5 Htp - NutraPedia

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5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

1. Conditions Studied

5-HTP has been studied for various conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorders, such as insomnia
  • Chronic headaches, including migraines
  • Weight management and appetite regulation
  • Fibromyalgia

2. Efficacy in Treating Conditions

Research on the effectiveness of 5-HTP for these conditions has shown mixed results:

  • Some studies suggest 5-HTP may reduce symptoms of depression, but it is not universally accepted as a treatment.
  • Evidence regarding anxiety is inconclusive, with some research indicating potential benefits.
  • 5-HTP may improve sleep quality, particularly by increasing REM sleep.
  • It may provide some relief from chronic headaches and migraines, although more research is needed.
  • There are indications that 5-HTP could help with weight loss by suppressing appetite, but results are not definitive.
  • For fibromyalgia, some patients have reported reduced symptoms, but evidence is not strong enough to make definitive claims.

3. Health Benefits

  • May enhance mood and alleviate symptoms of depression.
  • Potentially helps with sleep disorders by increasing serotonin, which can convert to melatonin, the sleep hormone.
  • Could aid in managing appetite and weight by promoting feelings of satiety.
  • May reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
  • Some people with fibromyalgia find it helps ease their symptoms.

4. Potential Downsides

While 5-HTP is generally well-tolerated, it does have potential downsides:

  • Can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea and diarrhea.
  • May interact with other medications, especially antidepressants, leading to a potentially dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome.
  • Long-term effects are not well-studied, and safety beyond short-term use is not guaranteed.
  • May cause drowsiness or sedation, affecting the ability to drive or operate machinery.
  • It is important to consult a healthcare provider before starting 5-HTP, especially for individuals with existing health conditions or those taking other medications.

5. Genetic Variations and Impact

The effect of 5-HTP can vary depending on genetic makeup:

  • Individuals with genetic variations in serotonin pathways may experience different effects from 5-HTP supplementation.
  • Some genetic mutations can affect the metabolism of 5-HTP, potentially altering its efficacy and safety profile.
  • Research in this area is ongoing, and personalized medical advice should be sought before using 5-HTP in the context of known genetic variations.

5-HTP Research Summary

L-5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, acting as a direct precursor to serotonin, and potentially, melatonin. It is found both as a natural compound in dietary supplements and as a pharmaceutical.

Natural Sources and Production

5-HTP is synthesized from tryptophan by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase, which exists in two forms. Its natural sources, synthesis methods, and biotechnological production, including genetic engineering approaches, are well-documented.

Physiological Effects and Therapeutic Applications

5-HTP has been studied for its role in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, panic disorders, sleep disturbances, obesity, and myoclonus, and its potential to cause serotonin syndrome.

Pharmacokinetics and Efficacy

5-HTP is well-absorbed, with about 70% entering the bloodstream, and is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. It bypasses the rate-limiting step of serotonin production and does not compete with other amino acids for absorption, making it an effective supplement.

Studies on 5-HTP

  • A study comparing 5-HTP to fluoxetine in treating depression found 5-HTP to be comparably effective, showing positive results within two weeks.
  • A formula called Gabadone containing 5-HTP improved sleep latency, duration, and quality in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
  • 5-HTP from Griffonia simplicifolia extract increased satiety and aided weight loss in overweight women on a reduced-calorie diet.
  • Another study found that 5-HTP supplementation led to reduced appetite and weight loss in obese females, without affecting mood.

Toxicological Aspects

The review also addresses the potential toxicity of 5-HTP and contamination issues in supplements, highlighting the need for careful consideration of safety in its use.


The research suggests that 5-HTP has potential as a therapeutic agent for various conditions related to serotonin deficiency. However, further research is needed to fully understand its efficacy and safety profile.


  1. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP): Natural Occurrence, Analysis, Biosynthesis, Biotechnology, Physiology and Toxicology
  2. 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor
  3. Comparative study of efficacy of l-5-hydroxytryptophan and fluoxetine in patients presenting with first depressive episode
  4. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep
  5. Relationship between the absorption of 5-hydroxytryptophan from an integrated diet, by means of Griffonia simplicifolia extract, and the effect on satiety in overweight females after oral spray administration
  6. The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects
  7. Serotonin a la carte: supplementation with the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan

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