What is 5-HTP?


5-Hydroxytryptophan, or more commonly known as 5-HTP is a naturally occuring amino acid which assists in the production of serotonin and melatonin. This amino acts as the metabolic pathway that leads to the production of serotonin. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, promotes enhanced focus, improved quality of sleep, and improved mood. It is commercially produced from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia.

5-HTP is also used for sleep disorders such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraine, obesity, premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizure disorder, and Parkinson’s disease. 5-HTP crosses the blood brain barrier without any receptors ready for synthesis into serotonin inside the brain. Tryptophan is used as building blocks of proteins such as serotonin, melatonin and niacin while 5-hydroxytryptophan is solely broken down in the production of serotonin. That serotonin could potentially be turned into melatonin and restore your natural circadian rhythm.

Increased Serotonin Levels Can Improve:

  • Depression
  • Mood
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of Calmness and Wellbeing

Benefits of 5-HTP

Of the research and clinical trials into 5-HTP there has been evidence in support of 5-HTP supplements providing benefits preventing issues due to serotonin deficiencies. Side effects of a serotonin deficiency typically effect mood problems such an anxiousness, mental phobias, behavior compulsions, depressed mood and carbohydrate cravings. Numerous clinic studies have shown that 5-hydroxytryptophan does have similar properties to that of an SSRI or antidepressant.
Clinical trials have revealed that people who suffer from panic attacks linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain found relief when supplementing their diet with 200 mg of 5-HTP. Similary, children between the ages of 3-10 supplementing with 2mg/kg of 5-hydroxytryptophan saw a 93.5% reduction of sleep terrors. By supplementing with 5-HTP one could possibly offset the craving for carbohydrates and a larger appetite since carbohydrates increase in the level of serotonin in the brain.
In a 2-week long clinical trial involving 25 overweight diabetic subjects given no dietary restrictions, those who received 5-HTP had reduced caloric, carbohydrate, and fat intake compared to placebo. Subjects who received 5-HTP also reported reduced body weight, blood sugar, and insulin level probably due to changes in their diet.


Since everyone metabolises 5-HTP differently there is not a set dosage for anyone. Start with small doses around 50 mg and if necessary, raise the dose size slowly on subsequent attempts. A typical dose of 5-HTP is in the range of 300-500 mg, taken either once daily or in divided doses. Lower doses may also be effective, although usually when paired with other substances.
Most people find doses around 100-400 mg optimal however some require as little as 20 mg, while others need 500 mg or more, to produce satisfactory results. It’s also important to note if a person is taking anything that would work synergistically with 5-HTP to increase serotonin such as B6 or an SSRI. As always, please consult a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

1. Comparative study of efficacy of l-5-hydroxytryptophan and fluoxetine in patients presenting with first depressive episode.
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan
4. https://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/seritonin-and-seritonin-deficiency.html
5. Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients.