5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a molecule that is used by the human body to synthesize serotonin – a major hormone and neurotransmitter that is responsible for inducing happiness, regulating mood and leading to a general anti-depressive state. 5-HTP is its direct precursor which means the sole purpose of this molecule is to be converted to serotonin in the brain and thus a person can reap the multiple benefits of increased serotonin levels. Although the amino acid tryptophan, that people consume with protein-rich foods (meat, dairy, eggs), is the original compound that is used for 5-HTP synthesis, which is then converted to serotonin and many people use tryptophan for this purpose, the actual conversion of tryptophan to serotonin is limited because this amino acid is used by the body in many different ways (like building proteins and other needed molecules). It has been proven that 5-HTP is a much more potent and targeted supplement for the purpose of increasing serotonin synthesis than tryptophan, and people are better served if they use 5-HTP. The compound is so efficient in increasing serotonin levels that it is actually used as a comparable molecule in trials of drugs (such as antidepressants) which are designed for managing serotonin levels – 5-HTP serves as a benchmark for the potency of the researched drug. Actually, the certainty with which 5-HTP increases serotonin levels is the reason a person who takes prescribed antidepressants or other drugs of this kind should always consult with his/her physician before supplementing with 5-HTP. Other people can take the compound with no worries if they supplement the recommended doses.
5-HTP has been used quite successfully in restoring serotonin levels in people suffering from lower levels of this hormone. Examples are people with depression as well as high levels of inflammation in the body (like those suffering from metabolic syndrome). For this reason, most research is focused on such individuals with successful results. One major way in which 5-HTP is used is for treating depression and anxiety disorders. Several human trials have tested the effects of supplementation, and they conclude that there are benefits of using this compound for managing symptoms of depression– it can be supplemented by itself in order to achieve higher serotonin levels and an anti-depressive effect, or it can be combined with other compounds for an enhanced effect. Another strong effect of taking 5-HTP is in dealing with panic attacks and anxiety. People suffering from panic attacks have lower serotonin levels and supplementation with 5-HTP can protect the organism from induced panic attacks both patients and healthy undiagnosed individuals. Also, a trial in children showed that taking 5-HTP can lead to a significant reduction in experiencing night terrors both during supplementation and after stopping intake of the compound. In addition, combinations of supplements containing 5-HTP can prove effective in dealing with various conditions – increased sleep duration and sleep quality have been achieved with a combination of 5-HTP, GABA, valerian and cocoa polyphenols; and a stack of glutamine, phenylalanine, calcium, magnesium and 5-HTP can help people with alcohol addiction who go through therapy for their condition.
Another important benefit of taking 5-HTP is for reduction of excess weight. With all the supplements on the market for weight loss, it should be noted that most products are not proven to be effective at all. 5-HTP is backed by strong scientific support for its weight decreasing effects. Human trials have tested its applicability and safety and have found that 5-HTP is better than placebo for reducing weight, and it does so because it has strong appetite suppressive effects. More specifically, it does not decrease appetite per se (i.e. the desire to eat) as it actually increases the feeling of satiety after a meal which leads to lower food consumption during the day. That is why it is strongly recommended to take 5-HTP with a meal, so one can take advantage of increased satiety, especially in a situation in which people are dieting, and they consume smaller meals. Most studies have been conducted with women, but there is also evidence that men can benefit too. One hypothesis is that 5-HTP reduces cravings for carbohydrates, and this may be true to a degree, but the main mechanism when taking 5-HTP is still thought to be a reduction in calories overall. These results are particularly relevant for overweight and obese persons, as studies so far have been conducted with such groups of individuals. Since excess weight is associated with lower serotonin levels, the efficacy of 5-HTP can be explained by restoring normal levels of this vital neurotransmitter.
As a reliable serotonin precursor, 5-HTP increases serotonin levels and is neurally active. Users will feel its effects when they supplement – its actions are not stimulatory, but are more euphoric and happiness-inducing. Typical doses range from 50 mg to 500 mg, taken either once daily or in divided intakes. One can experience effects with lower doses, but this usually occurs when the supplement is paired with other compounds. Although uncertain, taking 5-HTP with green tea or, better yet, with green tea extracts may increase the bioavailability of 5-HTP in the brain which makes it more effective. Regarding safety, one can supplement the compound in the usual doses (around 300 mg per day) without the risk of side or negative effects, as no toxicity results have been reported so far. However, as mentioned above, users who take prescription medication, especially antidepressants, should consult their physician first.
| Supplement Facts |
|Serving Size 1 Capsule|
|Amount Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|L-5 HTP (L-5 hydroxytryptophan) (Griffonia simplicifolia seed extract)||100 mg||*|
|*Daily Value not established.|
Other ingredients: Rice flour, gelatin, may contain one or both of the following: magnesium stearate, silica.
Suggested Use: As a dietary supplement, take one capsule per day with water on an empty stomach.
WARNING: Do not take this product if you are taking a prescription antidepressant or if you are pregnant or nursing. Consult your healthcare provider before use if you have a medical condition or if you are taking any prescription medications.