5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid produced naturally in the body. It is most well known for its involvement in the production of serotonin, a chemical messenger that regulates mood, sleep, digestion, bone health, and more. Low serotonin levels are linked to mood-related disorders like depression and anxiety, as well as sleep disorders, weight gain, and other health problems.
Because of the positive effects serotonin has on our health, many people take 5-HTP supplements to help boost their serotonin production and improve certain aspects of health, including mental health and sleep.
Find out more about the potential health benefits of 5-HTP below.
1. 5-HTP and depression
While the exact cause of depression is unknown and can be attributed to multiple factors, scientists believe it is often caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. These act as chemical messengers and influence our mood.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has been particularly well studied. Low levels are believed to cause depression, so most antidepressants focus on boosting serotonin in the brain. Several studies have found that 5 HTP supplements can work in a similar way and reduce symptoms of depression by stimulating an increase in serotonin production.
2. Aid weight loss
5-HTP may help you lose weight by increasing feelings of fullness and suppressing appetite. During weight loss or dieting, the body increases the production of hunger-stimulating hormones that make losing weight unsustainable. 5-HTP can help counteract the effects of these hormones and make you feel less hungry and therefore eat less.
According to one study on people with diabetes, those who took 5-HTP supplements for two weeks consumed 435 fewer calories a day than those who took a placebo. Researchers also found that 5-HTP inhibited intake of calories from carbohydrates, which improved blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can be harmful to health and lead to diabetes.
3. Improve sleep quality
As discussed above, 5-HTP is required for the production of serotonin. This can then be converted into melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Melatonin production increases in response to darkness which signals to the body it’s time to go to sleep.
Evidence suggests that supplementing with 5-HTP can boost melatonin production in the body to help reduce the amount of time it takes to get to sleep, increase sleep duration, and improve sleep quality.
4. Calm anxiety
Similarly to depression, low levels of serotonin can increase anxiety and risk of panic attacks. A 2002 scientific study found 5-HTP supplements reduced anxiety in people with a panic disorder. However, research about 5-HTP and anxiety is relatively old and further research is needed to confirm these findings.
5. Treat pain
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes chronic nerve pain in bones and muscles, as well as weakness. The condition can affect mood and the ability to sleep. Scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes fibromyalgia, but believe low serotonin levels may play a role. Research suggests that 5-HTP can improve muscle pain, sleep problems, anxiety, and fatigue, associated with fibromyalgia.
5-HTP is an amino acid produced in the body that is required for the production of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood, appetite, sleep and more.
Taking 5-HTP supplements is an effective way to increase your serotonin levels and is scientifically proven to help treat depression and anxiety, reduce pain associated with fibromyalgia, improve sleep and promote weight loss.