Our brain primarily regulates the levels of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin, which we usually refer to as ‘four happy hormones’. These four important neurochemicals are the basis of many important feelings such as pleasure, happiness, well-being, love, pain reliever, and mood stabilizer, etc.
A lack of any one of these happy hormones can impair basic feelings in the human body, which can be the underlying cause of many conditions such as depression, eating, sleeping disorders, and deterioration of physical health.
Many supplements are now available in the market that boosts the levels of these “happy hormones,” and one such supplement that we are going to review is 5-HTP. 5-HTP boosts the levels of serotonin, one of the happy hormones.
I will also include how 5-HTP works, the prospective benefits, and a few of the best HTP supplements available in the market to be used, along with their efficacy.
What are the best 5-HTP supplement options?
5-HTP is ideal for elevating the blood serotonin levels. It is best used as an antidepressant, managing fibromyalgia, reducing migraines, and improving sleep-wake cycles.
- New MOOD By Onnit
- 5-HTP By Bulk Supplements
- 5-HTP Powder By Science. bio
- Nutricost 5-HTP Capsules
- Toniiq Ultra High Strength 5-HTP
What Is 5-HTP?
5-Hydroxytryptophan, more commonly known as 5-HTP, is a compound synthesized in our body from L- tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid (1).
5-HTP is an important and immediate precursor to synthesizing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, also referred to as 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT.
Although 5-HTP is not essentially found in the foods we eat, the natural occurrence of 5-HTP is found in the seed pods of Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant (2).
When administered, 5-HTP supplements boost serotonin levels significantly and alleviate any symptoms experienced due to their deficiency.
How Does 5-HTP Work?
The pathway that leads to the production of serotonin starts from L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP by the catalytic action of tryptophan hydroxylase.
5-HTP is subsequently converted into serotonin or 5-HT by the enzymatic action of the Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase (AAAD). This reaction is mediated by a vitamin B6-dependent reaction in the nervous and liver tissue (3).
Conversion of 5-HTP into serotonin occurs without feedback chemical inhibition.
The rate-limiting step in the synthesis of serotonin is the conversion of L-tryptophan into 5-HTP. Therefore, administering 5-HTP directly increases the blood serum levels of serotonin as the conversion rate is nearing 70% (4).
The pharmacokinetics suggest that 5-HTP is absorbed in the small intestine. Once absorbed, it travels in the blood and reaches the blood-brain barrier, where it enters the central nervous system.
Benefits Of 5-HTP
There have been multiple clinical trials suggesting the benefits of the intake of 5-HTP and consequent conversion into serotonin.
One of the studies involved administering 5-HTP to patients with depression. The subjects involved in the clinical trials showed a positive response towards depression. This proves that 5-HTP can be used as an antidepressant drug (5).
One of the studies also indicates that 5-HTP minimizes the risk and frequency of migraines. 71% of participants experienced a reduction in migraine attacks. Therefore, it can be used as a potential medication in treating migraine (6).
Since serotonin is a prime regulator of mood, appetite, pain-sensation, etc., the administration of 5-HTP manages the chronic condition of fibromyalgia (7). It improves pain, lethargy, and stiffness.
As serotonin is converted into melatonin, injecting 5-HTP will eventually elevate the levels of melatonin. Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle and helps patients deal with insomnia (8).
Some research also suggests that 5-HTP assists people in weight loss by giving them a feeling of fullness and satiety by suppressing the hormones that trigger hunger.
Although not proven yet, a hypothesis suggests that 5-HTP reduces the symptoms of nervous disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and seizures.
Is 5-HTP Legal?
5-HTP was declared illegal in the past by FDA but because it is extracted from Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant, now it is sold worldwide as a herbal supplement.
Who Should Use 5-HTP
If your blood serotonin levels are low, you should definitely go for 5-HTP, which is the immediate precursor in the synthesis of serotonin. If you are having persistent headaches, then a 5-HTP supplement can also be one of your options.
If you are someone with insomnia and chronic sleep issues, then 5-HTP can really improve your circadian rhythms.
Patients who have fibromyalgia can also use the 5-HTP supplement as clinical trials suggest tremendous results.
Perhaps people suffering from depression must use the 5-HTP supplement as an antidepressant drug because of the promising results.
Forms Of 5-HTP
5-HTP supplements are a safer option when consumed orally. Therefore, you will predominantly find 5-HTP tablets/capsules in the market.
5-HTP is also available in powder form, so if you are not a fan of capsules, then it is for you!
Clinical trials involving rats showed a significant increase in serotonin levels after the oral administration of 5-HTP (9).
How To Use 5-HTP
As all the clinical trials involved using oral forms of 5-HTP supplement, you should buy the 5-HTP tablets depending on your personalized dosage guidelines as there are no general guidelines approved by the FDA.
If you use 5-HTP supplements for weight management, 250-300 mg of intake 30 minutes prior to your meal is adequate.
If your goal is to stabilize your mood, 50-100 mg of dosage is sufficient, provided that you split the dosage into 3 equal ones with each meal.
Patients looking forward to relieving symptoms of migraines and fibromyalgia should plan to consume 100-200 mg for a duration of 2-3 weeks. This will give your body ample time to respond to the 5-HTP supplement.
Last but not the least, if you are having sleep issues, then a dose of 100-300mg 45 minutes prior to your sleep time will definitely aid in sleep.
Make sure not to exceed 400mg at any cost because it can lead to experiencing side effects associated with higher levels of 5-HTP (10).
