This is a great question that was posted on my blog by Margaret Floyd, author of Eat Naked, a great book on clean eating. Here is a review I did awhile back.
The question (which she gave me permission to share on a blog):
A close friend of mine has a little 5yr old boy who is celiac. Since his Dx, he’s doing much better but they’re struggling to get it out of his diet 100% – he keeps getting “glutened” as she calls it by well-meaning but uneducated parents of his friends, his chess coach, etc. and he’s VERY sensitive to even the slightest exposure. He takes a good 3-4 weeks to recover psychologically every time he’s exposed.
She recently started supplementing him with the supplement SeroPlus (maybe you know it?) which has 5HTP in it. She gave it to him last week when he got “glutened” and noticed his temperament was SO much better than usual. So she’s kept him on it But she’s worried about him developing a dependence on supplemental serotonin in this way.
My instinct is that he won’t develop a dependence because she’s giving him the precursor, and this is so important while his body and specifically, gut, heals. But I wanted to ask you since you’re the pro in these matters. What’s your experience been?
This is a really great question so I decided it was worth sharing with a bigger audience via a blog and my ezine. Here is my response:
I’ve not used Seroplus but it looks good and the positive result is always a good thing! You’re right and I agree, I don’t see dependence as being an issue – we know gluten issues can lead to low serotonin so his continued consumption of gluten may be continually depleting his levels, plus his gut needs to heal.
One issue longer term may be that his gluten exposure may very likely have impacted his adrenals and 5-HTP can raise cortisol which won’t be good if his cortisol is high. This is why in adults I use tryptophan unless I know cortisol results. In kids I always only use tryptophan since it’s closer to food. And I do like to use an individual amino acid versus a combo product as it’s easier to increase and/or decrease just the amino acid. And mom may need to reduce the amount as his gut heals and his serotonin levels come up so you don’t get a reverse effect (too much of any amino can do this).
One more thing to consider is methylation and SNPs – detox is compromised with the MTHFR polymorphisms and this product has 500mcg of folate (the good form!) which may be contributing to his good temperament too. Also if he does have either of the MTHFR mutations it may end up being too much folate if he is given more capsules (hence the benefit of individual amino acids and even individual folate).
I’m sure they are doing all they can to prevent this but would like to suggest this in case…I’d also suggest a card with information on how deadly gluten is to this little guy and really making a point to educate everyone he’s going to be in contact with. I’m sure he’s also old enough to ask smart questions as I’m sure he’s well aware of the effects. It just breaks my heart to hear he keeps getting “glutened”!
Keeping a supply of dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV) on hand is also recommended. DPP-IV specifically breaks down gluten.
I hope this helps you when thinking about whether to use 5-HTP or tryptophan and to understand more about gluten and methylation.
Here is the original blog post which was from my interview on The Anxiety Summit: Targeted individual amino acids for eliminating anxiety: practical applications
And here is the Amino Acids Mood Questionnaire from my book The Antianxiety Food Solution.
Do check out all the fantastic questions on these blogs AND all my answers. I respond to every single question posted on my blog so feel free to post one at any time.