5-HTP is used for sleep disorders such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizure disorder, and Parkinson's disease..
How does 5-HTP work?
5-HTP works by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behaviour, and pain sensation. It is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.
5-HTP and Depression.
Some clinical research shows that taking 5-HTP by mouth improves symptoms of depression. Several studies have found that doses of 150-3000 mg daily for 2-4 weeks can improve symptoms of depression. Some early research shows that 5-HTP might be as beneficial as conventional antidepressant therapy for some people.
While the exact cause of depression is largely unknown, some researchers believe that a serotonin imbalance may influence your mood in a way that leads to depression.
5-HTP supplements are thought to treat depression by increasing serotonin levels.
5-HTP can Aid Weight Loss by Increasing Feelings of Fullness
5-HTP may increase feelings of fullness, causing you to eat less and lose weight.
Weight loss can increase the production of hormones that make you feel hungry. These feelings of constant hunger can make losing weight unsustainable in the long term.
5-HTP may counteract these hunger-inducing hormones, working to suppress appetite and help you lose weight.
In one study, 20 people with diabetes were randomly assigned to receive either 5-HTP or a placebo for two weeks. The results showed that those who received 5-HTP consumed approximately 435 fewer calories per day, compared to the placebo group.
What’s more, 5-HTP inhibited the intake of calories from carbohydrates, which was associated with better blood sugar control.
Many other studies have also found that 5-HTP increased feelings of fullness and aided weight loss in overweight or obese people.
Moreover, animal studies have shown that 5-HTP may reduce excessive food intake due to stress or depression.
5-HTP improved Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Supplementing with 5-HTP may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by muscle and bone pain, as well as general weakness.
There is currently no known cause of fibromyalgia, but low serotonin levels have been associated with the condition.
This has led researchers to believe that increasing serotonin levels through 5-HTP supplements may benefit people with fibromyalgia. Indeed, early evidence suggests that 5-HTP may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, including muscle pain, sleep problems, anxiety and fatigue.
However, not enough research has been conducted to draw any clear conclusions about the effectiveness of 5-HTP at improving fibromyalgia symptoms.
5-HTP is said to help with migraines
While their exact cause is debated, some researchers believe that migraines are triggered by low serotonin levels. One study in 124 people compared the ability of 5-HTP and methysergide, a common migraine medication, to prevent migraines. It found that supplementing with 5-HTP daily for six months prevented or significantly decreased the number of migraine attacks in 71% of participants.
In another study in 48 students, 5-HTP produced a 70% decrease in headache frequency, compared to an 11% decrease in the placebo group (34Trusted Source).
5-HTP and sleep
Melatonin plays an important role in regulating sleep as its levels begin to rise in the evening to promote sleep and fall in the morning to help wake you up. Therefore, supplementing with 5-HTP may promote sleep by increasing melatonin production in your body.
One human-based study showed that a combination of 5-HTP and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) significantly reduced the time it took to fall asleep, increased sleep duration and improved sleep quality.
GABA is a chemical messenger that promotes relaxation. Combining it with 5-HTP likely has a synergistic effect.
In fact, several animal and insect studies suggest that 5-HTP improves sleep quality and that the effect is greater when combined with GABA.
While these results are promising, the lack of human-based studies makes it difficult to recommend 5-HTP for improving sleep quality, especially when it is used in isolation.