Overview

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) can be converted to serotonin in the body. It is often used for depression. It has less evidence for insomnia and anxiety.

5-HTP is a chemical byproduct of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It is produced commercially from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia. 5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation.

Since 5-HTP increases serotonin levels, it is used for conditions in which serotonin is believed to play an important role. These include depression, anxiety, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

How does it work ?

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Down syndrome. Most research shows that taking 5-HTP by mouth does not improve muscle strength or development in children with Down syndrome.
There is interest in using 5-HTP for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: It is possibly safe to take 5-HTP in doses of up to 400 mg daily for up to one year. The most common side effects include heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, sexual problems, and muscle problems. Large doses of 5-HTP, such as 6-10 grams daily, are possibly unsafe. These doses have been linked to severe stomach problems and muscle spasms.

Some people who have taken 5-HTP have developed a serious health condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). Some people think EMS might be caused by an accidental contaminant in some 5-HTP products. But there's not enough scientific evidence to know if EMS is caused by 5-HTP, a contaminant, or some other factor. Until more is known, 5-HTP should be used cautiously.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if 5-HTP is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: It is possibly safe for children to take 5-HTP by mouth at appropriate doses. In children under 12 years of age, 5-HTP seems to be safe at a dose of up to 5 mg/kg daily for up to 3 years.

Surgery: 5-HTP can affect a brain chemical called serotonin. Some drugs administered during surgery can also affect serotonin. Taking 5-HTP before surgery might cause too much serotonin in the brain and can result in serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Tell patients to stop taking 5-HTP at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Interactions ?

    Major Interaction

    Do not take this combination

  • Medications for depression (Antidepressant drugs) interacts with 5-HTP

    5-HTP increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Some medications for depression also increase serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with these medications for depression might increase serotonin too much and cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking medications for depression.

    Some of these medications for depression include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others.

  • Medications for depression (MAOIs) interacts with 5-HTP

    5-HTP increases a chemical in the brain. This chemical is called serotonin. Some medications used for depression also increase serotonin. Taking 5-HTP with these medications used for depression might cause there to be too much serotonin. This could cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.

    Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Carbidopa (Lodosyn) interacts with 5-HTP

    5-HTP can affect the brain. Carbidopa (Lodosyn) can also affect the brain. Taking 5-HTP along with carbidopa can increase the risk of serious side effects including rapid speech, anxiety, aggressiveness, and others.

  • Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others) interacts with 5-HTP

    5-HTP can affect a brain chemical called serotonin. Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) can also affect serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others).

  • Meperidine (Demerol) interacts with 5-HTP

    5-HTP increases a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Meperidine (Demerol) can also increase serotonin in the brain. Taking 5-HTP along with meperidine (Demerol) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.

  • Pentazocine (Talwin) interacts with 5-HTP

    5-HTP increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Pentazocine (Talwin) also increases serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with pentazocine (Talwin) might increase serotonin too much. This could cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking pentazocine (Talwin).

  • Tramadol (Ultram) interacts with 5-HTP

    Tramadol (Ultram) can affect a chemical in the brain called serotonin. 5-HTP can also affect serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with tramadol (Ultram) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and side effects including confusion, shivering, stiff muscles, and others.

Dosing

5-HTP has most often been used by adults in doses of 150-800 mg daily. Very large doses of 5-HTP, such as 6-10 grams daily, can cause serious side effects and should be avoided. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.