• Health Canada (NPN): 80043072

  • Benefits

    • Helps to promote healthy mood balance.
    • Helps to reduce the severity and duration of migraine headaches when taken as a prophylactic.
    • To be used with a program of reduced intake of dietary calories and increased physical activity (if possible) to help in weight management by reducing carbohydrate cravings.

5HTP Medicinal Ingredient

Medicinal ingredient (per capsule):
L-5-hydroxy-tryptophan [Griffonia simplicifolia (Vahl ex DC) Baill] seed……….100 mg
Non-medicinal ingredients: Microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate (vegetable source), hypromellose (veggie capsule).

Recommended dose (adults):
Healthy mood balance: One (1) capsule (100 mg), 3 times per day. Take with food.
Migraine prophylaxis: One (1) capsule (100 mg), 2 – 3 times per day. Take with food.
Weight management: 3 capsules (300 mg), 3 times per day. Take 30 minutes prior to a meal.

Directions for use: To minimize the risk of gastrointestinal side effects, start dosing at one capsule (100 mg), and slowly increase to effective dose over a 2-week period.
Duration of use: Consult a healthcare practitioner for use beyond one year. People who use this product for weight management should consult a healthcare practitioner for use beyond 12 weeks. Use for a minimum of one week to see beneficial healthy mood balance effects. Use for a minimum of 2 – 3 weeks to see beneficial migraine prophylaxis effects. 

CAUTIONS: Not intended for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Consult a healthcare practitioner prior to use if you have a health condition. Consult a healthcare practitioner prior to use if you are taking carbidopa or drugs/supplements with serotonergic activity. These may include, but are not limited to, L-tryptophan, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), St. John’s Wort, antidepressants, pain killers, over the counter cough and cold medication containing dextromethorphan, anti-nausea medication and anti-migraine medication. Consult a healthcare practitioner if symptoms persist or worsen. Some people may experience drowsiness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Exercise caution if operating heavy machinery, driving a motor vehicle or engaging in activities requiring mental alertness. Discontinue use and consult a healthcare practitioner if you show signs of weakness, oral ulcers, or abdominal pain accompanied by severe muscle pain or if you experience skin changes. Do not use if the security seal is broken. Keep in a cool and dry place away from children.

Contains NO: Sugar, salt, starch, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, milk, lactose, egg, shellfish, preservatives, artificial colors, sulphites, or GMO.

For depression, weight loss, headaches, and fibromyalgia the dosage should be started at 50 mg three times per day. If the response is inadequate after two weeks, increase the dosage to 100 mg three times per day. This recommendation will greatly reduce the mild symptoms of nausea often experienced during the first few weeks of 5-HTP therapy. Using enteric-coated capsules or tablets (pills prepared in a manner so that they will not dissolve in the stomach) significantly reduces the likelihood of nausea. Because 5-HTP does not rely on the same transport vehicle as L-tryptophan, it can also be taken with food. But, if you are taking for weight loss I recommend taking it 20 minutes before meals.

For insomnia, I recommend 100 to 300 mg thirty to forty-five minutes before retiring. Start with the lower dose for at least three days before increasing dosage.

Yes, but to be on the safe side I recommend that long-term continual use of 5-HTP be monitored by regular (every six months) eosinophil determination. This determination is part of a standard laboratory blood test known as a complete blood count (CBC).

  • Do not use 5-HTP during pregnancy or lactation.
  • Do not use 5-HTP in Parkinson’s disease unless the drug Sinemet®.
  • Do not use 5-HTP if you have sceleroderma (linked to a defect in tryptophan metabolism).

5-HTP alone is available for those who do not wish to use it in a formulation. In general, it has few to no side effects. Because of the many benefits that 5-HTP can offer, however, several advanced formulations provide a range of options for people with differing personal needs.

Fibromyalgia is a recently recognized disorder regarded as a common cause of chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. The history of the development of 5-HTP as an effective treatment for fibromyalgia began with studies on the drug fenclonine. This drug blocks the enzyme which converts tryptophan to 5-HTP and as result blocks serotonin production. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was thought that increased serotonin formation may promote migraine headaches (the opposite of what was later proved, i.e., increasing serotonin levels reduce migraine headache occurrence). The researchers discovered that providing headache sufferers with fenclonine resulted in very severe muscle pain. This effect was exactly opposite of what was expected, but led to some important advances in the understanding of fibromyalgia–a way to induce its severe symptoms of (as well as symptoms nearly identical to EMS, the condition caused by contaminated L-tryptophan). The researchers also discovered that migraine sufferers reacted to the drug much more than non-headache sufferers. In fact, in most normal subjects fenclonine produced no fibromyalgia. These occurrences highlight just how sensitive migraine sufferers are to low serotonin levels.

Migraine headaches and fibromyalgia share a common feature: both are low serotonin syndromes. After over 25 years of research, one of the lead researchers has stated that “In our experience, as well as in that of other pain specialists, 5-HTP can largely improve the painful picture of primary fibromyalgia.” Double-blind studies support this contention.

