5-HTP supplement side effects, benefits,
for depression, anxiety, research studies, safety,
toxicity, risks, dosage 50 mg, 100 mg and 300 mg
A review of the use of this natural supplement for anxiety, depression, mood disorders, insomnia, fibromyalgia, appetite control and weight loss, and impulse control, and interactions with drugs and prescription medications such as SSRI antidepressants and natural antidepressants such as SAM-e and St. John's wort
December 17 2016
5 HTP supplement honest Information by Ray Sahelian, M.D., best selling author of 5-HTP: Nature's Serotonin Solution, Mind Boosters: Natural supplements that enhance your mind, memory and mood, and Natural Sex Boosting pills.
Benefit, side effects, risks, and review
Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts to 5 HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which then can convert to serotonin, an important brain chemical involved in mood, behavior, appetite, and sleep. Low serotonin levels may lead to addictive behavior such as gambling or other habits caused by weak will power. Serotonin is known as 5-HT, or 5-hydroxytryptamine, and is found in many places in the body particularly the brain, gastrointestinal system, and blood cells. Once serotonin is made, the pineal gland is able to convert it at night into melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Tryptophan, 5 HTP, and melatonin are available for sale as dietary supplements, but not serotonin.
Some people are deficient in serotonin and hence a supplement, such as 5 HTP, that increases levels may be helpful to them for depression or other conditions. Other people may have depression, anxiety, and other symptoms that may appear to be due to serotonin deficiency, but may actually be from other causes -- whether an imbalance in brain chemicals, hormones, a high amount of inflammatory substances in the brain and body, abnormal neural connections, etc. There's really no easy way -- for instance blood studies in a doctor's office -- to tell whether someone is deficient in serotonin, and if they are, whether a 5HTP supplement would help treat their depression or other health problems. Other nutrients and herbs that have an influence on stress or anxiety include passion flower, tryptophan, kava, ashwagandha, theanine, GABA and valerian herb. Mind Power Rx is a formula that helps support mood and provides mental clarity, along with better focus and concentration. Diet Rx is an appetite suppressant with green tea extract, hoodia extract, ginger, and several other herbs.
Where to buy a high quality product
Advance Physician Formulas, 5-HTP, 50 mg, 60 Capsules
5-HTP supplement 50 mg per pill to be taken on an empty stomach
supplement pills 50 mg, Diet Rx appetite suppression product or Mind
Power Rx for better mood and focus
You can also subscribe for free to a newsletter that reviews the latest research on natural ways to treat anxiety and depression
|Serving Size: 1 Capsule|
|Serving Per Bottle: 60 Capsules|
|Amount Per Capsule||% DV|
|5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) (Griffonia simplicifolia) (seed)||50 mg||†|
|† Daily Value or Recommended not established.|
Dosage or dose:
For sleep: One 50 mg capsule 10 minutes to half hour before dinner to help with sleep or mood. May be taken before breakfast or lunch to reduce nervousness.
For anxiety or tension relief: One 50 mg capsule 10 minutes to half hour before breakfast or lunch. Some people may feel drowsy but those who are very anxious to start with may not feel the drowsiness.
For depression: It can be taken before any meal on an empty stomach.
Benefits of Diet Rx, a product with 25 beneficial herbs and nutrients as a successful formula
All natural appetite suppressant, decreases appetite so you eat less
Improves mental concentration and focus
Improves will power and choice of food selection
Mind Power Rx for better mental function
This natural brain booster is a sophisticated cognitive formula that combines a delicate balance of brain circulation agents and neurotransmitter precursors with powerful natural brain chemicals that support: Memory and Mood; Mental clarity; Concentration; Alertness and Focus. The herbs in this natural product include Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Fo-Ti, Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng, Mucuna pruriens, Rhodiola, and Reishi. The nutrients and vitamins in this brain enhancing formula include Acetyl l-Carnitine, Carnitine, Carnosine, Choline, DMAE, Inositol, Methylcobalamin, Pantothenic acid, Tyrosine amino acid, and vinpocetine.
Dosage for depression, appetite control, and other health issues
Some studies have used dosages of 300 mg a day, or more, for depression but I consider any dose above 100 mg to be high. Most products are sold in 50 and 100 mg capsules. Some people do well with 20 to 50 mg, while others may temporarily require 100 mg or more. Those who do well with small doses can open a capsule by pulling on each end and take a portion mixed with water. 5-HTP is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Some users have tried taking a smaller amount sublingually, that is, under the tongue.
