What are the Side Effects of 5-HTP?

What Are the Side Effects of 5-HTP?

Learn what the possible side effects of 5-HTP are and how to get the most out of this supplement!

If you’re looking for a more natural way to combat some symptoms of depression such as anxiety, sleeping issues, weight gain, and feelings of sadness, then you might want to consider adding a 5-HTP supplement into your daily wellness routine. Many people have experienced relief from their lingering depression symptoms with 5-HTP, but how do you know if this is something that’s right for you? Most importantly, what are the side effects that you should know about? 

In this article, we’re going to discuss all you need to know about adding 5-HTP to your regimen:

  • What is 5-HTP
  • Are there any side effects of 5-HTP?
  • How do you know what dose of 5-HTP to take?

What is 5-HTP?

How do I know if 5-HTP is something that I should add to my routine?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, having trouble sleeping, or need relief from fibromyalgia pain, consider taking a 5-HTP supplement.

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is actually a chemical that is produced as a result of L-tryptophan, which is a protein building block. You can also find it commercially available via the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia in supplement form. But why are people interested in adding this chemical by-product to their daily intake? This supplement has shown that in some cases, it can help your body produce more serotonin--which is what helps send messages between your nerve cells. When the body struggles to produce this chemical, or it cannot produce adequate amounts of it, you might experience some of the symptoms of depression. These can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorders
  • Weight gain
  • Becoming disinterested in hobbies
  • Distancing from friends and family
  • Lower libido

Depression can have a serious effect on some people, which is why it’s always a good idea to make sure your body has all the serotonin it needs to function properly. Studies have shown that people who have taken 5-HTP experience similar relief to that of prescription antidepressant drugs. People who have taken 5-HTP for depression have gotten relief from some of their symptoms mentioned above, most notably from anxiety and weight gain.

Key Takeaways:

  • 5-HTP helps your body produce serotonin, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression
  • 5-HTP may be able to help with anxiety, stress, and weight gain according to medical research

What are the Side Effects of 5-HTP?

Are there side effects you should be aware of if you decide to take a 5-HTP supplement?

5-HTP has some beneficial side effects, so do your research and make sure this is something that can contribute to your overall better wellbeing! Image courtesy of Dr. Emil Nutrition

If you’ve decided that a 5-HTP supplement is right for you, you’ll definitely want to discuss your plan with your healthcare provider. Perhaps you’ve come to this decision because you might be dealing with some of the symptoms of depression, and aren’t ready to start a prescription plan that may even create additional unwanted side effects. Discuss with your doctor that you’re interested in seeing if 5-HTP and its extra serotonin boost will help you more naturally reduce--and hopefully eliminate---your depression. 

When you decide to give 5-HTP a go, it’s helpful to understand what side effects you can expect. 

  1. Weight loss. While it’s hard to know exactly what can cause weight gain if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s good to know that adding a 5-HTP supplement might help you lose that weight. 5-HTP promotes a feeling of fullness in your body, causing you to eat less and feel satisfied for longer throughout your day. Studies have shown that 5-HTP works to inhibit people from getting calories specifically from carbohydrates, which prevents them from gaining weight in this way.

          If you're having issues of over-eating due to anxiety or depression, know that 5-HTP might help you with this chronic.            symptom as well.

  1. Help with fibromyalgia pain. Taking 5-HTP may help with the pain in both muscles and joints that is common in those that suffer with this condition. Because it promotes the body’s own serotonin, 5-HTP could give those with fibromyalgia the extra dose of serotonin they need to help relieve pain.
  1. Reduce migraines. Another problem that affects many people is migraines, and while experts don’t know the actual cause of these painful experiences, there might be some evidence to suggest that low levels of serotonin might have something to do with it. By taking 5-HTP, you’ll increase your body’s production of serotonin, which may in fact decrease or prevent any migraines you might encounter.
  1. Increase melatonin. When 5-HTP is taken, it increases your serotonin levels, which can in turn increase your melatonin levels as well.  Many people who have depression report having trouble sleeping, so by increasing your intake of 5-HTP, you will also be promoting the production of this important sleep-inducing hormone.

These are some great side effects to taking 5-HTP, but also be aware that if you’re taking too much of your 5-HTP supplement, you could also experience some adverse side effects like:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

This is why it is very important you create a dosage plan with your doctor, so you know exactly how much 5-HTP you should be taking. Also, be aware of your dosing if you’re taking certain antidepressants, pain killers, sleep medication, or other medication meant to increase serotonin.

What is Considered the Right 5-HTP Dose?

Is there a right or wrong dose of 5-HTP?

Make sure you are taking the right dose of 5-HTP that’s appropriate for your body and your needs.


Like all supplements, you should follow proper dosing instructions to ensure you’re getting the right amount of 5-HTP. As we mentioned above, if you take too much of this supplement, you could end up experiencing some uncomfortable side effects, which is why it could be helpful to break up your doses into a couple of times per day. Your dosage will depend on what you’re using 5-HTP for, so if you’re supplementing your daily routine in order to:

Once you have your dosing worked out, make sure to stick with your new routine. By taking your 5-HTP supplements consistently, you’ll be sure to see the results sooner rather than later!

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