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Oxytriptan, also known as 5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP for short, has been used as a natural supplement since the 1970’s. One of the vitamins originally discovered by the father of vitamins himself, Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins in 1901, [2] there is evidence that taking 5-HTP boosts mood, improves sleep, relieves pain, and helps with muscle spasms.

5-HTP is a nootropic made from the leaves of Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant used in traditional medicine. It can also be made during the production of another similar nootropic, L-tryptophan. [1]

Many nootropic companies use 5-HTP as a part of hydroxytryptophan complex supplements, which promote a good night’s sleep and reduce fatigue. These supplements have other herbal extracts and vitamins (such as Vitamin B6) mixed into their formula along with 5-HTP. [41] 5-HTP also appears in supplements on its own.

5-HTP has been approved by the FDA, is available for use in the and has been used with documented success for over 20 years. [2]

Benefits and Effects

Although we naturally take in 5-HTP in our diet, the benefits of 5-HTP supplements are promising for chronic headaches, migraines, sleep problems, seizures, and Parkinson’s disease. Studies on depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD, and autism also show benefits of 5-HTP. [3]

Chronic headaches and Migraines

5-HTP helps with headache pain and can keep recurring headaches from coming back. It also can help reduce the frequency of migraines. Migraines are a type of a throbbing, extremely painful, sometimes days-long headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. 5-HTP supplements might be a good alternative for other headache medications. [5][6][7]


5-HTP reduces the pain, tenderness, anxiety, and fatigue that is caused by fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia also disrupts normal sleep cycles and causes additional fatigue and tiredness, which 5-HTP can help with, allowing people to get better quality, restful sleep. [8][9]


5-HTP and autism treatment have a long way to go before we really understand it. Although low serotonin is associated with autism and some studies show positive effects of 5-HTP on autism, and some studies show no effect at all.

However, serotonin is also turned into melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body know when to sleep and when to wake up. Low melatonin levels are also associated with autism.

5-HTP may treat autism’s sleep and behavior problems by increasing melatonin. Other are unknown. [10][11]


5-HTP is considered a natural antidepressant. When used with other nootropics, 5-HTP can be used to treat depression and improve mood. [12] 5-HTP works over several weeks — Serotonin levels in the body will increase almost immediately after you begin taking the supplements, but changes in mood and appetite can take as long as 6 weeks to be noticeable. [42]

5-HTP has no proven effect on people who do not respond to re-uptake inhibitors. [14]

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

5-HTP can be taken for anxiety and panic attacks. Because of the brain chemistry effects nvolved, 5-HTP can sometimes make anxiety worse when used to treat depression, even as it reduces anxiety symptoms in case studies of people with anxiety and panic attacks. There is no evidence that 5-HTP causes anxiety attacks. [13]

5-HTP can be used to calm anxiety symptoms but, because of how complex the serotonin system is, 5-HTP should be used with some caution and under medical advice. [15][16]


Low serotonin levels have been linked to schizophrenia, so some people with schizophrenia will find 5-HTP with carbidopa helpful for their symptoms. It may be less useful for people with chronic paranoid schizophrenia. [17]


5-HTP lets people fall asleep faster, and also helps them sleep deeper, healthier, and longer. This is because serotonin and melatonin are a part of how our bodies regulate our sleep cycles. Better sleep leads to better overall health, so it is always a good idea to deal with insomnia, and 5-HTP can help.

Muscle Spasms

Serotonin is a part of how our muscles move, and low levels of serotonin are associated with painful muscle spasms, also called myoclonus. 5-HTP replenishes the serotonin in these muscles and can help calm muscle spasms. [18]


Serotonin helps the body regulate eating and is involved in the feelings of satiety or “fullness.” By increasing serotonin, 5-HTP helped people with clinical obesity feel full faster, eat less, and lose a healthy amount of weight in some small studies. [19][20][21][22]

Heroin and Painkiller Withdrawal

5-HTP, along with other medications, helps keep the brain chemicals balanced and take the edge off of withdrawal. Nootropics such as tyrosine, lecithin, and L-glutamine can be taken together along with 5-HTP to help with insomnia or sleep problems, increase energy levels, and improve mood for people in recovery. [23]

Alcohol Withdrawal

When 5-HTP is taken with D-phenylamine and L-glutamine, it can help take the edge off of alcohol withdrawal. It can also make it easier to sleep – many people in withdrawal from alcohol use have problems sleeping, which can impede their recovery. 5-HTP can help them get a good, full rest, which helps them resist urges and stabilize their life. [24][25][26]

How 5-HTP Works

Once it is in our bodies, 5-HTP is quickly turned into serotonin, an important brain, and nervous system chemical. Serotonin is then transformed into melatonin, which regulates sleep.

