5HTP depression anxiety supplement
Benefit and side effects – 50 mg, 100 mg dosage
Risk and safety, danger and overdose, do not take more than 300 mg a day
For weight loss, estrogen effect, influence on serotonin, drug interactions with SSRI medications, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro
February 1 2017
5 HTP is a supplement that converts in the brain into serotonin, an important neurotransmitter involved in mood balance, depression, behavior, appetite, impulse control, and sleep. Scientists have examined its role in anxiety, panic attacks, headache, weight loss, insomnia, and other conditions. For instance, low serotonin levels may lead to addictive behavior such as gambling or other habits that result from weak will power. 5-HTP supplementation may help certain individuals with impulse control and addictive behaviors.
5HTP depression and anxiety symptoms – supplement crosses the blood brain barrier
5 HTP is not a vitamin, rather it is the hydroxy form of the amino acid tryptophan. After absorption from the intestinal tract following ingestion of a capsule or tablet, it goes into the bloodstream then crosses the blood brain barrier where it converts into serotonin, also known as 5-HT, or 5-hydroxytryptamine. Hence it has an effect on mood and behavior. Serotonin neurotransmitter is found in many places in the body particularly the brain, gastrointestinal system, and blood cells.
Purchase 5-HTP supplement 50 mg – Doses higher than 50 mg can cause side effects
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Formulated by Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D., author of 5-HTP, Nature’s Serotonin Solution.
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How much to take
Some studies have used 5HTP dosages of 300 mg a day for depression, but we consider any dose above 50 or 100 mg a high dose. Most products on the market are sold in 50 and 100 mg capsules. Some people do well with 20 to 50 mg, while others may temporarily require 100 mg or more. Those who do well with small dosages can open a capsule and take a portion mixed with water. 5HTP is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Medical supervision is recommended if high doses of 5HTP are required to treat a particular condition.
Capsule or liquid? Sublingual, under the tongue option
A capsule works very well, we don’t see any obvious advantages of liquid 5 HTP. We suggest using a lesser amount of 5HTP if taken in a sublingual form. It does seem to be absorbed in the sublingual way and could work.
Absorption as a supplement into the body
Q. Can you clarify the claims made in an article in Oprah magazine. An Australian study found that 5HTP is converted into serotonin in the stomach where it remains, causing stomach upsets and nausea. It further claims that the serotonin never makes it the brain, and therefore is useless as a mood enhancer, antidepressant, etc.
A. 5-hydroxytryptophan supplement is absorbed from the intestinal tract, quickly goes into brain tissue and converts into serotonin. People often feel the effects within an hour or two. People notice the effects – drowsiness, sleepiness, relaxation – within 20 minutes to an hour upon intake of a 50 mg capsule in the evening on an empty stomach. Some researchers make the mistake of not taking a supplement themselves. A great deal can be learned by self experimentation, sometimes much more than doing in vitro studies or studies with rodents.
Best 5-HTP product
What is the best pharmaceutical grade brand and where to can one buy it for the best price?
You will find most of the top manufacturers to have high quality 5HTP supplements, therefore we can’t say what is the best 5-HTP supplement. They are generally equivalent in effectiveness so taking any such product should provide you with benefits. As to where to buy 5-HTP, the internet is a good option, so are health food stores. You can find a pharmaceutical grade 5-HTP product above. 5-Hydroxytryptophan is extracted from griffonia simplicifolia seeds.
Timing of 5HTP – what time of day and when to take it for the most benefit
It’s difficult to recommend the best time to take 5HTP since it varies among individuals. It depends whether it is being used for sleep, in that case it is taken in the evening; for anxiety or low mood, 5HTP can be taken any time of day. In the case of appetite control or weight loss, it can be taken on an empty stomach an hour or two before a meal. We have not seen specific studies in regards to 5 HTP half life, but based on our experience it is only a few hours. If you do take it during the day, it’s best to take no more than 25 mg since it could cause sleepiness. There has not been enough research done with 5HTP to know the ideal dosages and timing. Also, there is significant individual variability. Hence, each person may need to find out for themselves the lowest dose that works well, and the ideal timing, whether early in the day, midday or evening.
Antioxidant potential, strong benefit
5-hydroxytryptophan is a more potent in vitro hydroxyl radical scavenger than melatonin or vitamin C.
J Pineal Research. 2005.
Melatonin and its precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan were compared with water-soluble vitamin C. 5HTP showed highest hydroxyl radical scavenging effects.
Benefit for ADHD
We have not seen any good 5HTP studies in regards to ADHD treatment in children or adults.
Benefit for anxiety
Most people who take a 5HTP supplement notice a reduction in anxiety symptoms. Others respond better to herbs such as passionflower, kava, or the amino acids theanine or tryptophan.
I would like to use 5 HTP for anxiety symptoms but I also do not want to depend on daily use. Are there other herbs or supplements for anxiety that I could substitute on the days I am not taking it?
A. Herbs that can be helpful for anxiety include passion flower, kava, ashwagandha, and valerian root. It is a good idea to alternate different herbs and supplements so as not to be dependent one particular one or build a tolerance to any particular herb or nutrient.
What time of day should one take the supplement
It depends on several factors including whether you have a desk job or have a physically active job, what time of day your anxiety occurs, and whether you have other medical conditions or taking other supplements or medications. As a general rule, you can try half of a 5HTP 50 mg capsule twice a day morning and midday and then base further dosage increases or frequency depending on how you feel.
5 HTP has not been studied thoroughly as a treatment for bipolar disease so we don’t know if it will work. Since some SSRI drugs work as a treatment for bipolar disease, it may be worth to give the natural dietary pill a try.
