5-HTP – Properties and Benefits: NATURAL Remedy against Depression, Insomnia…

5-HTP – Properties and Benefits: NATURAL Remedy against Depression, Insomnia…

Here you will find all of the information about 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan (also known as oxitriptan), an amino acid that is obtained from the seeds of an African black bean.

You can buy 5-HTP without a medical prescription. In fact, it has proven to be much safer and effective than many other medications that are usually prescribed to treat low serotonin levels.

Serotonin is a substance present in our neurons and it works as a neurotransmitter in order to preserve our health.

Our current lifestyle is extremely stressful and this has devastating consequences for our health. More often than not, we subject our body to the negative effects of bad eating habits, a lack of exercise and lack of sleep.

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that our harmful lifestyle does not only affect our body, but it also damages our brain.

Stress, a bad diet and sedentarism reduce the serotonin production by the brain. This neurotransmitter regulates our mood, appetite, and ability to recover quickly through sleep and rest.

When our brain does not produce enough serotonin, we end up suffering from depression, obesity or insomnia. Moreover, we are not able to reach our best mental or physical performance.

What is 5-HTP?

After a lot of research, scientists have invented a revolutionary dietary supplement that increases the serotonin levels safely and efficiently. Consequently, it can help to treat mental disorders, obesity, insomnia, migraines and anxiety. This dietary supplement is 5-HTP.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a transmitter amino acid that increases the serotonin levels, when it reaches the brain.

There is consistent evidence that low serotonin levels in the brain are caused by our current lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits.

This is the reason why many people suffer from obesity, eating disorders and cannot control craving for sugar and carbohydrates.

In other cases, they have to fight against depression, headaches and muscle soreness. All of these symptoms can be fought by increasing the serotonin levels.

Some of the main symptoms of low serotonin levels, which are relieved by taking 5-HTP:

  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Craving for carbohydrates
  • Bulimia
  • Sleep problems
  • Narcolepsy
  • Migraine
  • Tension headaches
  • Chronic headache
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia

Although 5-HTP is relatively new, it has been studied intensely in the last three decades. It has been available in several countries since the 70s.

What are the advantages of a 5-HTP supplement vs an L-tryptophan supplement?

5-HTP has many advantages when compared to L-Tryptophan. First of all, 5-HTP is more effective than L-tryptophan because it is closer to serotonin.

5-HTP is extracted from a natural source: the seeds of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia), while L-tryptophan is produced through bacterial fermentation.

What effect does 5-HTP have on weight loss?

5-HTP to lose weightIn 1976, researchers carried out a study with rats. Those that used to eat a lot when they were young ate much less after taking 5-HTP.

In other words, the rats were generically too fat because they had low levels of this enzyme that triggers the production of serotonin. Therefore, these rats did not receive the signal to stop eating until they had consumed more than what normal rats usually eat.

Many people tend to be obese due to genetic factors. This trend may involve the same mechanisms that have been observed in rats, which tend to become obese for genetic reasons.

In other words, many people tend to be obese due to low serotonin levels in their brain.

For that reason, if they take 5-HTP, they fix that genetic deficiency. Producing more serotonin will calm down their abnormal and uncontrolled appetite.

Studies on weight loss with 5-HTP supplements

Following the first experiments in animals about the effects of 5-HTP on weight loss, three clinical trials were carried out by the University of Rome. Their purpose was to assess the effect of 5-HTP in obese women.

1st Study

The first study was carried out with a group of women who were trying to lose weight. They were given 5-HTP supplements for five weeks. Consequently, they ate less calories, leading to an average weight loss of approximately 1.4 kilograms.

2nd Study

The second trial tried to establish whether 5-HTP could help overweight people to follow a diet. The study was divided into two six-month periods. They were not given dietary advice during the first six weeks. After that, they followed a 1200 calorie diet in the following six weeks.

The result showed how those women who took a placebo only lost 1 kilogram, while those who had taken a 5-HTP supplement lost 4.7 kilograms. Like in the previous study, the 5-HTP supplement seemed to stimulate weight loss by producing a feeling of satiety. Consequently, this lead to eating less food and calories. All those women who took 5-HTP experienced this effect.

3rd Study

In the third 5-HTP study, there was no dietary advice for the first 6 weeks. Afterwards, they followed a 1200 calorie diet in the following 6 weeks.

The results were even more impressive than the previous studies for several reasons. For example, the group that took 5-HTP lost an average of 2 kilograms in six weeks and an average of 5.3 kilograms in twelve weeks.

In contrast, the group that took the placebo lost an average of 0.3 kilograms in six weeks and nearly 0.8 kilograms in twelve weeks. The weight loss difference between both groups shows how difficult it was for these women to follow a diet.

