What Is 5-HTP? How Do You Use It & What Are the Benefits?

What is 5-HTP?

5-HTP (Oxitriptan) is a naturally occurring amino acid that makes serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, responsible for mood, sleep, and appetite. Therefore, when people take 5-HTP, they ultimately boost serotonin levels.

You will commonly find this amino acid in nootropic stacks, allowing users to decrease stress levels and enhance mood. If you have stimulating nootropics in your stack, then this is a great addition for balancing everything out.

Due to its role in the breakdown of tryptophan (which produces serotonin and melatonin), it is highly efficient regarding appetite suppression and improved mood. Although some individuals take tryptophan supplements for this purpose, taking 5-HTP eliminates one of the metabolic steps, making it more potent.

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History of 5-HTP

Since 5-HTP is an important step between tryptophan and serotonin, its history started with L-tryptophan. When released in the 1980s, there were issues linked to the use of L-tryptophan. It was not tryptophan itself that made people sick, it was the impurities that occurred during its manufacturing.

When looking for alternatives, 5-HTP was released in 1994. It was believed to yield less risk in terms of contamination than tryptophan. It is now being used as a more natural alternative to other prescription drugs. It is used for a variety of conditions, making it a well-rounded supplement.

How to Use 5-HTP

Our bodies actually produce some 5-HTP from tryptophan found in our diet. This is found in high protein ingredients such as beef, chicken, fish, and dairy. However, taking a supplement ensures that you’re consuming enough.

5-HTP comes in both tablet and powder form. Regardless of which option you choose, users tend to take 50 to 100 mg daily. This should be taken in the morning, preferably on an empty stomach.

How Does 5-HTP Work?

Once taken, 5-HTP is broken within the liver, where it’s then transported to the blood-brain barrier. After 5-HTP reaches the brain, it is converted into serotonin. This is so much more effective than taking serotonin, because serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier like 5-HTP can.

5-HTP is a direct precursor to serotonin, while serotonin is a precursor to melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that’s responsible for sleeping. It helps to control your sleep and wake cycles. So, some of the 5-HTP you take, will eventually become this sleep hormone.

When both melatonin and serotonin levels increase, you will experience less anxiety, higher levels of relaxation, greater sense of well-being, and you will sleep better at night. This is why 5-HTP is ideal in a stack, as it can make users feel relaxed, while they increase cognitive functioning.

Benefits of 5-HTP

There are various benefits associated with 5-HTP. Although it is not a direct nootropic, it does help increase the benefits of other nootropics. The following benefits are commonly experienced:

  • Improved mood is commonly experienced. It has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of depression. In some studies, it was actually found that 5-HTP is more effective than prescription drugs like Prozac.
  • It is noted for reducing feelings of anxiety. This is due to an increase in serotonin.
  • Helping individuals sleep, especially those that suffer from conditions like insomnia. This is due to both serotonin and melatonin levels. Users are able to reach deeper levels of sleep, while falling asleep faster.

nausea-bathroom-woman-400x400Potential Side Effects of 5-HTP

Majority of users do not experience negative side-effects. However, this is a possibility when taking high doses. The most common side-effects include; heart burn, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea.

If you’re a healthy adult, then taking 5-HTP at the recommended dose is not dangerous. However, if you are taking any depression or anxiety medications, you should not mix this supplement with prior medication.

When taking anti-depressants, acute serotonin syndrome has been observed. As well, nausea and vomiting have been reported for individuals who are currently taking Carbipoda, which treats Parkinson’s.

Recommended Dosage

In the United States, Canada, and UK, you can purchase these capsules over the counter. They generally come in 50 mg or 100 mg capsules. Depending on your reason for taking 5-HTP, your dose will vary.

If you are not being treated for depression, a sleeping disorder, or anxiety, then 50-100 mg daily is typically enough. However, if you’re experiencing sleeping issues, then it is recommended that you take 200mg before bed with water.

If you are suffering from anxiety, a 50 mg capsule each day is generally sufficient. However, some individuals take these capsules three time daily. Speak with your doctor if you’d like to increase your intake. The same is true for depression, as 50-100 mg is generally recommended. Since each case is different, your doctor will be able to advise you further.

If taken at high doses, 5-HTP can be dangerous. Do not take 5-HTP is you are under the age of 18. No matter what age you are, please refer to your doctor before beginning use. It is also recommended that you do not exceed 500 mg per day (pill or powder). Start with lower doses and see how your body reacts.

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