5-HTP Benefits

Most 5-HTP also known as oxitriptan (INN)is extracted from the seeds of a woody climbing shrub native to West Africa, called the Griffonia simplicifolia plant.

What is 5-HTP?

5-HTP or "hydroxy L-tryptophan" (5-Hydroxytryptophan)  is a naturally-occurring amino acid and  is the precursor and metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan. 5-HTP is converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT), with the help of vitamin B6. This occurs both in nervous tissue and in the liver. 5-HTP crosses the blood-brain barrier  (while 5-HT does not). Supplementation with 5-HTP therefore increases production of Serotonin.

5-HTP health benefits

Widely used to help with obesity (dieting), PMS, migraines, depression, anxiety, insomnia and addictive behaviour. 5 HTP increases production of serotonin. Serotonin levels in the nervous system are essential for so many aspects of our daily lives. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of well being, satisfaction and for normal sleep patterns. Obesity, PMS, migraines, depression, anxiety, insomnia and addictive behavior have all been associated with low levels of serotonin. Serotonin plays an important role in controlling anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, human sexuality, appetite, and metabolism, as well as stimulating vomiting.

It is thought the hectic modern lifestyle of stress and bad eating habits lowers serotonin levels in the body. It is known that irritability, aggression, impatience, anxiety and worrying cause the body to release serotonin. This Serotonin then needs to be replenished by the body from the food you eat. But Serotonin is not found in large quantities in most diets so the body has to makes it itself from foods which contain L-tryptophan, such as chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey, chicken, sesame, chickpeas, and peanuts. Many people therefore crave the foods listed (fats and carbohydrates), especially when stressed, causing weight gain, depression, headaches, and muscle aches.

Atkins Diet - reduce cravings

Clinical studies have shown that supplementing with 5-HTP produces positive results in weight loss, anxiety and depression. It improves sleep patterns and reduces carbohydrate cravings in those on low carbohydrate diets (such as The Atkins Diet). Anyone using a weight loss program similar to the Atkins Diet could experience a reduction in serotonin levels due to the fact that carbohydrates stimulate serotonin production in the body. Serotonin release is triggered by a carbohydrate load (sugar etc.) and it is thought that's why we often crave Carbohydrates under stress as we want to stimulate this serotonin release. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased.  Conversely when the brain produces dopamine or norepinephrine (noradrenaline), we tend to think and act more quickly and are generally more alert. Therefore eating carbohydrates seems to have a calming effect, while proteins increase alertness.

Taking 5-HTP supplements can stop this craving for fats and carbohydrates, as well as providing the body with the means to control all those other functions listed above, such as anger, appetite and sleep.

Help with Depression and Anxiety

Some research has been done into 5-HTP and shows it has potential to help with depression and possibly anxiety, panic disorder, sleep disorders and obesity. 5-HTP seems to have the same effects as SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) antidepressants.

Prescription drugs that raise serotonin levels are prescribed for all of these problems, but many people believe 5-HTP is a natural way to accomplish the same thing.


For improving sleep, it is widely recommended to take 5-HTP 30 mins before going to bed, as apart from producing Serotonin, 5-HTP also produces Melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone. The usual dosage is either a 50mg or 100mg tablet. The effects of taking 5-HTP can be felt within 10 to 30 mins.

Try to buy 5-HTP which also contains vitamin B6, as Vit B6 is needed for 5-HTP conversion into serotonin.

Much higher doses seem to be required for weight loss and to reduce migraines. Dosages up to around 900mg a day seem to be widely reported.

5-HTP is usually tolerated much better than traditional antidepressants. Excess 5-HTP is thought to be metabolized and excreted, especially when taken with Vitamin B6.

Why not try some today and see if you too can reduce your cravings, stress and anger levels, as well as getting a good night's sleep!

5-HTP Herb Notes / Side Effects

If you are taking MAO inhibitors, anti-depressants or being treated for Parkinson's Disease, consult your Doctor first. There are concerns about a potential safety issue regarding 5-HTP interacting with Carbidopa, which is used for Parkinson's disease. There have been several reports suggesting that taking both 5-HTP and Carbidopa can lead to skin changes similar to scleroderma.

