Why You Should Know About 5-Hydroxytryptophan

What is 5-Hydroxytryptophan

When your body doesn’t produce enough serotonin, you end up feeling tired, sad, and/or anxious. You may find you’re not sleeping well, and you’re gaining weight. If you’re noticing any combination of those symptoms,  you may want to try incorporating 5-Hydroxytryptophan into your diet. This can be had through foods, or by taking 5-HTP supplements. However, before you go order a bottle of 5-HTP off of Amazon, here’s some information you should know. 

What Is 5-Hydroxytrytophan? 

Long story short, your body produces amino acids. One of those is L-tryptophan, which uses 5-HTP  to produce serotonin. You need serotonin because it regulates quite a bit of your bodily functions such as appetite, sleep and mood. 

5-HTP is found in protein-rich foods such as dairy, meat, and soybeans. As a supplement, it is derived from the seeds of an African plant. You can buy it over-the-counter at most vitamin stores, and some pharmacies. It’s available in pill form of varying doses. Do not exceed the dosage on the bottle, or the one recommended by your healthcare provider.

What Does 5-Hydroxytryptophan Do?

Because 5-HTP is responsible for producing serotonin, you could say it does an awful lot. 

5-HTP may benefit conditions, and symptoms related to: 

  • Menopause*
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)*
  • Premenstrual syndrome*
  • ADHD*
  • Parkinson’s* 
  • Alzheimer’s*
  • Nervous system disorder*
  • Ramsay-Hunt syndrome*
  • Symptoms related to withdrawal from alcohol and drugs*

Is Taking 5 HTP Dangerous?

5-HTP is marketed as being safe to use as a supplement and as a weight loss aid. However, one thing to know is that if you’re on an antidepressant, then 5-HTP can mess with the dosage. Always make sure to talk to your doctor before taking this, or any other type of supplement.

Side effects from 5 HTP are possible, especially if you’re taking a dose that’s too high. 

You may experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Shivering
  • In extreme cases, severe heart issues
  • Drowsiness
  • Digestive issues
  • Muscular issues
  • Sexual dysfunction

Stop taking 5 HTP if you feel any of the above. When in doubt, call your doctor immediately.

People with Down’s Syndrome should avoid taking 5-HTP because it has been known to cause seizures. 

Discontinue taking this at least 2 weeks prior to any surgery you may have scheduled. 

There is not enough research to consider 5 HTP safe to take during pregnancy, so it’s best to avoid this until you are no longer pregnant or nursing. 

Does 5 HTP Make You Sleepy?

Anxiety and depression can wreak havoc on a sleep schedule. When you aren’t sleeping well, and you’re already dealing with a mood disorder, then you’ve been thrust into a vicious cycle of unhealthy moods meeting unhealthy sleep. 

Once you introduce a supplement like 5-HTP into your mix, and your serotonin is reaching a healthy level, then you may find yourself feeling more tired or relaxed than what you’ve been used to. 

Why is that? Well, 5-HTP helps to make serotonin. And, when serotonin is introduced to darkness, or evening, it becomes melatonin. Melatonin is what helps you sleep. Becoming tired when taking 5 HTP is normal because your body’s biological clock is performing better. 

And, we all know the positive effects of sleeping well. Your mood may stabilize, as might your weight. 

By the way, you should not take 5 HTP with supplements that can cause drowsiness such as: 

  • California poppy
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Melatonin
  • Chamomile 
  • Yerba Mansa

How Much 5 HTP Can You Take In A Day?

5 HTP is made from the seeds of an African plant. As common with all other nutritional supplements, 5 HTP has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety and efficacy. 

Technically, 5 HTP is considered a supplement*. It’s considered safe at a dose of 400 mg or less per day. Doses higher than 400 mgs may lead to Serotonin Syndrome. 

What Is Serotonin Syndrome?

Generally, Serotonin Syndrome is a potentially fatal condition brought on by an excessive amount of serotonin through a medication dosage increase. This has been a big enough issue that the FDA has been asking drug and supplement manufacturers to include a warning label on their products.

Symptoms you need to be aware of are:

  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sudden change in blood pressure or body temperature
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle twitches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Shivering with goosebumps
  • Profuse sweating
  • High fever
  • Unconsciousness

If you are experiencing any of the above combinations of symptoms, please call an ambulance or have someone take you to the hospital. Immediate medical intervention may be necessary. 

You are at higher risk of Serotonin Syndrome if you’re taking two or more medications that affect serotonin, including supplements*. St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP, L-Tryptophane, and ginseng can all contribute to Serotonin Syndrome, especially if you’re already taking an antidepressant. Please be sure to talk to your doctor before you combine medications. 

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*Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that you consult with a health care professional before using any dietary supplement. Many supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects, and such products may not be safe in all people.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.