5-HTP Monograph

Scientific name of 5-HTP:
5-Hydroxy-L-Tryptophan

Action of 5-HTP:
Supports a healthy neurotransmitter balance

5-HTP is used for these common wellness concerns:
Depressed mood and mild to moderate mood swings caused by everyday stress; occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety

Find 5-HTP in these Clarocet blends:

Clarocet NRI® Immediate Response Capsules™
promote fast-acting relaxation when you need it most.

Clarocet ERT® Extended Release Tablets™
promote positive mood balance all day strong.

Clarocet CS® Controlled Release Tablets™
promote long-lasting energy and mental sharpness.

Clarocet PM® Rapid Release Capsules™
promote a deep, restful night's sleep.

Clarocet Junior® Easy-to-Swallow Tablets™
support Emotional Wellness in kids ages 7 thru 13.

An Overview 5-HTP

5-HTP is a derivative of the amino acid L-Tryptophan, which is both produced by the body and found in high-protein foods such as dairy products, fish, poultry and other lean meats. The supplement form of 5-HTP is naturally extracted from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a tree native to the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Scientists have researched the emotional health benefits of 5-HTP in clinical and laboratory settings since the 1970s. 5-HTP is indicated for:

  • Depressed mood and mild to moderate mood changes caused by everyday stress
  • Occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety
  • Occasional sleep difficulty caused by restlessness

5-HTP is a nutrient that acts as a building block for the neurotransmitter Serotonin and may help to promote healthy neurotransmitter balance following daily use for two to six weeks.

Science and Pharmacology of 5-HTP

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a precursor to Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, behavior, appetite and sleep function. 5-HTP is produced naturally in the body when the amino acid L-Tryptophan combines with Vitamin C. In clinical trials, researchers have observed that approximately 70 percent of orally administered 5-HTP is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Unlike other dietary supplements, 5-HTP molecules are believed to be small enough to pass directly through the blood-brain barrier, thus increasing the availability of Serotonin in the Central Nervous System (CNS).

Further analysis shows that 5-HTP administration also stimulates the activity of the neurotransmitters Norepinephrine, Dopamine and Melatonin. It is thought that together, these mechanisms of action promote healthy neurotransmitter balance in the brain and provide positive support for a depressed mood and mild to moderate mood swings caused by everyday stress, occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety.

5-HTP Safety and Usage

5-HTP maintains an excellent safety profile when it is used as directed. A dose of 35 to 200 milligrams, taken daily for two to six weeks, is recommended to promote healthy neurotransmitter balance. In certain instances, individuals may increase their daily intake of 5-HTP to a maximum of 400 milligrams daily to relieve depressed mood and mild to moderate mood changes caused by everyday stress, as well as occasional nervousness, nervous tension and anxiety.

What are the potential side effects of 5-HTP?

Side effects are rare and have been documented as mild to moderate in clinical studies. They may include headache, gastrointestinal discomfort and drowsiness. In the event that you experience an adverse reaction, discontinue use of this dietary supplement. 5-HTP does not cause withdrawal or discontinuation effects.

Is 5-HTP safe for children?

5-HTP is generally well tolerated when used by children between the ages of seven and 13. Because each child is unique, 5-HTP should be administered under the supervision of a professional healthcare provider.

Does 5-HTP adversely interact with prescription drugs?

Taking 5-HTP in combination with prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) may cause drowsiness. If you are taking a prescription medication, it is recommended that you consult with your prescribing doctor before making any changes or additions to your current treatment plan.

What precautions should I take before beginning 5-HTP?

Consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a wellness plan that includes dietary supplements like 5-HTP

  • Do not take 5-HTP if you are pregnant or nursing
  • Do not take 5-HTP if you are currently taking a prescription MAOI
  • Do not take 5-HTP if you have Parkinson’s disease and are taking Carbidopa
  • Children with Down’s Syndrome should not take 5-HTP

5-HTP Clinical Studies

1. Use of neurotransmitter precursors for treatment of depression.
Meyers S.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Altern Med Rev. 2000 Feb;5(1):64-71. PMID: 10696120 [Read the Abstract]