5 HTP was introduced to the over the counter market in 1994. We don't know as much as we should about the long term benefits and risks of chronic 5-HTP use. Therefore, until we learn more, the idea is to take it in the minimum effective dosage and to avoid its prolonged continuous use. I tell my patients to take frequent breaks (the frequency and length of breaks varies since each person is unique).
One of its shortcomings of is that it may, in many individuals, not have a consistent effect. This may depend on the time of day it is taken, with or without food, other supplements taken at the same time, the dosage, etc.
I have been asked about 5HTP spray that is supposed to be sprayed sublingually. There are also 5HTP lozenges dissolvable sublingually. I don't have much experience with the use of a spray or lozenge.
Q. I read about 5-HTP on your site. I would like to try it but have read
elsewhere that you have to take a B complex vitamin with it. Would a
50-mg B complex be all right? I only would like to take 5-HTP at 50 mg
A. There is no need to take additional B vitamins while taking 5-hydroxytryptophan pills.
Safety and toxicity, is there a danger?
I am not aware of any reports in the medical literature of anyone who has encountered a life threatening, toxic, or other serious adverse effect. 5 HTP has been sold over the counter since 1995 and no incidents of toxicity have been reported in medical journals thus far that I know of.
The use of L-Tryptophan as a dietary supplement was discontinued in 1989 due to an outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) that was traced to a contaminated synthetic L-Tryptophan from a single manufacturer. Because of its chemical and biochemical relationship to L-Tryptophan, 5-HTP has been under vigilance by consumers, industry, academia and government for its safety. However, no definitive cases of toxicity have emerged despite the worldwide usage for the last 20 years. Extensive analyses of several sources of 5-HTP have shown no toxic contaminants similar to those associated with L-Tryptophan. Safety of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan. Toxicol Lett. 2004.
Use with alcohol
Small amounts of wine or other alcohol are not expected to interfere with its benefits.
Short term 5-HTP side effects,
risks, safety and caution, danger
5-HTP side effects from high doses (which could be 70 to 100 mg and greater) include nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, nightmares, and decreased sex drive. Tiredness and sleepiness can occur after several days or weeks of use which may indicate that a break should be taken.
Blood pressure, hypertension
Q. I just watched your YouTube video on 5 htp and have a question. I have heard it can raise your blood pressure. Of course the web is full of all this back and forth. My bp is slightly elevated but i am on meds for it. My doctor doesn't seem to know much on natural ways. Do you know if it raises bp?
A. I am not aware of its use having a strong influence on blood pressure.
Nightmares and vivid dreams
5 HTP enhances dreams and makes them more vivid which can be good or bad. Use less than 50 mg in the evening to avoid or reduce nightmares.
libido and interest
Serotonin has an inhibitory effect on sexual behavior. Therefore one of the common 5 HTP side effects is decreased libido. This can be reversed when you stop its use. If you wish to enhance the low libido once you are off the supplement, Passion Rx or other sexual herbs can work well for this purpose.
Kidney or liver influence
I am not sure what kind of influence 5HTP has on liver and kidney health.
Long term side effects, risks, caution, danger
Long term side effects are not fully known. When hundreds of thousands of people start taking a supplement that has not had adequate long-term testing, there may be some individuals who have a biochemical abnormality in metabolizing the nutrient that was previously not known. We don't know the consequences on the immune system, skin, and other tissues of long-term therapy.
Heart valve issue
I have not seen any studies or reports regarding the use of 5-HTP and influence, if any, on heart valves. However, as time passes and no reports of such heart valve problems are mentioned in medical journals, I am becoming more assured that this supplement does not damage the heart.
Thus far we have not had any reports of addiction, people seem to stop and go as needed.
Alcohol is a drug that has unpredictable effects when combined with certain herbs, nutrients, and medicines. A small amount of alcohol, such as an ounce or two of wine, should not be a danger with a 5-HTP supplement, but we caution against drinking too much.
The safety of 5-HTP during lactation and breast feeding is not known. Occasional use by a mother is probably safe.
Children, use by a child, adolescents
This nutrient can be used by a child but we suggest using the lowest dosage with frequent times off. Some short term studies have been done showing benefits, but I could not find long term trials
My son is 13 years old and has OCD and high anxiety. I take 5-Htp for basically
the same thing and I was wondering if it is safe to give a 13 year old teenager?
