In this article, we are going to take a look at the benefits of one of the most increasing popular dietary supplements, 5-HTP, including the advantages that it holds for your body as backed by science to treat things like sleep disorders, depression, and other disorders. We will examine these benefits in turn so that you can make an informed decision about whether supplementing with 5-HTP is right for you. Then, we will conclude by looking at some potential side effects of 5-HTP and how you can make the right decision for your own body.
What is 5-HTP?
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is produced naturally in your body. One of its primary functions is as a serotonin precursor which means that it helps your body synthesize serotonin. Because of this connection, it has become quite a popular health supplement used to increase serotonin to treat a variety of symptoms. We are going to look at which of its benefits are backed by science and clinical trials and whether you should supplement 5-HTP in your diet.
Benefits of 5-HTP
Aids Weight Loss
Recent research has indicated that 5-HTP may help in weight loss by increasing your feelings of fullness which can decrease food intake. Feelings of hunger are one of the most difficult obstacles when it comes to weight loss so decreasing these feelings can be quite effective when trying to cut calories.
In one study, 15 women who had SSRI or SNRI resistant depression were given doses of 5 g of creatine daily and 100 mg of 5-HTP twice daily for eight weeks. Results found that this combination treatment may represent an effective treatment for these variants of depression.
The reason seems to be because decreased serotonin levels lead to an increased craving for carbohydrates. Therefore, by increasing serotonin through the use of 5-HTP, these cravings are reduced which results in lower carb consumption.
Increases Serotonin Levels
Research has also been done on the effects of 5-HTP as they relate to depression symptoms. In these studies, 5-HTP is theorized to improve depression by increasing serotonin levels to account for a serotonin imbalance.
In one study, 15 women who had SSRI or SNRI resistant depression were given 5 g of creatine daily and 100 mg of 5-HTP twice daily for eight weeks. Results found that this combination treatment may represent an effective treatment for these variants of depression.
An overall review of the research in this area indicates that there is positive evidence that 5-HTP is a more effective treatment for depression than the placebo alternative. That said, more research needs to be done in this area to see if it is in fact an alternative to antidepressant drugs.
As it stands, the effect of 5-HTP on serotonin in the brain does indicate that it could be a useful tool for helping to treat symptoms of depression going forward. However, more research is needed to conclude its efficacy as an antidepressant.
Increasing Melatonin Levels
The reason that 5-HTP is thought to be an effective sleep aid is that it raises serotonin and melatonin in your body. Serotonin can be converted to the hormone melatonin which helps regulate your sleep. Melatonin regulates your sleep/wake cycle, increasing it in the evening and decreasing it in the morning.
Studies have suggested that 5-HTP is an effective sleep aid because it reduces the time needed to fall asleep, decreases sleep latency, increases the duration of sleep, and improves sleep quality. This was suggested in a double-blind placebo-controlled study where patients with sleep disorders were given either a placebo or a combination of GABA and 5-HTP.
Overall, the results are trending in the right direction for 5-HTP as a sleep aid useful for insomnia but additional research is needed to confirm.
One of the major concerns with taking drugs or any supplement is what the side effects may be. This is an understandable deterrent to adding any supplement or medications to your routine and in this section, we’re going to look at the side effects of taking 5-HTP.
As mentioned, 5-HTP can increase serotonin levels. Therefore, the overconsumption of 5-HTP could cause a dangerous spike in serotonin referred to as serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome may result in side effects such as shivering, anxiety, hot flashes, and heart problems.
There is also concern surrounding whether 5-HTP can lead to a condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) but it is not clear whether it is caused directly by 5-HTP. That said, it is worth keeping in mind.
Other possible side effects of 5-HTP include heartburn, stomach pain, nausea vomiting, and diarrhea. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage to reduce the possibility of harmful side effects.
Is The Supplement Right For You?
One of the main considerations with any supplement is whether it has beneficial effects but perhaps the most important consideration is whether the supplement is right for you. This is no different with 5-HTP. Our goal with this guide is to provide you with information to make an informed decision about whether this supplement is right for you.
We recommend that you first analyze what you intend to gain from the supplements you use. Make an action plan that considers your diet as a whole. Once you have an idea of the benefits you are seeking, read through our guide to make an informed decision.
As with anything that relates to diet and health, you should consider talking to your physician or a dietician. They can work with you to make a plan that caters to your needs. This is paramount so you can decide on a supplement routine that works for you.
The goal of this guide was to provide you with science-backed benefits of 5-HTP as well as potential benefits that are supported by research. We have balanced this with the potential side effects of 5-HTP so that you can make an informed decision about whether this supplement is right for you. It is important to note that although research in many of the above areas is promising, more research is needed.
Overall, there is positive research as to the benefits of 5-HTP in areas such as weight loss, depression management, and as a sleep aid. We hope this guide has helped to simplify some of your questions about this supplement to make a decision that is right for you.