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Ryan C. Bogdewic 's avatar  Ryan C. Bogdewic 24/05/2015 14:30

5 htp causing aggression, anger, or even more depression? Let me share why this is happening to relieve any anxieties you may be feeling if you're one to be experiencing these symptoms and shed light on exactly how normal this is.

I've started taking 5htp a few days ago and I noticed these symptoms of aggression, anger and agitation. I then thought back to my life coaching education about an emotional tone scale and where I actually started from. Before taking 5htp, I was feeling pretty apathetic in life and I realized that feeling anger was a higher emotion than apathy. So with the serotonin levels increasing, my mood was also climbing the scale.

Serotonin is a "pleasure" hormone; you increase pleasure sensations when you increase serotonin levels, thus, if starting from a very low emotional level like apathy, you can see that the proof of serotonin levels increasing because anger is a lot higher of a feeling than apathy.

Cortisol is a stress hormone, and if cortisol hormone is unbalanced to serotonin, the result is falling down the scale, until eventually reaching the feeling of apathy. When increasing serotonin levels, you're increasing your energy levels as well. Think about this: anger holds a lot more energy than apathy does, so you're actually raising your mood because you're raising your serotonin levels.

Most people start to panic when this happens, getting angry when taking 5htp. Don't panic! Instead consider and notice how your energy levels are increasing, causing your mood to have more energy behind it as well. Eventually the serotonin/cortisol levels well eventually balance out naturally, and you'll find yourself in a place of being at peace with yourself and your entire life collectively.

It's a journey indeed, and the adventure of witnessing yourself climb up out of lower levels of mood to higher ones is simply breathtaking. Remember, it's the journey getting there that makes us feel alive, not the destination. Once you're at the destination, you won't feel fulfilled for too long because the human spirit thrives on continuous advancement. So enjoy the journey of advancing your mood. You'll feel so alive! Especially when you know and understand the how more so than the why.


Ariana 's avatar  Ariana 20/05/2015 12:54

I've taken 5-HTP for about a year and a half and haven't experienced negative side effects. There is a concern it could be linked to eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) due to a recorder case in 1994 but this was thought to be linked to a component called Peak-X which is why 5-HTP is now often sold with the label Peak-X free. 5-HTP works better than an SSRI for me and can be effective even at a low dose (between 50-200mg/day).

Lucy 's avatar  Lucy 24/02/2013 16:30

My husband just started taking 5htp last week, and he is a completely different person as a result. I came across these posts because I was looking for the side effects of this product and peoples' reactions to this supplement, due to the drastic change in my husband's behavior. He was always irritable and couldn't handle emotional issues, even the most normal every day type of situations. This always made me think he had some sort of an imbalance, chemical or otherwise. He was becoming progressively more irrate about the most minute of problems. He was unbearable to be around, and it was destroying our relationship. I can't even explain the relief and the hope I now have for him, and for us.

I am not an advocate of this product, because I don't know the long term side effects, or the "negatives" in general.. But I can share what a 180 degree change I have seen and what a positive effect it has had on him.. Absolutely flabbergasting! Almost seems too good to be true.. that's how effective this supplement is. If anyone has any info on possible negative long term or short term side effects, please do share..

25 people liked this.
Amanda Oz Staff 's avatar  Amanda Oz Staff 18/01/2013 20:43

The Dr. Oz Show is looking for 5-HTP weight loss success stories! If you're a female in the NY-Tristate area, we want to hear from you! arocco@zoco.com

16 people liked this.
carlotapopota 's avatar  carlotapopota 22/01/2013 00:39

Can You mix 5htp with rhodiola? (5htp At Night And rhodiola in the morning?)

7 people liked this.
Olena 's avatar  Olena 01/02/2012 02:40

Reloqueen, I know what you mean! I suffered from restless leg syndrome too, and 5HTP  worsened it significantly when I took it before bedtime. HOWEVER, I started taking a B-Complex vitamin and iron supplements, and my RLS went away completely. Now I don't have a problem taking 5HTP, and its effects on my mood and appetite are amazing!

5 people liked this.
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