Benefit for depression
Some people who take 5HTP notice better mood. Many with mild or moderate depression have noticed improved symptoms. Mild depression could respond to 50 mg taken daily. A higher dosage of 100 to 200 mg may be required for more moderate cases of depression although the risk for side effects increases with the 100 mg dosage is exceeded. Some people prefer using 5-HTP, others prefer using tryptophan, and still others find more benefit from St. John’s wort or SAM-e. It’s a matter of personal preference.
I’ve had a problem with everything 5-htp is indicated for. I’ve only taken 50 mg once a day for the last 3 days and have noticed a complete change – no anxiety, no depression, nice relaxation. I’m not a small guy since I weigh 190 lbs.
5-HTP testimonial for depression
I am a doctor in the UK and have suffered from depression, intermittently, since my 20s. I am now 52. I have been taking amitriptyline 150mg a day for the last 10 years after my psychiatrist and I went through almost the entire pharmacopoeia, including SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, lithium, sodium valproate etc. The side effects from all of those prescription drugs were severe enough for me to be unable to tolerate any of them and amitriptyline appeared to suit me, though I still had breakthrough depressions, often quite severe, and I could do nothing about them drug wise because of my intolerances. At the moment cognitive behavioural therapy is flavor of the month here but it never had the slightest beneficial effect on me. In addition, every non-prescription chemical I tried, including St John’s wort, produced no beneficial effect. During my most recent depressive episode I searched the internet in desperation for any possible treatment I might have missed out on, and I came across your articles on 5 HTP. I ordered some online and the effect has been spectacular. After the second dose I felt better than I have felt in so many years that my only regret is that I didn’t discover this natural supplement years ago. My friends and family have also noticed the positive change in my behaviour and for the first time in so many years I have positive feelings about the future.
5-HTP may help some patients with fibromyalgia symptoms.
May benefit some individuals with migraine headaches.
What is the right 5 HTP dose for preventing migraine headaches?
More research is needed for us to know the right dose. For the time being, it seems reasonable that 50 mg once or twice a day should be a good start.
Hot flashes after menopause
Treatment of menopausal hot flashes with 5-hydroxytryptophan.
Selective, serotonergic, reuptake inhibitors SSRIs, which increase the amount of serotonin in the synaptic gap, have shown some promise in the amelioration of hot flashes. We administered 5-HTP or placebo, in double-blind fashion, to 24 postmenopausal women reporting frequent hot flashes. Treatment outcome was measured using a miniature, electronic, hot flash recorder. No significant effects of 150mg/day 5-HTP upon hot flash frequency were found. At the dose given, 5-HTP had a mild effect on the frequency of menopausal hot flashes but more studies are needed to determine whether this nutrient is a worthwhile treatment for this condition.
IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
We don’t have enough experience with this supplement to know whether it is effective as an IBS treatment.
Menstruation and menstrual cycle
I have tried 5htp for about 3 months now. I have had insomnia for the last 5 years and tried everything. I was so desperate and it made me very depressed. 5 htp is the first thing that really works and keeps working. There is one thing that is bothering me. When i started it, i took 200 mg a day because that was what was recommended on the bottle i bought. But then it almost completely stopped my menstruation. I would like to know if you are familiar with this side effect and if it is dangerous. I am taking 2 pills, each 100 mg a week now and it still works very good. I hope this will bring back a normal menstruation.
A. It is possible that the influence of serotonin could have a role to play with hormones and menstruation.
5HTP may reduce the severity of a panic attack which may indicate that panic attacks may partly be due to low serotonin levels. A panic attack involves the sudden appearance of several symptoms including shortness of breath, sweating or shaking, palpitations, and the fear of dying or losing control. Doctors often prescribe anti-anxiety medicines such as Xanax or Valium. However, 5HTP may play an important role. Researchers at the Department of Neuropsychology at Maastricht University in The Netherlands were able to induce a panic attack in volunteers who suffer from panic disorder by having them breathe a high concentration of carbon dioxide. They repeated the study, this time giving half of the volunteers 200-mg of 5HTP while the others received a placebo. Those who took the natural remedy had a significantly diminished panic response compared to those on placebo.
The results of this study are quite interesting and indicate that those with panic attacks may not have adequate levels of serotonin. If you suffer from frequent panic attacks, it would be worthwhile to discuss the findings of this 5HTP study with your physician.
Premature ejaculation treatment
5-HTP is normally used to increase serotonin levels and often used to treat depression. It is not normally known as a premature ejaculation pill, but it may help with premature ejaculation by increasing levels of serotonin. It may not stop premature ejaculation, but at least it may slow the process.
Sense of smell
Would taking a 5htp supplement make one more or less sensitive to fragrances and perfumes?
We doubt it would have a major effect. For best price perfume site and information, see imitation perfume info site.
Sleep and insomnia treatment
The influence of a 5-HTP supplement on sleep is not consistent. Some users notice better sleep, while others find that this supplement is not helpful for insomnia. You may wish to try different dosages at times of the day or evening to see which dosage and timing works best for sleep. Some individuals who find themselves more alert rather than in a relaxed, sleepy state of mind when supplementing. 5HTP is not consistently effective when it comes to sleep, although using a lower dose of 10 to 30 mg may be tried one to three hours before bed. Nightmares are common, at least in the first few nights of therapy.
5HTP Weight Loss information
Does this serotonin precursor help curb your appetite? Will you lose weight if you take this supplement? What is the right dosage to eat less? Should you take 50 mg, 100, 150 or 300 mg a day?