The level of satiety in the participants was completely registered during the test. A 90% of the women that took 5-HTP experienced a feeling of satiety even after eating less calories.

Some women took 300mg of 5-HTP (three times a day) experienced mild nausea in the first 6 weeks of the study. However, the symptoms were not strong enough to abandon the test. In the end, the scientist did not report other side effects.

5-HTP does not alter the release or natural elimination of serotonin. It is not a synthetic drug either, rather, it triggers the production of an amino acid that is naturally synthesized by the body.

How does 5-HTP work when compared to melatonin to treat insomnia?

5-HTP is much more effective than melatonin.

Several clinical trials have shown the excellent effects of 5-HTP to encourage a restful sleep. They were tested both in healthy individuals and those who suffer insomnia.

The ability to improve the sleep quality is one of the main advantages of 5-HTP to treat insomnia.

What is fibromyalgia and how can 5-HTP help to treat it?

Fibromyalgia is a recently recognized disease that produces chronic muscle pain and exhaustion. It is a relatively common disease that affects around a 4% of the population. Its diagnosis requires 3 main criteria to be met and at least 4 subcriteria.

The history of 5-HTP as an effective element to treat fibromyalgia started with the studies of Fenclonine. This drug blocks a tryptophan enzyme that synthesizes serotonin, inhibiting the production of this neurotransmitter.

5-HTP to treat fibromyalgia

In the decade between the 1960s and the 1970s, the predominant theory was that high serotonin levels produced migraines. However, this opinion was proven to be false because it is completely the opposite. Now we now that high serotonin levels reduce the symptoms of migraine.

Researchers found out that those who suffered headaches experienced a severe muscle pain when they took Fenclonine. However, this unexpected effect led to important advances in fibromyalgia in order to explain its symptoms.

The researchers also found that people who suffered migraines reacted to it much more intensely than others who did not suffer from headaches. However, those who did not suffer these diseases did not react to Fenclonine. These facts proved the sensitivity of those who suffered migraines to low serotonin levels.

In conclusion, migraine and fibromyalgia have one thing in common: Both are diseases that go along low serotonin levels.

After 25 years of research in the matter, a renowned scientist stated:

“My opinion coincides with that of other pain specialists: taking 5-HTP can significantly reduce the symptoms and pains of primary fibromyalgia.” Double-blind clinical studies support this conclusion.

Can we combine 5-HTP supplementation with Saint John’s Wort extract?

Of course. In fact, the two work together very well. More than 25 clinical trials have proven that St. John’s wort extract is more effective than antidepressants to treat mild/ moderate depression. In more severe cases, the advice is to take 5-HTP along with the St. John’s wort extract.

You should make sure that you are taking the standard St. John’s wort extract with 0.3% of hypericin.

The recommended dose for this extract is 300mg, three times a day. If we combine it with 5-HTP, it is advisable to take:

  • 50-100mg of 5-HTP, 3 times a day.
  • 150-300mg of St. John’s wort extract.

Has the use of 5-HTP to treat depression being studied?5-HTP to treat depression

Yes. In fact, there are excellent studies that have proven that 5-HTP is an effective remedy for depression. 5-HTP usually produces very good results in patients who do not respond to antidepressant medicines.

One of the most impressive clinical trials was performed on 90 patients who suffered a depression that resisted treatment.

These patients did not respond to previous treatments, including all the antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy. These patients were given an average of 200mg of 5-HTP daily, ranging from 50 to 600mg per day.

Of all the studied patients, 43 of the 99 of them were completely cured, another 8 of them showed a significant improvement. The response of patients who have suffered from this disease for a long time was impressive to the extent that the researchers stated that:

5-HTP has gained a first place among the antidepressants that are used as a last resort.

In the last 20 years it has been proven that no medicine:

1. Acts as fast as 5-HTP.

2. Transforms the patient into a completely new person and allows them to recover their social life.

3. It is completely safe, without any side effects.

Are there any studies that have directly compared 5-HTP with antidepressants?

Yes, there are. 5-HTP is equal or better than normal antidepressants and the side effects are a lot less severe. The most significant study compared 5-HTP with fluvoxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

The participants took either 5-HTP (100mg) or fluvoxamine (50mg) three times a day for six weeks. The group that took 5-HTP reduced their depression in a 60.7% versus a 56.1% in those who were given fluvoxamine.

The percentage was slightly higher in the 5-HTP group (60.7% vs 56.1%). In addition, the response of the patients who took 5-HTP was also faster than that of the patients that took fluvoxamine.