5-HTP has not adequately been studied in children or adolescents for long term use. If used at all it is probably best that it be done under medical supervision and only for brief periods and in dosages of 10 to 50 mg depending on weight.
I have been giving my 8-year old son 50 mg 5-HTP for the past year. It was preferable to Prozac that the physician wanted to prescribe. There was a noticeable improvement in his behavior within 2 weeks. For the past 6 months I have given him 25 mg combined with several other natural stress relieving and mood lifting herbs (i.e. St. John's wort) with his morning meal. My son’s mood improved again and he is happier and more content than he has every been. He was severely depressed, had low self-esteem and was extremely aggressive. He was hitting his school mates daily and had no friends. After 1 month on the 5-HTP he has not hit a kid since. One year later he now has a couple of friends, he is generally happy and we are able to reason with him.
Thank you very much for all the great information that you provide. I have recently started referring to it more as I continually explore the most optimal combination of natural supplements to benefit my ASD teenage son (17 years old). I just started giving my son a morning dose of 200 mg slow release 5-HTP from Natrol before he goes to school and hoping it makes a difference as he seems to respond best to this (I have tried numerous supplements and amino acids over the past year). His condition has been all over the map. He had some social communication issues in his early years (perhaps Aspergers ?) but was normal functioning for the most part. And then suddenly at the age of 13 he was hit with an episode diagnosed as Psychosis NOS. Since then in the last 4 years he has had all kinds of diagnosis: Autism, OCD, Aspergers, ADD / ADHD, Psychosis NOS.
Until we learn more, it would be best not to use it while trying to become pregnant or during pregnancy.
Source and manufacture
Most of the 5-HTP produced in the body comes from its manufacture in the intestines from tryptophan, an essential amino acid. 5-HTP sold over the counter is extracted from Griffonia seeds which come from an African tree grown mostly in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. It can also be made synthetically in the laboratory. The final product is the same as the one made by the body. Only a small (3 to 7) percent of the Griffonia seed is composed of 5-HTP, therefore, consuming the seeds is not an efficient way of getting this nutrient. It is not made from fermentation of bacteria.
Interactions with prescription
medications and antidepressants, danger of serotonin
syndrome - Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and others
The use of 5-HTP for depression in combination with SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and others has not been formally evaluated. Anecdotal reports indicate that many people tolerate a small amount, 50 mg or less, with reduced doses of SSRIs. The effects of this combination are sometimes difficult to predict. Since the SSRIs block serotonin reuptake, and 5-HTP converts into serotonin, it is possible that dangerously high levels could occur, a condition called serotonin syndrome.
It is difficult to predict the interaction of 5-HTP with lithium, MAO inhibitors, anti-anxiety agents, beta blockers, birth control pills, and other pharmaceutical medicines.
Timing, how often to take, what time of
day to use for best results
It's difficult to know the best time to take 5-HTP since it varies among individuals. It depends whether it is being used for depression, sleep, or other issues. In the case of sleep, it is taken in the evening, perhaps before dinner. For anxiety or depression, it can be taken any time of day. For weight loss or appetite control, it may be taken on an empty stomach an hour or two before a meal. If you do take 5-HTP during the day, it's best to keep your dosage to less than 50 mg since sleepiness may occur. 5-HTP is absorbed better taken on an empty stomach. There has not been enough research done to know the ideal dosage and timing. Each person may need to find out for himself or herself the lowest dosage that works well and the ideal timing, whether early in the day, midday or evening.
I also recommend taking breaks from supplementation. The length and frequency of breaks would be different for each individual depending on many factors including age, use of other supplements, use of medications, concurrent medical conditions, body weight, etc.
Benefit of 5-HTP
I have not seen much research regarding the use of 5 HTP for ADD, ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
5-HTP showed highest hydroxyl radical scavenging effects, more than vitamin C, which was more than melatonin. J Pineal Res. 2005.
J Agric Food Chem. 2010. 5-HTP inhibits tert-butylhydroperoxide induced oxidative damage via the suppression of reactive species and nuclear factor-kappaB activation on human fibroblast.