A. A few studies with indicate that this supplement may be of benefit in appetite control and weight loss. It could be used temporarily for appetite suppression while other lifestyle and dietary changes are being incorporated regarding a life long plan for keeping weight off. Not everyone notices the appetite suppressing effect.
The question that still remains to be answered is in regards to tolerance. Would the continued use of 5-HTP supplements over several weeks or months lead to tolerance or would the benefits of appetite suppression leading to weight loss continue? It appears thus far that the use of this natural supplement for days or weeks is quite safe. We have not seen studies combining it with Alli. Long term studies do not show Alli to have a major influence on weight loss.
5-Hydroxy-L-tryptophan suppresses food intake in food-deprived and stressed rats
Giving L-tryptophan, serotonin’s circulating precursor, or a serotonin-releasing drug can decrease food intake and body weight. Giving 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan, serotonin’s immediate intracellular precursor, has been thought to be ineffective in enhancing brain serotonin synthesis unless it is coadministered with a dopa decarboxylase inhibitor to protect 5-HTP from destruction outside the brain. We have examined the effect on food consumption and tissue 5-HTP levels among rats. Our observations suggest that 5-HTP may be useful in controlling the excessive food intake sometimes generated by stress, even if given without decarboxylase inhibitors or other drugs. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004.
5-HTP side effects, danger, safety, danger, toxicity, overdose
These supplements were introduced to the over the counter market in 1994. Our understanding of its clinical uses, safety issues, is not comprehensive. We don’t know as much as we should about the safety of chronic 5-HTP use. Therefore, until we learn more, the idea is to take a 5-HTP supplement in the minimum effective dosage and to avoid its prolonged continuous use. Those who use it for depression or other reasons should take frequent breaks to avoid potential future problems (the frequency and length of breaks varies since each person is unique). During these breaks, other forms of therapy could be substituted. As of 2011, and after more than a decade of being available to the public, we are not aware of any reports in the medical literature of anyone who has encountered life threatening or other serious 5-HTP side effects when used by itself. It’s best to be cautious, limit use to 50 mg or at most 100 mg a day. For people who limit their dosage to 50 mg a few times a week, it poses little or no danger. 5HTP appears to be a safe supplement in terms of heart problems. Heart palpitations are rare unless large dosages are taken. We are not aware of any human fatalities with its use.
Common side effects include nausea, stomach upset, loose stools or constipation, and headache. Those who take 100 mg are likely to feel nausea and stomach upset, and have more vivid nightmares. Another common side effect is a decrease in libido which can be reversed when the 5-HTP supplement is stopped.
5-HTP side effects testimonial
I took 5 HTP for 2 weeks at 50 mg daily, My depression, bad thoughts and general anxiety lifted well. I took the pill at mid day, was eating better, sleeping better, energy in the daytime, I thought i was on my way to recovery then after 16 pills I began to have muscle tremors and faster heart beat at night and 1 or 2 twitches in the day, Is this just a normal response to serotonin being introduced?
A. An important concept to keep in mind with certain nutrients and herbs is that they can accumulate in the body or their effects may be additive. For instance, if you take a certain supplement at 50 mg, some of it (or its effect on the body and brain) may still be around the next day. So, if you take another 50 mg the next day, you are now getting dosed a higher amount the second day, and even more on the third day. Sooner or later side effects are likely to occur. Just as with medications, supplement dosages need to be constantly adjusted.
What happens with an overdose of 5-HTP supplement?
The most common and immediate 5HTP overdose symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset and perhaps vomiting. An overdose of 5 HTP along with SSRI drugs such as Prozac may lead to serotonin syndrome. You can avoid an overdose by limiting it to less than 100 mg a day.
A concern I have is about the effect that it may have on heart valves and/or platelet aggregation. This warning seems to come from various medical professionals; however, I haven’t seen any evidence to back this statement up (none of the people discouraging 5-HTP use have ever provided a reference to a study for this side-effect). What is your opinion on this theory that itp can cause heart damage? I understand that it has been taken in oral supplementation for for decades in Europe, and I haven’t heard any anecdotal evidence that it is a problem.
This nutrient became available to the public in the USA since 1996 and thus far no major side effects, including heart valve problems, have been reported. As a general rule we suggest taking breaks from use which would limit any potential adverse events.
We have not come across any 5HTP research that indicates damage to the liver.
Nightmares and vivid dreams
It works wonderfully to stop my food binges and I even started singing in the shower again. But on the other hand I am dreaming a lot at night, and some of those dreams are nightmares. So I gave it to my sister-in law – she had it even worse -whole night of nightmares. Would it go away eventually or not?
In some people the nightmares are reduced over time, but not in others. Reducing the dosage of the 5HTP could help reduce the frequency or severity of the vivid dreams and nightmares.
Sexual side effects, erectile dysfunction, impotence
It is possible that regular use of 5HTP in high doses could cause impotence in some men and dampen sex drive in a man and woman. Erections are often returned to normal after a week or two of stopping it.
I took 5-HTP for anxiety for 2 months after a divorce and it helped me feel more balanced. But now I have low sexual interest. I stopped the 5HTP supplement. Is there a natural herb or pill I can take to reverse the sexual loss? It’s not fun having no libido.
Passion Rx is an excellent option, so are maca, muira puama, catuaba, tribulus terrestris, and horny goat weed. Other libido enhancers to consider include tongkat ali and mucuna pruriens.
We suggest not to use 5-HTP and Passion Rx or other sexual herbs together. 5-HTP increases serotonin which blunts the sexual response and it would make it more difficult for herbal sex enhancers to be effective. You can use the natural aphrodisiac product for a few days and take a break and use 5-HTP for a few days.
