Last Modified on Dec 20, 2013
What is in 5 HTP?
5 HTP is an amino acid derived from the seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia, a West African medicinal plant. The full compound is 5-hydroxytryptophan, and is part of the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. Low serotonin levels can manifest as a number of modern maladies. In particular, positive associations exist between using 5 HTP and depression, and as a result 5 HTP is useful for people coping with depression.
While a relatively new health supplement in the United States, it has been used medicinally in European countries for decades. Additional health claims about 5 HTP promote its use for other health conditions associated with low serotonin levels including obesity, narcolepsy, migraines and daily headaches, tension headaches, sleep apnea, insomnia, bulimia, premenstrual syndrome, fibromyalgia, and carbohydrate cravings.
How to Fight Depression and Other Ailments with 5 HTP
On this page you can find uses for 5 HTP submitted to us by our readers. Popular uses for 5 HTP are for alcohol addiction and depression; but in addition we have a number of ongoing discussions over 5 HTP use and experience. Let us know what you use 5 HTP for; and if you know of a cure that we do not have listed yet, please do not hesitate to share it with us!
|5-HTP Reader Feedback||11 YEAS|
5-HTP Reader Feedback
06/16/2009: Patricia from Gainesville, FL: "My daughter take 5HTP but she takes P-5-P along with it. Does anyone have any info on the P-5-P. After reading some of the side effects some people have had I am a little afraid to take it. I have just started on Tumeric. Had to quit Bill's spray and ACV as it made my throat so sore my voice dropped a few levels. Any one else had this happen?"Replies
03/13/2010: Jamie from Breese, Il replies: "I have battled with depression since I was a freshman in highschool, im 29 now. I take 150mg of Zoloft everyday. If I wanted to try this 5-HTP would I also have to stop taking the Zoloft or could I take both. The Zoloft does not help with my times of excessive worrying, mood swings, or the feeling of being tired all the time. Any suggestion??"
03/15/2010: Bee from Anon, Anon replies: "If you do take 5-HTP and Zoloft, there is a chance that your serotonin levels will rise too high. Also, realize that there is a chance of withdrawal as you wean yourself off of Zoloft. I would consult with a medical professional to help you wean off the Zoloft gradually, to ease any withdrawal. I used 5-htp to help wean off Paxil(another SSRI)- I'm at a half dose now, but not trying to reduce it any right now. I had really severe withdrawal so it may be better to give your system a break before starting the 5-htp. At least in my experience weaning off is really hard and it's important to take care of yourself and have the support of someone to help you get through it."
03/26/2010: Kimbies from Omaha, Nebraska replies: "regarding the question of taking 5HTP with Zoloft. As long as you have a window of over 8-10 hours between taking the Zoloft and 5HTP it should not be a problem. Many people successfully are on both just not at the same time in the day as to avoid Seratonin overload."
03/06/2011: Chicagorock from Chicago, Il replies: "Hi patricia
you might try neuroassist. it's a mix of htp-5 with other co-factors that you need in balance. they say that htp-5 alone with put your other neurotransmitters out of whack, here is their web site www.neuroassist.com/. my therapist said that her clients are doing much better with neuroassist. hope you feel better, patricia, good luck."
12/22/2011: Shelby from Wilmington, Ca replies: "Jaime! You should look into meditation and yoga to help with your depression. Sending you lots of love and light :)"
[YEA] 01/20/2012: Gail from Branson, Missouri replies: "My husband got the 5-HTP from reading about it in Ray and Terry's info... I can get grouchy, so I took some to see the effect. I took 100mg in the morning and I forgot about it as I was busy that day... Then later in the day when I was doing school work with my kids and my son didn't want to focus and was acting up, which usually upsets me, I felt calm and I noticed it... It was nice... I guess you could say it took the edge off of my irritation?? I had no side effects other than vivid dreams but not bad dreams... I think it depends on your brain chemistry and particular problems.
