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5HTP for Depression and Weight Loss

Updated on November 20, 2017
Bishop55 profile image

I'm drawn to share what I know about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, animals, and spirituality.


Depression stinks.
Depression stinks.

What is 5HTP?

Have you ever heard of 5HTP? Its fancy name is Hydroxytryptophan, and it is a naturally occurring amino acid within your body.

You can take 5HTP in supplement form, easily found at local retailers for as little as $5 USD. 5HTP is derived from the seed of the African Griffonia Simplicifolia plant, and its primarily used to treat depression, anxiety and help promote weight loss, by suppressing the appetite.

5HTP may or may not work for you, but it’s a good alternative before trying heavy prescription anti-depressants, and most people love the benefit of it helping shed some extra pounds.

Depression is no fun!

Everyone gets a case of the blues from time to time, but when the blues last 2 weeks or more, you’re depressed. Depression is not fun at all. Depending on how depressed you are, all sorts of things can happen to your mind and body. You can be anxious, depressed, over or under eat, suffer from headaches and other mysterious pains, and everything feels like a chore. Sometimes when depression is severe, it’s hard, or close to impossible to find the needed motivation to even get out of bed, take a shower among other things. We all get depressed at some point in life, and unless it is from grief or PTSD, 5HTP can usually help.

What may be some red flags that you’re suffering from depression?

  • Constant tiredness, fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Problems remembering things or focusing on tasks
  • Problems with decision making
  • Over eating
  • Under eating
  • Wanting to sleep all the time
  • Racing thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling "empty"
  • Feeling sad and unhappy
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Loss of interest in things you used to love
  • Decreased sex drive, or none at all
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling guilty


How 5HTP can help

5HTP raises serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin regulates mood and simply put, the higher the levels, the happier you will feel. By taking 5HTP we are actually providing more resources for the brain to produce serotonin, in turn boosting serotonin levels, which can help alleviate depression, anxiety and suppress your appetite. Average weight loss when taking 5HTP is 2.5-10 lbs!

It’s been noted that 5-HTP can be as effective as St. John’s Wort and even prescribed anti-depressants such as Prozac and many others.

Depression and low moods can result in binge-eating or emotional eating (often a subconscious craving for carbs which make it easier for the brain to absorb Tryptophan – which it converts into 5HTP, boosting serotonin levels). By taking 5HTP supplements, you can stop the cravings and in turn help your body lose weight. It also acts as a natural appetite suppressant.

5HTP also helps alleviate headaches. The causes of headaches are not always known, we do know that neurotransmitters are involved. And serotonin plays an essential role in brain chemistry; low levels can cause an array of symptoms including chronic tension-type headaches and migraines. Taking 5-HTP to boost serotonin is therefore thought to give relief to a painful headache. Drink plenty of water and always try to be fully hydrated this also helps relieve headache pains and symptoms.

Fibromyalgia refers mainly to chronic widespread pain, though it is also associated with other symptoms and conditions including – fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. 5HTP helps alleviate all of these symptoms. 5-HTP can, therefore, be used to ease Fibromyalgia, because it alleviates pain and anxiety associated with it.

It also raises melatonin levels in the brain (the neurotransmitter that induces sleep), so it can effectively reset your natural sleep cycle and act as a sleep aid – helping you conquer insomnia and other sleep disturbances.

How should 5HTP be taken?

If you are just beginning to supplement with 5-HTP, start by taking 50 mg, three times a day for the first two weeks, in 8-hour intervals. Taking 5HTP on an empty stomach is no problem, although sometimes 5HTP can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. If you are taking 5HTP specifically for weight loss, take 50 mg 30 minutes before each meal, up to 3x a day.

After taking 5HTP for two weeks, you should evaluate its effectiveness and perhaps increase the dose if it is not effective, by discussing the progress with a doctor. A common dose for depression is 150 mg doses taken three times a day in 50 mg doses, or 150 mg a day one time. It's not recommended to exceed 300 mg a day.

Although 5-HTP is considered safe, it can have adverse interactions with some medications. DO NOT take 5-HTP supplements while on prescription SSRI depression medications such as citalopram, escitalopram, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, fluoxetine or sertraline. This can create a condition called "serotonin syndrome" caused by too much serotonin in your brain and can become a VERY SERIOUS condition. This can lead to high blood pressure, hot flashes, psychological changes, and even coma. You should also not take 5-HTP and the painkiller Tramadol together because Tramadol exhibits some SSRI activity and combining the two can result in serotonin syndrome as well.

When to call a doctor

5HTP can improve your mental and physical well-being naturally.

If you try 5HTP without notable improvement within 2 weeks or have thoughts of suicide, talk to your doctor. Depression is a serious condition, but there is hope, and you can return to a happy mental state.

It’s also always advisable to talk to your primary healthcare provider before starting any supplements, especially to verify any drug interactions with other medications you may be taking and to confirm your current state of physical health.

© 2013 Rebecca


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    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 4 years ago from USA

      I was diagnosed clinically depressed 15 years ago. It's a long road. I can't take 5htp anymore. Not strong enough. lol it does help people I know though, a lot. thanks for your comment :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Interesting information on this aid for depression. I am happy I do not have this problem, but can pass it on to others for their use.