5-HTP – also known as 5- Hydroxytryptophan– is known for its use in relieving depression, weight gain, and insomnia. It is a chemical byproduct of the L-tryptophan protein building block, though it is also produced commercially from the Griffonia simplicifolia (an African plant) seeds. 5-HTP comes in capsule form and can be purchased over the counter from a variety of suppliers, including pharmacies, grocery stores, department stores, and online retailers.
5-HTP increases production of the natural physical chemical serotonin, a chemical that works in the brain and central nervous system. Seratonin correlates to how people regulate their moods and feelings and is known to affect a variety of functions, including sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual appetite and behavior, and pain receptors. Typically, low levels of serotonin or levels that significantly drop can cause negative reactions to behaviors and emotional outputs that can cause weight gain, depression, and other side effects, including mood swings, panic attacks, anxiety and night terrors, to name a few.
Since 5-HTP synthetically increases serotonin production, it frequently contributes to a reversal of the negative effects of low serotonin levels which, in addition to the mood and emotional effects, have been connected to fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, risk of heart disease and chronic headaches.
While 5-HTP does help with serotonin production, it may not in and of itself cure all side effects, particularly if there are other underlying causes.
Notably, while 5-HTP can have drastic positive effects, it is not considered a “wonder drug.” It will take effect over time and may take several weeks before you notice any significant results or improvements.
Although many doctors will proscribe chemical complexes like Prozac, for mood altering purposes and correcting HTP levels, 5-HTP supplements labeled as “Griffonia simplicifolia seeds are available over the counter without a prescription. Most of the capsules provide 50 mg to 100 mg of the 5-HTP complex.
Recommended dosage ranges, but most sources recommend taking one capsule three times each day (total 150-300 mg each day). It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning supplements to secure guidance as to the recommended dosage for your needs and personal situation.
Many physicians will recommend a gradual implementation over the span of three-four weeks. You will begin with one 50 mg capsule each morning and gradually build over the course of approximately 24 days to consume 300 mg over the course of the day.
As with any supplement or consumable medication, it is recommended that you first consult with your physician. This is particularly critical as it relates to 5-HTP if you have ever been diagnosed with any of the conditions below:
- Serious allergies
- Eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa
- Sickle cell anemia
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Liver or lung disorders/diseases
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Autoimmune diseases
Additionally, you should not consume 5-HTP in conjunction with any of the following mediations:
- Tricyclic medications
- Alcoholic beverages
- Weight loss medicine
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
5-HTP Side Effects
Although 5-HTP has been found by various clinical studies to be safe for general consumption, there are various side effects that can occur. Known side effects include:
- Lack of appetite
- Flushing or rash
- Increased depression
Some of the side effects mentioned above may improve as your body adjusts and acclimates to the increased levels of serotonin. If you do not see an improvement, reduce your daily intake of 5-HTP and consult your physician.
Please note that before purchasing or ingesting any supplement, including 5-HTP, you should consult your physician. Once you have begun taking 5-HTP, remember that it is not a “wonder drug,” and that, as is the case with any supplement, it will take some time to truly take effect and to create any significant changes; experts suggest allowing a minimum of six weeks for the 5-HTP to kick and produce results. Additionally, you should always start with the lowest dosage – in the case of 5-HTP, this is 50 mg. one time each day.