I know a friend who had severe depression for years who recently cured it with ACV and some slight diet changes, so go figure. My husband tends toward anxiety and he likes what it does for him, but he does not take it every day, more like every other. We have learned over the years often with anxiety/depression you need magnesium and homeopathic meds are often good for this or epsom salt baths."
12/19/2013: Dana from Sheridan, Wyoming replies: "Would 5-HTP be advisable for my 16 year old son? He seems to be tired a lot, gets frequent headaches, looks to have low energy (except when he is with his friends and has bouts of anxiety. He has a huge homework load from AP classes but handles his homework well. I worry about his headaches and anxiety. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you."
12/19/2013: Mike 62 from Denver, Colorado replies: "Dana: I had what your son has when I was his age, only I was a lot worse. 40 years later I learned that cooked regular food does not have any enzymes, humic acids that activate nutrients, xeronines that activate proteins, sulfur, or trace minerals. Do your son a big favor and feed him raw organic, grassfed, and superfood concentrates, and make home made water kefir. You can watch raw food videos for some great ideas."
12/20/2013: Mama To Many from Tennessee, Usa replies: "Hi Dana,
It is worrisome to see a teen work hard and be tired and have headaches! I have seen this too with my sons.
One thing is that teens do need more sleep for a time during the mid-teen years. I have worried when it appears my teens need more sleep than their younger siblings. Teens often do not get adequate sleep and often get irregular sleep. But between school and social lives etc, it can be hard to get them to sleep enough. Does he have trouble sleeping? Sleepytime tea before bed actually helps a lot for many, if so. I don't know that I would start with 5-HTP, I don't know much about it. But others may have another thought on this.
I agree with Mike that getting him some concentration nutrition is important. Teens are growing and need extra nutrition. Unfortunately, they are often not getting a very good diet, especially if they are consuming fast food, energy drinks, caffeine, etc. In fact, MSG (in fast food or processed food), processed sugar, and energy drinks can all cause headaches and anxiety.
Most of us are iodine deficient. A drop of Lugol's iodine daily, or a kelp tablet (not as much iodine, but still helpful to some.) might be helpful. Low iodine affects energy poorly. Also, daily vitamin C and D and B complex would be good. I did this for my son who is 17 and it did make a noticeable difference.
Sometimes a few simple changes will help. Sometimes it might be more complex. An underlying virus could cause be involved and then I would consider Dave's colloidal silver plan.
Keep us posted on what you try and how it is going. If the first things you try don't work, EC posters will likely have some more ideas for you!
~Mama to Many~"
[YEA] 05/07/2009: Denisse from Long Beach, CA, USA: "5-HTP for depression. This little pill did wonders for me. I had been feeling depressed for around a month due to heavy family problems. When I finally put all my symptoms together (oversleeping, hopelessness, sadness, emotionally unstable) I instantly came to this site. Cold showers did not appeal to me at all; I live in sunny CA and still get cold. I ordered the pills and thankfully they came the next day. I take one or two (depending on how I am doing) 100mg pills a day. My mood has definitely improved and I am finally returning to my normal self. They also seem to have reduced my terrible headaches. I recommend 5-HTP to all!"Replies
01/13/2011: Karl from Digby, Nova Scotia, Canada replies: "For those of us who have never heard of 5-HTP where might one find it exactly?"
01/14/2011: Tom from Regina, Sk replies: "Karl:
There are other sites as well, but www.Bing.com is very good to find a picture beforehand of what you want to look for in a store.
Almost all current browsers have the plug-in available that puts a drop-down Search box in your toolbar from where you can select all manner of Search sites then enter your word(s).
Bing is also good because just holding the mouse over any search pic will show additional info and even a hotlink to the site where it's found.
01/14/2011: Tcnz from Auckland, New Zealand replies: "To my best knowledge, it is illegal to ship 5-HTP to Canada."
