5-HTP – Latest Research Included

Full Disclosure

L-5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, is an amino acid your body converts to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your appetite, sleep, and mood.

The body produces 5-HTP by metabolizing the amino acid L-tryptophan when serotonin is made and a hormone called Melatonin. 5-HTP is also derived from plants, such as Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant Griffonia simplicifolia utilized to produce nutritional supplements.

A few studies suggest that the use of 5-HTP supplements may benefit patients suffering from certain conditions like insomnia and depression. 5-HTP supplements can cause adverse effects, so you must consult your doctor before using them.

Benefits of 5-HTP

When used as a supplement, 5-HTP could increase levels of serotonin and Melatonin. This can benefit those suffering from low serotonin levels, including migraines and depression. Certain studies suggest that supplements with 5-HTP can enhance sleep and satiety.

May Improve Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a prevalent mental health problem that can have a significant impact on living quality. A few studies have linked lower levels of serotonin with depression.

While research studies are not extensive, Supplements with 5-HTP have been found to reduce the symptoms of depression in some groups, whether used on their own or in combination with antidepressant medication as well as other supplements. The reason for this is that 5-HTP can aid in boosting levels of serotonin, which are typically lower in those suffering from depression.

A study of a small size that comprised 15 women suffering from treatment-resistant major depression disorder (MDD) observed that treatments with 5 grams (g) of creatine monohydrate every day in addition to 100 milligrams (mg) of 5-HTP two times daily for 8 weeks reduced the severity of depression by 60 percent. The patients did not suffer any serious adverse reactions. The study was based on combining 5-HTP with creatine monohydrate but did not include an uncontrolled group; further research is required.

Another review that contained seven studies that examined how 5-HTP affects patients suffering from depression discovered an improvement in the effects of the supplementation with 5-HTP in treating depression. However, the researchers pointed out that several of the studies were not high-quality.

The research included in the review demonstrated an average decrease in scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression of 12.7 points that is sufficient to move the score down from extreme depression to a range that is healthy.

While the results are positive however, the researchers also noted that future study that is well-designed and has longer treatment times are needed to determine how 5-HTP can help improve depressive symptoms.

Could Increase Feelings of Fullness

5-HTP can help improve feelings of satisfaction and reduce consumption of food by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a key factor in regulating appetite. impaired serotonin signaling is associated with weight gain and a rise in hunger.

The research conducted in the past has demonstrated that the use of 5-HTP supplements can reduce appetite, lower calories consumed, and encourage weight loss.

A study involving 20 overweight women found that those who received an aerosol containing 40 mg 5-HTP every day and adhered to a diet low in calories for four weeks saw a greater increase in satiety, fewer food cravings, and a reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI) in comparison to a placebo group.

The latest research also suggests that the use of 5-HTP supplements could reduce cravings for carb-rich food and improve the preference for proteins-rich foods and, theoretically could lead to weight loss since proteins are more filling than carb-rich meals.

A study of a small size that involved 14 participants found that the treatment of 100 mg 5-HTP resulted more brain activity in conjunction with a healthy weight and a higher preference for protein-rich foods as determined by the results of an MRI scan.

Although these results are positive but research in this area is still in the beginning. Studies that are well-designed and large in size are needed to better understand how supplements with 5-HTP can reduce appetite, boost weight loss and decrease cravings for foods high in carbs.

Other Potential Benefits

Although research on the subject is not extensive, some studies have provided evidence that 5-HTP supplements might have the health benefits listed below.

  • could be beneficial for those suffering from Parkinson's disease. Supplements with 5-HTP can help ease sleep disturbances and decrease the severity of Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia (LID). This uncontrolled, voluntary motion is joint in those who are taking the Parkinson's disease drug Levodopa.
  • may reduce the symptoms of headaches: Some studies have demonstrated that 5-HTP is an effective treatment to reduce the frequency of migraines for those who suffer from headaches regularly. In theory, 5-HTP may alter your central nervous system in order to alter the mechanism that triggers migraines. However the research in this area is not extensive.
  • Could improve the quality of sleep for some individuals: Some evidence suggests 5-HTP supplements could help reduce the time required to sleep, at most in the short-term. In addition, 5-HTP can improve sleep problems in those suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Supplements with 5-HTP have also been found to help alleviate symptoms related to a variety of health issues such as fibromyalgia, and type 2 diabetes. In general studies on the health benefits of 5-HTP supplements are old and limited in the size.

How to Take 5-HTP

5-HTP supplements can be found in various forms, including liquids, capsules, and Gummies.

5-HTP can be consumed in divided or single doses, with food or even on an empty stomach. For example, someone using 5-HTP to help sleep might consume a supplement with 5-HTP before going to sleeping, whereas someone who hopes to benefit from 5-HTP's appetite-inducing effects can take the supplement prior to meals.

