Deep Dive: 5-HTP

In the supplement world, 5-HTP is seen as a natural anti-depressant. 

There are so many other wonderful benefits of taking 5-HTP, as long as you are cleared by your doctor to do so. I say this because some people simply should not use this supplement. Find out if you’re one of those people by reading the rest of this article!


What is it?

5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, comes from a plant called Griffonia Simplicifolia, found in western parts5-Hydroxytryptophan chemical bond of Africa. It is made from the amino acid tryptophan, which you might recognize comes from turkey. But guess what? Tryptophan is actually found in other common meats like chicken and beef in the exact same amounts. Other foods, like nuts and cheeses, contain even more.

It’s said to aid in weight loss, sleep, mood (specifically depression and anxiety), Fibromyalgia, headaches, and migraines. Read on to find out how!


Benefits

Using it for Depression

Taking 5-HTP by mouth seems to improve symptoms of depression in some people. It may even work as well as some prescription antidepressant drugs!

You may notice a difference in 3-14 days. If after 2 weeks you don’t feel a difference with the 50mg, you can increase to 100mg. 

Dose: 50-100 mg of 5-HTP three times a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner – or before bed).

Using it for weight-loss

Ok, so maybe eating a huge Thanksgiving feast won’t lead to weight loss, because you simply need to eat fewer calories to lose weight. However, studies have shown that 5-HTP reduces calorie consumption* by an average of 435 calories per day!

Protein can help a person maintain healthy body weight, so the researchers concluded that 5-HTP may help a person lose weight by reducing cravings for unhealthful foods. 

The dose will vary from person to person, and you’ll need to speak to a professional to find out what dose will work best for you. Remember, more is not always better.

Using it for sleep

According to one study, people who took 5-HTP went to sleep quicker and slept more deeply than those who took a placebo. Apparently, researchers are recommending 200 to 400 mg of 5-HTP at night to stimulate serotonin, but this could take several weeks to be fully effective. 

It helps you sleep by increasing melatonin production in your body. One human-based study showed that the combination of both 5-HTP and GABA helped to reduce the time it took to fall asleep and increased the duration and quality of sleep. It’s no wonder since these are both happy drugs that are often recommended by naturopaths in place of medically prescribed antidepressants when you’re trying to ween off. Again, the dosage will depend on the person, so ask a medical professional!


Dietary Sourcesthanksgiving turkey

Not only can 5-HTP be found in plant and supplement form, but also in food! Well, 5-HTP actually can’t be ingested in food. The amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make 5-HTP can be found in turkey, chicken, milk, potatoes, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, turnip, collard greens, and seaweed. Some of those may seem like staples in your house, while others may seem more foreign to your taste buds. Try something new!

I know that my mood noticeably improves when I eat turkey for Thanksgiving. Not only that, but I have the best sleep of the year that entire week or weekend when I’m eating leftover turkey sandwiches. Now that you know this fact, take the time to notice if it affects you this way as well!


Who should take 5-HTP? 

Although this seems like a miracle pill, it’s recommended that only certain adults use it. However, keep in mind that high doses of 5-HTP can be toxic and can cause Serotonin Syndrome. This happens when you have too much serotonin in your body. It sounds great, but this can lead to agitation, restlessness, insomnia, rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, loss of muscle coordination, and muscle rigidity. The only treatment for serotonin syndrome is to stop taking the drugs or medications that initially caused it.


Who should avoid 5-HTP?

As much as I would love for everyone to try something like 5-HTP, it simply isn’t made for everyone’s individual needs.

Individuals should talk to their family physician before adding this supplement to their regimen, but those who should stay away from 5-HTP are:

  • those with high blood pressure or diabetes
  • those who are taking antidepressants
  • those who have liver disease
  • those who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • children

Where can I buy it?

Most supermarkets or health food stores will have some form of 5-HTP. You’ll want to find a good quality, science-backed product, like NutraChamps. Basic 5-HTP products lack the essential absorption 5-htp bottle and boxvitamins B6 and C that make a big difference in helping your body convert 5-HTP to serotonin — the neurotransmitter that helps benefit your mood, sleep, brain health, and more.

Have you heard of the neurotransmitter called serotonin? It plays a major role in moderating your mood, sleep and brain function, so if you’re constantly feeling down or in a funk, you may not be producing enough of it. That’s where 5-HTP comes into the picture. Often hard to find in 5 HTP products, Vitamins C & B6 are crucial in helping the body produce, convert and utilize 5-HTP properly.

If you purchase NutraChamps’ 5-HTP, we suggest starting with 1 capsule, which will give you 100mg of 5-HTP. This will double your servings per container to 120! If and/or when you feel ready, you can take a full dose of 200mg (2 capsules), and hopefully see more positive changes in your mood and sleep.


Conclusion

There are certainly some people who could benefit from this natural antidepressant, but with that, it’s important to keep in mind that it won’t work well for everyone. Keep in mind the list above and make sure to speak to your doctor before adding this supplement to your daily regimen. If you get the go-ahead to try 5-HTP, keep in mind the following side effects: nausea, stomach upsets, headaches, insomnia, and heart palpitations.

I’ve heard stories of people getting off of antidepressants and thriving on 5-HTP and a healthy diet, so it’s definitely possible, but may not be for everyone. Its work in the brain and central nervous system helps to increase serotonin production, which can positively affect sleep, appetite, temperature, libido, and pain sensation.

Let us know if you give it a try!


Resources:

  • https://examine.com/supplements/5-htp/
  • https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/5-hydroxytryptophan-5-htp
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/serotonin-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354758
  • https://www.poison.org/articles/5htp-safety-concerns-173

Alexia Palmeri

Alexia Palmeri is a 28-year-old personal development enthusiast! She looks at life experiences as an opportunity to always learn and grow. Alexia is also a broadcast journalism graduate with a passion and knack for communications and media. She is always on the lookout for new trends on social media and keeps up to date with what's happening in the world. In her free time, Alexia enjoys socializing with family and loved ones, being in nature, cooking nourishing meals, and discovering new places to dine and adventure!

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