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Supplement Sunday : 5-HTP

5HTP is a precursor molecule to our neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is well known for it’s “happy” and “good mood” effects.

5-HTP may be used to increase serotonin levels in the brain which can be decreased in instances such as:

  • depression

  • metabolic syndrome

  • inflammation

Studies have shown that 5-HTP has effects on :


  • serotonin plays a major role in our mood

  • low serotonin has been linked to low mood and depression

  • studies have also demonstrated that 5-HTP can reduce the symptoms of depression

  • This is a result of 5-HTP increasing serotonin levels in the brain

Appetite modulation

  • studies have shown that 5-HTP can cause a decreased appetite and therefore decreased food intake. This also led to weight loss. However, these studies focused on participants higher BMI’s (30+) and/or Type II Diabetes.

Sleep quality

  • remember how 5HTP creates serotonin? Well serotonin goes on to produce melatonin, our sleep hormone.

  • there are many studies that proposed 5-HTP may regulate our sleep cycle and increase the time spent in REM sleep. During our sleep we go through 5 different stages, with REM being the one where our brain is most active. It is also where we dream the most.


  • 5-HTP has also been studied for its effects in reducing headaches, specifically migraines

  • this is a result of studies showing that those with migraines have lower levels of serotonin

Caution: 5-HTP is NOT to be used with SSRI’s as they have an additive effect which can cause major harm in the body. Side effects of 5-HTP may include dizziness & nausea.

~ as always, consult with your healthcare provider before trying to incorporate a supplement into your health plan ~


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Cangiano, C., Laviano, A., Del Ben, M., Preziosa, I., Angelico, F., Cascino, A., & Rossi-Fanelli, F. (1998). Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. International journal of Obesity, 22(7), 648-654.

Cangiano, C., Ceci, F., Cascino, A., Del Ben, M., Laviano, A., Muscaritoli, M., ... & Rossi-Fanelli, F. (1992). Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 56(5), 863-867.

Ceci, F., Cangiano, C., Cairella, M., Cascino, A., Del Ben, M., Muscaritoli, M., ... & Fanelli, F. R. (1989). The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects. Journal of neural Transmission, 76(2), 109-117.

Dalla Volta, G. (2019). U.S. Patent Application No. 16/070,006.

Frederiksen, S. D., Haanes, K. A., Warfvinge, K., & Edvinsson, L. (2019). Perivascular neurotransmitters: Regulation of cerebral blood flow and role in primary headaches. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 39(4), 610-632.

Knowles, A. G. (2018). U.S. Patent Application No. 15/782,284.

Meyers, S. (2000). Use of neurotransmitter precursors for treatment of depression. Alternative Medicine Review, 5(1), 64-71.

Murray, M. (2010). 5-HTP: The natural way to overcome depression, obesity, and insomnia. Bantam.

Ren, C., Liu, J., Zhou, J., Liang, H., Wang, Y., Sun, Y., ... & Yin, Y. (2018). Low levels of serum serotonin and amino acids identified in migraine patients. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 496(2), 267-273.

Shaw, K. A., Turner, J., & Del Mar, C. (2002). Tryptophan and 5‐Hydroxytryptophan for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1).

Wyatt, R. J., Zarcone, V., Engelman, K., Dement, W. C., Snyder, F., & Sjoerdsma, A. (1971). Effects of 5-hydroxytryptophan on the sleep of normal human subjects. Electroencephalography and clinical neurophysiology, 30(6), 505-509.

Zarcone, V. P., Hoddes, E., & Smythe, H. (1973). Oral 5-hydroxytryptophan effects on sleep. In Serotonin and behavior (pp. 499-509). Academic Press.

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