01/14/2011: Zsaqwe from Brownsville, Texas, Usa replies: "Purebulk.com"
01/14/2011: Bess from Calgary, Alberta, Canada replies: "For those seeking 5-HTP in Canada, try your local health food store. I just received a flyer from The Vitamin Farm (thevitaminfarm. Ca) and they advertise NOW brand 5-HTP (100 mg capsules). If they have it, I'm sure other local health food stores will carry it or perhaps they can order it in for you. Good luck! "
05/08/2011: Valerie from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, Usa replies: "i buy my 5htp at walmart... That's the cheapest place to get it... They have it in health food stores and walgreens, too. best thing since sliced bread! Been on other antidepressants with horrible side effects, including celexa(which wasn't too bad). I take 200mg a day, in the evening before I go to bed and works better than the antidepressants I've been on without the side effects. I recommend it to everyone. I was depressed, almost to the point of agoraphobia. I am now in control of my life instead of my depression controlling me!"
10/21/2012: Danielle from Austin, Tx replies: "When do you take it? Morning or evening?"
11/15/2008: Robin from Rural, VA: "Somebody help me clear up something. I came across some L-Tryotophan 500 mg at a drug store, in a sale bin, which I understand is no longer being sold. Doing a little research, this is a typical size dosage. I had been planning on buying some 5Htp anyway. Which is generally sold in 100 mg. I keep reading that L-Tryptophan and 5Htp are the same thing. Why would there be such a vast difference in the amount of the capsules? And if they are not the same thing, someone please explain the difference.
I had also read that if you are using 5Htp to help you sleep, you have to take a lot (maybe 5) of capsules. This is not very cost effective, as a bottle of 60 would cost you about $20. I had sleep in mind when I bought the L-Tryptophan, and took one capsule. I slept like a baby. And believe me that is rare for me."Replies
[YEA] 07/15/2010: Peggy from Loveland, Co replies: "My understanding is that 5-HTP is the intermediate biochemical in the body between tryptophan and serotonin. Tryptophan is in some foods like turkey and Brazil nuts, and our bodies turn it into 5-HTP, which is then turned into serotonin. L-tryptophan was the supplement version of tryptophan, but apparently had some unpleasant side effects so it was pulled. www.5-HTP.org has some good info about it. I have had good luck with 100 mg of 5-HTP on an empty stomach about an hour before bedtime. I sleep more restfully and am happier when I wake up. I understand it's good to start with 50 mg and see if that works, and add more if needed. If I run out and don't get more for a few days, I start having more insomnia and sadness within a few days. Also, it took a few days to take effect, but has been well worth it and no side effects."
[YEA] 07/17/2008: Stefanie from Minden, Louisiana: "I found this remedy when I was looking for herbal remedies for my daily headaches. I found 5-HTP. According to the article,some of the things it helped with are insomnia, headaches, anxiety & depression. I thought could it be? I immediately went to my husband to show him what I had found because he had problems sleeping at night as well. We went a few days later to our local drug store and picked up a bottle of 50mg. 5-HTP. We had decided on the lowest dosage available in our area, upping the dosage as we went along if it was necessary. We have only been on it for a few days now but there is a very noticeable difference. We both have been sleeping through the night and feeling more refreshed when we wake. My anxiety attacks are gone as well as my headaches. We both are much less snappish than what we were before. We haven't noticed any side effects so far. We are taking them with a meal or a small snack and so far we have stayed at 50mg. Thanks for the very useful information that lead to this discovery!"Replies
01/25/2010: Brian from Sparta, Nj replies: "could you email be at firstname.lastname@example.org with the products you used, as in brand. i used to use a good rhodelia but i can no longer buy it and i need more"
[YEA] 01/18/2008: S. B. from Louisville, KY: "Just wanted to echo the positive experiences reported here. After a bit of internet research, I kind of guessed at a regimen that might work for me, which is one 250mg rhodiola capsule before breakfast, one before lunch, and then 50mg 5-HTP before bed. In fact I found this site because I Googled "5-HTP" and "rhodiola" to see if there was any danger in taking them both, but I see several of you have also come up with a similar plan. Very assuring, and I have to say I felt a bit of triumph for having arrived at the same conclusion that others have made of my own accord.