Anxiety and sleep, tension
Many people who take 5-HTP notice reduced anxiety. Other herbs and supplements used for relaxation or stress relief: Dried passion flower is a safe and effective relaxation herb. Skullcap, hops, lemon balm and valerian root are all herbs reported as calming agents. Extracts of magnolia and phellondendron bark are mild sedatives. Supplements such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), theanine, and tryptophan promote relaxation. Kava works within hours.
Combining with anti anxiety medications:
Low dosages of 5-HTP may be combined with some medications used to treat anxiety but little research is available to know any significant interactions:
Benzodiazepines are prescribed for short-term relief of severe anxiety.
Alprazolam (Xanax), Bromazepam (Lectopam, Lexotan), Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril), Clorazepate (Tranxene), Diazepam (Valium), Flurazepam (Dalmane), Lorazepam (Ativan), Oxazepam (Serax, Serapax), Temazepam (Restoril), Triazolam (Halcion).
Appetite control and weight loss
Most people notice a decrease in appetite. This nutrient could be used temporarily for appetite suppression while other lifestyle and dietary changes are being incorporated regarding a life long plan for keeping weight off. A study in rodents indicates that this serotonin precursor may be useful in controlling the excessive food intake sometimes generated by stress. Long term human studies are not available to determine whether 5-HTP for weight loss is a good option.
I am 32 and have suffered from depression, bulimia, and chemical addiction since my teen years. I have tried almost all antidepressants of which have all have had little to no affect on me except for Wellbutrin. I am taking between 300 mg a day currently and am also taking Trazadone 100mg q hs. I am battling alcoholism but I am 20 days sober. I started taking 5-htp 15 days ago with amazing results, but have had to take enormous amounts to even touch on the anxiety (300 mg daily). 5-HTP has been a savior for me and also has helped in controlling my bulimia. I have more patience and am less compulsive. This is really the only thing that has worked for my intense alcohol cravings! I finally feel a glimmer of hope to get me through the awful cravings that chemical addiction brings, the awful behaviors associated with bulimia and obsessive compulsive disorder, and the feelings associated with major depression.
I have suffered from intense carb cravings all of my life and the side effect of weight gain and extreme dieting. Every single person in my family has some sort of addiction. - sugar, alcohol, drugs. It seems serotonin deficiency could be an inherited problem with me. With just one dose of 50mg I immediately felt the results of relief the next day. I felt uplifted, happy and no cravings.
Depression and mood research studies, testimonials
This nutrient helps with mood balance. 5-HTP may be temporarily helpful in conditions that normally require prescription antidepressants.
Q. Your web information on 5-HTP has given many around the world
confidence in using supplements that do make a difference. I had mild
depression with the main symptoms being a wandering mind and loss of
interest in activities. I was prescribed Lexapro that I used for about a
year and it made a big difference, but it had side effects and I quit
using it. I have been using 5-HTP only about 13 mg daily - a quarter of
50 mg capsules for a few months which has stopped mind wandering but
there isn't as much difference in losing interest. I have tried
increasing the dosage to 50 mg but that only makes my head somewhat
heavy and sometimes a bit irritated.
A. Sometimes the addition, or switching, to very low doses of St. John's wort or SAM-e 50 mg or 100 mg can make a difference in some individuals.
I am currently taking 100 mg of 5-HTP dosage daily for depression. I also use it for anxiety and OCD. I absolutely love it! In the past, I have been on Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor and Lexapro before finally deciding to take the natural route and am happy that I did.
Low dose works
Taking as little as 5 mg of 5-HTP removes mild depression outright (I had previously been severely depressed for years), while taking even 25 mg is unpleasantly energizing, and almost made me give up on it, which would have been a mistake. Nowadays, I take 5 mg only when I feel slightly depressed, and the feeling goes away in less than an hour, not to return for days. The serotonin balance in my brains appears to be very delicate, and large sudden changes in it can be disorienting.
I discovered a web site that emphasized a deficiency in serotonin as being a major cause for depression, addiction, insomnia and a variety of impulsive and compulsive behaviors. I felt as though it described me to a tee! This article also mentioned that a low level of serotonin may be linked to a traumatic childhood experience. I began taking 50 mg before bedtime 4 days ago. I practice yoga, I have seen a therapist, I try to exercise regularly, I write a lot and I try to maintain a healthy diet, but it seems that no matter what I do, I have an incessant urge to smoke and to binge on carbohydrates. Depression helps me look a little deeper and I learn from that, although I realize for many people it is difficult, if not impossible to snap out of a depression without chemical assistance. I am looking to continue along the path of trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, and I hope to integrate 5-htp into my life in order to supplement what I believe to be biological deficiencies and help curb my addictive behavior.
