5-HTP at a glance*
- Enhances weight loss.
- Reduces carbohydrate cravings.
- Helps reduce calorie intake.
- Reduces anxiety.
- Promotes quality sleep.
- Benefits those with fibromyalgia.
- May improve mood.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP for short) is from a native seed of an African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. 5-HTP is a natural and necessary compound, normally made in the body from a component of protein known as tryptophan. The body normally converts tryptophan into 5-HTP and then into serotonin, which has many beneficial effects in the brain. Deficiencies of serotonin appear to be common and are associated with abnormal changes in mood, appetite, and sleep.
5-HTP and serotonin enhancing medications (like Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, and Prozac) are used to raise serotonin in the brain. This important brain chemical, when increased, can improve sleep, depression, anxiety, appetite (carbohydrate cravings and portion control), and pain (including headaches). 5-HTP is considered by many to be a preferred natural alternative to prescriptions with potential advantages over the pharmaceutical chemicals, which are generally not effective for weight loss and often have unwanted side effects.
Uses of 5-HTP
5-HTP can decrease calorie intake by promoting a sense of fullness or “satiety”. In particular, research has shown that those taking 5-HTP automatically reduce their intake of carbohydrates, including starches and sugars. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that “overeaters” taking 900 mg daily of 5-HTP lost 11 lbs in just 12 weeks without dieting! It turns out they automatically reduced their calorie intake by 42% (1,341 calories less per day) without trying and then by 61% when attempting to diet. Those on placebo had no significant change in calorie intake even while trying to diet (they only lost 2.4 lbs in 12 weeks). 5-HTP gave “satiety” or fullness with small amounts of food and reduced carbohydrate intake. Those using 5- HTP had a 460% increase in the amount of weight loss in the 3 month study compared to the 2.4 lbs lost on placebo!
Another study in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders showed that overweight diabetics, known to often have low tryptophan levels, lost 4 1/2 lbs in 2 weeks WITHOUT DIETING while taking 250 mg of 5-HTP before meals! Their intake of carbohydrates dropped by 75%, 67 grams per day.
A third study in the Journal of Neural Transmission gave obese individuals 8 mg/kg (about 200 mg before each meal) and found that women dieters had a sense of fullness with calorie intake dropping by 1,000 calories per day with no intention of trying to eat less.
Carbohydrate intake dropped from 274 grams per day to only 176 grams per day (equivalent of cutting out 25 tsp of sugar daily or 7 slices of bread) without trying!
Although there are some similarities in the effects of 5-HTP with prescription antidepressants, they are not interchangeable. Since most serotonin based antidepressants are associated with weight gain over time, we typically do not use them for weight loss.
More Uses of 5-HTP
- Depression and Anxiety – Short-term studies have shown that 5-HTP is effective for treating depression. Depending on the severity, 5-HTP may or may not be recommended for this purpose. Anxiety may also respond well to 5-HTP. 100 mg two to three times daily may be recommended.
- Migraines and Headaches – 5-HTP helps prevent migraines in a dosage of 400-600 mg per day.
- Insomnia – 5-HTP is useful for insomnia at 100 mg or more at bedtime. It may be used with the natural sleep aid melatonin safely.
- Fibromyalgia – 100 mg three times daily has been shown to benefit those with fibromyalgia with improved pain, stiffness, sleep, fatigue, and anxiety.
Research on 5-HTP has shown many potential health benefits, including:*
- Enhances weight loss
- Reduces carbohydrate cravings
- Helps reduce calorie intake
- Reduces anxiety
- Promotes quality sleep
- May benefit those with fibromyalgia
- May improve mood
- Promotes Quality Sleep
- May benefit those with Depression
- Supports Migraine Prevention
- Feel Fuller (satiety)
- May benefit those with Diabetes Type II
Suggested Usage: Take 1 capsule daily, preferably on an empty stomach at bedtime, or take as directed by your healthcare provider. 5-HTP, the intermediate metabolite between the amino acid L-tryptophan and serotonin, is extracted from the seed of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia).
Precautions & Safety
Not recommended for pregnant/nursing women. Consult physician if taking medications (especially antidepressants), or have a medical condition. May cause drowsiness and mild transient GI symptoms. Take with food in case of GI upset.
There can be a potential side effect known as the serotonin syndrome if taken in combination with serotonin active anti-depressants (SSRI’s like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Pristiq, etc) and older medications such as imipramine and amitriptyline. We do not recommend using 5-HTP with antidepressants unless approved by a physician.
Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include rapid heart rate, confusion, sweating, and rapid breathing. If these symptoms occur, discontinue 5-HTP and any anti-depressants and seek medical attention. Do not take 5-HTP with other anti-depressants or anti-migraine medications (methysergide, cyproheptadine) without discussing with a physician.
Keep out of reach of children.