5-HTP for Depression, Anxiety and Low Serotonin

| Modified on Dec 01, 2020
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5 HTP Benefits.

5-HTP is an amino acid derived from the seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia, a West African medicinal plant. The full compound is 5-hydroxytryptophan and is part of the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. Low serotonin levels can manifest as some modern maladies. In particular, positive associations exist between using 5-HTP and depression, and as a result, 5-HTP is useful for people coping with depression.

While a relatively new health supplement in the United States, it has been used medicinally in European countries for decades.

Additional health claims about 5-HTP promote its use for other health conditions associated with low serotonin levels, including obesity, narcolepsy, migraines and daily headaches, tension headaches, sleep apnea, insomnia, bulimia, premenstrual syndrome, fibromyalgia, and carbohydrate cravings.

How to Fight Depression and Other Ailments with 5-HTP

On this page, you can find uses for 5-HTP submitted to us by our readers.

Popular uses for 5-HTP are for alcohol addiction and depression, but we also have a number of ongoing discussions over 5-HTP use and experience.

Let us know what you use 5-HTP for, and if you know of a cure that we do not have listed yet, please do not hesitate to share it with us!

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5-HTP + Rhodiola

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by S. B. (Louisville, KY) on 01/18/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Just wanted to echo the positive experiences reported here. After a bit of internet research, I kind of guessed at a regimen that might work for me, which is one 250mg rhodiola capsule before breakfast, one before lunch, and then 50mg 5-HTP before bed. In fact I found this site because I Googled "5-HTP" and "rhodiola" to see if there was any danger in taking them both, but I see several of you have also come up with a similar plan. Very assuring, and I have to say I felt a bit of triumph for having arrived at the same conclusion that others have made of my own accord.

Anyway, I've been taking it for a short while and I am still flabbergasted at how effective it is. I really just can't get over it. I could feel the effects after the very first dose of rhodiola. Not only did it improve my mood, it made me feel, well, happy! And it improved my personality. Low seratonin levels were impacting my life in many negative ways but now I am a new person.

Also it seems to have eliminated my morning headaches and neck stiffness, but I can't say whether that is attributed to the rhodiola or the 5-HTP. From what I've read it may likely be the 5-HTP.

However as others have stated, I would take caution in the dosage of rhodiola. I have found that if I take the afternoon dose too close to the morning dose, I do become a bit jittery and restless. Still happy--not nervous--but jittery and restless nonetheless.

Rhodiola is obviously powerful stuff and I'm sure it's not for everyone, but if you are the type of person that it can benefit, then like the others here that have reported positive experiences, I think you'll be astounded as to how effective it can be.

5-HTP and Zoloft

Posted by Jamie (Breese, Il) on 03/13/2010

I have battled with depression since I was a freshman in highschool, im 29 now. I take 150mg of Zoloft everyday. If I wanted to try this 5-HTP would I also have to stop taking the Zoloft or could I take both. The Zoloft does not help with my times of excessive worrying, mood swings, or the feeling of being tired all the time. Any suggestion??

Replied by Bee
(Anon, Anon)

If you do take 5-HTP and Zoloft, there is a chance that your serotonin levels will rise too high. Also, realize that there is a chance of withdrawal as you wean yourself off of Zoloft. I would consult with a medical professional to help you wean off the Zoloft gradually, to ease any withdrawal. I used 5-htp to help wean off Paxil(another SSRI)- I'm at a half dose now, but not trying to reduce it any right now. I had really severe withdrawal so it may be better to give your system a break before starting the 5-htp. At least in my experience weaning off is really hard and it's important to take care of yourself and have the support of someone to help you get through it.

Replied by Kimbies
(Omaha, Nebraska)

regarding the question of taking 5HTP with Zoloft. As long as you have a window of over 8-10 hours between taking the Zoloft and 5HTP it should not be a problem. Many people successfully are on both just not at the same time in the day as to avoid Seratonin overload.

