5-Htp: Your Ally in the Fight Against Depression, Insomnia and Overweight

5-HTP is a precursor of serotonin, considered a “happiness hormone.” Come to know this supplement better in our article.

5-Htp: Your Ally in the Fight Against Depression, Insomnia and Overweight

The 5-HTP is a natural substance, specifically an amino acid, which we can get from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia .

The importance of 5-HTP is that it is a supplement rich in tryptophan , an essential amino acid which, together with vitamin B3 and  magnesium , serves to produce serotonin .


In our brain, neurons communicate through molecules called neurotransmitters, with serotonin being one of the most important.

In fact, serotonin is called the neurotransmitter of happiness and well-being, since it regulates mood and concentration, promotes quality sleep, increases cognitive ability, regulates muscle contraction and cardiovascular function and helps control appetite and weight.

Stress, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle result in decreased serotonin production.

Consequently, low levels of serotonin are associated with problems such as anxiety , depression , mood changes, irritability, being overweight, and sleep disorders.

5-HTP is rapidly absorbed by the body and its effects are felt shortly after consumption, as it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

The greater the availability of 5-HTP, the more serotonin will be produced.



As already mentioned, serotonin plays a very important role in the treatment of depressions, hence the relation of 5-HTP to the treatment of this pathology.

In fact, 5-HTP has been shown to be safer and more effective than some commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of depression, often yielding good results in patients who do not respond to traditional anti-depressant medications.

The most significant study compared 5-HTP with fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

It was found that in the group receiving 5-HTP, the percentage of decrease in depression was 60.7% versus 56.1% relative to those receiving fluoxetine.

The response of patients treated with 5-HTP was also faster than with fluoxetine.

In addition to depression, 5-HTP also helps control anxiety and / or panic attacks because of the benefits it promotes in terms of relaxation and psychological well-being.


One of the most direct benefits of 5-HTP is in improving the quality of sleep , and the fact that it helps you to fall asleep faster.

Sleep is divided into several cycles. A normal sleep pattern includes between four and seven cycles, distributed throughout the night.

Each cycle consists of two main parts: the first includes a decrease in brain activity and a reduction in the level of consciousness; the second is called REM sleep, and it is the stage at which dreams occur.

5-HTP helps to decrease irregularities in sleep patterns and promotes deeper and more restful sleep, and is even more effective than melatonin for this purpose.

Several clinical trials have demonstrated excellent capabilities of 5-HTP to promote restful sleep in both healthy and insomnia individuals .


Associated with the sense of well-being it promotes, 5-HTP promotes a feeling of satiety after meals. Consequently, the energy intake will be lower, which makes it possible to lose weight.

In addition, 5-HTP helps prevent and control binge eating and uncontrolled ingestion of carbohydrate- rich foods , preventing the development of eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa.

In this context, recent studies have shown that women who had received a placebo lost only 1 kg, in contrast to women taking 5-HTP, who decreased by approximately 4.7 kg.

Despite this, the practice of a healthy and adequate diet is essential for weight loss and mass, not enough high levels of serotonin to lose weight.


The Fibromyalgia is a disease which presents symptoms such as chronic pain and muscle depletion. It is a relatively common disease that affects about 4% of the population.

Already migraine is characterized by chronic headaches caused by excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head. The pain is the result of blood pumped with each heartbeat through these vessels.

Both migraine and fibromyalgia have a common feature: both are characterized by low levels of serotonin in people who suffer them.

As such, increasing serotonin levels reduce the symptoms of these diseases.

In particular, the use of 5-HTP in migraine prevention offers significant advantages over pharmacological treatment, since serotonin promotes contraction of blood vessels and reduces pain by increasing the amount of endorphins, the body’s natural analgesics.

For fibromyalgia cases, the combination of 5-HTP (100 mg) with St John’s wort extract (300 mg) and magnesium (200-250 mg), have been found to work better than each product separately.


The doses always depend on the person’s weight, sex and physical activity.

Ideally, against depression, weight loss, headache and fibromyalgia should start with a low dose, more precisely 50mg, 3 times a day, about 30 minutes before bedtime or eat (in the case of weight loss) .

If no side effects occur after two weeks, the dose should be increased to 100mg three times daily.

This supplement can be ingested with meals, except in cases of weight loss, which should be taken before the meal.


5-HTP is a fairly safe supplement, with no significant side effects.

In fact, the most common side effects are: nausea, heartburn and gastrointestinal problems (swelling and feeling of trouble).

However, it should not exceed the 900 mg dose of 5-HTP per day.

As a precaution, you should avoid prolonged exposure to the sun or use a good sunscreen, as this supplement may increase the sensitivity of the skin to the sun’s rays.

In addition, it is not recommended to take 5-HTP concurrently with alcoholic beverages and antidepressant medication, since 5-HTP may potentiate the effect thereof.

Lastly, taking 5-HTP should be avoided by pregnant women and breast-feeding women, as well as by people suffering from cardiovascular disease.