Insight on 5-HTP: benefits, dosage, side effects and review
5-Hydroxytryptophan, better known as 5-HTP, is an essential amino acid present in the human body. The supplementation of 5-HTP is often associated with treating mental issues like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders along with weight gain concerns.
A common misconception you might face or have is assuming 5-HTP and L-tryptophan to be the same thing. So for you to know, let’s clear this out. 5-HTP and L-tryptophan are two different substances. The latter is the precursor of the former. Your daily diet is a common source of L-tryptophan, which is metabolized into 5-HTP, which further results in the production of serotonin. Apart from the serotonin production, 5-HTP is also tasked for production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
5-HTP is among the nootropic options in treating various health ailments, so it is essential that you understand the following aspects before you start using 5-HTP – how exactly does it work, how does it benefit you, and are there any side effects?
So, here are the essential aspects of 5-HTP for you to know.
How 5-HTP Benefits you?
The articles on the Internet that talk about the positive effects of 5-HTP on anxiety, insomnia, depression, migraine, headaches, obesity, and fibromyalgia. 5-HTP, a direct precursor of serotonin, is responsible for maintaining balance in various aspects of your brain and mental health.
Thus, supplementation of 5-HTP in correct amounts can:
Help alleviate depression
Being a precursor of serotonin, 5-HTP helps regulate the serotonin levels in your body which is vital for maintaining mood, depression, and anxiety. A study highlights the relation between depression and serotonin levels. That said; the dependency, i.e., whether depression is the cause of low serotonin levels or vice-versa is still unknown. Even with this limited knowledge, it is clear that 5-HTP factors in regulating serotonin levels in your body to help reduce depression.
Aid in weight loss
5-HTP can help with the process of losing weight. A study involving overweight diabetic persons reveals the ability of 5-HTP to reduce weight by up to 1.5 Kgs while placebo resulted in a 0.5 Kg weight loss. What 5-HTP does is not cut the appetite, but increase satiety (sensation of fullness). This increased satiety results in a low amount of food consumption, thus, leading to weight loss.
Help promote sleep and improve sleeping disorders
Serotonin, a product of 5-HTP, gets metabolized to melatonin which regulates your sleep duration and quality. Your body increases the melatonin levels in evenings to help induce sleep and decreases the melatonin levels in mornings to help break the rest period. Improper melatonin levels lead to irregular sleep or insomnia. Thus, supplementation of 5-HTP, especially with GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), has a synergizing effect of promoting relaxation and sleep.
These were some of the critical aspects where 5-HTP shows the best efficacy, at least what the researches say. Apart from these, there are other ailments like migraine and fibromyalgia upon which the degree of 5-HTP’s effectiveness is unknown; hence, we haven’t talked much about it. Just know that 5-HTP might help with those ailments but isn’t exactly a recommended first-choice option.
How 5-HTP works
5-HTP and L-tryptophan have the same end-product (serotonin), but the pathways differ.
You get L-tryptophan from your diets such as turkey and red meat. L-tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP which requires the availability of a chemical called tryptophan hydroxylase. Insufficiency of tryptophan hydroxylase will result in a low amount of 5-HTP production, which then results in low serotonin levels and all the related health issues. The inadequacy of tryptophan hydroxylase can be caused by several factors, like stress, magnesium deficiency, insulin resistance or vitamin B6 deficiency.
Therefore, supplementing 5-HTP means removing the dependency on tryptophan hydroxylase while also ensuring the presence of ample amount of 5-HTP for serotonin production in your body.
The standard dosage for 5-HTP is in the range of 100 – 300 mg per day.
To help you start, here are some 5-HTP dosage ranges based on requirements:
- Depression, anxiety, mood enhancement: 50 – 100 mg, three times per day with meals
- Weight management or loss: 250 – 300 mg; to be taken 30 minutes before a meal
- Sleep issues: 100 – 300 mg, 30 – 45 minutes before going to bed; supplement with GABA to increase the effectiveness
- Migraines and headaches: 100 – 200 mg, 2 – 3 times a day with meals
Remember, the above mentioned are the standard ranges for supplementation. You will have to work with the dosage amount to find a sweet spot that works for you. With that said, do not exceed the standard dosage limits (i.e., more than 300 mg per day) as it can be dangerous.
According to a study, the efficacy of 5-HTP suffers when supplemented alone. Further, it could also deplete neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, escalating the health conditions (depression) even more. Hence; for most effective results, 5-HTP should always be paired with dopamine or serotonin precursors to assure the best effectiveness and avoid neurotransmitter depletion.
5-HTP is POSSIBLY SAFE when administered orally in appropriate amounts (up to 400 mg per day for a year). However, there is a concern for people (concerning adults) developing eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a condition resulting in extreme muscle tenderness (myalgia) and blood abnormalities (eosinophilia) after supplementation. However, there’s little evidence to what might cause the condition, 5-HTP itself or the ingredients in the 5-HTP products.
5-HTP is POSSIBLY SAFE in 5 mg/kg daily dosage for infants up to 3 years old, and children up to 12 years old.
Concerning pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is no sufficient information available about the safety of supplementing 5-HTP. Hence, it is better to avoid its supplementation to be safe.
Also, you should avoid using 5-HTP products when due for surgery. Some drugs administered before surgery can elevate the serotonin levels in the body (in addition to 5-HTP) leading to undesired harmful effects.
Speaking of side effects, let’s have a look at that aspect.
5-HTP Side Effects
Improper supplementation can be harmful to your health, just the opposite of what you want.
The following are some of the 5-HTP side effects:
- Stomach pain
- Heart palpitation
All these 5-HTP side effects are signs of your body not acknowledging the supplementation. Hence, before you opt for any supplementation, consult your doctor and assure that it is safe for you. If you experience side-effects even at standard dosage, then it might be a good idea to lower the dosage even further (around 50 – 100 mg per day) then work your way up in gradual dose increment.
There are side effects involved, which can be sometimes fatal when supplementing 5-HTP with other anti-depressants. Anti-depressants like SSRIs, MAOIs, SNDRIs too stimulate and increase the serotonin levels in the body. Supplementing 5-HTP with anti-depressants could lead to abnormally high levels of serotonin in the body, a condition known as serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome results in symptoms like hyperthermia, high blood pressure, dizziness, disorientation and muscle spasms, which if not treated could turn to be fatal.
Thus, avoid medications like fluoxetine, paroxetine, tranylcypromine, carbidopa, dextromethorphan, and pentazocine, if you are on 5-HTP supplementation.
5-HTP tends to cause sleepiness. Hence, if paired with a sedative, you will feel sleepy throughout the day.
So, avoid herbs and supplements like hops, St. John’s wort, yerba mansa, clonazepam, zolpidem when on 5-HTP supplementation.
Final words: 5-HTP review
5-HTP is best known for treating depression along with sleep disorders and weight loss. It affecting the serotonin production helps in alleviating ailments concerned with abnormal serotonin levels. Though there are some other health benefits (like treating migraines, fibromyalgia), the effectiveness of 5-HTP in those cases is still very much unknown.
To have the best results, however, you need to supplement 5-HTP in required dosage along with dopamine or serotonin precursors. But before that, you need to assess the compatibility of 5-HTP with your body. So, consult your doctor in this regard.
And once you have done that, grab your 5-HTP pack from the link below.