5-hydroxytryptophan (generic name)
- Auto Immune Conditions
- Bladder & Kidney Health
- Brain & Nervous System
- Care Transitions
- Dental Health
- Emotional Health
- Eye Health
- Falls Prevention
- Financial Planning
- General Safety
- Health Care Basics
- Healthy Living
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Health
- High Blood Pressure
- Life Transitions
- Lung Health
- Men's Health
- Nutrition & Weight Management
- Pain Management
- Preventive Health
- Sexual Health
- Stomach & Digestive Health
- Stress & Anxiety
- Women's Health
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Aggression, agoraphobia (fear of open/public spaces), Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fatal progressive neurological disease), anorexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, bipolar disorder, bulimia nervosa, cough, deficiency (aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase deficiency; serotonin deficiency), delirium tremens (DTs), diabetes, digestion, dizziness, dystonia (muscle spasms), eating disorders (binge eating), endocrine disorders (Cushing's syndrome), eye disorders (ophthalmoplegia), hepatitis, herpes virus infection (Ramsey-Hunt's syndrome), hormonal disorders, inflammation, insomnia, menopausal symptoms, mood disorder, myoclonic disorders (Lance-Adams syndrome), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain, panic disorder, Parkinson's disease, phenylketonuria, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), psychosis (LSD-induced), restless leg syndrome, seasonal affective disorder, sexual dysfunction, temperature regulation.
Adults (18 years and older)
In general, most studies have administered 5-HTP at low doses and for a short duration. A common dose used is 300 milligrams per day, which has been taken for depression or headache. Doses as high as 1,600 milligrams per day or 16 milligrams per kilogram per day over 12 months have been studied. Starting with low doses (50 milligrams three times daily) and increasing the dosage gradually may minimize side effects such as nausea.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is not enough scientific data to recommend 5-HTP for use in children, and 5-HTP is not usually recommended because of potential side effects. However, for headache, 100 milligrams daily for 12 weeks has been used.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Side Effects and Warnings
Although 5-HTP appears to be generally well tolerated, due to potential serious adverse effects, a physician should supervise the use of 5-HTP. Cases of eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) have been reported and although the precise role of 5-HTP in these cases remains unclear, it has been suggested that contaminants in certain batches were responsible for these adverse effects. Several thousand cases of EMS and deaths were linked to the ingestion of contaminated L-tryptophan in 1989. Avoid in patients with eosinophilia syndromes.
Palpitations, lowered blood pressure, myalgia (muscle pain), weakness, rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of skeletal muscle), eosinophilia (increased number of white blood cells), nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, heartburn, diarrhea, gas, and taste alteration have been reported. Slow initiation of treatment and enteric-coated tablets has decreased gastrointestinal side effects.
Drowsiness, dizziness, vertigo, somnolence (sleepiness), insomnia, and headache are occasionally reported. Mania and euphoria have also been noted. Seizure syndrome has occurred in patients with Down's syndrome. Despite possible efficacy of 5-HTP for Down's syndrome, 5-HTP is not recommended in Down's syndrome patients.
Other potential side effects of taking 5-HTP by mouth may include transient disinhibition, euphoria, irritability, depressed mood, restlessness, rapid speech, anxiety, aggressiveness, and agitation. Weight gain has been reported in a few cases. In contrast, loss of appretite has also been reported. Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) was noted in one case.
Patients receiving both carbidopa (a drug for Parkinson's disease) and 5-HTP long-term had reductions in total cholesterol, bradycardia (slowed heart rate), hypomania (mild mania), pseudobullous morphea (chronic, degenerative disease that affects the joints, skin, and internal organs), and scleroderma-like illness.
An intravenous derivative of 5-HTP called gamma-L-glutamyl 5-HTP administered over one hour resulted in sodium retention. It is unknown if this effects was the result of the formulation, the route of administration, or the rate of infusion.
Use cautiously in patients with kidney insufficiency, as 5-HTP is eliminated through the kidneys.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
5-HTP is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. The risk of contaminants found in 5-HTP products further precludes use during pregnancy. 5-HTP may increase prolactin, a necessary hormone for milk production; 5-HTP should be avoided while breastfeeding.