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Nutritional supplements are more popular than ever and are said to have superpowers. One of them is 5 HTP. It is said to support diets. It is also said to help against migraines, depression and sleep disorders. Here you can find out the scientific background to these claims and what they are all about.

In our big 5 HTP test 2021 we give you all the information you need. Here you will learn a lot about the effect, the correct intake, as well as the risks and side effects of this dietary supplement. We also give you the most important buying criteria so that you can find exactly the right product for you.




The most important facts

  • 5 HTP is the precursor of serotonin and thus contributes to many important functions of the body and has a pain-reducing, mood-lifting and calming effect.
  • An external supply of 5 HTP can help against fatigue, insomnia, depression, migraine, chronic pain, irritability and low mood.
  • It is usually extracted from the African black bean, which is 20% 5 HTP. This makes it accessible to vegetarians and vegans.

The Best 5 HTP: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for 5 HTP

In the following, we show you the most important criteria that you should consider when buying 5 HTP:

Here we have explained the most important buying criteria in detail, so that you choose a really high-quality product when buying your 5 HTP supplement. If you pay attention to these points, then you will surely find the perfect product for you and get something out of it for a long time.

Dosage

You should definitely pay attention to the dosage of your 5 HTP. This tells you how much of the active ingredient is actually present. Many fillers that manufacturers use can also cause you problems.

The dosage form can also influence the dosage. For example, it is easier to dose a powder very precisely. With a spray bottle, on the other hand, exact dosing is very difficult. Find out exactly what you want to use the product for.

Intended use

The intended use depends on what you want to use your 5-HTP for and when. This criterion is very individual, because everyone has preferences when it comes to taking food supplements. Basically, you can use powder, capsule and spray form.

If you want to take it on the go, it makes sense to use capsules or spray. You should prefer spray if you have problems swallowing capsules and tablets. Besides, you don't always have water on hand to take the capsules or tablets.

If you want to take your 5 HTP in the morning with breakfast, we recommend powder or capsules. Powder is great to mix into your orange or multivitamin juice and you won't have any problems getting it down. However, it is not absorbed by the juice because it is difficult to dissolve.

Stock up

You should be careful not to buy too much 5 HTP at once, otherwise the product can lose its effect if you store it for too long. However, storing your 5 HTP in the wrong place can also inhibit its effect.

We recommend that you store your supplements in a dark, cool and dry place. Many people put their supplements in the bathroom cupboard. Here, the wetness can cause the effect of your product to diminish. You should also make sure it is stored in a cool, dark place.

Fillers and additives

When choosing your 5 HTP supplement, pay close attention to the fillers and additives. Many companies use fillers to make their products more profitable. However, your dietary supplement should only contain what makes sense.

If a product contains unnecessary additives such as lactose and gluten, we recommend that you stay away from it.

Dietary supplements in capsule form often contain gelatine or cellulose in the list of ingredients. This is due to the capsule itself.

However, it is also possible that the manufacturer has added another active ingredient. This can lead to additional effects. Find out about the additional active ingredients before taking the capsules in order to avoid undesirable effects and to be sure to find the right product for you.

Extraction source

When choosing your 5 HTP product, you should always pay attention to the source of extraction so that you can also avoid possible intolerances or allergies.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you should also make sure that the source of extraction meets your requirements. If you choose a capsule as a delivery form, it might be made of gelatine and therefore not be vegetarian or vegan.

In most cases, 5 HTP is extracted from the seeds of Griffonia Simplicifolia, the African black bean. This bean consists of 20% 5 HTP. The bean has the advantage that the extracts obtained are vegan.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about 5 HTP answered in detail

In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of 5 HTP and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information for you in the following sections.

What is 5 HTP and how does it work?

5 HTP or 5-hydrotryptophan is an intermediate product in the synthesis of serotonin, i.e. the conversion into serotonin, and the amino acid tryptophan (1). This synthesis takes place for the most part in the intestine, but also in the brain(1). The advantage of 5 HTP over L-tryptophan is that its bioavailability is greater because it does not need a transporter. It passes directly through the blood-brain barrier into the brain(2, 3). 5 HTP is usually obtained from Griffonia simplicifolia.

Serotonin acts as a transmitter in the brain and has an influence on the waking/sleeping rhythm, pain sensation and the general state of mind. Studies have shown that taking 5 HTP and the associated increase in serotonin in the body has positive effects on depression, migraines, insomnia problems and weight control, among others.