Replied by Shelby
(Wilmington, Ca)

Jaime! You should look into meditation and yoga to help with your depression. Sending you lots of love and light :)

5-HTP for Children

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Melinda (Richardson, Texas) on 07/14/2008

I would love to learn more about 5-HTP or L-lysine and its use for children. I have a 6 year old with "rolandic" epilepsy and a 10 year old with adhd. We would love to find a way to medicate naturally as all the traditional medications have a list of side effects that we deal with. Any information on how to use this remedy on children would be great!

5-HTP for Children
Posted by Charlotte (Richboro, PA)
5 out of 5 stars

My 6 year old grandson was diagnosed with "Select Mutism" 2 years ago and rather than put him on "Prozac", my daughter did some research and learned about 5HTP and chose to try it first.

He started on 50mg every night. His psychologist saw the same results with the 5HTP as children on prescribed drugs.

It's been a miracle for him. I have since then also taken it since our family seems to have anxiety problems and ADD runs in the family and it has helped very much with these problems.

I usually take 100mg to 200mg daily depending on my stress levels at the time. We are so grateful our little grandson did not have to take Prozac or a similar drug. I would highly recommend it as a first choice to try at least.

5-HTP for Teenagers

Posted by Dana (Sheridan, Wyoming) on 12/19/2013

Would 5-HTP be advisable for my 16 year old son? He seems to be tired a lot, gets frequent headaches, looks to have low energy (except when he is with his friends and has bouts of anxiety. He has a huge homework load from AP classes but handles his homework well. I worry about his headaches and anxiety. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

Replied by Mike 62
(Denver, Colorado)

Dana: I had what your son has when I was his age, only I was a lot worse. 40 years later I learned that cooked regular food does not have any enzymes, humic acids that activate nutrients, xeronines that activate proteins, sulfur, or trace minerals. Do your son a big favor and feed him raw organic, grassfed, and superfood concentrates, and make home made water kefir. You can watch raw food videos for some great ideas.

Replied by Mama To Many
(Tennessee, Usa)

Hi Dana,

It is worrisome to see a teen work hard and be tired and have headaches! I have seen this too with my sons.

One thing is that teens do need more sleep for a time during the mid-teen years. I have worried when it appears my teens need more sleep than their younger siblings. Teens often do not get adequate sleep and often get irregular sleep. But between school and social lives etc, it can be hard to get them to sleep enough. Does he have trouble sleeping? Sleepytime tea before bed actually helps a lot for many, if so. I don't know that I would start with 5-HTP, I don't know much about it. But others may have another thought on this.

I agree with Mike that getting him some concentration nutrition is important. Teens are growing and need extra nutrition. Unfortunately, they are often not getting a very good diet, especially if they are consuming fast food, energy drinks, caffeine, etc. In fact, MSG (in fast food or processed food), processed sugar, and energy drinks can all cause headaches and anxiety.

Most of us are iodine deficient. A drop of Lugol's iodine daily, or a kelp tablet (not as much iodine, but still helpful to some.) might be helpful. Low iodine affects energy poorly. Also, daily vitamin C and D and B complex would be good. I did this for my son who is 17 and it did make a noticeable difference.

Sometimes a few simple changes will help. Sometimes it might be more complex. An underlying virus could cause be involved and then I would consider Dave's colloidal silver plan.

Keep us posted on what you try and how it is going. If the first things you try don't work, EC posters will likely have some more ideas for you!

~Mama to Many~

5-HTP vs L-Tyrptophan

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Robin (Rural, VA) on 11/15/2008

Somebody help me clear up something. I came across some L-Tryotophan 500 mg at a drug store, in a sale bin, which I understand is no longer being sold. Doing a little research, this is a typical size dosage. I had been planning on buying some 5Htp anyway. Which is generally sold in 100 mg. I keep reading that L-Tryptophan and 5Htp are the same thing. Why would there be such a vast difference in the amount of the capsules? And if they are not the same thing, someone please explain the difference.