I wanted to let you know of 5 HTP withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps. I took 100 mg of 5-HTP, sometimes 200 mg a day for a few months and after I quit, I started getting “Brain Zaps”— strange and frightening zapping in my head. I looked up “brain zaps” on the internet and found it is often a side effect after stopping prescription SSRI anti-depressants.
5-HTP in combination with natural antidepressants
What do you think of taking GABA and 5HTP together?
We have not found GABA to be as effective as 5-HTP in reducing anxiety. We don’t have much experience combining the two supplements.
Can 5HTP be taken at night with melatonin? Will there be side effects?
Depending on the dosage, the combination with melatonin could produce very vivid dreams, including nightmares. The dosage of melatonin and 5-HTP would need to be reduced if combined. First learn how each supplement works for you by itself before combining.
SAM-e supplement combination
SAM-e is a powerful supplement, so is 5-HTP. They work in different ways. 5-HTP helps to balance serotonin and reduce stress and anxiety along with a mood lift. SAM-e increases energy and mood, but in high dosages can cause anxiety and insomnia. The best way is to first learn how each one works by itself for a period of a week or two, and if combining the two supplements, take half the regular dosage. A SAM-e pill may be taken in the morning while 5-HTP pill could be taken in the afternoon or evening. There are some people who respond to a SAM-e pill by itself, others do better with 5-HTP pills, and still others may benefit from a combination. It is not easy to predict which will work best. Dosages of supplements should be adjusted on a regular basis to avoid side effects. This may require lowering dosages or taking a day off every few days.
I am currently taking low doses of SAM-e (50 – 100 mg daily) and can find nothing about interaction with products that all contain 5HTP (i.e Diet Rx, Mind Power Rx, Good Night Rx). Also, it is hard to determine if it is relatively safe to try these products when the amount of 5-HTP in each is proprietary. Can a person take 5-HTP with SAM-e supplement?
It is best to learn how each supplement works by itself before combining. For instance, if someone were to take Diet Rx the first few days, we suggest not combining it with SAM-e or other supplements. Same with Good Night Rx. 5-HTP is not the only ingredient that can potentially interact with SAM-e supplements. The amount of 5-HTP in Diet Rx and Good Night Rx is small, but, as previously said, there are many nutrients and herbs that need to be considered while combining supplements. There are no easy answers, and the best option is to first learn how each formula or supplement works by itself in your particular case before mixing them. Mind Power Rx does not have 5-HTP. Some people find they can take a low of dose of SAM-e, such as 50 or 100 mg in the morning and then take 5-HTP at 25 to 50 mg later in the day. This may work well for some individuals. But, before combining SAM-e and 5-HTP supplements, first learn how each one works for you by itself. Your dosage may need to be reduced after a few days.
St John’s wort herb and use for antidepressant withdrawal or weaning off prescription medications
We are often asked if 5-HTP can be taken together with St. John’s wort. Many people can take them both if the St. John’s wort dosage is kept at 300 mg of the 0.3 mg extract and the 5 HTP dosage is kept to 50 mg or less. One option is the take the St. John’s wort in the morning and the 5HTP in late afternoon or evening. We don’t suggest taking a 100 mg 5 HTP supplement along with 3 capsules of St. John’s wort a day.
I am currently weaning off of Lexapro and Klonopin after 3 yrs, with the advice of my doctor, but I would like to know if it is ok to take something else like St. John’s wort or 5HTP while weaning off, so that I do not have the withdrawal symptoms and or have a relapse, I have done so much research on the net and find so many suggestions that it all gets confusing, so some info regarding the use of St. John’s wort or 5-HTP would be helpful for me and I can pass it along to the doctor.
A. The use of 5HTP, St. John’s wort or any natural anti-depressant for medication withdrawal has not been well-studied by scientists. There are no easy answers since each person is likely to have a different response. It is not possible to predict any one person’s reaction. Therefore, the best one can do is trial and error, using 5-HTP or St. John’s wort beginning with low dosages under medical guidance. The 5-HTP dosage required is likely to vary and can range from 25 mg to 50 mg, 100 mg or more. The St. John’s wort dosage could range from 300 mg every other day to 300 mg twice daily. The time of use as far as days or weeks can also vary. Some people may only need to take these supplements for a week or two whereas others may need a longer time. Each person is unique.
I have been taking 5HTP 300 mg a day with 900 mg. St. John’s wort for several months. I read an article by Dr. Ray Sahelian that St. John’s wort triggers mania in bi-polar patients; therefore, I discontinued it and I lowered my dosage of 5HTP to 100 mg a day. I have just ordered Lithium orotate and Fish oil in the hopes that it will help me with bi-polar depression. Is it ok to take 5HTP with the Lithium orotate? I currently do not see a doctor since I have always had bad reactions to psychiatric medicines. 5HTP seems to do well with the depression, but it does not take away some of the mania I experience.
A. We have not seen studies regarding the combination of 5 HPT and lithium orotate. It is best to first learn how each supplement works by itself before combining, and when supplements are combined a safer approach is to use less of a dosage of each initially to determine how the combination is influencing your body and mind.
5HTP versus tryptophan amino acid
Which is better for depression treatment, 5HTP or tryptophan?
In our experience, we have found 5 HTP to be more effective, but many people who prefer tryptophan swear by it. Therefore, you can try each supplement separately to see which one works for you better.
Tyrosine amino acid interaction
Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps elevate mood. If you plan to use tyrosine and 5 HTP together, we suggest the maximum dose of tyrosine not to exceed 250 mg, and the maximum dose of 5HTP not to exceed 50 mg.
