The griffonia simplicifolia seed comes from an African vine, and is used for its medicinal properties. The seed is a natural source of 5-HTP, an amino acid essential for serotonin production. Griffonia simplicifolia seed is sold in capsule or powdered form by most herbal health stores as a supplement to aid in the increase of serotonin in the body.
Griffonia simplicifolia seed is beneficial because it is a naturally occuring substance that can be used to treat depression without the side effects of prescription medications.
Prescription medications used to treat depression and anxiety are called SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications can cause a number of side effects such as increased anxiety, sexual disfunction, weight gain, dry mouth, headache and insomnia, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Since supplements such as 5-HTP are not regulated, the amount of 5-HTP needed to relieve symptoms is often left up to the consumer. Start slowly if you choose to use an herbal supplement and only increase in small increments until you feel you have reached a therapeutic effect. According to Advance Health, 5-HTP is considered safe for most consumers but should not be used in conjuction with prescription SSRIs and with other anti-depressant medications.
The griffonia simplicifolia plant is native to Western African countries, including the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo. Nutra Ingredients states "In the traditional therapeutic application of those countries, the leaf and juice of the plant can be used for the treatment of wounds and nephropathy, and also as enema and aphrodisiac, while the comminuted bark can be made into ointment for the treatment of diseases like chancroid."
Pain relief is one of the many reasons individuals turn to alternative supplements. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that includes widespread pain throughout the body that is difficult to treat. According to Shamanic, 5-HTP supplements that contain griffonia seed have been effective at relieving pain for fibromyalgia sufferers, much like prescription SSRIs.
Griffonia simplicifolia may have the potential to replace selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the modern world, but as of 2010 the plant is in danger of extinction. According to ASNAPP, "Griffonia has high economic value, but faces extinction because of unsustainable harvest and post-harvest practices." Griffonia simplicifolia may be safer for consumers and provides a natural alternative to prescription medications that many patients try to avoid.