5-HTP- nutritional supplement
Other names of this supplement

2-Amino-3-(5-Hydroxy-1H-Indol-3-yl) Propanoic Acid, 5 Hydroxy-Tryptophan, 5 Hydroxy-Tryptophane, 5-Hydroxytryptophan, 5-Hydroxytryptophane, 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan, 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophane, 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan, 5-L-Hydroxytryptophan, L-5 HTP, L-5-Hydroxytryptophan, L-5-Hydroxytryptophane, Oxitriptan, 5-hidroksitriptofanas, Окситриптан

What is 5-HTP?

5-HTP is the chemical  substance that  human body uses to make serotonin. Serotonin is very important for the normal function of human brain and nerves. It is important for your sleep, pain control and emotional moods, sexual behavior. As 5-hydroxytriptohan increases the synthesis of natural serotonin, it is believed that it may be beneficial in several medical conditions where deficiency of serotonin is playing an important role.

This supplement is also used for mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, may help with migraine, headaches, fibromyalgia, PMS, ADHD, seizures and Parkinson’s disease.

Where is it found?

Human body manufactures 5-HTP from a natural amino-acid L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is found in most dietary proteins. However, eating food with this amino-acid may not always help to rise the levels of 5-HTP in blood significantly.

The supplemental form of 5-HTP is made of the West African medicinal plant Griffonia simplicifolia.

Who may be defficient?

It is known that serotonin imbalances may occur in people with fibromyalgia, insomnia, migraine headaches. Insomnia is also associated with tryptohan deficiency. Thus 5-Hydroxytryptophan may be helpful in these conditions.


It is considered that 5-Hydroxytryptophan may be effective in these conditions


Several  clinical studies show that 5-HTP taken by mouth improves symptoms of depression.  Improvement within 2-4 weeks was reached with the doses of  150-300 mg daily.


It has been fond to  be effective in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia- such as pain and morning stiffness as well as insomnia and anxiety. It should be taken for at least 30-90 days to have an effect.


Some research suggests that taking 5-HTP might help reduce weight in obese people. It also may help to reduce appetite and caloric intake. Mouth sprays with 5-HTP taken for 4 weeks  increased the weight loss in postmenopausal women about 41%. There was an evidence of a weightloss  due to appetite reduction with the amounts of  600–900 mg daily.

More evidence is needed for usage of  5 -HTP  in these  medical conditions


The effect is not clear yet. Some research show that 5-HTP in combination with  D-phenylalanine and L-glutamine for 40 days can reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However more studies needed to be done.


Early research suggests that  5-HTP daily with carbidopa for 3 months might improve schizophrenia symptoms in some young men. The doses used in the research were  800 mg to 6 grams of 5-Hydroxytryptophan.


The high doses of this supplement may worsen the anxiety symptoms. It does not reduce anxiety in people with panic disorders. Low doses combined with carbidopa may reduce anxiety in some people. More studies need to be done.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms

Early research suggests that taking  5-HTP daily with other supplements  might reduce withdrawal symptoms in recovering heroin addicts.

Alzheimer’s disease

Taking 5-HTP by mouth does not help symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Migraine headache

Evidence on the effects of 5-HTP for the prevention or treatment of migraines in adults is contradictory. This supplement does not reduce migraines in children, however it has been found to be effective for some adults.

Ramsey-Hunt syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Usage of 5 -HTP  is possibly ineffective in these medical conditions

Down syndrome

Some research shows that this supplement was not helpful when taken from infancy until 3-4 years of age.

Cerebellar ataxia

Taking 5-HTP daily for up to one year does not improve symptoms of cerebellar ataxia, however it is somewhat helpful when used for short terms- 3-4 months.

Parkinson’s disease

Taking small doses of 5-HTP  100-150 mg  seems to reduce some symptoms, but the benefits are short-termed- up to 5 months. Larger doses of this supplement( 275-1500 mg daily )  seems to make the symptoms worse.


Taking 150 mg of 5-HTP daily for 4 weeks did not reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women.

Tension headaches

Taking 100 mg of 5-HTP three times daily for 8 weeks did not reduce pain or the length of tension headaches

Side effects of 5-HTP

Large amounts of 5-Hydroxy -Tryptophane  may cause the  gastrointestinal upset and nausea.

Some people reported headache, sleepiness, anxiety and muscle pain while using this supplement.

Very high doses of 5-HTP have caused muscle jerks. They also caused both muscle jerks and diarrhea in

Injected 5-HTP has  caused kidney damage in rats.

“Serotonin syndrome,” has not been reported to result from supplementation with 5-HTP, however it could be triggered by this supplement in theory.  in theory it could be triggered by this supplement.

One report in 1998  an unidentified substance called peak X in a limited number of 5-HTP products. Thousands of people using tryptophan developed a disabling and sometimes fatal blood disorder called eosinophilia myalgia. It was taken off the market in late 1980’s.

How much should be taken?

Depression  300 mg per day is considered to be effective.

Insomnia – in clinical trials a single  100-mg nighttime dose of 5-Hydroxytryptophane was found to be effective in one trial.

For migraine headaches doses of 400–600 mg per day have been shown to be effective in clinical trials.

Toxic dose is unknown.

Drug interactions

5- Hydroxytryptophane can interact with weight- control drugs, it should not be taken with these drugs.

5- Hydroxytryptophane can interact with other serotonin-modifying agents, it should not be taken with these drugs.

5- Hydroxytryptophane can interact with other substances causing liver damage, it should not be taken with these drugs.

5- Hydroxytryptophane can interact with other atidepressants (including SSRIs, MAO inhibitors, or tricyclics), the pain drug tramadol, or migraine drugs in the triptan family (such as sumatriptan), it should not be taken with these drugs.

5- Hydroxytryptophane can interact with carbidopa these two taken at the same time might cause skin changes similar to those that develop in the disease scleroderma.

Whou should not use this supplement?

People with liver disease should not use 5- Hydroxytryptophane.

People with liver disease should not use 5- Hydroxytryptophane.

People with  autoimmune diseases( such as scleroderma) should not use 5- Hydroxytryptophane without consulting the knowledeable healthcare professional.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women  should not use 5- Hydroxytryptophane as the long- term safety of this supplement is yet unknown.

Although safety in children has not been proven it is reasonable to avoid the use of this supplement in children.

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