Vitamin B6 or B vitamins
Is it okay to take a B vitamin supplement or vitamin B6 and 5htp? I’ve read conflicting reports about the safety of doing so.
We suggest taking 5-HTP by itself. Most of the time it is taken in the late afternoon or evening while B vitamins are taken in the morning. We don’t see the need to take a 5-THP capsule that already has B vitamins in it. 5-HTP works quite well by itself without vitamin B6 or the other B vitamins.
Prescription drug interactions – SSRI drugs
The use of 5HTP in combination with SSRI drugs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and others has not been formally evaluated. Nor has the interactions of 5-HTP with most pharmaceutical drugs. Anecdotal reports indicate that many people tolerate small amount of 5HTP, 50 mg or less, with small amounts of SSRIs and other medications when used under the guidance of a medical professional. The effects of taking 5HTP along with a pharmaceutical antidepressant are sometimes difficult to predict. Since the SSRIs, like Prozac, block serotonin reuptake, and 5HTP converts into serotonin, it is possible that dangerously high levels of serotonin could occur, a condition called serotonin syndrome. Therefore, 5HTP contraindications include combination with high dose SSRI drugs.
What knowledge or experience do you have in using 5-htp in SSRI (Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft) and SSNRI (Effexor) withdrawal? I personally have had great difficulties in discontinuing Celexa and Effexor and have found (via web searches) that there are many others going through the same experiences.
We are not aware of studies regarding the substitution of 5-HTP in cases of SSRI drug withdrawal. Each person may have a different response depending on the severity of their anxiety or depression, the type of SSRI used, the length of time on the medications, their overall general health, other medications used, etc. As a general rule, one would add a small amount of 5-HTP while slowly reducing the dosage of Celexa, Effoxor, or other SSRI. It is difficult to give precise dosage recommendations since there a many variables that are involved.
Celexa drug interaction
Can I take 5htp for depression if I am on Celexa (citalopram), a SSRI drug?
Celexa is being marketed as a less expensive and very selective SSRI (one which only targets serotonin, not other neurotransmitters). Since 5-htp increases serotonin levels, one has to be cautious taking it with Celexa since hypothetically serotonin syndrome could occur.
Is 5HTP better than the drug Celexa for depression?
Some people respond to a natural supplement, others prefer prescription medications. It is difficult to predict whether a person would benefit more from 5 HTP or a drug.
A week ago I said “enough is enough” and i quit Celexa cold turkey after 3 weeks use due to severe side effects such as insomnia and sexual dysfunction. i bought 5-HTP 200mg with Tyrosine 200mg in each capsule. I’ve been taking 1 a day for 5 days and I’ve never slept better. it has relieved my anxiety and depression but i find im kinda having mood swings.
Citalopram drug interactions
I have spent last 2 years on citalopram for depression, anxiety and OCD. I have felt most of the time that I can hear myself think and that has caused me great deal of anxiety in social settings where I would start getting all sorts of unpleasant thoughts. I started taking 5 HTP and two days later feel like new, able to steady my mind and my mind is much less noisy. I did ask my MD whether I should take serotonin supplement whilst on SSRI and she suggested not to combine but I took my own risk, researching about possible downfalls such as serotonin syndrome and decided to take a larger dose of 5HTP (150 mg spread over the day in 3 doses) and my SSRI in the evening until I feel free of my symptoms and then to use small dose as and when required to compliment the use of SSRI drugs until full recovery. It does really help although I do feel a bit nauseous after taking it on an empty stomach but in every other aspect it works. Having said that I don’t know what its impact is on my liver or bladder.
L-5-Hydroxytryptophan augments the neuroendocrine response to a SSRI
The neuroendocrine response to oral citalopram and l-5HTP was measured primarily as the prolactin and cortisol area under the response curve. Citalopram, but not 5HTP, increased prolactin AUC while 5HTP and citalopram increased cortisol AUC. A 200 mg dose of 5HTP significantly augmented the prolactin and cortisol response AUC to 20mg oral citalopram. The results of the study suggest that an augmented neuroendocrine challenge may be a suitable marker to demonstrate increased 5-HT-mediated responses when exploring novel agents as improved SSRIs.
Effexor SSRI medication, Effexor XR
I have fibromyalgia and have been reading about it. I have found that 5HTP, CoQ10 are supposed to be good for it, however I take Effexor XR for depression is it safe to mix with 5HTP?
The addition of 5 HTP supplement to Effexor can enhance the effect of the SSRI and hence potential side effects could occur. It is best to discuss with a physician and reduce the Effexor XR dosage when adding 5 HTP, and to only use 10 to 30 mg initially, such as half a 50 mg capsule, until you have a good understanding how the combination of 5 HTP and Effexor is influencing you.
I would like to find out how long I should wait before starting 5-htp (50 mg per night to start) after weaning off of Effexor 37.5 antidepressant?
Usually it is safe to start 5-HTP pills 2 or 3 days after stopping SSRI drugs, but each person is different.
Lexapro escitalopram combination
I am suffering from anxious depression and i need medication to treat it what do u think about this: Escitalopram – 5mg (normal dose is 10mg or more) plus 5-HTP – 50 mg. I plan to take only 5 mg of s-citalopram in order to minimize the side effects and potentiate with 5-HTP. It is safe to mix both in that doses? Do you expect the combination of 5HTP and escitalopram Lexapro to be effective?