5 HTP

5 HTP is said to have mood-lifting, pain-relieving and calming effects. (Image sources: Avrielle Suleiman / Unsplash)

But 5 HTP has also been shown to have positive effects in the treatment of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder in various regions of the body(3, 4).

When and for whom is it useful to take 5 HTP?

Taking 5 HTP can be useful for depression. Positive effects have been shown between taking 5 HTP and depression (5, 13). 5 HTP could also play an important role in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression(6). The effect is said to be due to the mood-lifting effect of serotonin(4).

Researchers have observed weight loss in overweight people when 5 HTP is added. A reduction in weight was shown. In addition, the subjects had no mood swings during the diet. This suggests that taking 5 HTP could also help against cravings (7, 8, 9).

In the case of migraine, the intake of 5 HTP shows a pain-relieving effect. It is assumed that this effect is due to the influence of the serotonin metabolism(10).

5 HTP

Sleep disorders rob you of your peace of mind? With 5 HTP you can get rid of insomnia. ( Image source: Jen Theodore / Unsplash )

In the case of sleep deprivation, 5 HTP was able to help the test persons in a study to reduce this, although a start-up time of two weeks was required here(11). But 5 HTP was also able to show positive effects in supporting the waking/sleeping rhythm(12).

In patients with fibromyalgia, or fibromyalgia pain syndrome (FMS), a constant intake of 5 HTP could bring about a relief of the symptoms(12).

If you are taking medication, you should always consult a doctor first.

You can then discuss with him or her if there are any complications with the additional intake of 5 HTP. This will help you to rule out any undesirable effects and side effects.

How does a serotonin deficiency manifest itself?

The symptoms of serotonin deficiency can vary. For example, irritability, bad mood and anxiety can be signs of a serotonin deficiency(14).

Basically, anything that has a positive effect on serotonin can be seen as a possible symptom of serotonin deficiency.

If you suspect that you have a serotonin deficiency, get tested

Possible additional symptoms are increased sensitivity to pain, migraine, increased craving for carbohydrates, shifted waking/sleeping rhythm or fatigue.

You can test yourself at home by buying a urine test. However, we recommend that you go to your family doctor. He or she can measure your serotonin level in the blood by means of a blood test.

What types of 5 HTP are there?

Basically, 5 HTP is available in capsule form, tablet form, powder form and spray form. We have listed the differences between the various types, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, in a table here:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Capsule form Easy to dose Difficult to dose precisely Can sometimes contain gelatine as capsule material Problematic to consume depending on size
Tablet form Easy to dose Difficult to dose precisely, fillers are often present, problematic to consume depending on size
Powder form Can be precisely dosed very well Poorly to transport, poorly suitable for on the go, must be consumed with sufficient liquid
Spray form Easy to consume, is quickly absorbed through the mucous membranes Poor to dose, is often not as high

The type of 5 HTP you choose depends on you, of course. Choose your 5 HTP so that you have no problems taking it and feel most comfortable.

How should 5 HTP be dosed?

How and when you take 5 HTP depends on what you want to take it for. Additional substances can also enhance your desired effect.

In the following, we will give you some recommendations on how to take it to achieve the desired effect. Please remember that these recommendations are for adults. Also, the recommended amounts may vary depending on your age, weight and height.

Migraines: If you want to take 5 HTP for migraines, we recommend taking 100-300mg in addition to two to three meals a day. However, it may take two to three weeks before you notice the first effects(15).

Mood enhancement: If you want to take it for mood enhancement and against bad moods, we recommend you to take 50 to 100 mg three times a day together with your food. Here it can take a week before the intake shows an effect(4).

Weight management and weight loss: If you want to use 5 HTP to help you with your diet or to watch your weight, take 250 to 300 mg for about 30 minutes before eating(16).

Fibromyalgia: If you want to take 5 HTP to relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, we recommend taking 100 mg 3 to 4 times a day in addition to your meal. It may take up to two weeks before you notice relief of your symptoms(12).

Sleep disorders: To counteract insomnia, it is best to take 100 to 300 mg of 5 HTP about 30 minutes before sleeping(17). Better effects on insomnia are seen when 5 HTP is taken with GABA(17).

If you are taking medication, be sure to consult your family doctor before taking 5 HTP.

Taking 5 HTP with other medications may cause unwanted side effects or interactions. 5 HTP also shows promise in the treatment of depression(5, 6, 13). However, if you suffer from depression, please consult a doctor.

