5-HTP is yet another chemical compound which belongs to the group of amino acids. It has a variety of benefits for us. It is also known as oxitriptan – a naturally occurring amino acid responsible for serotonin synthesis.
Let’s see what 5-HTP is, how it works and what are the benefits of using it. By the end of this article you will also learn how to properly dose and stack it, what the side effects are and where you can buy it.
- 1 Summary
- 2 5-HTP Benefits and Effects
- 3 How 5-HTP Works
- 4 5-HTP Dosage
- 5 5-HTP Stacking
- 6 5-HTP Side Effects
- 7 Where to Buy 5-HTP
- 8 Conclusion
5-HTP is commonly used by people in high pressure careers, students and biohackers. Since it is very powerful and can’t be attained through food, 5-HTP is only available through supplementation.
It is a chemical produced by our bodies. In fact, our bodies convert an essential amino acid called tryptophan into 5-HTP. While the 5-HTP is not found in any foods that we regularly consume, this is not the case with tryptophan. However, modifying the diet to contain more foods rich in tryptophan does not lead to increased 5-HTP levels.
The chemical process that takes place in our bodies converts this chemical into serotonin down the line. Did you know that serotonin is a neurotransmitter crucial for the communication between our brain cells? By taking 5-HTP supplements we promote serotonin synthesis and raise its levels in the central nervous system.
Serotonin affects the way we behave, as well as our mood. Since 5-HTP increases serotonin levels in our bodies, we can experience any of the positive effects on pain sensation, sleep, anxiety, mood, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, fibromyalgia, appetite and other. We will discuss the benefits in the detail in the “Benefits and Effects” section.
By taking 5-HTP supplements we promote serotonin synthesis and raise its levels in the central nervous system.
The seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant, contain this substance in high concentration, and the 5-HTP found in supplements originates from from this herb.
5-HTP Benefits and Effects
Since it promotes the biosynthesis of serotonin, 5-HTP has a plethora of benefits and positive effects on our health and overall well-being. The following ones are scientifically proven and tested.
5-HTP vs Depression
Scientists at the University of Queensland, Australia have conducted a study to discover if there is any connection between intake of tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan and a reduction in symptoms of depression. The main results of this study confirm that 5-HTP has a beneficial effect for patients with depression, and actually alleviates symptoms of depression.
The 5-HTP was compared alongside some other antidepressants. The scientists at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in India have compared the effects that 5-HTP and fluoxetine have on patients with depression. At the end of study patients treated with antidepressant fluoxetine and the ones treated with 5-HTP exhibited the same positive response.
Scientists at National University of Singapore have decided to examine the effects of 5-HTP and antidepressant Citalopram and see if there is any change when they are combined. Both 5-HTP and Citalopram increase serotonin levels, but when study participants were on the combined treatment, the serotonin levels were increased by 500%.
Since this synergy is very strong, experts recommend combined treatments with slow-release 5-HTP supplements.
5-HTP vs Anxiety
Anxiety is a pretty common condition today and 5-HTP can help people alleviate its symptoms. In fact, the scientists at the University of Pavia, Italy decided to examine the effects of 5-HTP on nondepressed young subjects with high levels of romantic stress. The study concluded that 5-HTP directly affects the serotonergic system and alleviates the symptoms of psychological suffering associated with anxiety as a consequence of unreciprocated romantic love.
There was also an effort made to examine the effect of 5-HTP on GABA receptors and whether it can reduce anxiety while promoting a sense of relaxation. Scientists from the Biology Department at Adelphi University, New York, have found that 5-HTP is a useful alternative that can be used in the management of the stress and anxiety of everyday life.
5-HTP directly affects the serotonergic system and alleviates the symptoms of psychological suffering associated with anxiety as a consequence of unreciprocated romantic love.
5HTP vs Panic Attacks
Chronic panic attacks don’t necessarily have to been rooted in some trauma and our psyche. Sometimes they are just symptoms of underlying disbalance, in this case lower availability of serotonin in the brain. Researchers working at Maastricht University, The Netherlands, have discovered that panic disorder patients become much more vulnerable once the availability of serotonin to their brains is lowered.
