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5-HTP and heart valve problems

R.O. jolin at whidbey.net
Fri Feb 26 05:21:38 EST 1999

I just came across this information linking blood serotonin to hear valve


Is from the famous Life Extension doc, Steven B. Harris:
Subject: 5-HTP (was: Ignorant Steve B. Harris)
From: sbharris at ix.netcom.com(Steven B. Harris)
Date: Mon, Feb 22, 1999 9:10 AM
Message-id: <7ar6ur$1qq at dfw-ixnews10.ix.netcom.com>
In <36D0E586.188818C9 at servtech.com> Ed Mathes <emathes at servtech.com>
>>  as it naturally leads into
>> what may or may not have happened to a bunch of rats for which there
>> are no records.  So it's a little like those Roswell stories.
>WHAT!   Are you saying that those pseudorats were actually ON the
>spacecraft that crashed at Rosewell??
>Steve...out of curiosity on 5-HTP.  I was reading n article on obesity
>written by an MD for an NP publication.  She recommended 5-HTP in
>to a few other supplements to aid in weight loss.
>You, I know, have commented ganst 5_HTP.  Why?

   Because it gets turned into serotonin in your liver, and dumped into
your blood (depending on your B6 status, in part).  Same enzyme does
the job which does it for L-dopa (so it goes to worthless dopamine
before it can get across the blood brain barrier).  Your system is not
built to handle much serotonin in the blood.  SSRI's don't increase
serotonin levels in blood (only in the brain), but fenfluramine, as
well as methysergide and ergotomine, are all direct serotonergics (as
shown by their direct pulmonary hypertension on toxicity studies).
   But serotonin does more than just cause pulmonary hypertension.  It
also causes direct proliferation of myocytes, which grow where they are
not supposed to, and cause heart valve deformities.  These are not only
seen with fenfluramine, methylsergide, and ergotomine, but also seen in
serotonin syndrome in carcinoid tumors, and in the best and largest
(but by no means all) studies the amount produced correlates with the
valve damage.  And this valve syndrome has ALSO been described in West
African populations eating large amounts of serotonin in green bananas
(Matoki).   You would think that with this much evidence some people
would be convinced that serotonin causes the valve syndrome in
carcinoid.  But no-- since it hasn't been reproduced in animals, there
are still some unbelievers.  Duh.  The situation reminds very much of
AIDS and H. pylori.
   In all cases where valve problems are associated with high blood
serotonins, the daily amounts of serotonin released into the
bloodstream needed to do the nasty dead (judged by urine metabolites)
is about 50 mg a day.   Which is about the standard 5-HTP dose.  So if
you're taking that, and metabolizing much of it, you can theoretically
be in trouble.  No carbadopa is routinely given with the stuff to block
conversion to serotonin in the liver, and B6 is asctually sometimes
given to "help" conversion in the brain (idiotically, since it just
make the problem worse in the liver-- people long ago learned they
can't do that with L-DOPA).  Again, as you know, when these amino acid
analoges are decarboxylated in the liver, they are no longer
transportable into the brain by the large aryl amino acid transporter
there.  So they are stuck in the system, and your lungs and other
organs have to metabolize them.  Meanwhile, they wreck your pulmonary
                                    Steve Harris, M.D.

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