The real advantage of 5-HTP in this study was the low side effects. The differences between both groups were:

Although the number of patients that suffered side effects did not differ largely in both groups, the relation between the severity and the type of treatment was important: Fluvoxamine produced from moderate to severe side effects, while 5-HTP produced minor side effects.

The most common side effects of 5-HTP were nausea, heartburn and gastrointestinal problems (swelling and satiety). These side effects were classified as minor. In contrast, most of the side effects of the fluvoxamine group were classified as moderate or severe.

Can 5-HTP help those who suffer headaches?5-HTP against migraines

Due to the fact that people who suffer chronic headaches usually have low serotonin levels, many researchers refer to migraines and chronic headaches as “low serotonin syndrome”.

Several clinical trials have studied the effects of 5-HTP on headaches (both migraines and tension headaches), and the results were excellent. In particular, the use of 5-HTP to prevent migraines has significant advantages when compared to the pharmacological treatment.

Even though there is a wide range of drugs that are useful to treat migraines, all of them produce side effects, while 5-HTP is a lot safer.

5-HTP Dose

The dose of 5-HTP for mental disorders, fat loss, headaches and chronic muscle pain should start at 50mg, three times a day.

If you do not experience any side effects after two weeks, the dose can be increased to 100mg, three times a day.

Since 5-HTP has a different transmission method than L-tryptophan, it can be taken during the meals.

How to take 5-HTP

  • If you want to take 5-HTP for weight loss, you can take it 20 minutes before the meals.
  • It is advisable to take between 100 and 300mg around 30-45 minutes before going to bed if you want to fight against insomnia
  • You should start with the lowest dose, at least for three days, before increasing it.

The effects of 5-HTP

5-HTP is a safe and natural supplement and a great alternative to medications in order to increase the brain serotonin levels.

5-HTP (L-5-hydroxytryptophan) restores the serotonin levels directly when it is absorbed by the bloodstream. It crosses the blood-brain barrier easily and produces an optimal serotonin balance in the brain.

5-HTP has proven to be more effective than L-tryptophan since, chemically speaking, it is closer to serotonin. However, there are also people for whom L-tryptophan works better than 5-HTP.

Consequently, the effects of 5-HTP and tryptophan are different in each person.

For this reason, nutritionists advise testing one of them and switching if we do not get the desired effects.

What is serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is essential for the proper functioning of our brain and body. Neurotransmitters are natural elements from our body that transport vital signals between cells. A serotonin deficiency will hinder the transmission of said signals.

Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter because it regulates the activity of many other essential brain components. Low serotonin levels have serious negative effects, producing diseases that go from depression to fibromyalgia or sleeping problems.

The main function of serotonin is to regulate the bowel movements of the digestive system. Moreover, serotonin is also used in the central nervous system and it plays a very important role in the pain response.5-HTP for an improved mood

5-HTP and serotonin

Serotonin regulates functions like the mood, appetite, sleep, anxiety, etc. This is why 5-HTP is used to treat depression, a lack of appetite, combat a low self-esteem…

It is synthesized from the L-tryptophan amino acid, which is present in protein. L-tryptophan transforms into 5-HTP and then into serotonin in the gastrointestinal tract thanks to vitamin B6.

We need a proper amount of vitamin B6 to produce serotonin. There are many tryptophan sources that also contain vitamin B6.

Serotonin could also be used to treat diseases that involved chronic pain since it also has a positive effect on the mood. Low serotonin levels can cause irritability and depression.

Sources of serotonin

One of the ways of increasing the serotonin levels is eating food with a high percentage of vitamin B6 and L-tryptophan. Some of these sources are cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, walnuts, peanut butter, soy and turkey. Another way would be using 5-HTP and vitamin B6 supplementation. This will help your body to synthesize more serotonin and to control the pain.

An important source of this element are the Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds

5-HTP could reinvent the future treatment of mental and physical diseases related to serotonin. It has been effectively used in Europe for decades.

We want to remind you that this is merely information and it should not be used to diagnose or treat any disease. In any case, you should consult a doctor for a diagnosis or treatment. This information cannot replace the advice of a professional. You should not use this information to diagnose a health problem or illness without consulting your doctor. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

5-HTP and Insomnia

Do you suffer insomnia, have problems to fall asleep or you wake up in the morning feeling drowsy and exhausted?

If so, you are not the only one. In fact, one out of three people suffers from insomnia or have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep all night.

Can 5-HTP help to fight insomnia?

There are many people who can answer this question with a clear “yes”.

5-HTP improves sleep naturally

5-HTP improves the quality of sleep

This is the reason: Sleep is divided into several cycles. A normal sleep pattern includes between four and seven cycles, which are distributed throughout the night. Each cycle consists of two main parts.