They administered 200mg of 5-HTP to the patients and concluded that this chemical provides significant relief.
5-HTP vs Poor Sleep Quality
Working under a lot of stress and dealing with deadlines affects our mood and our lifestyle in general. Being over engaged throughout the entire day can lead to sleepless nights. Fortunately scientists at Korea University, Seoul, have confirmed that due to the 5-HTP supplementation over long periods of time, the GABA receptors’ transcription function increased. And this had a direct effect on sleep cycles, by promoting healthy sleep.
Serotonin deficiency can be a symptom of a genetic mutation. In this case the circadian rhythm of these people is disturbed and they tend to overeat on a regular basis. Researchers have discovered that 5-HTP supplementation results in the circadian rhythm stabilization and restoration of healthy food intake.
Additionally, on the opposite side of the world, in Los Angeles, researches working at Targeted Medical Pharma concluded that GABA and 5-HTP supplementation decreased sleep latency, reduced time required to fall asleep, improved the quality of sleep and increased its duration.
5-HTP vs Craving, Obesity and Uncontrollable Appetite
The chemical mechanism behind craving and appetite mitigation is the same – the serotonin levels have to be increased and people usually increase them by eating foods rich in carbohydrates. Since 5-HTP increases levels of serotonin in our brains, it also reduces cravings and can be used to help people lose weight.
In a small clinical trial, conducted at the University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy, 5-HTP was identified as a valuable supplement that promotes weight loss and decreases food intake.
5-HTP vs Neurological Symptoms due to Phenylketonuria (PKU)
Although there were no human clinical trials, the trials conducted on mice showed scientifically significant results. Researchers at Sapienza University in Rome, Italy have found that 5-HTP supplementation helps relieve neurological symptoms due to PKU. This is because phenylalanine disrupts serotonin synthesis while 5-HTP supports it and maintains its concentration in the central nervous system.
How 5-HTP Works
5-HTP works in central nervous system and in the brain. Its main role is tied to the promotion of serotonin synthesis. Since serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter tied to sleep, appetite, temperature, pain sensation and sexual behavior regulation, it is very important to make sure that serotonin levels in our bodies are kept at a healthy level. And this is exactly what 5-HTP does – it promotes the synthesis of serotonin.
After you take a supplement containing 5-HTP, it will get rapidly absorbed in the upper intestine. Studies have proven that approximately half of the consumed 5-HTP gets absorbed within the first 1.5 hours. Over the next 3 hours 70% of ingested 5-HTP will enter the bloodstream, which makes the 5-HTP supplements very efficient.
If you are worried about how long the 5-HTP elimination process is, you should know that is as rapid as its absorbtion, 50% of the consumed 5-HTP gets eliminated in 2 hours.
Since it gets absorbed and eliminated fast, 5-HTP belongs to the group of rapid pharmacokinetic chemicals. This is why experts recommend slow-release supplementation of 5-HTP, as it will maintain the same levels of serotonin in the brain over longer periods of time.
The metabolic processes of 5-HTP also have an effect on cytochrome P450 liver enzyme. The patients who took 5-HTP supplements in a controlled study had decreased concentrations of this enzyme in their bloodstream. This is very important to know, as cytochrome P450 is used by our bodies to metabolize potentially toxic compounds.
The dosage of 5-HTP may vary from 200 mg to 3 grams per day. You should know, though, that the higher the dosage is, the higher the chances of side effects occurring. The dosage variations and their effects were examined in the University of Queensland study.
There is another study that examined the effect of 5-HTP on obesity and weight loss. The most optimal dosage of 5-HTP supplementation for this purpose was identified to be approximately 900 mg per day. If you want to calculate your individual dose, you should take 8 mg of the chemical per each kg of body weight. If you want to reduce food intake, make sure to take 5-HTP with a meal. This is because it affects the feeling of satiety from food intake.
Experts say that a typical dose of 5-HTP is anywhere from 300 to 500 mg per day. This can be divided into several doses or taken once daily. If you are on any of the antidepressant or cognitive drugs, you have to consult your doctor to see if you are allowed to take 5-HTP as supplement.