Anyway, I've been taking it for a short while and I am still flabbergasted at how effective it is. I really just can't get over it. I could feel the effects after the very first dose of rhodiola. Not only did it improve my mood, it made me feel, well, happy! And it improved my personality. Low seratonin levels were impacting my life in many negative ways but now I am a new person.
Also it seems to have eliminated my morning headaches and neck stiffness, but I can't say whether that is attributed to the rhodiola or the 5-HTP. From what I've read it may likely be the 5-HTP.
However as others have stated, I would take caution in the dosage of rhodiola. I have found that if I take the afternoon dose too close to the morning dose, I do become a bit jittery and restless. Still happy--not nervous--but jittery and restless nonetheless.
Rhodiola is obviously powerful stuff and I'm sure it's not for everyone, but if you are the type of person that it can benefit, then like the others here that have reported positive experiences, I think you'll be astounded as to how effective it can be."
[YEA] 01/13/2008: kellie from vancouver bc, canada: "Hi' I found 5 htp a couple years ago on the internet , looking for some thing to help my saddness and depression, so i heard about 5 htp , well i was desprite and i took 2 + 100 every day , it helped me so so much , i go off it some times because the side effects for me are, it makes me get my period more ofton , mind you i think that is when i was taking 300 mg . and also it has caused me to get itchy palms of my hand ,and the back of my head . but now that iv gone down on them and taken a break for a few months , im good . but i have to go on them because it helps me so much for depression . i have just discovered the 5 htp with 200 mg L- Ter , wow as far as im concerned its a bloody mirical . it changes my hole mood . makes me very happy .but for sure one other side effect im not as hungry when im on it . and i dream more vividly . but as fare as im concerned its a wonder drug , sorry for the spelling.lets just hope the drug companys don't take them away ."
[YEA] 11/30/2007: Susanne from Indianapolis, In: "I began taking 5-HTP for depression and anxiety and sleeplessness during a very emotionally stressful breakup. I have Not had an anxity attack since 3-07 which I had suffered from off and on for several years. I sleep so much better. I am able to think clearer and stay focused and concentrate so much better as well as improved my memory. I am thankful for this. My dr. wanted to put me on Wellbutrine. NO Thank U!"
[YEA] 11/11/2006: Terri from San Jose, CA: "5HTP is greatly helping myself and my daughter with our symptoms of fibromyalgia. I have tried low doses of antidepressants in the past but nothing worked as well to improve my sleep as 5-HTP has. I take 200mg per night. My type comes with several essential cofactors to assist in proper seratonin production. No side effects for me, unlike with the other drugs. I'm considering it for more members of my family. We have a genetic sleep and pain disorder. Hopefully we can find the right dose for all of us. I advise everyone to see a qualified ND or sympathetic MD before self dosing to be extra safe but side effects are rare thankfully."
[YEA] 11/27/2005: Harrier from Long Beach, CA: "I was recently diagnosed as having some mild anxiety was was given Zoloft. However the side effects were to great for me to continue. I have been trying L- Glutamine and 5 HTP for about a month and appear to find a leveling off or those problems. For me although it seems to have helped, the jury is still out and I'm not sure if this is helping or its me in the fact I only recently recognized it was a problem. I have read that 90% of the people who try natural alternatives for depression / anxiety return to prescriptions. That is very high. I only wish I recognized my problem earlier. The only people I see pushing the natural alternatives are people who have things to gain. There have been no real blind study on 5 HTP. I do not crave junk food or caffeine nearly as much. If that is a symptom of improvement, perhaps I'm getting there."
[YEA] Kathryn from Toronto, Ontario: "I am taking 5-HTP to help me with sleeping. My 16 yr old daughter is also taking it to help with stress and weight control as well as sleeping. We have found it has helped a lot and I don't have to take it every day . My kids call them the turkey pills because the amino acid they contain are the same as the one found in turkey, milk, bananas etc. We both take 100 or 200 mg a day."
