5HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a supplement that converts in the brain into serotonin, an important neurotransmitter involved in mood, behavior, appetite, impulse control such as gambling, and sleep. Scientists have examined its role in anxiety treatment, panic attacks, headache relief, and other medical conditions. Other nutrients and herbs that have an influence on stress or anxiety include passion flower herb, tryptophan amino acid, kava root, and valerian root. Mind Power Rx is a formula that helps balance mood and provides mental clarity.
serotonin, does it raise or influence levels in the brain, and what effect
does it have?
When you take a 5HTP supplement it is absorbed into your bloodstream and makes itself to the brain where it converts into serotonin, a crucial brain chemical involved in mood, behavior, appetite, and sleep. However, a 5HTP supplement is not consistent in inducing and maintaining sleep. High dosages may cause vivid dreams, including nightmares. For better sleep, consider Good Night Rx. 5HTP may work better for sleep in some people if a lower dose of 10 to 30 mg is tried one to three hours before bed. Serotonin is also involved in impulse control. For instance, low levels may lead to addictive behavior such as gambling or other habits resulting from 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.
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Dosage: Begin with a 50 mg pill rather than 100 mg since higher dosages are more likely to lead to unpleasant adverse effects. A good time to take is a half hour or so before dinner.
Benefits -- appetite, mood, stress, anxiety
Some people who take 5HTP notice better mood balance, a decrease in appetite (there have been studies with it and weight loss), reduced anxiety, better impulse control, and better sleep (try different times of the day or evening, and different dosages to see which work better for you). I have come across some individuals who find themselves more alert rather than in a relaxed, sleepy state of mind after taking a pill.
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. Not everyone notices the appetite suppressing effect.
5HTP may be helpful in some individuals with migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.
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Negative effects, is it safe?
5HTP from high doses of (which could be 70 to 100 mg and greater) can cause nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, nightmares, and decreased sex drive. Serotonin has an inhibitory effect on sexual behavior. Tiredness and sleepiness can occur after several days or weeks of use which may indicate that a break should be taken from use.
My wife has been taking 5htp enteric coated
for about two weeks now because she hardly ever sleeps and she now has
some unexpected side effects, she has been eating more specially
craving sugar / salt and has gained weight. Isn't this the opposite of what
5htp is supposed to do? Before that we tried L-tryptophan and it was the
same side effect, so
we gave this a try. Have you seen/heard this reaction before?
Eating more while taking 5HTP supplements is a rare occurrence but there are some individuals who respond to supplements and medications in a way different than others.
I decided to take 5HTP as a cure for mild anxiety and
depression. I took 100mg and immediately i started to feel very drowsy and this feeling lasted a few days,
even though i reduced the dosage to 50 mg a day. All in all I took 5HTP for 5
days and must admit i did not find any benefit other than being very tired and
Some people may require a lower dosage. One option is to take half a 50 mg capsules, in other words about 25 mg, 20 minutes to half hour before dinner. Each person is different in how they respond and it takes trial and error to find out the best dosage and the best time of the day to take these pills.
Erectile dysfunction, impotence
I've been taking 150 mgs of 5htp with valerian for 10 yrs with very few interruptions in my nightly regimen. I have had some insignificant side effects like intermittent loose stool and gas. I have also been experiencing major erectile dysfunction for several years. My libido still seems to be at a healthy level but the erections just don't get or stay firm. Could this be from the prolonged use? Overall it has helped me practically eliminate anxiety, insomnia, and depression from my life.
It can interfere with proper erectile function. Fortunately some people have been able to reverse this by taking breaks and by using certain sex enhancing herbs.
Loss of libido
I started taking 5htp 100mg a day for chronic tension headaches about 8 months ago. It took about 3 months to get headache relief. I also was sleeping better and losing my appetite too. I decided to continue the same regimen for another few months until I started to notice some dry mouth, low libido, and apathy. I have been off of it for almost 2 months and I still have the side effects. How long will it take for these to subside?
These negative reactions should diminish with time, it is difficult to predict how long it will take. You may wish to see this article on libido and consult with your doctor to see if any of the options are appropriate for you. Impotence can be a problem with the use of serotonin influencing nutrients and drugs. One option is the use of Passion Rx sexual enhancement pills. The potent herbal extracts in this natural sex enhancer include Ashwagandha, Catuaba, Cnidium, Horny goat weed , Maca, Muira puama, Passion flower, Tribulus terrestris, Tongkat ali. There is a version with Yohimbe.