The first part involves less brain activity and consciousness. At this stage we are not dreaming yet. The second phase of the cycle is called REM sleep, and it is the phase in which dreams happen.

5-HTP helps to “reduce the irregularities in sleep patterns” and encourages a deeper and more restful sleep

The studies have shown that 5-HTP improves the quality of sleep, prolongs the REM phase and provides a deeper sleep. However, it does not alter the total sleep time.

On the contrary, medicines disrupt the REM phase and deep non-REM phase. This results in a shallow dream that provides very little benefits.

5-HTP improves the REM phase and deep sleep and increases the serotonin levels, which are the fuel the brain needs to regulate our sleep.


If you are taking prescribed medicines for more than four weeks, you should not stop suddenly. Talk to your doctor about how to stop taking the medications gradually to avoid potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

The ability of 5-HTP to improve sleep includes regulating melatonin, a hormone that many people take to be able to sleep. But 5-HTP has proven to be much more effective in producing a restful sleep because it stimulates the release of melatonin by the pineal gland.

This is why taking 5-HTP enhances the natural production of melatonin in the body without causing daytime drowsiness.

Studies confirm the positive effect of 5-HTP to induce sleep

The positive effects of 5-HTP to fight sleep problems were first discovered in studies conducted by Dr. Richard J. Wyatt of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and Dr. Vincent Zarcone of Stanford University in the 1970s. These trials showed that 5-HTP increases the duration of REM sleep, depending on the dose.

Serotonin  is crucial to fall asleep and to stay asleep.

5-HTP directly stimulates the serotonin production, improving the quality of sleep. Consequently, we will wake up in the morning completely rested and fresh, with plenty of energy to face the challenges of a new day.

5-HTP and depression

Everyone feels down from time to time. But if this state of mind lasts more than two weeks or interferes in your daily activities, it can be more serious than that.

Here, you can find the diagnostic criteria for depression, according to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders”, forth edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington D.C., 1994.


Diagnostic criteria for depression A and A2:

At least one of the following three abnormal states of mind must occur, deeply affecting the our lives:

  • Abnormal or depressive mood for most of the day, almost every day, for at least two weeks.
  • Loss of interest and pleasure most of the day, almost every day for at least 2 weeks.
  • In individuals of 18 years of age or below: abnormal irritable mood for most of the day, almost every day, for at least two weeks.

If at least five of the following symptoms have occurred during the two-week depressive phase:

  • Depressive abnormal mood (or irritable mood, if it is an adolescent), as defined in the previous criterion A.
  • Loss of interest and pleasure, as defined in criterion A2.
  • Appetite or weight problems, either: abnormal weight loss (no diet) or loss of appetite; As well as abnormal weight gain or an abnormal increase of appetite.
  • Abnormal sleep disorders: Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Movement disorders, awkward or abnormal movements or abnormal deceleration.
  • Fatigue or abnormal loss of energy.
  • Feeling of guilt.
  • Lack of concentration or decision.
  • Morbid thoughts about death (not just fear of death) or suicide.

Note: These criteria are only information and they are not intended to diagnose any disease. Contact a mental health specialist for a proper diagnosis.

Depression can affect anyone5-HTP as support

This disease does not respond to any personal weakness and it cannot be cured by self-will, in the same way that a heart disease or diabetes cannot be cured through positive thinking. It is a real disease, caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The good news is that we can get help to treat it.

A great advance in its treatment was the development of SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). These anti-depressants increase the serotonin levels in the brain, which are too low when we suffer depression.

However, there is a natural alternative to SSRI which can also increase the levels of serotonin in the brain: 5-HTP supplements (L-5-Hydroxytryptophan). 5-HTP easily penetrates the brain where it is transformed into serotonin.

Many clinical trials confirm the effects of 5-HTP on increasing the serotonin levels.

Since the 1970s at least 15 studies performed on 511 subjects have assessed the clinical effects of 5-HTP on depression. The results of these studies have shown a significant improvement in 56% of the tested subjects.


One of these studies tested the effectiveness of 5-HTP as an antidepressant. It was conducted on 59 patients that were given 150 – 300mg of 5-HTP daily. The result was impressive: 40 of these patients (that is a 68%) showed a positive reaction in just a week.

In 1991, a study conducted on 36 individuals compared the effects of 5-HTP with a SSRI. One group took 5-HTP and the other a SSRI. After six weeks, both groups showed approximately the same success rate.

When the results were added up at the end of the trial, the success percentage was slightly higher for those patients that took 5-HTP.

The side effects of 5-HTP were mild and they generally disappeared in a few days. 5-HTP was better tolerated than the SSRI. The assessed 5-HTP tolerance in 95% of the patients was good or very good.