As far back as 1975, researchers demonstrated that administering 5-HTP) to rats that were bred to overeat and be obese resulted in significant reduction in food intake. It turns out that these rats have decreased activity of the enzyme that converts tryptophan to 5-HTP and subsequently to serotonin. In other words, these rats are fat as a result of a genetically determined low level of activity of the enzyme that starts the manufacture of serotonin from tryptophan. As a result, these rats never get the message to stop eating until they have consumed far greater amounts of food than normal rats.

There is much circumstantial evidence that many humansare genetically predisposed to obesity. This predisposition may involve the same mechanism as that observed in rats genetically predisposed to obesity. In other words, many people may be predisposed to being overweight because they have a decreased conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP and, as a result, decreased serotonin levels. By providing preformed 5-HTP, this genetic defect is bypassed and more serotonin is manufactured. 5-HTP literally turns off hunger. 

The early animal studies that used 5-HTP as a weight loss aid have been followed by a series of four human clinical studies of overweight women, conducted at the University of Rome. The first study showed that 5-HTP was able to reduce caloric intake and promote weight loss despite the fact that the women made no conscious effort to lose weight. The average amount of weight loss during the five-week period of 5-HTP supplementation was a little more than 3 pounds.

The second study sought to determine whether 5-HTP helped overweight individuals adhere to dietary recommendations. The twelve-week study was divided into two six-week periods. For the first six weeks, there were no dietary recommendations; for the second six weeks the women were placed on a 1,200-calorie diet. As shown in Table 1, the women who took the placebo lost 2.28 pounds, while the women who took the 5-HTP lost 10.34 pounds.

As in the previous study, 5-HTP appeared to promote weight loss by promoting satiety—the feeling of satisfaction—leading to fewer calories being consumed at meals. Every woman who took the 5-HTP reported early satiety.

In the third study involving 5-HTP, for the first six weeks there were no dietary restrictions, and for the second six weeks the women were placed on a 1,200-calorie-per-day diet. The results from this study were even more impressive than the previous studies for several reasons. The group that received the 5-HTP had lost an average of 4.39 pounds at six weeks and an average of 11.63 pounds at 12 weeks. In comparison, the placebo group had lost an average of only 0.62 pounds at six weeks and 1.87 pounds at twelve weeks. The lack of weight loss during the second six-week period in the placebo group obviously reflects the fact that the women had difficulty adhering to the diet.

Early satiety was reported by 100 percent of the subjects during the first six-week period. During the second six-week period, even with severe caloric restriction, ninety percent of the women taking 5-HTP reported early satiety. Many of the women who received the 5-HTP (300 mg three times per day) reported mild nausea during the first six weeks of therapy. However, the symptom was never severe enough for any of the women to drop out of the study. No other side effects were reported.

In the latest study, 25 overweight non-insulin dependent diabetic outpatients were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, and randomized to receive either 5-HTP (750 mg/d) or placebo for two consecutive weeks, during which no dietary restriction was prescribed. Results again indicated that patients receiving 5-HTP significantly decreased their daily energy intake, by reducing carbohydrate and fat intake, and reduced their body weight.

While these studies used relatively high dosages, my feeling is that lower dosages (e.g., 100 mg twenty minutes before meals) are just as effective (especially from a cost perspective).

Because chronic headache sufferers have low levels of serotonin in their tissues, some researchers refer to migraine and chronic headaches as a “low serotonin syndrome.” There have been several clinical studies with 5-HTP in headaches, both migraine and tension headaches, that have showed excellent results. In particular, the use of 5-HTP in the prevention of migraine headache offers considerable advantages over drug therapy. Although a number of drugs have been shown to be useful in the prevention of migraine headaches, all of them carry significant side effects. In contrast, 5-HTP is very safe.

There is excellent documentation that 5-HTP is an effective antidepressant agent. 5-HTP often produces very good results in patients who are unresponsive to standard antidepressant drugs. One of the more impressive studies involved 99 patients described as suffering from “therapy resistant” depression. 1 These patients had not responded to any previous therapy including all available antidepressant drugs as well as electroconvulsive therapy. These therapy resistant patients received 5-HTP at dosages averaging 200 mg daily but ranging from 50 to 600 mg per day. Complete recovery was seen in 43 of the 99 patients and significant improvement was noted in 8 more. Such significant improvement in patients suffering from long-standing, unresponsive depression is quite impressive prompting the author of another study to state “5-HTP merits a place in the front of the ranks of the antidepressants instead of being used as a last resort. I have never in 20 years used an agent which: (1) was effective so quickly; (2) restored the patients so completely to the persons they had been and their partners had known; [and] (3) was so entirely without side effects.”

Yes, there are several. 5-HTP is equal to or better than standard antidepressant drugs and the side effects are much less severe. The study with the most significance was one that compared to fluvoxamine, a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor” like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. In the study, subjects received either 5-HTP (100 mg) or fluvoxamine (50 mg) three times daily for 6 weeks. 3 The percentage decrease in overall depression scores was slightly better in the 5-HTP group (60.7% vs. 56.1%). More patients responded to 5-HTP than fluvoxamine and 5-HTP was quicker acting than the fluvoxamine.