If you are on any of the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) you must consult your doctor because a combination of 5-HTP and SSRIs is potentially lethal.
Since 5-HTP is a powerful chemical compound, you should take special care when you decide to implement it in your supplementation regime. It is advised to consult your doctor if you are on any medication that increases serotonin levels.
It is advised not to stack it with antidepressant drugs, as they interact with 5-HTP. Some of these medications also increase serotonin. If you take it alongside these drugs, your serotonin levels will spike and this can lead to serious side effects – anxiety, heart problems and shivering. These medications are: imipramine (Tofranil), fluoxetine (Prozac), clomipramine (Anafranil), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) and amitriptyline (Elavil).
Additionally, 5-HTP should not be stacked with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These medications are also used for depression, but they have slightly different metabolic process. In the end they also increase serotonin levels in the CNS, which makes them unstackable with 5-HTP. These are: tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil) and others.
5-HTP also interacts with other medications. Stacking it with the following ones increases the risk of serious side effects: Tramadol (Ultram), Carbidopa (Lodosyn), Pentazocine (Talwin), Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM) and Meperidine (Demerol).
Combining any of the above with 5-HTP may cause serotonin syndrome, which is a very serious condition with very unpleasant symptoms: rapidly fluctuating heart rate and blood pressure, mental changes, hot flashes and other.
5-HTP Side Effects
5-HTP is relatively safe supplement to use once you are familiar with proper stacking and dosage.
As we have already said, serotonin is very powerful and it plays several crucial roles in our organ systems. One of those is the control of gut movement. When you start taking 5-HTP supplementation there is a chance that you can experience nauseas, vomiting and diarrhea due to the increased gut movement.
As you can see, 5-HTP is absorbed at a rather fast rate. This leads to your serotonin levels spiking, which some people don’t tolerate all that well. In this case the side effects are vomiting and nausea.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to risk any side effects you should know that slow-release 5-HTP is much better tolerated and has slight chances of causing any of the side effects.
The side effects also correlate with the dosage. When taken orally, large 5-HTP doses (6 – 10 grams) may cause severe muscle spasms and stomach problems.
Doses that have been safely used by children aged 3-12 years, do not exceed 5 mg per 1 kg of body weight.
Where to Buy 5-HTP
Ever since the Peak X contamination of tryptophan supplements was discovered in 1989, the US Food and Drug Administration has been strictly controlling any of the supplements that increase serotonin levels in the human body. If you want to be on the safe side, always make sure to purchase 5-HTP supplements from reliable stores and manufacturers.
As you already know, 5-HTP is extracted from the seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. The most common forms of 5-HTP supplement found on the market are in capsules and tablets. Supplement manufacturers also include 5-HTP in their numerous herbal and vitamin formulas.
For you convenience, we have found 2 high quality 5-HTP supplements on a reliable Amazon store and manufactured by trusted companies.
5-HTP 200mg Supplement contains 120 capsules and it comes from BioScience Nutrition. It is all natural plant-derived product. The BioScience works under FDA and GMP compliance, rules and regulations. This is why their product has the highest quality on the market. Besides, it is also allergen free. There are no traces of GMO, fillers, preservatives, soy, gluten, dairy, shellfish and egg found in their product.
5-HTP 100 mg supplement contains 120 vegan capsules and it comes from the Nested Naturals. This company is, above anything else, socially conscious and always strives to deliver high quality products to their customers. Their 5-HTP supplement is one of the purest on the market, which is ensured by 3rd party testing. Their facilities are GMP and NSF certified, and this product is 100% non-GMO and allergen free. This is an excellent alternative for vegans, since Nested Naturals ensure that their plant-based capsules are not gelatin made.
5-HTP is very powerful and beneficial supplement that naturally increases serotonin levels in your brain. It can improve the quality of your sleep, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, regulate your appetite and help you lose weight. In the end, let us stress that it is important to learn how to dose it properly and with which drugs it should not be stacked. If you recognize 5-HTP as a supplement that can benefit you but you still have some concerns, feel free to consult your doctor.