2. Clinical evaluation of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan as an antidepressant drug.
Nakajima T, Kudo Y, Kaneko Z.
Folia Psychiatr Neurol Jpn. 1978;32(2):223-30. PMID: 307522 [Read the Abstract]

3. A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency as a target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxamine.
Poldinger W, Calanchini B, Schwarz W.
Psychiatric University, Switzerland
Psychopathology. 1991;24(2):53-81.PMID: 1909444 [Read the Abstract]

4. 5-hydroxytryptophan in combination with clomipramine in "therapy-resistant" depressions
van Praag HM, van den Burg W, Bos ER, Dols LC.
Psychopharmacologia. 1974;38(3):267-9.PMID: 4547418 [Read the Abstract]

5. Treatment of depression with L-5-hydroxytryptophan combined with chlorimipramine, a double-blind study.
Nardini M, De Stefano R, Iannuccelli M, Borghesi R, Battistini N.
Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 1983;3(4):239-50.PMID: 6381336 [Read the Abstract]

6. The treatment of depression with L-5-hydroxytryptophan versus imipramine. Results of two open and one double-blind study.
Angst J, Woggon B, Schoepf J.
Arch Psychiatr Nervenkr. 1977 Oct 11;224(2):175-86. PMID: 336002 [Read the Abstract]

7. 5-Hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Randomized clinical trial.
Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, Codina A.
Eur Neurol. 1986;25(5):327-9. PMID: 3536521 [Read the Abstract]

8. Psychopharmacologic treatment with (L-5-HTP), L-5 hydroxytryptophan in endogenous depressions
Sano I.
Actas Luso Esp Neurol Psiquiatr 1973 Jan-Feb;1(1):223-31. PMID: 4541701 [Read the Abstract]

9. Effects of dexamethasone on the availability of L-tryptophan and on the insulin and FFA concentrations in unipolar depressed patients.
Maes M, Jacobs MP, Suy E, Vandewoude M, Minner B, Raus J.
Psychiatric Center, St-Jozef, Belgium.
Biol Psychiatry. 1990 Apr 15;27(8):854-62. PMID: 2184899 [Read the Abstract]

10. Metabolism of an oral tryptophan load. I: Effects of dose and pretreatment with tryptophan.
Green AR, Aronson JK, Curzon G, Woods HF.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1980 Dec;10(6):603-10. PMID: 6162471
Neurochem Res. 1980 Mar;5(3):223-39. [Read the Abstract]

11. L-kynurenine: its synthesis and possible regulatory function in brain.
Gal EM, Sherman AD.
Neurochem Res. 1980 Mar;5(3):223-39 PMID: 6154900 [Read the Abstract]

12. Bioavailability and related pharmacokinetics in man of orally administered L-5-hydroxytryptophan in steady state.
Magnussen I, Nielsen-Kudsk F.
Acta Pharmacol Toxicol (Copenh). 1980 Apr;46(4):257-62. PMID: 6966118 [Read the Abstract]

13. Plasma accumulation of metabolism of orally administered single dose L-5-hydroxytryptophan in man.
Magnussen I, Jensen TS, Rand JH, Van Woert MH.
Acta Pharmacol Toxicol (Copenh). 1981 Sep;49(3):184-9.PMID: 6175178 [Read the Abstract]

14. Behavioral, neuroendocrine, and biochemical effects of 5-hydroxytryptophan administration in panic disorder.
den Boer JA, Westenberg HG.
Department of Biological Psychiatry, University Hospital, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Psychiatry Res. 1990 Mar;31(3):267-78. PMID: 2139731 [Read the Abstract]

15. Manipulation of brain serotonin in the treatment of myoclonus.
Chadwick D, Jenner P, Harris R, Reynolds EH, Marsden CD.
Lancet. 1975 Sep 6;2(7932):434-5. PMID: 51240 [Read the Abstract]

16. HVA and 5HIAA CSF measurements and 5HTP trials in some patients with involuntary movements.
Guilleminault C, Tharp BR, Cousin D.
J Neurol Sci. 1973 Apr;18(4):435-41. PMID: 4540626 [Read the Abstract]

17. Monoamine precursors in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
van Praag HM, Lemus C.
In: Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ, eds. Nutrition and the Brain. NY: Raven Press; 1986:89-139

Related online research destinations

Last Updated: February 2012 [PHMF-02-0]