One serious side effect of high dosage selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use is serotonin syndrome. Excessive stimulation of serotonin receptors is usually a result of administration of a high dose serotonin agonist to a patient who is already receiving a drug capable of enhancing the serotonin pathways. This could occur as a result of decreased serotonin re-uptake (from tricyclic antidepressants), decreased serotonin metabolism (from monoamine oxidase inhibitors), or excessive administration of serotonin precursors or agonists (trazodone, L-tryptophan, 5-HTP). The risk for serotonin syndrome increases as the dosage of the SSRI drugs and 5 HTP increases. There may be little risk when low dosages of Lexapro and 5-HTP are combined, but each person is different on how they tolerate this combination. It is not our role to say that the combination of Lexapro and 5-HTP will be safe or not safe in your particular case.
Do you think 5HTP pill will help with anxiety and depression. I take Luvox 50 mg but don’t want to gain weight and I thought the natural pill could help me avoid the use of fluvoxamine.
5HTP has helped many people with anxiety and depression but it is difficult to predict in any one individual whether it would be effective or not and whether in your particular case it can replace your use of Luvox. The only way to tell if supplements will help is through trial and error. There is no blood test or other test that can be done to predict which supplement, combination of supplements, or combination of supplements and medications will help. It is a good idea, when starting a new supplement or drug, to begin with low dosages.
Paxil drug interactions, paroxetine
I recently started taking 50 mg of 5htp and I find that if I take it before bedtime I wake up in a flash at about 4am. When I was taking Paxil, I had a similar effect at first. It is somehow not a restful awakening though, something else doesn’t get to finish because I feel totally groggy the rest of the day. My solution is simply to take 5htp in the morning.
A. Perhaps the 5htp converts quickly into serotonin and melatonin but wears off quickly, hence causing the awakening, or 5htp may stimulate the production of other brain chemicals or receptors that lead to alertness. We have had other people mention early morning awakening with 5htp. Taking 5htp earlier in the day, or taking a smaller amount in the evening, could be tried.
Many of my patients are taking SSRIs for anxiety and/or depression. I was told by the manufacturer of Paxil that users of Paxil paroxetine drug and other SSRIs should avoid 5-HTP and l-tryptophan supplements because of the danger of serotonin syndrome. The manufacturer was not able to quantify the risk; I just received a statement from them about completely avoiding 5-HTP and l-tryptophan. Do you think moderate quantities of 5-HTP (e.g., 100 mg tid for anxiety) and tryptophan (e.g., 500 mg 30 min before hs) are safe when combined with, e.g. a relatively low dose of Paxil (20 mg o.d.)?
A. 5-HTP and tryptophan do influence serotonin levels. It is possible to take both 5-HTP or tryptophan supplements along with Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft if the dosages are kept low. However, there is a possibility of serotonin syndrome or unpleasant side effects if the dosages are high. We consider a dosage of 5-HTP greater than 50 mg a day to be high whereas other doctors may have a higher threshold. 5-HTP at 100 mg three times a day is a very high dosage for most people. There may be some sensitive individuals who could have side effects with 5-HTP, tryptophan or SSRIs on very low dosages whereas others have a higher threshold. No simple answers or dosages can be given that would apply to everyone.
5HTP or Prozac for depression? Fluoxetine
The choice of whether to take natural supplements for depression or pharmaceutical medicines is a personal one along with consultation with a health care professional. There are quite a number of factors, too many to list, that have to be considered. Those with mild depression may wish to try natural antidepressants first whereas those with moderate to severe depression would likely need a strong pharmaceutical medicine, at least initially. Some other natural antidepressants to consider include SAM-e and St. John’s wort.
Prozac, known as fluoxetine, and other SSRIs have been tested more thoroughly than natural antidepressants. 5HTP is trickier to use, tolerance may develop, long-term safety not known as well, but works well for many people in improving mood, reducing appetite, and improving sleep. It’s very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to predict how each person will react or respond to a medicine or nutrient. Sometimes the best method is trial and error.
Can 5-HTP and Prozac be taken together?
Prozac, along with its cousins Zoloft, Paxil, and the other SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) help lessen depression by making more serotonin available in the brain. Even though the mechanism of action of the SSRIs is different than 5-HTP, the end result is that there is more serotonin available in brain tissue, resulting in better mood balance. There is a condition known as serotonin syndrome which results from too much serotonin. Some of the symptoms include confusion, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and rapid heart beat. Serotonin syndrome sometimes occurs when the dosage of the SSRIs are too high, or when they are combined with other medicines that increase serotonin or brain chemical levels. Hence, tryptophan and 5-HTP, if taken in very high doses along with SSRIs, could potentially lead to serotonin syndrome. Having said this, it is possible that the combination of 5-HTP and Prozac could be helpful in some people if the dosage of the Prozac is reduced (let’s say by half) and the initial amount of 5 HTP is started very conservatively at half of a 50 mg capsule and symptoms are monitored closely. The dosage of 5 HTP can be gradually increased if needed. Here is an example where the approach of combining a drug and nutrient could be quite useful, as long as one proceeds cautiously, with medical supervision, and temporarily stops the medicines at the first sign of serotonin excess.
I have been taking Modavigil for narcolepsy for 4 months and stated with 100mg of 5 HTP last week in the morning on an empty stomach. I also take 100mg Modavigil in the morning and at noon. On day 4, I experienced an increased heart rate, nausea and dizziness for about 6 hours. It did not peak nor did it subside for several hours. The Dr said it was most likely a panic attack but as I have never had this before I wondered if there was a drug interaction.
Can it be combined with Xanax or other benzodiazepines?
It is difficult to predict the interactions of medications and supplements, much depends on the person who is taking them and the dosage of the medications and the dosage of the supplements and the time of day they are taken.