[YEA] Charlotte from Richboro, PA: "My 6year old grandson was diagnosed with "Select Mutism" 2 years ago and rather than put him on "Prozac", my daughter did some research and learned about 5HTP and chose to try it first. He started on 50mg every night. His psychologist saw the same results with the 5HTP as children on prescribed drugs. It's been a miracle for him. I have since then also taken it since our family seems to have anxiety problems and ADD runs in the family and it has helped very much with these problems. I usually take 100mg to 200mg daily depending on my stress levels at the time. We are so grateful our little grandson did not have to take Prozac or a similar drug. I would highly recommend it as a first choice to try at least."
EC: Selective Mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a childs inability to speak in select social settings, such as school. These children understand language and are able to talk normally in settings where they are comfortable, secure and relaxed.
07/14/2008: Melinda from Richardson, Texas replies: "I would love to learn more about 5-HTP or L-lysine and its use for children. I have a 6 year old with "rolandic" epilepsy and a 10 year old with adhd. We would love to find a way to medicate naturally as all the traditional medications have a list of side effects that we deal with. Any information on how to use this remedy on children would be great!"
05/17/2009: Rob from Manhattan, New York replies: "Charlotte, I would also be weary of some of these diagnosis... The drug companies are quick to name many normal development conditions as a serious sounding disease or condition for which drugs are needed.. Simple shyness is now ..social anxiety disorder...
So am wondering if Selective Mutism is not just a shyness that your grandson will eventually grow out of..or would react to some social therapy."
[YEA] 05/02/2009: Jake from Middletown, New York: "Help to stop drinking: I have had difficulty with alcohol consumption for years, did not drink every day but when I did I did to excess.Then a friend sugessted 5-HTP which has greatly reduced my desire to drink and when I do I have a few and just get that feel that I dont want any more.I take 200mg 5-HTP at bedtime and 100mg in morning both on empty stomach. I now sleep great feel, calm and just drink socially now like those without drinking issues."
[YEA] 03/25/2010: Kristina from Beverly, Ma: "I used to take an Rx SSRI for seasonal depression and weight loss but after two years, my body decided it didn't want it anymore. I got anxious to the point of paranoia, I binged on sweets, and I lost the will to do much beyond sit in front of my TV/computer.
I weaned off it and discovered 5-htp. When I first began taking it, I took low doses (25 mg or 50mg) a couple times a day. It would work fine for a couple days and then I would have side effects like bone aches, sleepiness (no matter how much sleep I got), anxiety, and constant hunger. I tried taking smaller doses and found it to have no effect. Frustrated, I nearly stopped taking it.
I then found a time-release capsule of 5-htp. There is at least one company that makes it in a 100mg. It works incredibly well. I haven't felt this "normal" in a very long time. I'm awake during the day and I sleep at night, I eat normally and stop eating when I'm no longer hungry, and I'm able to handle stressful situations calmly. I honestly don't feel like I have any side effects.
I am 32 years old and female. The other things I take daily are a 'complete' vitamin, rhodiola rosea 400mg lysine 500mg, glucosamine/condroiton, fish oil, and 1000 mg of vitamin D. I've been taking all of those for years before taking 5-htp.
If you're having trouble with the 'normal' doses of 5-htp, I highly recommend trying the time release version before giving up on it entirely."
03/25/2010: Gean from Salina, Ks replies: "Do you take the 5-HTP in the morning, or at night? Thank you."
04/03/2010: Kristina from Beverly, Ma replies: "I'm sorry for the delay in my response - I take the 5htp once a day at about 10:30am. If I took it immediately upon waking, I'd probably take two a day... but taking it at that hour, I only need one.
I usually feel pretty good all by myself in the mornings."
09/17/2010: Christy from Portland, Or replies: "It's fairly common amongst users of psychedelic drugs known to effect serotonin receptors and levels (MDMA, LSD, etc. ) to use 5-HTP to restore serotonin levels. I've found that it noticibly helps myself and have seen it gain a lot of popularity over the last few years. It'd be interested to see legitimate research done."