Note that if you are hypertensive or pregnant, I would suggest you not take any 5-HTP supplements.
Side Effects Of 5-HTP
Perhaps the major disorder that you can develop due to increased 5-HTP is serotonin syndrome. It is characterized by higher blood levels of serotonin and is symptomized by anxiety, muscle spasms, diarrhea, and shivering.
You might experience a burning sensation in your gastrointestinal tract. Narrowing of the blood vessels is also one of the pathologies that can occur due to 5-HTP supplements.
A few subjects who were administered 5-HTP in the past also developed eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) (11).
Where To Buy 5-HTP Supplements?
This is an important question because there are tons of different 5-HTP supplements available in the market, so picking one is difficult.
Here I will review the top 5-HTP supplements sold by top brands with their pros and cons and help you make the best decision for yourself!
New MOOD By Onnit
New MOOD is designed in such a way as to provide you with an opportunity to balance your daily stress and help you relax and be calm.
With the right set of natural ingredients required to promote serotonin production, such as L-tryptophan, 5-hydroxytryptophan, and vitamin B6, New MOOD ensures an ample production of serotonin in the human body.
Perhaps what makes New MOOD unique is the blend of unique ingredients, such as Magnesium, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin D. These supplementary micronutrients assist serotonin production immensely.
It doesn’t contain gluten, soya, nuts, caffeine, and keto, making it an ideal supplement for people who are diet conscious.
With the option to buy either 30 or 60 capsules at the ongoing 15% off at the Onnit, you wouldn’t want to miss the premium option.
5-HTP By Bulk Supplements
Bulk supplements have a known reputation for selling a wide variety of supplements. The daily recommendation of this powdered 5-HTP supplement is 200mg (1/10 of the tsp).
With the only ingredient being 5-HTP which is the immediate precursor of serotonin, it relies on the natural biochemical pathway to allow the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin.
It is also free of added sugar, gluten, soya, yeast, and other additives, thus allowing a large variety of users.
The 500g of the 5-HTP supplement pack, which is enough to last for a couple of days, is sold at a very nominal price, which is under $20 .
5-HTP Powder By Science.bio
The 20g 5-HTP powder by Science. bio is amongst my top recommendations.
The genuineness of the product is unquestionable because it is a 3rd party tested product, which gathers the trust of a large number of audience.
Science. bio is traditionally known for its top customer services. With offers like a money-back guarantee, secure orders, and same-day shipping, you would definitely want to look for the product.
The purity of the 5-HTP powder is one of the distinguishing features with sustainable packaging to ensure the effectiveness of the powder.
The prices are as low as $19, and as you buy more , the cheaper the product gets.
Nutricost 5-HTP Capsules
A bottle of 5-HTP by Nutricost comprises 240 capsules with each serving of 100mg and is amongst the top-reviewed products on Amazon. It contains a massive 4.5/5 rating, which is adequate enough to speak about the quality of the supplement.
These capsules are perfect for vegetarians and are also non-GMO as well as gluten-free.
This product by Nutricost is also third-party tested and manufactured in a GMP compliant environment. Thus, you wouldn’t have to worry about the safety concerns associated with the product.
Additional ingredients alongside 5-HTP include rice flour with a cellulose capsule covering.
Toniiq Ultra High Strength 5-HTP
The ultra high strength 5-HTP capsules with 99% purity and bioavailability is also one of the top-reviewed products on amazon.
With 200mg per serving and comprising a total of 90 capsules, it is enough for a beginner to start his 5-HTP cycling.
As it contains Griffonia seed extract, the purity concern itself gets solved.
Perhaps what separates Toniiq’s ultra high strength 5-HTP supplement from other brands is its safety standards. There is a safety check during and after the manufacturing of capsules, ensuring no side effects. They also allow third-party testing of the 5-HTP supplement.
It is wheat-free as well as gluten-free for people who are allergic to any of these.
Is 5-HTP Legit?
It is one of the most potent supplements to trigger serotonin production. Research done on 5-HTP gives strong evidence of higher blood levels of serotonin after administering 5-HTP.
Anyone aiming to enhance mood by elevating serotonin levels should look for cycling 5-HTP supplements as they provide you with 5-HTP, which irreversibly gets converted into serotonin.
While the above are my top five 5-HTP supplements, if you were to take my personal opinion, I would vote New MOOD on top by Onnit due to its unique blend of ingredients.
FAQs on 5-HTP supplement
1. Does 5-HTP permanently increase serotonin?
5-HTP is freely converted to serotonin without biochemical feedback inhibition. When infinitely high amounts of 5-HTP are administered, it is theoretically possible to achieve infinitely high serotonin levels.
2. Does 5-HTP reach the brain?
5-HTP, the molecular intermediate between L-tryptophan and serotonin, is readily absorbed when taken orally and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
3. Why is 5-HTP banned?
The ban came into place after a contaminated batch of tryptophan caused the deaths of at least 30 individuals and made more than 1,500 people very sick.
4. Does 5-HTP raise cortisol?
It has been shown that 5-HTP stimulates cortisol levels in plasma and saliva.
5. Is 5-HTP bad for your heart?
Too much 5-HTP in your body can cause a spike in serotonin levels, resulting in side effects such as anxiety, shivering, and serious heart problems.
6. Can 5-HTP make you angry?
Even if you happen to get a pure batch of 5-HTP, users can become manic, restless, irritable, and (though it’s less common) depressed.