5-HTP Supplement: Why and How to Use?

5-HTP Supplement is a herbal supplement that should be used carefully and can benefit many problems. I’ve listed everything you need to know about the subject.

I have not been doing a supplement review for a long time. I’ve also had a lot of questions about 5-HTP over the past few weeks and I’m sure you really need a good explanation on this.

I came to this conclusion by looking at Turkish resources on the 5-HTP Supplement. There is an incredibly funny and baseless comment.

Therefore, as a frequent prescribing physician of 5-HTP, I will tell you what you need to know.

In this article, I will touch on many issues from the definition of 5-HTP Supplement, its working mechanism, usage, and drug interactions, and answer your questions.

If you are ready we go!

What is a 5-HTP Supplement?

5-HTP Supplement, literally 5-hydroxytryptophan, is the precursor to the neurotransmitter “serotonin”, which enables messages between cells in the brain to be transmitted. It is produced from a plant called “Griffonia simplicifolia”.

So 5-HTP is a tool for producing serotonin.

So why do we need serotonin?

Because serotonin is one of the most important transmission tools in the brain. Also,

  • In the balance of sleep, wakefulness,
  • Processing the feeling of hunger and satiety,
  • The continuation of normal behavior

Plays a role. In addition, anxiety (anxiety disorder) and depression are observed in individuals with decreased levels of serotonin in the brain.

How Does 5-HTP Supplement Work?

I want to touch on the working mechanism of 5-HTP, which is a bit boring but an important issue for you to understand everything. You don’t have to read this title. If you say “I want to understand the essence of the subject”, you can move on to the next topic.

5-HTP is a serotonin precursor molecule. I mentioned that. Once it enters the bloodstream, it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

It is important that 5-HTP is not attached to the blood-brain barrier. Because many drugs, nutrients, or substances get stuck in the blood-brain barrier.

Here, passing directly through the blood-brain barrier means that it affects the brain.

Then it passes into cells and forms serotonin. Here you can think of “Can’t get the same effect by taking tryptophan supplements?” The question may be becoming.

My answer is no! Because enzymes that produce serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan work in a controlled manner and do not directly generate serotonin even with continuous tryptophan intake.

In other words, 5-HTP Supplement does not undergo enzymes that limit the production of serotonin and directly participate in the production.

What is 5-HTP Supplement? Why and How to Use?

The Griffonia simplicifolia plant, from which 5-HTP is produced, looks like the image above.

What can 5-HTP be used for?

There are several areas where 5-HTP can be used medically. Let’s examine it together.

  • Depression and anxiety:

The common point in the mechanism of depression and anxiety problems is the decrease in serotonin levels in the brain.

Therefore, 5-HTP can be tried in simple depression/anxiety disorders who do not want to use antidepressants.

Although we still need a large research pool, research so far shows that 5-HTP is as effective as some antidepressants.

  • Sleep problems:

Seratonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the origin of sleep problems. Therefore, 5-HTP can be used to solve sleep problems.

Here, 5-HTP will have a better effect on problems characterized by the inability to fall asleep and progress with depression.

Studies show that 5-HTP shortens the time to fall asleep and increases sleep quality. In addition, the use of melatonin together with 5-HTP can make the solution to sleep problems much easier.

It is known that sleep terror (night terror) in children can be reduced by using 5-HTP Supplement.

  • Emotional nutrition and hunger control:

I mentioned that serotonin plays a role in controlling the feeling of hunger. I guess I don’t need to remind you that individuals with depressed or bad moods are fed more uncontrolled.

In such cases, we know that 5-HTP can be used to control nutrition and balance mood.

Studies have shown that 5-HTP use,

  • Helps the feeling of satiety to be heard earlier,
  • Makes the feeling of hunger feel lighter,
  • Helps reduce carbohydrate craving,

What I want you to know here is that 5-HTP should not be used directly for weight control. The right thing is that 5-HTP should be preferred for both problems in individuals with both psychiatric problems (such as depression, anxiety) and those who are uncontrolled.

Apart from all these problems,

  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder,
  • Obsessive-compulsive disease
  • Post traumatic disorders,
  • Social phobia

5-HTP can also be used in cases.

How to use 5-HTP Supplement?

Care should be taken when using 5-HTP and, like all other supplements, it should be taken only under the control of a physician.

The recommended dose level is 300 mg consumption once a day. Although toxic symptoms are not shown at much higher doses in animal experiments, it is useful to be more careful in humans.

The most common side effects associated with 5-HTP use are nausea and vomiting.

In the past, eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome occurred in individuals using 5-HTP. At that time all 5-HTP products were collected by the FDA.

Although there are such reservations about 5-HTP now, no new cases have been reported after 1990. The problem is thought to be the contamination of some bacterial products during 5-HTP production.

Points to note

Since 5-HTP directly increases the release of serotonin, its use with antidepressants that increase the level of serotonin may cause a “serotonin storm”, which can be fatal.

For this reason, you should definitely take 5-HTP products under the control of a doctor.

In addition, long-term use of 5-HTP should be closely monitored.

You are now familiar with many details about the 5-HTP supplement. Don’t forget to share your ideas with me.

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  1. Hinz M, Stein A, Uncini T. 5-HTP efficacy and contraindicationsNeuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2012;8:323-328. doi:10.2147/NDT.S33259
  2. Pöldinger W, Calanchini B, Schwarz W. A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency as a target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxaminePsychopathology. 1991;24(2):53-81. doi:10.1159/000284698
  3. Shaw K, Turner J, Del Mar C. Tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan for depressionCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD003198. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003198
  4. Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, Codina A. 5-Hydroxytryptophan versus Methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraineEur Neurol. 1986;25(5):327-329. doi:10.1159/000116030
  5. Maissen CP, Ludin HP. Comparison of the effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan and propranolol in the interval treatment of migraineSchweiz Med Wochenschr. 1991;121(43):1585-1590.
  6. Caruso I, Sarzi Puttini P, Cazzola M, Azzolini V. Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia syndromeJ Int Med Res. 1990;18(3):201-209. doi:10.1177/030006059001800304
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Analysis of L-Tryptophan for the Etiology of Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome.
  8. Jacobsen JPR, Krystal AD, Krishnan KRR, Caron MG. Adjunctive 5-Hydroxytryptophan Slow-Release for Treatment-Resistant Depression: Clinical and Preclinical RationaleTrends Pharmacol Sci. 2016;37(11):933-944. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2016.09.001

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