The real advantage of 5-HTP in this study was the low rate of side effect. Here is how the physicians described the differences among the two groups:

“Whereas the two treatment groups did not differ significantly in the number of patients sustaining adverse events, the interaction between the degree of severity and the type of medication was highly significant: fluvoxamine predominantly produced moderate to severe, oxitriptan [5-HTP] primarily mild forms of adverse effects.”

The most common side effects with 5-HTP were nausea, heartburn, and gastrointestinal problems (flatulence, feelings of fullness, and rumbling sensations). These side effects were rated as being very mild to mild. In contrast, most of the side effects experienced in the fluvoxamine group were of moderate to severe intensity.

Using 5-HTP in enteric-coated capsules or tablets (pills prepared in a manner so that they will not dissolve in the stomach) significantly reduces the likelihood of nausea.

Although 5-HTP has been shown to work very well with antidepressant drugs in clinical trials, my recommendation is that if you are taking a prescription antidepressant drug, DO NOT take 5-HTP until you consult with your doctor. It is possible for serotonin levels to get too high. The result is a condition known as the “serotonin syndrome,” which is characterized by confusion, fever, shivering, sweating, diarrhea, and muscle spasms.

That being said, with your doctor’s supervision, 5-HTP can be used in conjunction with antidepressant drugs. The typical dosage schedule is to begin with a dosage of 5-HTP at 50 mg three times daily; after one month, the dosage of the antidepressant drug can be cut in half. If satisfactory response is achieved after the next month, increase the dosage of 5-HTP to 100 mg three times daily and discontinue the medication. Again, your physician must supervise any change in the dosage of your medication.

5-HTP may prove to be better than melatonin. Several clinical studies have shown 5-HTP to produce good results in promoting and maintaining sleep in normal subjects as well as those experiencing insomnia. One of the key benefits with 5-HTP in the treatment of insomnia, is its ability to increase sleep quality.

There are many advantages of 5-HTP over L-tryptophan. First of all, because it is one step closer to serotonin it is more effective. 5-HTP is also inherently safer. Although L-tryptophan is safe if properly prepared and free of the contaminants linked to a severe allergic reaction known as eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS), 5-HTP is a much better choice from a therapeutic and safety perspective. Most commercially available 5-HTP is isolated from a natural source – a seed from an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia).

Prozac is a prescription drug, whereas 5-HTPis a natural nutrient supplement. Prozac is in a class of drugs called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), other examples of which are Zoloft® and Paxil®. These drugs were originally developed to treat depression. Now they are widely prescribed for other disorders, including anxiety, sleep disturbance, PMS, obesity, chronic headaches, and other chronic pain disorders. Studies of 5-HTP have shown it to be valuable for all the same disorders. In direct comparison with an SSRI, 5-HTP has been shown to be equivalently beneficial for depression, but with significantly fewer side effects.

Both 5-HTP and SSRIs increase the availability of serotonin in the brain, but they work in different ways. SSRIs prevent serotonin from being taken back up into the neurons, leaving more of it available in the synapses between neurons. In other words, SSRIs allow the brain to reuse the serotonin that is already there. By contrast, 5-HTP replenishes serotonin levels by biological synthesis of additional serotonin molecules, providing new stores of this necessary neurotransmitter in the brain.

In 1998 researchers at the Mayo Clinic identified trace levels of a compound they termed “peak X” as a possible contaminant in 5-HTP products.  Though the significance of this compound was never really established, manufacturers of 5-HTP now screen for the presence of this compound to insure that all of the 5-HTP on the marketplace is free from peak X as outlined in current FDA methodology. There have been no reports of a single person developing eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) from 5-HTP despite its popularity. Evidence that uncontaminated 5-HTP does not cause EMS is also provided by researchers who have been using 5-HTP for over 30 years as well as by researchers at the NIH studying the effects of uncontaminated 5-HTP on various metabolic conditions.

In September 1997, the popular weight loss drug Redux and its chemical cousin fenfluramine, part of the “fen-phen” combination, were taken off the market based on a study showing that these drugs may have caused permanent damage to heart valves in as many as one-third of the people who took them. There is no evidence that 5-HTP produces these effects. Unlike Redux, 5-HTP does not raise blood serotonin levels to a significant degree nor does it block reuptake of serotonin. The point here is that 5-HTP does not disrupt the normal process of serotonin release, reabsorbtion, and elimination from the body. 5-HTP is not a synthetic drug; it is an amino acid produced naturally by your body’s metabolism.

Again, while nausea is a common side effect of 5-HTP, it can be avoided by simply taking an enteric-coated product. 5-HTP induces nausea via a local effect on the stomach lining.

The overwhelming majority of questions sent to me via my website are related to 5-HTP. I have tried to answer all of the most common questions here. For more information, see my book, 5-HTP – The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia(Bantam, 1998). It provides more detailed information on 5-HTP and is available in book stores and health food stores nationwide.

Available in: 90 Veggie Capsules
UPC Code: 666720300051

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Edited on August 29, 2016