What is 5-HTP
Produced from the seeds of the African Plant Griffonia simplicifolia
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a byproduct of the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is responsible for producing serotonin in the brain. The body makes 5-HTP from tryptophan, an amino acid often found in foods such as chocolate, oats, dairy products, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and a host of other food sources.
Having a high serotonin level is generally associated with a feeling of happiness and well-being. Serotonin levels in the brain are attributed to a myriad of different psychological health issues including sleep, mood states, appetite, sex and pain.
What it’s used for
The most popular use of 5-HTP is as a mood-enhancer or balancer. In its capacity for increasing serotonin levels, studies have shown that 5-HTP can be as effective as some antidepressants for people with moderate depression, since it “acts” like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft and Luvox but has fewer side effects. It may also be used as a treatment for other health problems that use antidepressants as treatment, such as obesity, insomnia, migraines and fibromyalgia, all of which present symptoms which are related to lower serotonin levels. 5-HTP is also commonly used as an appetite suppressant, for ADHD symptoms or to help cure the “hangover” associated with the drugs MDMA and ecstasy.
While it isn’t 100% proven that 5-HTP is effective on symptoms in every one of these cases, studies suggest that, for depression, it is a feasible alternative therapy to SSRIs and with far fewer side effects. However, not enough studies have been done to conclude that 5-HTP would be an effective replacement in all cases where antidepressants were prescribed. Further research is needed with regards to how effective 5-HTP is as treatment for all the aforementioned disorders.
In 1989 the FDA banned the sale of tryptophan supplements due to an outbreak of eosinophilic myalgia syndrome (EMS). Investigations later suggested that the outbreak was linked to impurities from a specific manufacturer.
Side effects / warnings
The following briefs are based on conversations between Nootropics Reddit users and are not to be considered complete or accurate information.
A: “Sure, it’s a worthwhile addition to the multivitamin/etc you should be taking the next day. But the fact remains – if you buy the ticket, you take the ride. You’re going to feel like hell to a certain extent, and these things will help slightly but are not miracle workers. You will get idiots saying “I took 5-HTP and didn’t feel bad at all! It obviously works!” Time, rest, good nutrition and exercise. That’s what works. All these supplements are just that, and are not going to have a huge effect on their own.”
A: “My friends and i use it to overcome the Monday Blues after EDM shows, but my brother gets sick from it so be careful. We’ve found it leads to a more euphoic roll if stacked days before the show, and helps you get your happy back quicker after the show.”
Q: Can I use 5-HTP to help my depression?
A: “I used it for SSRI withdrawal and found it was not effective. It also produced gastrointestinal side effects. Your gut has serotonin receptors.”
A: “I use 5HTP to help me dig my way out of depression slumps. When I’m feeling particularly clouded, I take 100 – 200mg when I first wake up, along with some food (on an empty stomach, it gives me nausea). After an 45 minutes to an hour later, I feel a very noticable improvement in my mood, and feel more like myself.“
Q: How effective is 5-HTP for insomnia?
“100 mg 5-HTP, taken 90 minutes before bedtime, gives me a rather high quality of sleep during the whole night.”
It is generally agreed on that a safe daily dose of 5-HTP for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, depression-related symptoms or insomnia is 150 to 300 mg daily (take 50mg three times/day). Do not increase your dose to more than 400 mg / day unless doing so under the direction of a physician.
The Best Brands
The highest Amazon consumer review scores for this product were for the following brands:
All natural, FDA certified. Pills contain 10mg of B6 to help with effectiveness.
Customers report that it helps with sleep, anxiety and depression.
These pills contain vitamin B6 and are vegetarian. Time-release results in less stomach upset.
Customers agree that it helps with mood-enhancement and energy levels.
No fillers. Lab tested for purity.
Customers report that it works quickly for overall well-being and to counteract depression.
Customer report that this is a good value for the money and is effective for depression.
Customers report that it is effective for mood enhancement and a great value for the money.