A message regarding the safe use
5-HTP was introduced to the over the counter market in 1994. We don't know as much as we should about the effects of chronic use. Therefore, until we learn more, the idea is to take it in the minimum effective dosage and to avoid its prolonged use. I tell my patients to take frequent breaks (the frequency and length of breaks varies since each person is unique). During these breaks other forms of therapy could be substituted. After close to two decades of this supplement sold to the public, I am not aware of any reports in the medical literature of anyone who has encountered life threatening or other serious side effects.
I am considering taking 5HTP, but am a breastfeeding mother and am wondering about the safety of this supplement for lactating women.
The connection between 5htp and breastfeeding has not studied well so it is not easy to be accurate about any recommendations. I suspect low dose usage should be safe.
I'm wondering if it's safe to take it while pregnant?
The role of 5htp supplements in pregnancy has not been studied, so we really don't know its safety in women who are pregnant. It would be best not to use it during pregnancy unless your doctor approves and thinks other alternatives are not safe.
Benefits and review of studies
5-hydroxytryptophan is a more potent in vitro hydroxyl radical scavenger than melatonin or vitamin C.
J Pineal Research. 2005.
Melatonin and its precursor 5HTP were compared with water-soluble vitamin C. 5HTP showed highest hydroxyl radical scavenging effects. Vitamin C was less potent, whereas melatonin was even less.
Satiety and amino-acid profile in overweight women after a new treatment using a natural plant extract sublingual spray formulation.
Int J Obes. 2009. Section of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Endocrinology and Nutrition Unit, Department of Applied Health Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
To test the effect on satiety of a formulation comprising plant extracts naturally containing 5-hydroxytryptophan, delivered as sublingual spray (5HTP - Nat Exts), administered five times a day for 2 months. A total of 27 healthy, adult overweight women were randomly assigned to the treatment or the placebo group. The study evaluated the bioavailability of 5-hydroxytryptophan following sublingual delivery over 8 weeks by comparing 24-h urinary excretion of 5-hydroxy-3-indoleacetic acid (5-HIAA). The group using the 5HTP - Nat Exts experienced a significantly greater increase in their sensation of satiety over an 8-week timeframe and in fasting state than the placebo group did. A difference was observed between the groups for the mean change in 5-HIAA. All the amino acids evaluated after a single administration of 5HTP-Nat Exts were found to be similar. Differences were found for the mean change in body mass index, skinfold thicknesses and hip circumference. These findings suggest that 5HTP may be safely used to treat the problem of appetite control in overweight women during a weight loss program.
Some users report 5htp helps with bulimia.
Cortisol hormone influence
5HTP induced increase in salivary cortisol in panic disorder patients and healthy volunteers.
Psychopharmacology. 2002. Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Brain and Behavior, Maastricht University, Maastricht The Netherlands
Hypersensitivity of brain serotonin receptors has been proposed as a causal mechanism in the pathophysiology of panic disorder. Salivary cortisol levels were measured in 24 panic disorder patients and 24 healthy volunteers following ingestion of 200 mg 5htp or placebo. A significant rise in cortisol was observed in both patients and controls following ingestion of 5htp. No such effects were seen in the placebo condition. The results show that 5htp stimulated salivary cortisol is a useful probe of serotonin function in healthy volunteers as well as panic disorder patients, and provide some evidence against a serotonin receptor hypersensitivity in panic disorder.
I have been using 5 HTP for 9 years now for depression quite successfully. For most of that time, I have used 100mg/day taken in the morning at the beginning but I was concerned about the drowsiness during the day so I moved it to the evening. Because it seemed logical to do, I would give my body a break from it each June - the month when my depression evidenced itself the lowest. Each year when I resume taking it, it takes up to a week to take effect. Outside of the drowsiness when taken in the morning, I have experienced no side effects. When appropriate, I suggest 5HTP to others as an option to discuss with their physicians and use your website as background material.
Hypertension and high blood pressure
I have been on oral magnesium for a few months now and noticed how my mitral valve prolapse seems "quieter" and my blood pressure readings lower. I sleep much better as well, and my mood seems more stable. To this regime I have added 5HTP. Sometimes my blood pressure readings are higher, is there a correlation with it and higher numbers?
I have not heard the connection between 5htp and higher blood pressure before, but if I come across a reference to it I will post it.
Dosage and timing
Some studies have used dosages of 300 mg a day for depression but I consider any 5HTP dose above 50 mg a high dose. Most products on the market 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. I'm not aware of 5HTP products on the market that are less than 50 mg. Those who do well with small doses can open a capsule and take a portion mixed with water. 5HTP is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Medical supervision is recommended if high doses are required to treat a particular condition. We still don't know if there are any long term side effects if people take high doses for many years.