Zoloft antidepressant, sertraline
Could you please explain to me the essential differences between Zoloft and 5 HTP? It would seem that 5 HTP alone is not as effective as Zoloft and other SSRIs for major depression. If depression is caused by low levels of serotonin in the brain, why can’t increasing doses of 5 HTP alone raise this level and “erase” the depression?
Perhaps in some people with severe depression 5-HTP may work as well as Zoloft. Sertraline and the SSRI drugs don’t work exactly the same way. Zoloft prevents the reuptake of serotonin between nerve cells in the brain and allows more serotonin to stimulate receptors on nerve cells, which are called neurons. In contrast, when a 5-HTP supplement is taken, it converts into serotonin in the brain hence increasing serotonin in this manner. Zoloft and the other SSRI medications may not be 100 percent selective for serotonin. They may also, perhaps in a minor way, influence other brain chemicals. We have not seen research comparing 5-HTP versus SSRI medicines in the treatment of depression, hence we don’t know whether the drugs or the natural supplement is more effective.
Weaning off SSRI medications or other antidepressants and starting 5 HTP supplements
I have taken one 40mg pill of Paxil each night for many years for OCD. I am 42 years old. I have grown tired of the side effects of Paxil. Is there a way I could try to wean myself off the Paxil and switch to see if 5HTP could make my condition manageable instead of with drugs? Also, it looked like 5HTP was good to start with, but would you suggest another natural product instead?
We can’t make any specific suggestions on what a person should or should not take. As a general rule, one can reduce the dosage of the SSRI medication, in this case Paxil, while gradually starting with low dosages of 5HTP. The amount of the Paxil or SSRI medicaiton dosage reduction and the amount of the initial and subsequent 5HTP dosage use depends on many factors including the severity of the depression or OCD and the individual physiology of the patient. No firm dosages guidelines can be given since each person responds differently. Your health care provider should be aware.
Interaction with other medicines
It is difficult to predict the drug interaction of 5HTP with lithium, MAO inhibitors, anti-anxiety agents, beta blockers, birth control pills, and other pharmaceutical medicines.
My son takes 3 anti seizure meds: Keppra, Carbatrol and Lamictal. is there any problem taking 5HTP or tryptophan supplements with these medications?
We have not seen any studies regarding its combination of with Keppra, Carbatrol or Lamictal. Drug / supplement interactions are complicated and when three medications are used together it is very difficult to predict the interactions when combined with 5-HTP or tryptophan, which influence serotonin levels.
Have taken amitriptyline since 1995 and sertraline for two weeks – 25 mg. I want a natural product that helps anxiety and depression. Help is needed for my neurotransmitters. I am 74 years old and would like to stop both, but am not sure how. Any suggestion is welcome. I want to stop using amitriptyline.
We can’t make specific suggestions but caution is advised if suddenly stopping a medication that has been used for so many years.
There’s a pharmaceutical medicine called carbidopa which blocks the metabolism of 5HTP in the blood stream allowing for more to be present in the body. The question as to whether it is preferable to take carbidopa along with 5HTP is not clear at this time but could be considered under medical supervision. Taking carbidopa would most likely reduce the dosage required for 5HTP since less 5HTP would be broken down in the bloodstream and more would be available to enter the brain.
I am very interested in taking 5-HTP for anxiety, stress and headaches. In my readings I came across a warning that 5-HTP pills should not be taken with Imitrex, which I occasionally take for migraines (25 mg, a couple of times a month). Would this preclude me from taking 5-HTP supplement product?
If the 5HTP is taken on days when the Imitrex is not being used, we don’t see how there would be any interactions of any concern. If your doctor approves, you can take the 5HTP supplement on the days when you are not taking Imitrex. It is best not to take more than 50 mg a day.
What about 5-htp with Wellbutrin XL which does not affect serotonin?
We are not familiar with any studies in this area, so it is difficult to say how a person would handle the combination. The dosage and timing could make a significant difference, as well as each person’s unique biochemistry. Dosages should be kept low when a pharmaceutical medicine for depression is combined with 5-HTP.
I’m wondering if it’s safe to take 5htp while pregnant?
The reason you are having problems finding information in this area is because the role of 5htp supplements in pregnancy has not been studied, so we really don’t know its safety in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. We think it would be best not to use 5htp during pregnancy unless your doctor approves and thinks other alternatives are less safe.
I’ve been taking 100 mg a day of the NSI brand, as well as the New Chapter SC27 SJW St. John’s wort, for about a year now, and it works well for dealing with my severe depression. Neither of the supplements alone is enough, but together they make me feel alot better than I did on conventional meds. I took this combo for 3 months prior to getting pregnant, as well as throughout the pregnancy, and just gave birth two weeks ago, at the recommendation of my midwife. She assured me it was safe, and was alot more comfortable with my taking these supplements than the Zoloft I was on during previous pregnancies. Prior to the pregnancy I had had some issues with gas / bloating that seemed to be related to the 5htp, but once I was pregnant the intestinal issues stopped for the duration. However now that I’ve given birth, that side effect seems to have come back. Plus we’ve upped the dose to 100 mg twice a day of 5htp, as a preventative measure against post partum depression which I’ve had serious issues before, and Zoloft alone was not enough for it last time. So far it seems to be helping with that, I didn’t really even have any “baby blues”… but the intestinal issues have gotten pretty bad to the point where I have serious bloating, cramping and BAD gas all day long now. I know that 5htp can sometimes have this side effect for people. I like the way this combo works for me and don’t want to go back to conventional meds, as the numb / zombie feeling and the sexual side effects were NOT worth it. Even though I hate the intestinal issues, they are still preferable to being suicidal, or the other side effects from SSRI’s.