I had also read that if you are using 5Htp to help you sleep, you have to take a lot (maybe 5) of capsules. This is not very cost effective, as a bottle of 60 would cost you about $20. I had sleep in mind when I bought the L-Tryptophan, and took one capsule. I slept like a baby. And believe me that is rare for me.

Replied by Peggy
(Loveland, Co)
5 out of 5 stars

My understanding is that 5-HTP is the intermediate biochemical in the body between tryptophan and serotonin. Tryptophan is in some foods like turkey and Brazil nuts, and our bodies turn it into 5-HTP, which is then turned into serotonin. L-tryptophan was the supplement version of tryptophan, but apparently had some unpleasant side effects so it was pulled. www.5-HTP.org has some good info about it. I have had good luck with 100 mg of 5-HTP on an empty stomach about an hour before bedtime. I sleep more restfully and am happier when I wake up. I understand it's good to start with 50 mg and see if that works, and add more if needed. If I run out and don't get more for a few days, I start having more insomnia and sadness within a few days. Also, it took a few days to take effect, but has been well worth it and no side effects.

Replied by Anonymous
(Oz, Middle Earth,)

Hello, not insult to anyone but when you get vitamins from Walgreens, Walmart etc. it is not good for your health. Walmart's food is GMO (Genetically Modified=cancer etc. Do your research and look at fillers in vitamins. GMO foods are banned everywhere but in the U.S, why because MONSANTO is here. Do your research. MONSANTO cannot be sued in the U.S. i.e., MONSANTO PROTECTION ACT passed this year. Our organic farmers crops are being poisoned and sterilized by their chemicals. GMO foods and their side affects are lethal. Support your local farmers. Dr. Mercola and Dr. Andrew Lessman are the best vitamins (natural) I've found. Lessman's are even grown in solar powered nurseries etc. Please do your research. <3 and Peace to all of you.

Alcohol Addiction

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jake (Middletown, New York) on 05/02/2009
5 out of 5 stars

Help to stop drinking: I have had difficulty with alcohol consumption for years, did not drink every day but when I did I did to excess.Then a friend sugessted 5-HTP which has greatly reduced my desire to drink and when I do I have a few and just get that feel that I dont want any more.I take 200mg 5-HTP at bedtime and 100mg in morning both on empty stomach. I now sleep great feel, calm and just drink socially now like those without drinking issues.


2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Gail (Branson, Missouri) on 01/20/2012
5 out of 5 stars

My husband got the 5-HTP from reading about it in Ray and Terry's info... I can get grouchy, so I took some to see the effect. I took 100mg in the morning and I forgot about it as I was busy that day... Then later in the day when I was doing school work with my kids and my son didn't want to focus and was acting up, which usually upsets me, I felt calm and I noticed it... It was nice... I guess you could say it took the edge off of my irritation?? I had no side effects other than vivid dreams but not bad dreams... I think it depends on your brain chemistry and particular problems.

I know a friend who had severe depression for years who recently cured it with ACV and some slight diet changes, so go figure. My husband tends toward anxiety and he likes what it does for him, but he does not take it every day, more like every other. We have learned over the years often with anxiety/depression you need magnesium and homeopathic meds are often good for this or epsom salt baths.

Posted by Harrier (Long Beach, CA) on 11/27/2005
5 out of 5 stars

I was recently diagnosed as having some mild anxiety was was given Zoloft. However the side effects were too great for me to continue. I have been trying L- Glutamine and 5 HTP for about a month and appear to find a leveling off or those problems. For me although it seems to have helped, the jury is still out and I'm not sure if this is helping or its me in the fact I only recently recognized it was a problem. I have read that 90% of the people who try natural alternatives for depression / anxiety return to prescriptions. That is very high. I only wish I recognized my problem earlier. The only people I see pushing the natural alternatives are people who have things to gain. There have been no real blind study on 5 HTP. I do not crave junk food or caffeine nearly as much. If that is a symptom of improvement, perhaps I'm getting there.