It you have this condition it may be worthwhile to try this supplement.
Dear Dr. Sahelian, when I came across your 5-HTP book, it's as if I found a gold mine. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I was weaned myself off Zoloft which I have been taking for the past three years. The very first day that I took 5-HTP I managed to get out of bed and function normally after being in bed for almost 10 days. I have also been suffering from anxiety disorder. I'm only 32 years old and I've had my share of different types of antidepressants. Since I started this natural medication my severe migraines have disappeared. I can't believe I finally found something that will help my symptoms. Keep up your great work and God bless you.
Gambling and Impulse control benefit
There is a possibility that a user could have better impulse control which could be helpful in addictive disorders such as gambling. The use of this natural supplement may dampen impulsive behavior.
One small study did not find any benefit in reducing menopausal symptoms.
I have not seen any research on the combination of 5 htp with ecstasy also known as MDMA. Taking them together could cause nausea or other side effects. A few anecdotal reports suggest that taking 5-htp several hours after a small MDMA dose could be helpful in reducing depression but I have no good proof of this yet.
Is 5htp useful in helping with the long term effects
of heavy MDMA ecstacy usage? Does ecstacy influence memory, mood swings and
depression in particular?
Some patients who have used Ecstasy say it helps them when they use 5htp. I also think antioxidants may be helpful, such as alpha lipoic acid. I think using antioxidants may, at least partially, protect the brain cells from harm. Using this drug frequently damages brain cells, sometimes permanently, and can cause depression.
Some users notice a benefit.
I have been trying to find
any information on possible drug interactions with 5-HTP and Zomig.
Zolmitriptan or Zomig is a drug for treating migraine headaches. Zomig directly stimulates serotonin receptors on nerves, therefore it appears that interactions could occur with 5-HTP but I don't know what the combination would do.
OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder help
Little research has been done with 5-HTP and OCD, but this nutrient may be tried for a few days or weeks to see if it is effective.
Do you know of any other herbs or natural substances besides 5-htp supplement than can delay orgasm?
Perhaps kava or tryptophan may be helpful in this regard.
Panic attack help
A panic attack involves the sudden appearance of several symptoms including shortness of breath, sweating or shaking, palpitations, and the fear of dying or losing control. Women are more likely than men to have this condition. Doctors often prescribe anti-anxiety medicines such as Xanax or Valium. Researchers at the Department of Neuropsychology at Maastricht University in The Netherlands were able to induce a panic attack in volunteers who suffer from panic disorder by having them breathe a high concentration of carbon dioxide. They repeated the study, this time giving half of the volunteers 200-mg of 5-HTP while the others received a placebo. The treatment had a significantly diminished panic response compared to those on placebo. The results of this study are quite interesting and indicate that those with panic attacks may not have adequate levels of serotonin.
The effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan on cholecystokinin-4-induced panic
attacks in healthy volunteers.
Thirty-two subjects were randomized to receive either 200 mg of 5-HTP or placebo with the CCK-4 challenge. Females had a significantly lower panic rate and intensity of cognitive symptoms whereas, in males, the effect was limited to lowering the intensity of somatic panic symptoms. J Psychopharmacol. 2004.
Yes, this nutrient may even help ease the pain from a failed romance. A total of 15 young and healthy subjects (11 females and 4 males) who experienced a recent romantic break-up took part in an Italian study done at the University of Parva. The participants were treated for 6 weeks with 60 mg Griffonia simplicifolia extract containing 13 mg 5-HTP twice a day (Amorex, Coropharm, Villach, Austria). There was a decline in romantic stress the first three weeks but no further significant improvement was evident further on. Neuro Endocrinol Letters 2010. An open-label trial of L-5-hydroxytryptophan in subjects with romantic stress.
Sex addict treatment
Could 5 HTP be an effective supplement for those with sex addiction? Perhaps, since it reduces sex drive and causes some level of erectile dysfunction.
Sleep and for insomnia
This nutrient is helpful for treating some cases of insomnia but its effects are not consistent. Try a dose lower than 50 mg for sleep. I have come across some individuals who find themselves more alert rather than in a relaxed, sleepy state of mind.