Some researchers discovered that the beneficial effects of 5-HTP as an antidepressant increased when combined with L-tyrosine.

However, it is not advisable to interrupt a medication without consulting your doctor.

If you suspect that you suffer depression and you are not improving with medicines like fluoxetine, taking 5-HTP may be the alternative that you were looking for.

5-HTP and headaches

5-HTP for headaches and migraines

We all have headaches from time to time. However, some people experience a higher intensity and frequency to the point that it ends up affecting their quality of life. Many analgesics only produce a minimal relief and, in fact, can worsen the problem.

As with fibromyalgia, persistent headaches can be caused by low serotonin levels. 5-HTP increases the serotonin levels and corrects the biochemical deficiency that may be triggering the headache.

Approximately 45 million Americans suffer chronic and recurring headaches. Between 16 and 18 million of them suffer migraines. Headaches cause an annual loss of 50 billion dollars.

Many people suffer an intense, chronic and debilitating headache. 

There are two types of headaches: vascular and non-vascular

Vascular headaches are caused by an excessive dilation of the blood vessels in the head. It is the result of the blood that is pumped with each heartbeat through these blood vessels. Migraine is one of the forms of vascular headache.

The good news is that serotonin narrows the blood vessels and reduces the discomfort. The effects of 5-HTP on serotonin make it an excellent ally to prevent these types of headaches.

It has been discovered that when the serotonin levels are higher, there is less discomfort.

The reason for this is that 5-HTP increases the amount of endorphins. Endorphins are chemically related to morphine, the body’s natural pain relievers.

There is consistent evidence that 5-HTP can increase the endorphin levels, since serotonin regulates their production and release.

Clinical studies showed a significant improvement of a 71% in patients suffering headaches

A study about the effects of 5-HTP on headaches conducted on 124 people who suffered migraines showed that a 71% of these people improved after taking 5-HTP.

Researchers form the Institute of Pain Research at the University of Milan found that between 77.4% and 93.5% of the patients suffering chronic daily headaches improved when taking 5-HTP. The trial lasted two months and the results improved constantly since the studied subjects took 5-HTP.

Advice to relieve the headaches caused by the diet and lifestyle:

  • Follow a healthy diet (whole grains, green-leaf vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds).
  • Remove sugar, alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
  • Identify and control food allergies.
  • Do exercise regularly.
  • Perform daily relaxation exercises from ten to fifteen minutes (deep breathing, meditation, praying, etc.)
  • Drink at least 1.5 liters of water daily
  • Avoid foods and drinks that contain histamine (like chocolate, cheese, wine and beer), since histamine can cause migraines.
5-HTP and Sport

Recommended use of 5-HTP to treat headaches:

Take between 100 and 200mg of 5-HTP three times a day. You will experience an improvement after several months.

5-HTP makes no miracles and it will not work in the same way for everyone, but it does work in most of the cases.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, you should consider trying a natural 5-HTP supplement.

5-HTP and fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia produces pain, fatigue, morning stiffness and sleep disorders. It is a constant and general pain that limits the person’s normal functioning.

It generally affects the neck, shoulders, back, hips, ankles, elbows or knees, and it is usually worse in the morning.

Fibromyalgia is associated with low serotonin levels

High serotonin levels could have a direct effect on the transmission of pain signals. This was assessed in a study about this disease and migraines. When there is a higher level of serotonin we can cope with pain better.

The fact that 5-HTP affects the endorphin levels supports this theory. Endorphins are chemicals that are related to morphine, which is considered the body’s natural pain killer.

5-HTP can increase the endorphin levels by increasing the serotonin levels that regulate their production and release.

Diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia

To diagnose fibromyalgia, the patient must meet three of the main criteria, as well as four or more minor criteria.

Main criteria:

  • General pain or stiffness in at least three anatomical areas, that lasts for at least three months.
  • Six or more points of typical persistent sensitivity.
  • Discard other diseases that may cause similar symptoms.


  • Exhaustion.
  • Chronic headache.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Neurological and psychological disorders.
  • Joint swelling.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Several symptoms related to activity and stress.

Studies that prove the decrease of pain when taking 5-HTP

A 90-day clinical trial found that 5-HTP relieved the symptoms of fibromyalgia in 50 patients. These included the anxiety, the sensitivity points, the intensity of the pain and the exhaustion. Moreover, they also reported a significant improvement of the quality of sleep.