What alternatives are there to 5 HTP?

In principle, you can also use L-tryptophan as an alternative to 5 HTP. The substance from which 5 HTP is synthesised is L-tryptophan. However, L-tryptophan is also used by the body for other metabolic processes(1).

5 HTP

Decide whether you want to take your 5 HTP in capsules, powder or spray. (Image source: HowtoGym / Unsplash)

This makes taking L-tryptophan for increasing serotonin levels not as efficient as taking 5 HTP. 5 HTP plays an important role as an intermediate in serotonin synthesis and, unlike serotonin, can pass unhindered through the blood-brain barrier(2, 3).

What side effects can 5 HTP have?

We recommend that you follow the recommended dosage to avoid health problems. If you do not take 5 HTP as recommended, various side effects or interactions may occur.

Side effect symptoms
Serotonin syndrome high blood pressure, chills, fever, convulsions
Gastrointestinal complaints nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
Cardiovascular complaints headaches, insomnia, palpitations

Prolonged use of 5 HTP may also result in decreased production of dopamine. If you experience any problems while taking 5 HTP, please stop taking the product immediately and consult a doctor.

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Image source: Dolgachov/ 123rf.com

References (17)

1. 5-HTP. In: Gressner A.M., Arndt T. (eds) Lexikon der Medizinischen Laboratoriumsdiagnostik. Springer Reference Medizin. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg (2019).
Source

2. HD Mehta (Upadhye)* , SV Mangrulkar, AJ Chourasia: A REVIEW ON GRIFFONIA SIMPLICIFOLLIA – A NATURAL ANTI-DEPRESSANT, In: International Journal of Phytopharmacology. 6(2), 2015, 76-79.
Source

3. Turner EH, Loftis JM, Blackwell AD. Serotonin a la carte: supplementation with the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan. Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Mar;109(3):325-38. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2005.06.004. Epub 2005 Jul 14. PMID: 16023217.
Source

4. Shaw KA, Turner J, Del Mar C. Tryptophan: and 5‐Hydroxytryptophan for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 1.
Source

5. Jacobsen JPR, Krystal AD, Krishnan KRR, Caron MG. Adjunctive 5-Hydroxytryptophan Slow-Release for Treatment-Resistant Depression: Clinical and Preclinical Rationale. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2016;37(11):933-944. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2016.09.001
Source

6. C Cangiano, F Ceci, A Cascino, M Del Ben, A Laviano, M Muscaritoli, F Antonucci, F Rossi-Fanelli, Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 56, Issue 5, November 1992,
Source

7. Ceci, F., Cangiano, C., Cairella, M. et al. The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects. J. Neural Transmission 76, 109–117 (1989)
Source

8. Boiardi, A., Crenna, P., Merati, B. et al. 5-OH-tryptophane in migraine: Clinical and neurophysiological considerations. J Neurol 225, 41–46 (1981).
Source

9. Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Faliva M, Bucci M, Perna S. Relationship between the absorption of 5-hydroxytryptophan from an integrated diet, by means of Griffonia simplicifolia extract, and the effect on satiety in overweight females after oral spray administration. Eat Weight Disord. 2012 Mar;17(1):e22-8. doi: 10.3275/8165. Epub 2011 Dec 5. PMID: 22142813.
Source

10. Hartmann, E., Lindsley, J.G. & Spinweber, C. Chronic insomnia: Effects of tryptophan, flurazepam, secobarbital, and placebo. Psychopharmacology 80, 138–142 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00427957
Source

11. Touret, M., Sarda, N., Gharib, A. et al. The role of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) in the regulation of the sleep/wake cycle in parachlorophenylalanine (p-CPA) pretreated rat: a multiple approach study. Exp Brain Res 86, 117–124 (1991).
Source

12. Hinz M, Stein A, Uncini T. 5-HTP efficacy and contraindications. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2012;8:323-328. doi:10.2147/NDT.S33259
Source

13. Albert PR, Benkelfat C. The neurobiology of depression--revisiting the serotonin hypothesis. II. Genetic, epigenetic and clinical studies. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013;368(1615):20120535. Published 2013 Feb 25. doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0535
Source

14. Paul R. Albert, Chawki Benkelfat. The neurobiology of depression—revisiting the serotonin hypothesis. II. Genetic, epigenetic and clinical studies. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Apr 5; 368(1615): 20120535.
Source

