5-HTP

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

Uses

What is 5-HTP used for?

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It is also produced commercially from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia.

5-HTP is used for sleep disorders such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizure disorder, and Parkinson’s disease..

How does it work?

There are not enough studies about how this supplement works. Please discuss with your doctor for more information. However, it is known that 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 the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using 5-HTP?

Consult with your doctor or pharmacist, if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription.
  • You have allergy with any substances of 5-HTP or other medications or other herbs.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.

The regulations for a supplement are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this supplement must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your doctor for more information.

How safe is 5-HTP?

5-HTP is possibly safe when taking by mouth appropriately. 5-HTP has been used safely in doses up to 400 mg daily for up to one year.

5-HTP is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in large doses. Doses from 6-10 grams daily have been linked to severe stomach problems and muscle spasms.

Special precautions & warnings

Children: 5-HTP is possibly safe when taken by mouth appropriately. Doses of up to 5 mg/kg daily have been used safely for up to 3 years in infants and children up to 12 years-old. As with adults, there is also concern about the potential for eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) in children, a serious condition involving extreme muscle tenderness (myalgia) and blood abnormalities (eosinophilia).

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking 5-HTP if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

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.

Side effects

What kind of side effects may I have from 5-HTP?

Some people who have taken it have developed a condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a serious condition involving extreme muscle tenderness (myalgia) and blood abnormalities (eosinophilia). Some people think EMS might be caused by an accidental ingredient or contaminant in some 5-HTP products. However, there is 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.

Other potential side effects of 5-HTP include heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, sexual problems, and muscle problems.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your doctor.

Interactions

What interactions may I have with 5-HTP?

5-HTP may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your doctor before using.

Products that may interact with 5-HTP include:

  • Medications for depression (Antidepressant drugs)

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)

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.

  • Carbidopa (Lodosyn)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor before using this medication.

What is the usual dose for 5-HTP?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULT

By mouth:

For depression: Several studies have used doses of 150-3000 mg daily in up to three divided doses for 2-6 weeks. Doses have also been gradually increased from 150 mg daily for 2 weeks up to 400 mg daily for 4 weeks.

The dose for this supplement may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Supplements are not always safe. Please discuss with your doctor for your appropriate dosage.

What form does 5-HTP come in?

5-HTP may be available in the following dosage forms: dietary supplement (Capsule)

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: July 17, 2017 | Last Modified: December 4, 2019

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