I have suffered with chronic Insomnia for 13 years and have been taking
Ambien to gain regular sleep. I hate taking prescriptions, but when you
are tired and miserable for 13 years, you will do anything to get a good night’s
rest! I recently tried 5-HTP for 4 days and though I did not see instant
results, after the third night I found that I was obtaining better sleep. I
still woke up several times throughout the evening but I was able to fall back
to sleep without much trouble. I did, however; find that I was getting rather
bad headaches and stomach cramps. I would love to continue taking the 5-HTP
because of the positive changes I felt in my sleep, mood, alertness, and overall
sense of well being but not if my stomach is going to feel like it’s about to
A. Perhaps opening the capsule and taking less could be of benefit with fewer unpleasant reactions.
Behav Brain Res. 2016. Sleep-promoting effects of the GABA / 5-HTP mixture in vertebrate models. The aim of this study was to investigate the sleep-promoting effect of combined γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and 5-hydroxytryptophan 5-HTP on sleep quality and quantity in vertebrate models. The GABA / 5-HTP mixture significantly regulated the sleep latency, duration, and also increased the sleep quality than single administration of the amino acids.
Q. I heard that 5 HTP makes you sleepy, and it should be taken before bed. I
took 100 mg shortly before bed and was up for several hours more alert
before falling asleep.
A. It seems counterintuitive, but a high amount can cause alertness for a few hours before inducing sleep. What works better is to take less, such as 20 to 50 mg, a half hour or so before dinner which would be a few hours before bed.
Weight loss and appetite suppression
In some users it can be helpful in blunting night eating syndrome urges.
I have been taking 5-htp for weight loss, and the results so far are amazing. My cravings for sugar have disappeared, and I am able to easily make healthier food choices. In fact, I have to make sure I am getting enough calories each day, as the first time I took a 50mg capsule in the morning, I found that by 5 pm I had only eaten about 200 calories that day.
It is best to stop supplements a few days or a week before major surgery, and to wait till recovery has occurred. The safety of this supplement before or after surgery has not been tested and therefore it is best to be cautious.
Withdrawal symptoms from 5 HTP
I have been taking 100 mg before bedtime for about 3 years now and it has helped my depression. I am sleepy in the morning but I also take cyclobenzaprene 10 mg at night for my back. I have noticed that I have a high pulse rate usually between 90 and 115. I'm not sure if the 5-htp is the cause. Can a person just stop taking 5-htp or do they have to wean themselves off?
It's hard to say. Each person is different in how they would respond. With most medicines taken for a long period, it probably is a good idea to lower the dosage and gradually wean off. I personally have not treated anyone with 5-htp for prolonged continuous periods since I recommend stopping it at least a week each month.
I have taken about 175mg of 5-htp daily for over 2 years. At first I felt much better but then fell into a depressive like state. I stopped taking it and thought I was better but then fell into a lower state.
To B6 or not to B6?
Vitamin B6 is involved in the process of serotonin formation. The potential benefit from taking vitamin B6 along with 5-HTP is that B6 could help 5-HTP be converted into serotonin more efficiently. This is good when it's done in the brain where we want more serotonin, but we also want to minimize the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin in the bloodstream. We want the 5-HTP to make it to the brain before being converted into serotonin. I prefer to use a 5-HTP product without B6 added, but this issue is complicated and I don't have all the answers.
Combining 5-HTP and SAM-e
There is no simple answer in regards to combining them. They are both potent and work in different ways. 5-HTP helps to balance serotonin and reduce stress and anxiety along with a mood lift. SAM-e increases energy and mood, but in high dosages can cause anxiety and insomnia. The best way is to first learn how each one works by itself for a period of a week or two, and if combining the two supplements, it is a good idea to take half the regular dosage. A SAM-e pill may be taken in the morning while 5-HTP pill could be taken in the afternoon or evening. There are some people who would respond to a SAM-e pill by itself, others do better with 5HTP pills, and still others may benefit from a combination. Dosages of supplements should be adjusted on a regular basis to avoid side effects. This may require lowering dosages or taking a day off every few days.
5-HTP and St. John's wort
It is possible to combine these two supplements as long as the dosage is low for both. The St. John's wort extract can be taken in the morning whereas the serotonin precursor can be taken in late afternoon or early evening.
