What are the Different 5-HTP Benefits?

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  • Written By: Marsha Strand
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2019
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The chemical by-product 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a naturally occurring amino acid that the body makes from tryptophan, an essential amino acid. It elevates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and behavior in the brain. As a result, 5-HTP benefits include help for several physical and emotional conditions that stem from low levels of serotonin in the brain, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraines and fibromyalgia.

Studies have shown 5-HTP benefits to include its effectiveness as an anti-depressant rivaling selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Prescription SSRIs elevate existing levels of serotonin in the brain, improving symptoms of depression; 5-HTP both raises the level of serotonin and is itself converted into serotonin in the brain. This makes it particularly valuable for those who have low serotonin levels.

Increasing serotonin levels with 5-HTP by crossing the blood-brain barrier has shown to produce anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety, effects. It also reduces impulsive behavior, which may be incited by anxiety. The resulting feelings of calm and well-being are also seen as 5-HTP benefits.

Some studies have concluded that 5-HTP benefits also can be felt by insomniacs who, while taking 5-HTP, were able to fall asleep faster, have a deeper sleep, and increase REM sleep. This lets the insomniac awaken feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated for having slept more effectively. Better sleep also has shown to decrease the risks for multiple other health conditions.


Studies also have shown 5-HTP to be a viable migraine treatment. After six months of use, 5-HTP was shown to be as effective at reducing the severity and duration of migraines as methysergide, a pharmaceutical used to prevent them. The 5-HTP dosage in one study was quite high — 200 mg three times a day — and doses at those levels can produce side effects such as nausea and loose stools. Methysergide, however, has a long list of serious side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, and arterial spasms.

Low serotonin levels are believed to be a culprit in fibromyalgia, and SSRIs are a common treatment for the condition's pain, anxiety, stiffness and fatigue. It is believed, however, that 5-HTP may be a better treatment option than SSRIs, which have side effects including anxiety, dry mouth and constipation. Some also say that 5-HTP works particularly well in treating fibromyalgia when used in combination with St. John’s wort.

Weight loss may be another of the 5-HTP benefits. An appetite-control study showed those taking 5-HTP reported being full faster and feeling less hungry between meals compared to those taking a placebo. Subjects not dieting lost 2 percent of their body weight, while those dieting lost 3 percent of their body weight. Those taking the placebo didn’t lose any weight.



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