Another study reported similar results. (Sarzi, Caruso, et al., 1992; Caruso, Sarzi, et al. 1990)

In the 4th stage of fibromyalgia, exhaustion is caused by lack of sleep. People who suffer from this disease tend to lack the stages of deep sleep and spend the night in the first stage of the sleep cycle. (Harding, et al., 1998)

5-HTP helps patients with this condition to improve the quality of their sleep. (Juhl, 1998)

Combining 5-HTP (100 mg) with St John’s wort extract (300 mg) and magnesium (200 to 250 mg) three times a day worked better than each product separately.

Note: The maximum benefits can usually be observed after four weeks of continuous treatment.

The discomfort suffered by patients with fibromyalgia is unimaginable. There are facts that explain that it is due to low serotonin levels. The good news is – and there are already many people who have tested it – that 5-HTP precisely deals with this cause and provides pain relief.

5-HTP and weight loss

One of the biggest obstacles for successful weight loss diets is the tendency to suffer anxiety after following the diet. This is where 5-HTP comes into play.

It has been shown that the craving for carbohydrates and other cravings are due to low serotonin levels. Therefore, increasing the serotonin levels in the brain can contribute to the success of a weight loss diet.

5-HTP and physical exercise

5-HTP directly stimulates of the production of serotonin, which means that it is transformed into serotonin in the body.

5-HTP encourages an optimal balance of serotonin in the brain in a similar way to other prescription weight loss products.

The results of the clinical trials prove the success of 5-HTP

Multiple scientifically controlled clinical trials have shown that 5-HTP supports weight loss diets.

A study carried out by the University of Rome assessed the effects of 5-HTP (300mg) on the eating habits and diet of 20 obese women.

The study period was divided into two phases of six weeks. For the first six weeks, the participants took 5-HTP or placebo, without restrictions. In the second period of six weeks, the participants followed a diet of 1200 calories a day, while still taking 5-HTP or placebo.

The participants of the group that took the placebo did not experience a significant loss of weight at the end of the two periods, while those who took 5-HTP did experience a significant weight loss in the first and second period.

The second group did not even reduce their calorie supply, not even in the second period, when the calories consumption should have been reduced.

However, the group that took 5-HTP showed a spontaneous and significant reduction of foods and calories (from 3220 to 1879 calories a day) in the first period, which means that the intake of carbohydrates dropped a 50%!

In the second period, the calorie intake of those who were given 5-HTP dropped even further, to 1268 calories a day, with even a lower consumption of carbohydrates.

The researchers read these results as a confirmation of the theory that 5-HTP reduces the anxiety for eating carbohydrates and stops our food cravings, even in those people who do not follow any sort of diet.

How to take 5-HTP during a diet?

It is advisable to take 5-HTP 20 minutes before each meal, since it acts as a natural appetite suppressor and reduces the craving for carbohydrates.

  • It is advisable to start with 100mg three times a day.
  • If after 4 weeks the desired results have not been achieved, the dose can be increased to 200mg three times a day.

A dose of 300mg three times a day can be bearable, however, you must never exceed 900mg. You may experience mild nausea with higher doses, although it is generally transient.

Side effects of 5-HTP

Generally, 5-HTP is tolerated very well. It rarely produces side effects, and nausea is the most common one. However, high levels of 5-HTP should be avoided because they can produce extremely high serotonin levels, which can have a negative impact.

5-HTP is tolerated better than SSRI medications.

Possible side effects of SSRI medications:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Anxiety
  • Somnolence
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Mouth dryness
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Sight problems
5-HTP and a bad sight

Important tips about taking 5-HTP

5-HTP should not be taken with antidepressants unless the consumption is supervised by a physician or doctor, because 5-HTP can increase the activity of these medications.

You should avoid taking 5-HTP if you are pregnant, lactating, or if you have a serious cardiovascular disease.

High 5-HTP doses can increase the serotonin levels in blood, which can cause temporary nausea. You must never take more than 900mg of 5-HTP per day.

Like any nutritional supplement, it can be overused or abused. 5-HTP has proven to be a safe and effective nutritional supplement as long as it is used in reasonable amounts.


These is some of the most relevant research that has been carried out on 5-HTP dietary supplements:

Studies 1-11:

  • Birdsall TC. 5-hydroxytryptophan: A clinically efficient serotonin precursor. Altern Med Rev 1998; 3:271-80.
  • Byerley WF, Judd LL, Reimherr FW, Grosser BI 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a review of its antidepressant efficacy and adverse effects. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1987; 7:127-37.
  • Boer JA, Westenberg HG. Behavioral, neuroendocrine and biochemical effects of the administration of 5-hydroxytryptophan in panic disorders. Psiquiatría Res 1990; 31:267-78.
  • Cangiano C, Ceci F, Cairella M, et al. Effects of 5-hydroxytryptophan on eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects. ADV Exp Med Biol 1991; 294:591-3.
  • Cangiano C, Laviano A, Del Ben M, et al. Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disorders, 1998; 22: 648-54.
  • Caruso I, Sarzi Puttini P, M Cazzola, Azzolini V. Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia syndrome. J Int Med Res 1990; 18: 201-9.
  • Cangiano C, Ceci F, Cancino A, et al. Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Am J Clin Nutr 1992; 56: 863-7.
  • Ceci F, C Cangiano, Cairella M, et al. The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects. J Neural Transm 1989; 76: 109-17.
  • Coleman M. Infantil: Infantile spasms associated with 5-hydroxytryptophan administration in patients with Down’s syndrome. Neurología 1971; 21: 911-9.
  • Coppen A, Whybrow PC, Noguera R, et al. The comparative antidepressant value of L-tryptophan and imipramine with and without attempted potentiation by liothyronine. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1972; 26: 234-41.
  • De Benedittis G, Massei R. Precursors of 5-HT in the prophylaxis of migraine: a double-blind cross-over study with L-5-hydroxytryptophan. Clin J 1986; 2: 123-129.

Studies 12-21:

  • De Benedittis G. Massei R. Serotonin precursors in chronic primary headache. A double-blind cross-over study with L-5-hydroxytryptophan vs. placebo. J Neurosurg Sci 1985; 29: 239-48.
  • De Giorgis G, R Miletto, Iannuccelli M, M Camuffo, Scerni S. Headache in association with sleep disorders in children: a psychodiagnostic evaluation and controlled clinical study–L-5-HTP versus placebo. Exp Clin Res 1987; 13: 425-33.
  • RR Freedman. Treatment of menopausal hot flashes with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Maturitas 2010; 65: 383-5.
  • George DT, Lindquist T, Rawlings RR, et al. Pharmacologic maintenance of abstinence in patients with alcoholism: no efficacy of 5-hydroxytryptophan or levodopa. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1992; 52: 553-60
  • Jangid P, Malik P, P Singh, Sharma M, Gulia AK. Comparative study of efficacy of l-5-hydroxytryptophan and fluoxetine in patients presenting with first depressive episode. J Psychiatr 2013; 6: 29-34.
  • Johnson KL, Klarskov K, Benson LM, et al. Presence of peak X and related compounds: the reported contaminant in case related 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan associated with eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. J Rheumatol 1999; 26: 2714-7.
  • Joly P, Lampert A, Thomine E, et al. Development of pseudobullous morphea and scleroderma-like illness during therapy with L-5-hydroxytryptophan and carbidopa. J Am Acad Dermatol 1991; 25: 332-3.
  • Jukic T, Rojc B, Boben-Bardutzky D, M Hafner, Ihan A. The use of a food supplementation with D-phenylalanine, L-glutamine and L-5-hydroxytryptophan in the alleviation of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Coll antropol 2011; 35: 1225-30.
  • RS Kahn, Westenberg HG. L-5-hydroxytryptophan in the treatment of anxiety disorders. J Affect Disorders, 1985; 8: 197-200.
  • RS Kahn, Westenberg HG, Verhoeven WM, et al. Effect of a serotonin precursor and inhibitor in the treatment of anxiety disorders; a double-blind comparison between 5-hydroxytryptophan, clomipramine and placebo. Int Clin Psychopharmacol 1987; 21: 33-45.

Studies 22-33

  • Kaneko M, Kumashiro H, Takahashi y Hoshino. L-5HTP treatment and serum 5-HT level after L-5-HTP loading on depressed patients. Neuropsychobiology 1979; 5:232-40.
  • Longo G, Rudoi I, Iannuccelli M, R Strinati, Panizon F. [Treatment of essential headache in developmental age with L-5-HTP (cross over double-blind study versus placebo)]. Pediatr Med Chir 1984; 6: 241-5.
  • Maissen CP, Ludin HP. [Comparison of the effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan and propranolol in the interval treatment of migraine]. Schweiz Med Wochenschr 1991; 121: 1585-1590.
  • Meyer JS, Welch KM, Deshmukh VD, et al. Neurotransmitter precursor amino acids in the treatment of multi-infarct dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. J Amer Geriat Soc 1977; 25: 289-98.
  • Michelson D, Page SW, Casey R, et al. An eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome related disorder associated with exposure to L-5-hydroxytryptophan. J Rheumatol 1994; 21: 2261-5.
  • Nakajima T, Kudo Y, Z. Kaneko. Clinical evaluation of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan as an antidepressant drug. Folia Psychiatr Neurol Japn 1978; 32: 223-30.
  • Nardini M, De Stefano R, Iannuccelli M, et al. Treatment of depression with L-5-hydroxytryptophan combined with chlorimipramine, a double-blind study. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 1983; 3: 239-50.
  • Nicolodi M, Sicuteri F. Fibromyalgia and migraine, two faces of the same mechanism. Serotonin as the common clue for pathogenesis and therapy. Adv Exp Med Biol 1996; 398: 373-9.
  • Nolen WA, van de Putte JJ, Dijken WA, Kamp JS. L-5HTP in depression resistant to re-uptake inhibitors. An open comparative study with tranylcypromine. Br J Psychiatry 1985; 147: 16-22.
  • Poldinger W, Calanchini B, Schwarz W. A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency as a target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxamine. Psychopathology 1991; 24: 53-81.
  • Preshaw RM, Leavitt D, Hoag G. The dietary supplement 5-hydroxytryptophan and urinary 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid. CMAJ 2008; 178: 993.
  • Pueschel SM, Reed RB, Cronk CE, Goldstein BI. 5-hydroxytryptophan and pyridoxine. Their effects in young children with Down’s syndrome. Am J Dis Child 1980; 134: 838-44.