Side Effects of 5-HTP
[WARNING!] 02/02/2013: Charlotte from Honolulu, Hi: "hey everyone who wants to try 5-HTP you should research it first... It's the cause of Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome (EMS). I thought I was going to try it until I read about this. The side effects among other things are extreme muscle pain, tremors, and it's a life-long condition. It has also killed people."Replies
02/03/2013: Neukoln from Edinburgh, Scotland, Uk replies: "I can't find the post, but someone commented that taking a lower dose of 5HTP is more effective. [It may have been on the Depression pages?] I have to agree with this. I had crippling depression, and so I had gradually increased to 300mg/day (3 x 100mg) thinking that I needed the maximum dose - because my depression was almost making me bed-ridden. But that very high dose gave me a weird anxiety, and racing heart, and I took ages to fall asleep. And I got very loose bowels too.
I am now taking 200mg. I break open one of the capsules and have 50mg under the tongue 1/2 hour before breakfast, then 100mg under the tongue 1/2 hour before dinner, and finally 50mg under the tongue 1/2 hour before bed. I feel so much better. My depression has completely gone. I feel happy. I am thinking of reducing the 100mg dinner-time dose to 50mg. But maybe when the Winter has passed."
02/03/2013: Kathy from Las Vegas replies: "I watched a documentary on nutrition and a Dr. said that niacin totally erases depression. Of course you have to stay on it. He sited an example of a woman that was so depressed that she stayed in her room. When she took niacin, as much as she needed to get her acting like herself again, it worked, she became her old self. They told the Dr. and he said to take her off the niacin, they listened and she reverted back to a depressed state. The documentary may have been called "a beautiful world"."
02/03/2013: Kimi from San Diego, Ca replies: "The doctor's name is Andrew Saul and the documentary is called "Food Matters". His books are a "must-read" and the documentary is priceless!"
02/05/2013: Timh from Louisville, Ky replies: "I get very good results w/ Tyrosine. I like to take 1 grm daily but Tyrosine will raise the blood pressure in folks who have the condition. I am at least able to take 500mg daily now. Add some St John'sWort once daily along w/ the T and I'm a happy man again."
[SIDE EFFECTS] 04/11/2008: Molly from Madison, USA: "One time I purchased a bottle of 5-htp, and after taking one capsule morning & evening, just twice, I threw the bottle away. My reaction to 5-htp was horrific; upon further research I learned that high levels of serotonin are associated with SEVERE ANXIETY. I also read that the spice ginger is a serotonin antagonist, so I have a bottle on hand, just in case I ever feel so anxious ever again.
Then I read somewhere online that there is a set of people whose depression responds to Acetyl L-Carnitine, they said the depression lifted in these people when using 3-4 grams a day, and to take two grams of acetylcarnitine on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning.
This amino acid is the most amazing substance; I've never been able to take more than 2 grams per day - there is such great mental clarity, there is utter inability to be depressed, but there simultaneously is no euphoria - just calm lucid clarity. I've read that it assists the brain in making many different neurotransmitters - so it is not anything, not anything at all like 5-htp which floods the brain with serotonin - which, if you don't need it, might create severe anxiety."Replies
07/11/2013: Anonymous from Oz, Middle Earth, replies: "Hello, not insult to anyone but when you get vitamins from Walgreens, Walmart etc. it is not good for your health. Walmart's food is GMO (Genetically Modified=cancer etc. Do your research and look at fillers in vitamins. GMO foods are banned everywhere but in the U.S, why because MONSANTO is here. Do your research. MONSANTO cannot be sued in the U.S. i.e., MONSANTO PROTECTION ACT passed this year. Our organic farmers crops are being poisoned and sterilized by their chemicals. GMO foods and their side affects are lethal. Support your local farmers. Dr. Mercola and Dr. Andrew Lessman are the best vitamins (natural) I've found. Lessman's are even grown in solar powered nurseries etc. Please do your research. <3 and Peace to all of you."