It's difficult to say what the best time to take 5HTP since it varies
among individuals. It depends whether it is being used for sleep, in
that case it is taken in the evening; for anxiety or low mood, it can
be taken any time of day; or weight loss, in which case it is taken on an
empty stomach an hour or two before a meal. When used at night some people
initially sleep well then wake up early in the morning. In this case you may
consider using a lower dosage or taking it earlier in the evening.
If you plan to take 5HTP during the day it's best to take no more than 25 mg since it could cause sleepiness. There is has not been enough research done to know the ideal dosages and timing. Each person may need to find out for themselves the lowest dose that works well, and the ideal timing, whether early in the day, midday or evening.
5HTP Interactions with drugs
The use of 5HTP in combination with SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and others has not been formally evaluated. Anecdotal reports indicate that many people tolerate a small amount, 50 mg or less, with small amounts of SSRIs when used under the guidance of a medical professional. The effects of taking 5HTP along with a pharmaceutical antidepressant are sometimes difficult to predict. Since the SSRIs, like Prozac, block serotonin reuptake, and 5HTP converts into serotonin, it is possible that dangerously high levels of serotonin could occur, a condition called serotonin syndrome. It is difficult to predict the interaction of 5HTP with lithium, MAO inhibitors, anti-anxiety agents, beta blockers, birth conrtrol pills, and other pharmaceutical medicines.
Is it safe to combine Adderall and 5HTP
It is not easy to give answers regarding combinations of drugs and supplements, such as Adderall and 5HTP, since there are many variables involved including dosage and individual response.
5HTP or Prozac for depression?
The choice of whether to take a natural supplement as an antidepressant or pharmaceutical medicines is a personal one along with consultation with a health care professional. There are quite a number of factors, too many to list, that have to be considered. 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. Other nutrients to consider include SAM-e and St. John's wort.
Prozac and other SSRIs have been tested more thoroughly than natural antidepressants. 5HTP 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 am on Wellbutrin, Klonopin, Gabapentin and Restoril in
an attempt to sleep. However, I also have an autoimmune condition - PSC. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is both autoimmune disease and/or a liver condition. How
does 5HTP react with the other drugs mentioned and with an autoimmune liver
disease. I am on Urso Forte, cholestyramine and Hydroxyzine for the PSC.
This nutrient has not been tested together with these medications or this medical condition, therefore it is not easy to give any specific answers.
At one point my body built up such a tolerance to it that I was taking over 1 gram a day, in addition to Citalopram, without experiencing any serotonin shock. Yes, I realized it was out of hand and quickly cut drastically down on the dosage. I'm 6'7, 235 lbs., so I'm assuming my size requires a little higher dosage of these pills, as 5HTP 100 mg doses don't seem to do much. I'm taking citalopram for depression and supplementing with 5HTP as well as L-tyrosine DLPA and L-glutamine. I was wondering if you know if these block each other when taken together?
Combining 5HTP and other amino acids is tricky since much depends whether they are taken with or without food, the dosage, your particular brain chemistry, accumulation of effects over several days, interaction with other medicines or supplements, interaction with caffeine, alcohol, etc. It is best to first learn how each supplement works by itself before mixing them.
I have come cross a website that states that taking only 5HTP will deplete dopamine over the long term and vice versa. I want to know your opinion about this because i need to take both 5htp and L-dopa.
I have not seen human studies regarding the long term use of this serotonin precursor and its influence on dopamine levels.
I read it is not recommended to take 5htp with SSRI medications because of serotonin problems. what about with Wellbutrin XL which does not affect serotonin.
I am not familiar with any studies in this area, so it is difficult to say how a person would handle the combination with Wellbutrin. The dosage and timing could make a significant difference, as well as each person's unique biochemistry.
Carbidopa and 5HTP
There's a pharmaceutical medicine called carbidopa which blocks the metabolism of 5HTP 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 5HTP is not clear at this time but could be considered under medical supervision. Taking carbidopa would most likely reduce the dosage required for 5HTP since less would be broken down in the bloodstream and more would be available to enter the brain.
Some physicians are using a combination of two or more natural antidepressants such as 5HTP, St. John's wort, SAM-e, and others. However the interactions are not fully known and caution is advised. One option is to take St. John's wort in the morning and 5HTP pill in the afternoon.
Can 5htp be used the same day as
saw palmetto or
Probably. I can't imagine any negative interactions on low dosages.
Alcohol and wine
Is it okay to drink a glass of wine while taking a 5HTP supplement?
I don't see any problems having a small glass of wine but at first I suggest limiting it to an ounce or two just to be on the safe side. A small amount of alcohol usually does not interfere with 5HTP but larger amounts may.
Does 5HTP reduce the sensation of smell to perfume or sensation to fragrances?
Not that I am aware of.