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The human brain and body naturally produce the amino acid 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which in turn produces serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that nerve cells produce to send signals to one another, and is often called “the happy chemical” because it contributes to feelings of happiness and overall wellbeing. Serotonin is extremely valuable as those who suffer from low levels of serotonin can experience weight gain, pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia, in addition to various other health problems. Therefore, supplements that can be taken to naturally produce serotonin in the brain and body, such as 5-HTP, are progressively gaining recognition and popularity.

  • May aid in weight loss.
  • May help with symptoms of depression.
  • May promote better sleep.
  • May reduce symptoms of migraines.


In supplement form, 5-HTP is a plant extract that is made using seeds produced by a shrub that is found in Africa, named Griffonia simplicifolia.
As a weight loss aid, 5-HTP may have the ability to suppress an individual’s appetite. In this scientific study, 5-HTP was shown to reduce carbohydrate and fat intake, ultimately decreasing overall body weight. There are a number of scientific studies, including this study, in which overweight and obese individuals who began taking 5-HTP demonstrated increased feelings of fullness and weight loss.
In regard to enhancing an individual’s mood in order to help decrease symptoms of depression, many studies have been completed in order to better understand if 5-HTP can be used to treat depression. Because the precise cause of depression is yet to be determined, it is difficult to say if or how, exactly, 5-HTP helps individuals who are suffering from depression. However, research has led some scientists to believe that an insufficient amount or imbalance in serotonin levels may be the cause of depression, and some believe that 5-HTP may ease symptoms of depression by increasing serotonin levels. The results of scientific studies surrounding the use of 5-HTP to treat depression have shown antidepressant effects to be stronger when combined with other antidepressant medications.
Migraine headaches are also associated with low levels of serotonin. Because 5-HTP is believed to increase serotonin levels, researchers have studied the use of 5-HTP to treat migraines. And in several studies, a larger than average number of participants had fewer migraine headaches while taking 5-HTP.
Suffering from a sleep disorder can lead to a plethora of health conditions and disorders. Serotonin, which is thought to be produced by 5-HTP, can be converted into the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin. Accordingly, several studies, including this study, have investigated 5-HTP for sleep duration and quality.



Side effects include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains. There is an increased risk of negative side effects occurring if 5-HTP is taken in combination with other medications that have the same or similar effect that it has. These medications include but are not limited to antidepressants, prescription pain pills, cough medications or any other medication that increases serotonin levels as well as any medications that have a sedative or sleep-aid effect, such anti-anxiety medications (Xanax, Klonopin, and medications like it), and sleep aids such as Ativan or Ambien.


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