What Is 5-HTP Good For?


Quick Answer

5-HTP is an amino acid that is often used to relieve depression, according to WebMD. Studies show that 5-HTP is as effective as some antidepressants, possibly due to its ability to raise serotonin levels in the brain.

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Full Answer

5-HTP is the precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, sleep and pain, explains Healthline. Some studies have shown it to be effective in treating headache, fibromyalgia, psychiatric disorders and cerebellar ataxia. It may also be useful as an appetite suppressant and weight loss aid. While generally considered safe, some side effects of 5-HTP are seizure, gastrointestinal disturbances, mood disturbances and abnormal blood counts. Reported side effects might be the result of contamination in the 5-HTP products, derived from the seeds of the plant Griffonia simplicifolia.

Additional uses for 5-HTP supplements include treating morning stiffness, pain and sleep disturbances, according to WebMD. While it is sometimes used in cases of anxiety, obesity and insomnia, the evidence is insufficient to determine its efficacy in treating these conditions. Dosages for treating depression range from 150 to 300 milligrams a day, although there is no standard dose for 5-HTP. Individuals who are taking antidepressants should not use 5-HTP because it could cause a serious interaction.

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