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How to Cure Depression Naturally With 5-htp

Updated on February 25, 2013

What is 5-htp?

5-htp is a naturally-occurring amino acid that can be used to treat depression naturally. It is a precursor to serotonin, which means that when your body makes serotonin it must make 5-htp first. You can increase your serotonin levels and improve your depression symptoms by taking 5-htp as a supplement.

You can purchase 5-htp over-the-counter almost anywhere, including on Amazon, drug stores, and some grocery stores.

As a nutritional supplement 5-htp comes from seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia plant, which is a woody climbing shrub native to West Africa and Central Africa.

Lego dude could use some 5-htp!
Lego dude could use some 5-htp!

Do You Have Low Serotonin Symptoms?

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness and contentment. Many people have chronically low serotonin and aren't aware of it.

How can you tell if you've got low serotonin levels? People who experience one or more of the following may have low serotonin levels, and could benefit from taking 5-htp:

  • Carbohydrate and junk food cravings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Migraines
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Negativity/pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Fears/phobias
  • Low self-esteem/low confidence
  • Overeating
  • Alcohol abuse

Jim Carrey Reveals How 5-htp has Changed His Life

What Are the Benefits of 5-htp?

There are many benefits of 5-htp. They include:

  • Decreased depression
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased appetite and increased satiety
  • Eliminated carbohydrate cravings and junk food cravings
  • Eliminated binge eating
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased aggression and anger
  • Decreased thought
  • Reduced compulsivity

In addition to improving your mood and alleviating symptoms of depression, 5-htp also can really improve the quality of your sleep. As 5-htp increases your serotonin levels, your body has more serotonin to convert into melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that helps to regulate your sleep cycles.


5-htp also helps to reduce appetite and reduce carbohydrate cravings. If you often experience compulsory carbohydrate and junk food binges, it may be because your body is trying to get the nutrients it needs to make more serotonin. The website 3 Fat Chicks has a good summary of why and how carbohydrates increase serotonin levels. However, you can also satisfy this compulsion without consuming calories by supplementing with 5-htp.

What Are the Risks of 5-htp?

5-htp is not toxic, even at high doses of several grams per day. A typical dose of 5-htp is around 50mg - 200mg.

You should absolutely avoid taking 5-htp if you are also taking prescription anti-depressants, such as a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI) or a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). This is because those prescription drugs already work to increase the amount of serotonin.

An MAOI works to increase your serotonin levels by preventing the breakdown of serotonin so that it lasts longer. An SSRI works to increase your serotonin levels by preventing serotonin reabsorption (called reuptake).

If you increase your serotonin levels with 5-htp while you are also increasing them with these anti-depressants, you can cause a condition known as "serotonin syndrome." Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening reaction that causes the body to have too much serotonin. Symptoms include rapid pulse, high blood pressure, increased body temperature, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle spasms. Serotonin syndrome may occur within minutes or hours and requires immediate medical attention.

If you are currently on antidepressants, talk to your doctor first about switching to 5-htp. Many people who have been unhappy with the side effects of prescription MAOI and SSRI drugs have discontinued them and switched to taking 5-htp, reporting a huge improvement in their quality of life.

If you are not currently taking any anti-depressant medication or recreational drugs such as MDMA (Ecstacy), then 5-htp should be totally safe for you.

How Should You Take 5-htp?

When you take 5-htp, you need to take it with the co-factors that your body needs in order to convert it into serotonin. A co-factor is like an ingredient that your body needs to make a recipe.

For serotonin production, you need to have enough vitamin B6. Specifically, you need the active form of B6 which is called pyridoxine (or P5P for short).

The 5-htp I order in bulk online also contains vitamin B6, so it's extremely effective at improving my mood because it already contains the co-factor my body needs to make more serotonin. I have been using Nature's Way 5-HTP, 60 Tablets, and I am quite happy with them (no pun intended).

The other co-factors for converting 5-htp into serotonin are vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium. You can get these by taking a daily multivitamin.

A recommended starting dose of 5-htp is 50mg -100mg once or twice a day.

Have you ever tried 5-htp? What did you think?

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