Anxiety, Depression

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Susanne (Indianapolis, In) on 11/30/2007
5 out of 5 stars

I began taking 5-HTP for depression and anxiety and sleeplessness during a very emotionally stressful breakup. I have Not had an anxity attack since 3-07 which I had suffered from off and on for several years. I sleep so much better. I am able to think clearer and stay focused and concentrate so much better as well as improved my memory. I am thankful for this. My dr. wanted to put me on Wellbutrine. NO Thank U!


Posted by Patricia (Gainesville, FL) on 06/16/2009

My daughter take 5HTP but she takes P-5-P along with it. Does anyone have any info on the P-5-P. After reading some of the side effects some people have had I am a little afraid to take it. I have just started on Tumeric. Had to quit Bill's spray and ACV as it made my throat so sore my voice dropped a few levels. Any one else had this happen?

Replied by Chicagorock
(Chicago, Il)

Hi patricia
you might try neuroassist. it's a mix of htp-5 with other co-factors that you need in balance. they say that htp-5 alone with put your other neurotransmitters out of whack, here is their web site www.neuroassist.com/. my therapist said that her clients are doing much better with neuroassist. hope you feel better, patricia, good luck.


6 User Reviews
5 star (6) 

Posted by Adam (Southern, California) on 09/26/2012
5 out of 5 stars

I am a 26 year old male who has suffered from depression and sleeping problems for years. I have been on medication such as Effexor XR, Trazodone, etc. I was also diagnosed with ADD, given a prescription of Adderall XR. Ever since I was a teen I suffered from the issue of getting too much sleep. I always felt tired. Sleeping 10 hours would result in me feeling exhausted upon waking. No amount of sleep could remedy the issue (no matter how little or how much). I enjoyed Adderall because it made me feel "Awake" and able to concentrate on my studies; However, the side-effects were too great. I recently started supplementing 100mg of 5-HTP before bed. I have been waking up in the morning naturally after 6-8 hours of sleep. The beneficial effects of 5-HTP have been a live saver for me. I feel happier, my quality of sleep has improved beyond measure, and I feel rested and refreshed in the morning. I highly recommend this to people suffering from the "too much sleep" problem. There are many who suffer in silence, give this supplement a shot!

Replied by Sara
(Sacramento, Ca)

Hi Adam, I am glad 5HTP helped you out with your depression and sleeping problems. I am 39 female who suffers from mood swing, depression and ADD. It is my last semester in undergraduate school, but I can not focus and get it done. After reading your comments, I bought a 5HTP from Vitamin Shoppe today each capsul has about 50 mg in it. How many times a day do you take 5HTP. Please reply me back and wish you all the best in your life.

Posted by Kristina (Beverly, Ma) on 03/25/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I used to take an Rx SSRI for seasonal depression and weight loss but after two years, my body decided it didn't want it anymore. I got anxious to the point of paranoia, I binged on sweets, and I lost the will to do much beyond sit in front of my TV/computer.

I weaned off it and discovered 5-htp. When I first began taking it, I took low doses (25 mg or 50mg) a couple times a day. It would work fine for a couple days and then I would have side effects like bone aches, sleepiness (no matter how much sleep I got), anxiety, and constant hunger. I tried taking smaller doses and found it to have no effect. Frustrated, I nearly stopped taking it.

I then found a time-release capsule of 5-htp. There is at least one company that makes it in a 100mg. It works incredibly well. I haven't felt this "normal" in a very long time. I'm awake during the day and I sleep at night, I eat normally and stop eating when I'm no longer hungry, and I'm able to handle stressful situations calmly. I honestly don't feel like I have any side effects.

I am 32 years old and female. The other things I take daily are a 'complete' vitamin, rhodiola rosea 400mg lysine 500mg, glucosamine/condroiton, fish oil, and 1000 mg of vitamin D. I've been taking all of those for years before taking 5-htp.

If you're having trouble with the 'normal' doses of 5-htp, I highly recommend trying the time release version before giving up on it entirely.

Replied by Gean
(Salina, Ks)

Do you take the 5-HTP in the morning, or at night? Thank you.

