feeling like the fog had completely lifted sort of difference but it was definitely a sort of positivity andlightness that I hadn’t felt in a while. Normally after struggling to get out of bed in the morning, I would not bother to make food, I’d stay in my pyjamas, working on my PC and neglecting the housework. This time I made breakfast, got my work done, put some music on and danced while doing the washing-up. It was nice to see my kitchen clean and know that I did that.
My boyfriend is always home by the early afternoon and typically he’d get our food for the day because I’d be too anxious to leave the house and then we’d sit and watch something for the rest of the evening but this time I got dressed and we went out for a walk. I managed to walk around our local park (which is quite big to be fair) before needing to sit down due to my pelvic pain. It doesn’t sound like a lot but this was more than I’d done in a hell of a long time, I felt so good for doing it. I was very tired the next day but instead of being my usual fatigue kind of tired, I was tired for the right reasons.
I know that a lot of people use 5-HTP for diet reasons, which is not what I wanted them for but it actually did help in that respect for me too! I lost 7lbs. I don’t know whether that’s because they helped suppress my appetite or because I was just feeling generally better and they helped me to cook from scratch and get up and about a bit better but I don’t care, cause 7lbs!!! Or maybe it’s because I used them in conjunction with the Forskolin Extract which I’ll talk about below.
What WebMD has to say about Forskolin Extract;
Some research suggests that forskolin may aid in weight loss and muscle building. In one very small study, overweight and obese men took 250 milligrams of a 10% forskolin extract twice a day. After 12 weeks, they lost more body fat and had a greater increase in testosterone levels compared to similar men taking a placebo. But more research must be done to confirm these results and establish its safety.
Forskolin has a long history as a folk remedy for asthma. Some research supports that. Forskolin appears to work in a way similar to certain types of conventional asthma drugs, by boosting the levels of a compound called cyclic AMP. This helps relax the muscles around the bronchial tubes to make breathing easier.
Read More Here.
Like I said earlier, I lost 7lbs but I’m not sure what exactly helped me do this, whether it was an individual supplement, both supplements together or what I was able to do for myself while taking them. Maybe it was a bit of everything, which is totally fine with me. Sometimes we need some extra help to get started and with having PCOS, which makes losing weight harder, I need all the help I can get!
What I can say, is that my energy levels definitely improved. That’s something that wouldn’t go unnoticed as I’m usually constantly fatigued throughout the day, no matter how much sleep I get or how much fresh air I get, or even what routine I have. Having more energy is such a treat for me.
I know there is a lot of hype around certain supplements, it’s easy to get sick of being fed constant adverts about miracle natural cures. I don’t like to buy into hype and try everything with caution, as not everything works the same for everyone, so I don’t think you should go into trying either of these supplements thinking they are going to be the sole answer but I’m positive that they can help some people. It’s worth checking that they don’t clash with medications you already take and find out if they’re the right thing for you personally.
I’m really keen on sticking with them, especially the 5-HTP as I now do really need an extra pick me up to help me get through the week. It might not help my physical pain but it certainly helps me with my mental health which to me is the most important. With good mental health, I can get up and make the most of each day despite my physical pain but without that, it feels like an uphill battle.
The only thing that hasn’t changed is my insomnia, I’ll definitely update this post if that changes but I’m still struggling with my sleep at the moment and I’m also keen to see if the Forskolin helps with my asthma at all.
I’d be really interested to hear if you’ve had experiences with either supplement too, so please do leave a comment if you’ve tried them.