There's a pharmaceutical medicine called carbidopa which blocks the metabolism of 5-HTP in the blood stream allowing for more to be present in the body. The question as to whether it is preferable to take carbidopa along with 5-HTP is not clear at this time but could be considered under medical supervision. Taking carbidopa would most likely reduce the dosage required for 5-HTP since less would be broken down in the bloodstream and more would be available to enter the brain. The side effects of 5-HTP, in terms of nausea and vomiting, are more apparent with the use of carbidopa.
Pharmacology of rising oral doses of 5-hydroxytryptophan with
A study was performed in 15 healthy male volunteers to investigate the neuroendocrine dose-response relationship at various 5-HTP levels; the tolerability and subjective effects of oral doses at 100, 200 and 300 mg combined with carbidopa. Dose-dependent increases in average cortisol concentrations were observed. Nausea and vomiting occurred dose-dependently as most frequent side effects, resulting in dose-related dropout of 6% at 100 mg and 45% at 300 mg 5-HTP. Orally administered 5-HTP combined with carbiodpa is an effective serotonergic challenge test, exhibiting dose-related plasma concentrations and neuroendocrine responsiveness. Frequent occurrence of nausea and vomiting limits the applicability of this challenge at 5-HTP doses above 100 mg. J Psychopharmacol. 2008.
I am not aware of a recent independent laboratory testing of 5-HTP products to know whether or not they contain Peak X. As a consumer, you do have the option to contact a company that sells 5-HTP and ask them if they have tested for Peak X. Thus far, as of 2011, no reports have been published indicating any significant harm from peak X found in a 5-HTP product even though this natural serotonin precursor has been widely sold over the counter since 1995.
Withdrawal from Effexor
I was prescribed 75mg of Effexor XR for depression and seasonal affective disorder. I am not sure if you are aware of the horrible side effects associated both with being on this drug and especially with coming off this drug: irritability, depression, mood swings, somnolence, tremor, dizziness, vertigo, zaps in the brain, auditory and visual hallucinations, anxiety, nightmares, changes in eyesight (all listed on the Wyeth-Ayerst webpage). I went through this withdrawal, I put myself on the 5-HTP (Prozac made me manic). Within 48 hours all of the side effects I had experienced with the Effexor XR withdrawal were GONE! It was amazing! I have a decreased appetite, increased energy, and no depression.
Withdrawal from Paxil
I am currently trying to get off Paxil of which I was taking 20 mg a day for stress related insomnia. It has been absolutely awful. I have felt infinitely worse than when I went on it. I have been experiencing extreme anxiety, rage and depression, and all this from going down to 10mg over about 3 months. My doctor has had all of his patients trying to get off Paxil -- except me -- go back on it because they were not able to bear the withdrawal. He agrees that these are genuine withdrawal symptoms and not relapses into depression. I began taking 5-HTP 100mg a day. It helps with the withdrawal tremendously. I'm sleeping far better and am much happier and calmer. At first I thought that perhaps the withdrawal symptoms were simply subsiding, but when I stopped taking the supplement, about a week later they came back.
I’m a forty year-old male and have suffered from depression for most of my adult life and found 30 mg Paxil a godsend. I was extremely relieved to be rid of depression and found the side effect negligible however I did gain weight during this time and remained single without much sex drive or libido. A few years later my sleep began to degenerate and began to notice how dead inside I felt. By early summer I researched alternatives and decided to try 5-htp. I slowly weaned myself off Paxil over a two-week period and began taking 5-htp at 50mg twice per day. This was a rollercoaster ride and I may have started the 5-htp too soon but was experiencing great anxiety and depression. It took about a month to determine my dosage of 5-HTP 100mg three times daily. My sleep improved dramatically. I have since lost 30 lbs and have started dating actively again after five years. I feel much more alive and though not completely rid of my depression it does appear to be bearable.
Prozac, Wellbutrin or 5 HTP for depression
Those with mild depression may wish to try natural antidepressants first whereas those with moderate to severe depression would likely need a strong pharmaceutical medicine at first. Other nutrients to consider for depression include SAM-e and St. John's wort. Prozac and other SSRIs have been tested more thoroughly than natural supplements for depression. 5-HTP is trickier to use, tolerance may develop, long-term safety is not known as well, but it works well for some people in improving mood, reducing appetite, and improving sleep. It's very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to predict how each person will react or respond to a medicine or nutrient. Sometimes the best method is trial and error.
