5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin. There is a
massive amount of evidence that suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living. The lifestyle and dietary practices of many people living in this stress-filled era results in lowered levels of serotonin within the brain. As a result, many people are overweight, crave sugar and other carbohydrates, experience bouts of depression, get frequent headaches, and have vague muscle aches and pain. All of these maladies are correctable by raising brain serotonin levels. The primary therapeutic applications for 5-HTP are low serotonin states as listed in Table 1.
Table 1. Conditions associated
with low serotonin levels helped by 5-HTP
Chronic daily headaches
Serving Size: 1 Capsule
Size: 30 caps
Other ingredients: rice flour, vegetable magnesium stearate, gelatin
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HTP Precautions & Side Effects
5 HTP is available without prescription and is generally considered safe and may be beneficial for many individuals. Contraindications to 5 HTP use or conditions under which 5 HTP use should only be under the supervision of a physician are conditions in which increased serotonin levels may be harmful. This list is generic and does not represent a contraindication for all individuals. Obtaining professional advice is advised, especially if prescription medications are also being used.
- Cardiovascular Diseases (high blood pressure, post-stroke, post-heart attack)
- Extremely Elderly Persons
- those with Parkinsons Disease, Cancer or Autoimmune Diseases (Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus)
- Lung Diseases
- Chronic Alcoholism
- Liver diseases (hepatitis or cirrhosis)
- Parasitic Infection
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Low protein Diets
- Allergies (severe)
- Myalgia (persistent pain and weakness of the muscles)
- Peripheral Neuropathy (pain weakness of the muscles)
- Rash or Flushing
- Sickle cell anemia
Concurrent drug use: 5 HTP should not be used if taking:
- Anti-depressant drugs
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's e.g., Prozac)
- Tricyclic medications
- Weight Loss medications (i.e., dextenfluramine)
- Anti-parkinson medications (e.g., L-dopa)
- Barbiturates and other tranquilizing drugs
- Antihistamines and cold medications
- Alcoholic beverages
- Intravenous (illegal I.V.) drugs
- Cancer Chemotherapy
- Antibiotic Medications
The principal reason for not combining 5-htp with these classes of medications is that many of them may also increase serotonin levels or affect other neurotransmitters, but by different biochemical mechanisms. The combination, in some cases, has the potential of acting synergistically to dramatically increase serotonin levels. This combined action could have adverse effects.
Alcohol and 5-HTP should not be taken together. Allow at least six hours between use of alcohol and 5 HTP.
Warning: 5 HTP can increase the effect of some tranquilizing drugs.
About When to take 5HTP: It's difficult to know the best time to take 5-HTP since it varies among individuals. It depends whether it is being used for depression, sleep, or other issues. In the case of sleep, it is taken in the evening, perhaps before dinner.
- For anxiety or depression, it can be taken any time of day.
- For weight loss or appetite control, it may be taken on an empty stomach an hour or two before a meal.
- If you do take 5-HTP during the day, it's best to keep your dosage to less than 50 mg since sleepiness may occur. 5-HTP is absorbed better taken on an empty stomach. There has not been enough research done to know the ideal dosage and timing. Each person may need to find out for himself or herself the lowest dosage that works well and the ideal timing, whether early in the day, midday or evening. I also recommend taking breaks from supplementation. The length and frequency of breaks would be different for each individual depending on many factors including age, use of other supplements, use of medications, concurrent medical conditions, body weight, etc. Anyone planning its use for prolonged periods should consider reducing intake and frequency of use in order to minimize potential long term and unknown adverse events. A small amount of alcohol usually does not interfere with 5-HTP, but larger amounts may.
- Promotes mental well-being
- Provides 5-HTP from seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a native African plant