A. It is likely that as long as the serotonin precursor is used, the adverse effects will continue. It is not clear whether ginger use could ease symptoms. One has to balance side effects versus benefits of any supplement or medication. Trying a lower dosage of the serotonin precursor is an option.
Nursing and conception
I am 32 years old and have been struggling with depression on and off for about 10 years. I am currently experiencing depression, easily upset, anger, frustration, unable to deal with things rationally. I am almost done nursing my son and just wondering if 5htp would be ok to use.
This serotonin precursor may effect hormone levels and it is not clear how it would influence milk production. We don’t suggest using it during pregnancy since no such research is available to prove safety and until such studies are done it is best to be cautious.
Books and publications
5-HTP: Nature’s Serotonin Solution by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia by Michael Murray, N.D.
Can a person take 5 htp and drink alcohol?
Alcohol is a drug that has unpredictable effects when combined with certain herbs, nutrients, and medicines. A small amount of alcohol, such as an ounce or two of wine should not be a danger, but we caution against drinking too much.
5-HTP MDMA – What is the role of this supplement in MDMA induced neurotoxicity? Are these pills helpful to take before or after? What is the appropriate dosage to take to prevent low mood or depression following the use of Ecstacy?
Over the years many people have been testing the combination of 5 HTP and MDMA. Either taking it before the use of MDMA, or after. The rational for this is that MDMA use lowers brain serotonin content which can lead to low mood or depression the day after the experience. 5-HTP is a natural supplement that converts into serotonin thus replenishing the decrease in brain serotonin caused by the use of the drug. At least one rodent study indicates that the use of 5-HTP before MDMA intake reduces the toxicity of MDMA on brain cells. MDMA is a drug that has serious side effects especially when used in high dosages, in warm surroundings, and when not enough water is ingested. As of November 2010, we are not aware of human studies that have evaluated the safety of the use of 5 HTP supplements before or after MDMA ingestion. The most common strategies used for reducing negative MDMA side effects, ‘comedown’ or neurotoxicity are drinking a lot of cool water, limiting or reducing MDMA dosage and use, taking breaks, and taking vitamins or other natural substances such as 5HTP. The combination of the antidepressant drug Prozac and MDMA increases the risk of acute toxic effects of MDMA, and may explain the increasing number of MDMA -related deaths. MDMA increases the extracellular concentration of serotonin by facilitating carrier-mediated serotonin release, which can be enhanced greatly under conditions in which serotonin synthesis is stimulated.
According to this rodent study, using 5htp before MDMA use may protect neurons from toxicity. Whether the protection is partial or complete is not clear. It is also not clear what the appropriate 5-HTP dosage in humans would be.
Attenuation of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine induced neurotoxicity with the serotonin precursors tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan.
Life Sci. 1994. Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
Treatment of rats with serotonin precursors tryptophan 400 mg /kg and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP, 50 mg/kg) was shown to attenuate MDMA induced serotonergic nerve cell damage in the striatum, hippocampus, and frontal cortex of the rat brain. Results suggest that depletion of serotonin stores is important for MDMA-induced neurotoxicity. The possible significance of this serotonin depletion in MDMA-induced serotonergic terminal degeneration is also discussed.
Restoration of MDMA 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-induced 5-HT depletion by the administration of l-5-hydroxytryptophan 5-HTP.
Neuroscience. 2007. Clinical Psychopharmacology Section, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Researchers carried out two types of experiments in rats exposed to high-dose MDMA. First, they examined the effects on serotonin binding and function. Next, they treated rats with the 5-HTP in an attempt to restore MDMA -induced depletions of serotonin. Following high-dose MDMA treatment sufficient to reduce serotonin binding by 90%, a significant number of functionally intact serotonin nerve terminals survived. Administration of 5-HTP-Benserazide restores brain serotonin depleted by MDMA, suggesting that this approach might be clinically useful in MDMA users.
Children, use by a child
Do you think that 5-HTP is safe for a seven year old girl to take to treat low levels of serotonin?
The use of 5-HTP supplements in children should be kept to a low dosage and only for a brief period of time under medical supervision. Most supplements have not been studied well in children.
How much 5HTP can be given to an eight year old child for occasional insomnia?
A dose of 20 to 30 mg can be give to a child this age a couple of hours before bed once or twice a week. How much to give on other nights depends on the initial night’s response.
Medical science is slowly discovering 5HTP benefits and it is quite likely that its popularity will increase over time for the treatment of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions. We will update this review page as more research is published. We are not aware of an independent site that reviews 5HTP supplements. Most websites that discuss this nutrient are either promoting a product or a medical site where the reviewers evaluate the medical research but have little clue on the clinical uses.
Additional substances found in plants that may have medicinal value
Abelmoschus moschatus contains myricetin, a flavonoid
Acacia concinna is an Ayurvedic herb also known as Shikakai used for hair shampoo
Acacia nilotica is a species of Acacia (wattle) native to Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Acorus calamus is a well-known medicinal plant used for neurological conditions
Agnuside is found in vitex agnus, also known as chaste berry
Anthocyanidin found in berries are related chemically to anthocyanins
Arabinose sugar molecule information
Bacoside from bacopa monnieri plant used for mental enhancement
Boswellic acid from boswellia plant.
Emodin is a naturally occurring anthraquinone present in the roots and bark of numerous plants of the genus Rhamnus.
Furfural from bran, oats, corncobs
Gingerol from ginger plant has many health benefits
Guggulsterones found in guggul herb.
Gymnemic acid in gymnema sylvestre plant is found in Diet Rx weight control and appetite control product.