5-HTP Benefits

Most 5-HTP 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-tryptophane" (5-Hydroxytryphophan)  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 5HTP 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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Has 5-HTP Worked For You?

This page is not a wiki so it is not editable like Wikipedia, however we would like to hear your information and comments and sometimes incorporate these into the articles.

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Ladybug 's avatar  Ladybug 22/02/2011 04:21

My whole life has changed since getting on 5-HTP. It helped my irritability and and got rid of my insomnia. I also have a feeling of well-being and normalcy that I didn't have before. My doctor said that some people are naturally low in serotonin, and this is noted by a tendency to stay up late and a history of depression.

4 people liked this.
Toladore 's avatar  Toladore 19/09/2011 12:56

Ive started taking it and feel alot happier. its subtle and pleasant. Ive recently got very intrested in herbal supplements and this is by far one of the best.... :)

1 person liked this.
Peach48462 's avatar  Peach48462 06/07/2011 16:28

I am a 49-year old woman and have been taking 5HTP for a couple of years now and highly recommend it.  I take 100 mg nightly...it balances my mood and helps me sleep. 
I recently ran out and didn't take it for 3 or 4 days - found myself short and irritable.  I love this supplement - it really works and has no negative side effects.  Plus you can find it on line cheap - recently I bought 8 bottles for about $30.00. 

I'm entering menopause and I think this has really helped tremendously.

Mary A.

1 person liked this.
Kelley 's avatar  Kelley 16/06/2011 05:37

Absolutely 100% amazing results!  The doc had me on lexapro but I quit taking it and had majorly horrible side effects.  I read that omega 3's would be good for my withdrawl so I started taking those and at the same time picked up 5-HTP.  WOW...what a huge difference.  They work better than the lexapro and I don't have to worry about any chemical withdrawl if I'm ever in the position where I can't afford them.  5 stars for this herbal supplement!

1 person liked this.
Chris 's avatar  Chris 25/11/2011 17:21

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signalfire1 's avatar  signalfire1 13/11/2011 17:43

Agree with the other posters, this stuff is wonderful.  I have had mild but persistent depression my entire life, which got worse as my serotonin levels got lower (I presume) because then I started having trouble sleeping, low serotonin causing low melatonin.  I would lay awake until 5 in the morning and then finally get to sleep when it was time to get up for the day.  This continued for years and the only sleep I got was naps intermittently. I was a zombie, and a depressed one at that.  I read about 5-HTP and started on it; the first two days I vomited afterwards (turns out there are serotonin receptors in the small intestine and the 5-HTP hits these and causes a vomiting response) but after that subsided, I felt very well.  I slept like a kid again, falling asleep within minutes of lying down, and slept straight through.  My mood was enhanced and I felt "normal" again, like I did when I was a child.  After several months to a year of taking it regularly, I find I no longer need it, as if the serotonin levels have been refilled.  I now only take it perhaps every few months, for a few times and my mood and sleeping ability seems to stay steady.

Excellent supplement without the cost of going to a doctor and getting meds, and without the side effects of the SSRIs, which I also tried and found to make me angry and unpredictably moody. I much prefer natural drugs to what the docs have to offer, I think they are safer and also far less expensive. 

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