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5 Science-Based Benefits Of 5-HTP
Jul 19, 2018

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that your body naturally produces.

Your body uses it to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that sends signals between your nerve cells.

Low serotonin levels are associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain and other health problems (12).

Therefore, increasing your body’s production of serotonin may have various benefits.

For this reason, serotonin-producing 5-HTP supplements have become increasingly popular.

Here are 5 potential health benefits of 5-HTP, based on science.

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1. It 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 (345).

5-HTP may counteract these hunger-inducing hormones, working to suppress appetiteand help you lose weight (6).

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 (7).

What’s more, 5-HTP primarily inhibited the intake of calories from carbohydrates, which was associated with better blood sugar control (7).

Many other studies have also found that 5-HTP increased feelings of fullness and aided weight loss in overweight or obese people (891011).

Moreover, animal studies have shown that 5-HTP may reduce excessive food intake due to stress or depression (1213).

SUMMARY5-HTP is likely effective at increasing feelings of fullness, which may help you eat less and lose weight.

2. Helps With Depression by Increasing Serotonin Levels

The effects of 5-HTP on symptoms of depression have been well studied.

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 (1415).

5-HTP supplements are thought to treat depression by increasing serotonin levels.

In fact, several small studies have found that 5-HTP reduced symptoms of depression. However, two of them did not use placebos for comparison, limiting the strength of their findings (16171819).

Similarly, another analysis concluded that 5-HTP may help treat depression (20).

However, much of the research suggests that the potential antidepressive effects of 5-HTP are stronger when combined with other substances or antidepressant medications, compared to when they are used alone (17212223).

Moreover, many reviews conclude that additional, high-quality studies are needed before 5-HTP can be recommended as a treatment for depression (2425).

SUMMARY5-HTP supplements increase serotonin levels in your body, which may improve symptoms of depression, especially when used in combination with other antidepressant substances or medications. Nonetheless, more research is needed.

3. 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 (26).

This has led researchers to believe that increasing serotonin levels through 5-HTP supplements may benefit people with fibromyalgia (27).

Indeed, early evidence suggests that 5-HTP may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, including muscle pain, sleep problems, anxiety and fatigue (282930).

In one study, people with fibromyalgia who were given 5-HTP in combination with a type of antidepressant medication called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) reported significantly reduced pain (31).

However, not enough research has been conducted to draw any clear conclusions about the effectiveness of 5-HTP at improving fibromyalgia symptoms.

SUMMARY5-HTP can boost serotonin levels in your body, which may help relieve some symptoms of fibromyalgia. Nonetheless, more research is needed.

4. Could Help Reduce Migraine Frequency

5-HTP is said to help with migraines, which are throbbing headaches that are often accompanied by nausea or disturbed vision.

While their exact cause is debated, some researchers believe they are triggered by low serotonin levels (3233).

One study in 124 people compared the ability of 5-HTP and methysergide, a common migraine medication, to prevent migraines (34).

It found that supplementing with 5-HTP daily for six months prevented or significantly decreased the number of migraine attacks in 71% of participants (34).

In another study in 48 students, 5-HTP produced a 70% decrease in headache frequency, compared to an 11% decrease in the placebo group (35).

Similarly, many other studies have found that 5-HTP may be an effective treatment option for people with migraines (303637).

SUMMARY5-HTP may help you have fewer migraines by increasing your serotonin levels.

5. Can Promote Sleep by Increasing Your Melatonin Production

5-HTP produces serotonin, which can be converted into the hormone melatonin.

Melatonin plays an important role in regulating sleep. 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 (38).

GABA is a chemical messenger that promotes relaxation. Combining it with 5-HTP likely has a synergistic effect (38).

In fact, several animal and insect studies suggest that 5-HTP improves sleep qualityand that the effect is greater when combined with GABA (3940).

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.

SUMMARY5-HTP may promote sleep by increasing melatonin production, an important sleep-regulating hormone.