L-5 hydroxytryptophan, or 5htp for short, is a compound produced by your body that plays an important role in your mental health.
5htp is used to produce serotonin (aka the ‘feel-good’ hormone) which is vital for maintaining mood, appetite, sleep habits, and more.
Low serotonin levels are associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain, and other health problems, so 5htp supplements may help treat anxiety and depression.
5htp has been widely used as a dietary supplement and alternative medicine, as it is believed to help with various health conditions related to low serotonin levels or neurological issues. 5HTP is used to produce serotonin (which helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite and more), so taking 5HTP supplements for anxiety and depression may help treat certain mental health issues.
While your body naturally produces 5htp and serotonin, your levels can fall due to various factors, so 5htp supplements may be necessary to maintain your levels and support your general health. To understand whether 5HTP can help treat mental health issues, we need to look into its benefits and the wider research into natural supplements for anxiety and depression:
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5htp (L-5 hydroxytryptophan) is naturally produced in your body from the amino acid tryptophan and is essential in serotonin production. 5htp is also a precursor to melatonin, which is vital for various biological processes like regulating sleep and is widely believed to be effective in supplements for anxiety and depression.
5htp supplements are believed to help with conditions associated with melatonin or serotonin deficiencies, such as depression or insomnia, though the research is inconclusive. You may also be able to raise your serotonin levels by increasing your tryptophan levels, but 5htp is considered a more effective way of increasing serotonin levels.
Anxiety is a physical and mental state of dread triggered by stress. While it is a normal emotion, it can have serious adverse effects, especially if you suffer from frequent or chronic anxiety. Anxiety can be caused by various mental, physical and environmental factors, so while there’s no simple fix, many natural supplements for anxiety and depression can help manage the symptoms.
RELATED: Learn how to tackle stress with our guide on the top-rated stress relief supplements here.
5htp supplements have known anti-anxiety effects and were shown to reduce the severity of generalized anxiety in several studies, making them effective as an alternative treatment for general anxiety. However, more studies are needed before 5htp supplements for anxiety and depression can be approved as an official treatment for anxiety.
Stress and poor sleep are closely linked, as anxiety can make it hard to sleep, and a lack of sleep leads to more stress, leaving you trapped in a vicious cycle of restless nights and stressful days. Fortunately, 5htp is one of the natural supplements for anxiety and depression that can help improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety by helping the body produce more serotonin and melatonin.
RELATED: Learn more about the health benefits of melatonin and our recommendations for gummy melatonin supplements here.
Melatonin (aka the ‘sleep hormone’) is made from serotonin during darkness and is vital for regulating your sleep cycle along with serotonin. By helping raise your serotonin levels to a healthy range, 5htp supplements can contribute to a positive mood and promote restful sleep, especially if your anxiety is caused by low serotonin.
5htp is believed to support mental health and a stable day/night sleep cycle as it is used to produce serotonin, and serotonin is used to produce melatonin, but it may also have other health benefits. Studies show that using 5htp supplements for anxiety and depression may offer some surprising health benefits, such as:
5htp is directly involved in producing melatonin, which is critical for sleep, as it helps the body’s biological clock stay in sync and regulates your daily sleep-wake cycles. Research suggests that 5htp supplements may help increase restful sleep and ease symptoms of stress and anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep and enjoy healthy amounts of restful sleep.
Research shows that 5htp promotes relaxation and alleviates symptoms of stress and anxiety, which is believed to be linked to increased serotonin levels. Supplementing with 5htp may also help to alleviate depression, though more research is needed to officially approve 5htp and other natural supplements for anxiety and depression.
Higher serotonin levels are linked to reduced appetite, so maintaining serotonin levels can help keep your appetite in check and reduce cravings for carbohydrates. Because they boost your serotonin levels, 5htp supplements may help to suppress appetite and support weight loss in people who are overweight or obese.
Fibromyalgia is a condition with no simple cure that causes chronic pain and often leads to sleep problems and fatigue. Fortunately, research shows that using 5htp supplements for anxiety and depression can help improve fibromyalgia symptoms like pain, anxiety and quality of sleep.
Studies show that supplementing with 5htp may reduce the frequency of migraines and the pain from chronic headaches, though the link between serotonin and headaches is still unclear. Migraines and chronic headache disorders are linked to low serotonin levels, so 5htp supplements are believed to help manage symptoms by increasing serotonin in your brain.
The form of 5htp found in supplements is usually derived from the seeds of an African shrub called Griffonia simplicifolia, so 5htp pills are natural supplements for anxiety and depression. Because 5htp is regulated as a dietary supplement, there is no official recommended dosage, and the right amount can vary depending on the reason you’re taking it.
To help you choose the right strength of 5htp supplements, here are some general guidelines on how much to take when using 5htp for:
However, it may take several weeks to notice the benefits of supplementing with 5htp, as it can take a while for your serotonin levels to increase enough to affect your symptoms.
While 5htp is generally well tolerated, it has been known to cause side effects such as nausea, heartburn, excessive sleepiness and sexual problems. Fortunately, these side effects are rare, though you may want to consult a doctor before using 5htp supplements, especially if you are pregnant, recovering from surgery or taking medicine that affects your serotonin levels.
Managing your mental health and stress levels is a complex struggle of biological, psychological and lifestyle factors, but natural supplements for anxiety and depression, like 5htp, can help you manage your stress levels. This herbal supplement has proven effective in supporting mental health and healthy sleep, but it is not officially recommended as a treatment for anxiety, migraines or issues sleeping.
However, many studies show that 5htp supplements are generally safe and can help to treat various health conditions related to serotonin levels, and it is increasingly popular as an alternative medicine. But as always, we strongly recommend you ask your doctor whether 5htp is right for you, as it can interact with other medicines and interfere with your hormone balance in some cases.