15. Titus F, Dávalos A, Alom J, Codina A. 5-Hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Randomized clinical trial. Eur Neurol. 1986;25(5):327-9. doi: 10.1159/000116030. PMID: 3536521.
Source

16. Cangiano C, Laviano A, Del Ben M, Preziosa I, Angelico F, Cascino A, Rossi-Fanelli F. Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1998 Jul;22(7):648-54. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0800642. PMID: 9705024.
Source

17. Shell W, Bullias D, Charuvastra E, May LA, Silver DS. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep. Am J Ther. 2010 Mar-Apr;17(2):133-9. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0b013e31819e9eab. PMID: 19417589.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Fachbuch
5-HTP. In: Gressner A.M., Arndt T. (eds) Lexikon der Medizinischen Laboratoriumsdiagnostik. Springer Reference Medizin. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg (2019).
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
HD Mehta (Upadhye)* , SV Mangrulkar, AJ Chourasia: A REVIEW ON GRIFFONIA SIMPLICIFOLLIA – A NATURAL ANTI-DEPRESSANT, In: International Journal of Phytopharmacology. 6(2), 2015, 76-79.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Turner EH, Loftis JM, Blackwell AD. Serotonin a la carte: supplementation with the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan. Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Mar;109(3):325-38. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2005.06.004. Epub 2005 Jul 14. PMID: 16023217.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Shaw KA, Turner J, Del Mar C. Tryptophan: and 5‐Hydroxytryptophan for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 1.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Jacobsen JPR, Krystal AD, Krishnan KRR, Caron MG. Adjunctive 5-Hydroxytryptophan Slow-Release for Treatment-Resistant Depression: Clinical and Preclinical Rationale. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2016;37(11):933-944. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2016.09.001
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
C Cangiano, F Ceci, A Cascino, M Del Ben, A Laviano, M Muscaritoli, F Antonucci, F Rossi-Fanelli, Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 56, Issue 5, November 1992,
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Ceci, F., Cangiano, C., Cairella, M. et al. The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects. J. Neural Transmission 76, 109–117 (1989)
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Boiardi, A., Crenna, P., Merati, B. et al. 5-OH-tryptophane in migraine: Clinical and neurophysiological considerations. J Neurol 225, 41–46 (1981).
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Faliva M, Bucci M, Perna S. Relationship between the absorption of 5-hydroxytryptophan from an integrated diet, by means of Griffonia simplicifolia extract, and the effect on satiety in overweight females after oral spray administration. Eat Weight Disord. 2012 Mar;17(1):e22-8. doi: 10.3275/8165. Epub 2011 Dec 5. PMID: 22142813.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Hartmann, E., Lindsley, J.G. & Spinweber, C. Chronic insomnia: Effects of tryptophan, flurazepam, secobarbital, and placebo. Psychopharmacology 80, 138–142 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00427957
Go to source
In-Vivo-Studie
Touret, M., Sarda, N., Gharib, A. et al. The role of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) in the regulation of the sleep/wake cycle in parachlorophenylalanine (p-CPA) pretreated rat: a multiple approach study. Exp Brain Res 86, 117–124 (1991).
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Hinz M, Stein A, Uncini T. 5-HTP efficacy and contraindications. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2012;8:323-328. doi:10.2147/NDT.S33259
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Albert PR, Benkelfat C. The neurobiology of depression--revisiting the serotonin hypothesis. II. Genetic, epigenetic and clinical studies. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013;368(1615):20120535. Published 2013 Feb 25. doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0535
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Paul R. Albert, Chawki Benkelfat. The neurobiology of depression—revisiting the serotonin hypothesis. II. Genetic, epigenetic and clinical studies. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Apr 5; 368(1615): 20120535.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Titus F, Dávalos A, Alom J, Codina A. 5-Hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Randomized clinical trial. Eur Neurol. 1986;25(5):327-9. doi: 10.1159/000116030. PMID: 3536521.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Cangiano C, Laviano A, Del Ben M, Preziosa I, Angelico F, Cascino A, Rossi-Fanelli F. Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1998 Jul;22(7):648-54. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0800642. PMID: 9705024.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Shell W, Bullias D, Charuvastra E, May LA, Silver DS. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep. Am J Ther. 2010 Mar-Apr;17(2):133-9. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0b013e31819e9eab. PMID: 19417589.
Go to source
Reviews