Ask your physician for guidance if you are unsure about the best time and method to take 5-HTP.


The use of doses up 400 milligrams of 5-HTP daily have been found that they are safe as long as one year. For children, it's possible for children 12 and less to take 5 mg daily for up to three years.

Most studies have used supplements in doses of 150-800 mg per day for two to six weeks.11. It's advisable to consult your physician regarding the most appropriate and safe dose.

Is 5-HTP Safe?

In regular doses, the 5-HTP does not cause adverse effects. However, when extremely high doses of the drug are taken it is possible of developing a condition known as serotonin syndrome or serotonin toxicity. It occurs when there's a high concentration of serotonin within the body.

Signs of serotonin toxicities can include an increase in heart rate, hyperreflexia (increased reflexes), and restlessness. The most severe symptoms could include an increase in temperatures, spasms in muscles and confusion.

Patients who are scheduled for surgery should stop taking 5-HTP for at minimum two weeks before surgery, as certain medications that are administered during surgery may also increase serotonin levels.

There have been instances in which individuals who take supplements with 5-HTP have been diagnosed with eosinophilia-myalgia (EMS). It is a rare disorder that can trigger skin rashes or muscle pain as well as respiratory problems.

There isn't enough evidence to establish that EMS is caused directly by 5-HTP, or whether the occurrences resulted from a contamination within the supplements.

Lastly, taking 5-HTP can increase levels of a substance called 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the urine. 5-H1AA is often used to identify intestinal tumors. The use of 5-HTP supplements can result in misinterpretation of laboratory tests, which is why it's crucial to inform your physician know you're taking 5-HTP prior laboratory tests.

Supplements with 5-HTP have not been examined for safety in the time of pregnancy or during breastfeeding. It is best to avoid taking this supplement in these instances.

Potential Drug Interactions

5-HTP could interfere with medications that are commonly prescribed like:

  • Antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs: 5-HTP increases serotonin levels, which could increase the chance of serotonin toxicities associated with medicines such as tricyclics, MAOIs, and SSRIs. A high concentration of serotonin can result in heart problems as well as seizures and vomiting.
  • Sedative drugs: Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, also referred to as sedatives can relax the body, which can cause drowsiness and breathing slowness. 5-HTP can also cause effects of sedation, which can lead to excessive sleep and breathing problems when combined in conjunction with a different sedative medication.
  • Carbidopa (Lodosyn):Carbidopa is a drug that is used to treat and control Parkinson's disease. The combination of 5-HTP and Carbidopa can cause adverse side effects, like the rapidity of speech and anxiety and aggression.

In addition to medications that contain 5-HTP, it is possible for supplements with an effect on sedation, such as valerian or melatonin, or which affect serotonin levels, such as St. John's wort, SAM-e, and L-tryptophan, to interact.

If you're taking supplements or medicines, speak with your physician to determine if 5-HTP is suitable and safe for you.

What to Look For

When you are looking for a supplement that contains 5-HTP It is important to select the best quality product that comes from a trusted manufacturer. Your doctor might be able to provide an opinion.

It is always recommended to buy diet supplements approved by organizations such as U.S. Pharmacopeia and NSF International. These are the institutions that have strict standards regarding the quality of supplements and their safety.

You should also select an item that you be able to tolerate. For instance, people who have difficulty swallowing pills may prefer an extract powder or liquid supplement.

Can You Take Too Much 5-HTP

It's possible to consume harmful levels of 5-HTP that's why it's vital to follow the dosage instructions. Dosing more than six or 10 grams of 5HTP a day has been linked to severe abdominal pain as well as muscle spasms.

If you have concerns about the safe use of 5-HTP, you can contact your physician for guidance.

Side Effects of 5-HTP

If taken in safe doses, 5-HTP doesn't pose numerous health risks.

But, the typical adverse reactions to 5HTP can be:

  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle spasms

Sometimes, the severe adverse effects from 5-HTP could include hallucinations, mania and aggression, as well as other psychiatric symptoms that could be induced. Gastrointestinal discomfort can be more serious.

If you notice any of these adverse consequences, stop taking the supplement right away and call your doctor.

A Quick Review

The body makes 5-HTP by metabolizing the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is essential to your body, and then converts it into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your hunger, sleep, and mood.

Although research is not extensive however, there is evidence that suggests 5-HTP supplements could benefit people who suffer from depression. They may also improve the quality of sleep and satiety.

If you're considering taking 5-HTP as a supplement, it is important to speak with your doctor first. 5-HTP isn't suitable for everyone, and is able to interact with other medicines, including antidepressants.

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