5-hydroxytryptophan (generic name)
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CategoryHerbs & Supplements
5-Hydroxytroptophan, Griffonia simplicifolia, L-5-HTP, L-5-Hydroxytroptophan, oxitriptan, Tript-OH®, tryptophan.
Note: Not to be confused with L-tryptophan.
5-HTP is the precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It is obtained commercially from the seeds of the plant Griffonia simplicifolia.
5-HTP has been suggested as a treatment for many conditions. There is some research to support the use of 5-HTP in treating cerebellar ataxia, headache, depression, psychiatric disorders, fibromyalgia, and as an appetite suppressant or weight-loss agent. There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of 5-HTP for any other medical condition.
5-HTP may cause gastrointestinal disturbances, mood disturbances, seizure, or abnormal blood counts. Some reported side effects might result from contaminants in 5-HTP products.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Cerebellar ataxia :
Cerebellar ataxia results from the failure of part of the brain to regulate body posture and limb movements. 5-HTP has been observed to have benefits in some people who have difficulty standing or walking because of cerebellar ataxia. However, current evidence is mixed.
The results of numerous studies in humans suggest that 5-HTP may aid in the treatment of depression. However, it is not known whether 5-HTP is as effective as commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs.
There is a small amount of research evaluating the use of 5-HTP for fibromyalgia, and early evidence suggests that 5-HTP may reduce the number of tender points, anxiety, and intensity of pain and may improve sleep, fatigue, and morning stiffness.
There is evidence from several studies in both children and adults that 5-HTP may be effective in reducing the severity and frequency of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines. Further research is needed.
Studies suggest that 5-HTP may reduce eating behaviors, lessen caloric intake, and promote weight loss in obese individuals.
Alcoholism (withdrawal symptoms):
Early study suggests that 5-HTP may lessen alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Although 5-HTP has been proposed as a possible treatment for anxiety disorders, there is not enough human evidence to make a firm recommendation.
Preliminary study of 5-HTP in children with Down's syndrome yields insignificant results. Further research is necessary.
Neurologic disorders (Lesch-Nyhan syndrome):
Lesch-Nyhan syndrome (LNS) is a rare, genetic disorder affecting mostly males that often causes mental retardation and self-mutilation. Small studies of 5-HTP in Lesch-Nyhand syndrome show conflicting results. Additional study is needed.
It has been suggested that 5-HTP may reduce psychotic symptoms and mania or aid in panic disorder, but studies in people with schizophrenia have shown differing results.
There is insufficient evidence regarding the use of 5-HTP for sleep disorders. Additional studies are needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Seizures/epilepsy (myoclonic disorders):
Although 5-HTP has been studied as a treatment for various myoclonic syndromes and epilepsy, available research does not support the use of 5-HTP for these conditions.