Replied by Kristina
(Beverly, Ma)

I'm sorry for the delay in my response - I take the 5htp once a day at about 10:30am. If I took it immediately upon waking, I'd probably take two a day... but taking it at that hour, I only need one.

I usually feel pretty good all by myself in the mornings.

Posted by Denisse (Long Beach, CA, USA) on 05/07/2009
5 out of 5 stars

5-HTP for depression. This little pill did wonders for me. I had been feeling depressed for around a month due to heavy family problems. When I finally put all my symptoms together (oversleeping, hopelessness, sadness, emotionally unstable) I instantly came to this site. Cold showers did not appeal to me at all; I live in sunny CA and still get cold. I ordered the pills and thankfully they came the next day. I take one or two (depending on how I am doing) 100mg pills a day. My mood has definitely improved and I am finally returning to my normal self. They also seem to have reduced my terrible headaches. I recommend 5-HTP to all!

Posted by Jose (Leominster, Massachusetts) on 02/20/2009
5 out of 5 stars

I work as a psychotherapist, the 5-htp, and the St. John Wort work wonderfully in a lot of my patients (I can not prescribe it, but I work with an open mind psychiatrist who takes care of it.) However, the low mood normally comes with other issues, like not including healthy foods in their diets or the lack of very important nutrients in the diet (e.g., vegetables, fruits, etc, that grow up in poor soils,) bad sleeping habits, intoxication with chemicals, lack of exercise, NOT enough SUN, the lack of vitamine D, causing what is know as "Seasonal Depression." It is very common in people living in areas with harsh winter, not caused by the cold weather, but the lack of sun (Who would want to a sunbath in winter??? ;) You use 5-HTP because you can not sleep? Are you sure is not because the lack of Vitamin B12? (common if you are vegetarian and you do not take care of it.) and check for the other >70 causes...

It's better if we avoid to treat "the symptom," and look for a more comprehensive approach.

Just trying to fix the "depression issue" the same way as the allopatic medicine does, but substituting the drug with something "natural" to get rid of the symptoms on the long run will not be very helpful. If you are taking the 5-htp, first know the CAUSE OR CAUSES of your problem. (e.g., does it occur every time you eat some type of food? Are you taking "zero calories food." that normally have Sucralosa -Splenda, a very potent poison? Are you just Dehydrated? Caffeinated beverages like green tee and coffe could cause it, because they are potent diuretics if you are not taking enough water, etc.

Another issue is that your body needs to adjust to the doses. All the SSRI (Selective Serotonin Rehuptake Inhibitor,) the drugs used to treat depression by allopatic medicine, every time it starts with a very low dosis: E.g., Prozac (Fluoxetine) with 10 mg per day. After one week, if necessary, they increased to 20 mg per day, until a maximun dosis of 80 mg per day.

The same with the 5-htp, You can start with a lower doses of 50 mg per day and increase it until a maximun of 300 mg. But, please, when treating the depression you need to take in account all other factors that could be affecting your mood. We were brain-washed by the Big Pharma that for every symptoms we need to pop-in a pill to fix-it.

In the internet you can find the 5-htp about $10 a bottle (a Zoloft prescription for a month, will cost you more than $700 !!!!) so if you really need to take it, do it after you help yourself taking in account all other factors that could be affecting your mood/headaches.

God Bless You

As the last comment, we can find more than 50 causes for depression: Social issues, espiritual issues -e.g.: guilty feelings; genetic, nutricional deficiences, life style, lack of sun, bad breathing habits or lack of pure air, exercise, dehidratation, intoxication buy heavy metals or chemicals and so on (by the way, is very UNCOMMON that a mental health provider will check all possible causes.)

Replied by Kejuka
(Nappanee, Indiana)

This information is just amazing, good timing! I started a search for my teenage daughter that has migranes often, big appitite, low on energy & lack of concentration at school. I do not want to get her on any medication period! Her personality is most often like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh! I'm going to start with 5-HTP for her, would you suggest A. M. & P. M. Or just once daily to start out? Thank You for giving me hope!