I have taken one 40mg
pill of Paxil each night for many years for OCD. I am 42 years old. I have grown
tired of the side effects as well as it has become more expensive for
me now that I am paying in full for my own health insurance. Is there a way I
could try to wean myself off the Paxil and see if 5HTP could make my condition
manageable instead of with drugs?
As a general rule, one can reduce the dosage of the SSRI medication, in this case Paxil, while gradually starting with low dosages of 5HTP. The amount of the Paxil or SSRI dosage reduction and the amount of the initial and subsequent 5HTP dosage use depends on many factors including the severity of the depression or OCD and the individual physiology of the patient. No firm dosages guidelines can be given since each person responds differently.
After being severely depressed for twenty years I took Lexapro, and then, when I realized that prescription was only helping me to a point, I tried Prozac for a year (gained an unwelcome amount of weight with both). Usually the medication worked well, but for an instant - every time I walked past a mirror and saw this fat woman standing where I should have been - my depression returned. Of course I needed an anti-depressant but certainly not one that would cause me to be depressed whenever I happened on my reflection. I thought 5-HTP was just a catchy name of a product that wasn't going to help me in the least. But I was desperate to find something that wouldn't spring a side-effect on me that was almost as uncomfortable as the condition I originally set out to cure...and my God, 5-HTP still hasn't surprised me with any adverse reaction that ALSO has to be treated by medication. I take 100 milligrams in the morning and 100 just before dinner. My panic attacks and rollercoaster emotions are at bay, I'm beginning to see myself in a more positive manner, appreciate and not be suspicious of others, have the sensitivity and patience to be a good owner of a pet, have more physical and mental energy, and (good-bye Ambien). A couple of weeks ago my claustrophobia and vertigo (friends of mine for most of my life) vanished! And to top it all off I'm starting to lose weight. So far I believe I've lost about five pounds but - and I'm not worrying - I like what I see in the mirror: an overweight woman who happens to be very happy and pretty.
I am 42 yrs old and have suffered the effects of severe anxiety and depression for 22 years. I sought psychiatrist after psychiatrist looking for help through the years, but all these doctors did was dig into my childhood telling me what an imperfect childhood I had. I tried many anti-depressants but couldn't tolerate most of them and the ones I could were of no benefit and had uncomfortable side effects. Through the years one sibling after another fell prey to serotonin imbalance-related disorders until it became more than obvious that we had inherited brain chemistry problems and my mother informed us the ancestors in her family had moods disorders. I became worse and worse until I was unable to work. I was in extreme emotional and mental pain not to mention the severe financial devastation that took place over the years from not being able to work. I couldn't bring myself to drum up any hope whatsoever in again looking for help because of my extreme fear of doctors which developed partly because of my experiences with them and partly because of the severity of my irrational fears which had worsened through the years without treatment. I was alone, isolated, desperate, hopeless, terrified, helpless, emotionally abused by some family members because of my inability to get help, and most definitely would have committed suicide had it not been for my exaggerated fear of death. Then I found your website about 5-htp which caused me to research it thoroughly. Initially 5-htp gave me an extremely comforting sense of relaxation that was worth more than all the money in the world considering what I had been through for 22 years. After several weeks this extreme relaxation started to wane and I was tempted to give up on it but something told me to keep going, even though I was still left with all the other horrible symptoms of severe anxiety and depression. After another month, I started to notice several of my anxiety and depression symptoms starting to reduce ever so slightly. Even though it was extremely slow I actually started to feel that it was possible that 5-htp could possibly cause me to recover from my horrible nightmare. Four months later I am almost completely recovered from severe Social Anxiety Disorder, severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and severe depression. Even though not quite 100%, I feel like a brand new person. I'm much more comfortable around people now, my concentration continues to improve, my sleep is better, my mood is far more stable and upbeat now, I smile a heck of a lot more, many horrible aches and pains and muscle tensions have disappeared, my fears have greatly reduced, my anger and confusion have almost completely disappeared, I have no more panic attacks and my future looks very bright. 5-htp 50 mg a day or sometimes every other day brought me out of the horrific and desperate depths of hell into a brand new life. Please let others know that sometimes it does take a long time to get good results. Thank you, thank you to you and other smart docs who are not ignoring the success of supplements that the rest of the medical community seems bent on ignoring.
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Natrol, 5-HTP TR, Time Release, 100 mg, 45 Tablets