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What is 5-HTP used to treat?

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Quick Answer

5-HTP is used to treat sleep disorders, depression, migraine and tension-type headaches, premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, among other conditions, as listed by WebMD. 5-HTP reportedly works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of serotonin, an important brain chemical.

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Full Answer

5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It is available as a dietary supplement and does not require a prescription. 5-HTP is commonly used to treat conditions such as depression, sleep disorder, migraines and primary fibromyalgia syndrome, notes Everyday Health.

WebMD describes 5-HTP as "possibly effective" for treating depression and fibromyalgia. This means that clinical research has provided evidence that 5-HTP can improve the symptoms of depression and some symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as pain severity, morning stiffness and sleeplessness. There is "insufficient evidence" for its effectiveness in treating headaches, migraines, obesity and numerous other conditions. While this does not preclude the possibility of 5-HTP's use in treating these conditions, it does mean that clinical research has yet to provide evidence indicating its use on the basis of established science.

Because of the possibility of interactions with other supplements or medications, it is important to talk to a doctor or pharmacist when considering 5-HTP, cautions Everyday Health. Only a health care professional can properly diagnose medical conditions and provide safe and reliable treatment options

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