Studies 34-43

  • Ribeiro CA. L-5-Hydroxytryptophan in the prophylaxis of chronic tension-type headache: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. For the Portuguese Head Society. Headache 2000; 40: 451-6.
  • Rondanelli M, Klersy C, Iadarola P, et al. Satiety and amino-acid profile in overweight women after a new treatment using a natural plant extract sublingual spray formulation. Int J Obes (Lond) 2009; 33: 1174-82.
  • Rousseau JJ. Effects of a levo-5-hydroxytryptophan-dihydroergocristine combination on depression and neuropsychic performance: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial in elderly patients. Clin Ther 1987; 9: 267-72.
  • Santucci M, P Cortelli, Rossi PG, Baruzzi A, Sacquegna T. L-5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in childhood migraine prophylaxis: a double-blind crossover study. Cephalalgia 1986; 6: 155-7.
  • Sarzi Puttini P, Caruso I. Primary fibromyalgia syndrome and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan: a 90-day open study. J Int Med Res 1992; 20: 182-9.
  • Shaw K, J Turner, Del Mar C. Tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002;: CD003198.
  • Shell W, Bullias D, Charuvastra E, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep. Am J Ther 2010; 17: 133-9.
  • Sicuteri F. 5-hydroxytryptophan in the prophylaxis of migraine. Pharmacology Communications Research 1972; 4: 213-218.
  • Singhal AB, Caviness VS, Begleiter AF, et al. Cerebral vasoconstriction and stroke after use of serotonergic drugs. Neurology 2002; 58: 130-3.
  • Sternberg EM, Van Woert MH, SN Young, et al. Development of a scleroderma-like illness during therapy with L-5-hydroxytryptophan and carbidopa. N Engl J Med 1980; 303: 782-7.

Studies 43-50

  • Takahashi S, Kondo H, Kato N. Effect of l-5-hydroxytryptophan on brain monoamine metabolism and evaluation of its clinical effect in depressed patients. J Psychiatr Res 1975; 12: 177-87.
  • Titus F, Dávalos A, Alom J, A. 5-Hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Randomized clinical trial. Eur Neurol 1986; 25: 327-9.
  • Trouillas P, Serratrice G, Laplane D, et al. Levorotatory form of 5-hydroxytryptophan in Friedreich’s ataxia. Results of a double-blind drug-placebo cooperative study. Arch Neurol 1995; 52: 456-60.
  • Trouillas P, F Brudon, Adeleine P. Improvement of cerebellar ataxia with levorotatory form of 5-hydroxytryptophan. A double-blind study with quantified data processing. Arch Neurol 1988; 45: 1217-22.
  • LJ van Hiele. l-5-Hydroxytryptophan in depression: the first substitution therapy in psychiatry? The treatment of 99 out-patients with ‘therapy-resistant’ depressions. Neuropsychobiology 1980; 6: 230-40.
  • HM van Praag, Korf J, Dols LC, Schut T. A pilot study of the predictive value of the probenecid test in application of 5-hydroxytryptophan as antidepressant. Psychopharmacology 1972; 25: 14-21.
  • Wessel K, J Hermsdorfer, Deger K, et al. Double-blind crossover study with levorotatory form of hydroxytryptophan in patients with degenerative cerebellar diseases. Arch Neurol 1995; 52: 451-5.
  • Williams A, Goodenberger D, Caline DB, et al. Myoclonus palatine and herpes zoster, improvement with 5-hydroxytryptophan and carbidopa. Neurology 1978; 28: 358-9.
5-HTP Review

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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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