While we don’t know everything about what serotonin is doing in our bodies, we know that it helps us regulate our sleep cycles, mood, pain responses, and muscle activity. Low levels of serotonin are linked to sleep difficulties, behavioral problems, depression [27], anxiety, autistic behavior [28][29] and self-harming.

What does 5-HTP do?

5-hydroxytryptophan helps the body by allowing more serotonin to be made. This increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, potentially easing some of these symptoms. [30]

5-HTP vs L-Tryptophan

5-HTP and L-tryptophan are very similar – both 5-HTP and L-tryptophan are taken for sleep and mood. This is because tryptophan is actually turned into 5-HTP in the body.

So which is better, L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP? Taking 5-HTP itself is better because it takes fewer steps for it to be turned into serotonin and melanin. It is much easier for the body to use, so it has greater effects at lower doses that aren’t as likely to cause side effects. Some L-tryptophan capsules may also have impurities that have been linked to eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome, a serious and potentially fatal side effect. 5-HTP capsules do not have these impurities and are safe to use at the proper dose. [4][34][35][36]


5-HTP is taken by mouth. How much 5-HTP you should take depends on medical advice and on the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, though, you should take a 100mg dose, twice daily. It can be taken with meals or on its own.

Doses as high as 400mg daily for up to a year are considered safe. There is little data for high doses over long periods of time, however.

If you are thinking of taking 5-HTP, or have been taking it for 12 weeks or longer, seek the advice of a medical professional. [31]

Side Effects

Taking too much 5-HTP can cause nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, and stomach pains. [2] It can also cause drowsiness, muscle pain, and sexual side effects.

5-HTP use does not make anxiety or depression worse, but might not be effective for some people. [32] When used to treat depression, 5-HTP is considered to be relatively safe and free of serious side effects (side effects that could cause major illness or risk to life.) [33]

When side effects are seen, these can be treated with medications such as Metoclopramide and Trihexyphenidol. [12]

5-HTP Drug Interactions

5-HTP interacts with drugs or supplements that affect serotonin, potentially unbalancing the serotonin levels in the brain. People taking 5-HTP may need to stop for a week or two before surgeries to prevent it from interacting with anesthesia or other drugs administered during surgery. Other drugs that should be avoided for this reason include Phenelzine (Nardil) and Trancypromine (Parnate.)

Be careful when taking 5-HTP with Carbidopa, Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM,) Meperidine (Demerol,) Pentazocine (Taluin,) Tramadol (Ultran,) or other sedatives. These can increase the risks of potential side effects. [1] Adderall with 5-HTP also needs to be used with caution.

These side effects can include confusion, shivering, stiff muscles, and fatigue. If used improperly at high doses, 5-HTP supplements can make anxiety symptoms worse.

5-HTP and Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome

5-HTP and L-Tryptophan are also associated with a serious, sometimes fatal, muscle condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). Though some studies suggest that impurities that ended up in the supplements during the manufacturing process may be to blame, other studies imply that the vitamin itself is associated with EMS.

Despite this link, 5-HTP is currently considered safe by the FDA and has been used as an essential part of many special diets, including infant formula, for decades without any major problems. [4][34][35][36]

Not Effective

5-HTP does not have an effect in some diseases.

Studies in children with Lesch-Nyhan syndrome – a disease involving muscle spasms, hyperactive behavior, and severe self-harming — who were given 5-HTP didn’t show a reduction in self-harming. 5-HTP use seemed to help even out the children’s sleep patterns and behavior problems, however. [37][38]

5-HTP is also not known to be effective in Alzheimer’s treatment or in the treatment of menopause-related hot flashes.[39]


5-HTP is not affected by food at all, so it can be taken with meals.

You can take Caribidopa and L-Tyrosine together with 5-HTP to help prevent levels of dopamine, another important brain chemical, from going too far down. This helps maintain the balance of brain chemicals and leads to better effects at lower doses of 5-HTP. [40]

D-phenylamine, lecithin, L-theanine, L-glutamine, and GABA can be taken with 5-HTP for improved effects. [23][24

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    2. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/1947955
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3536521
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    35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2834831/
    36. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601068.html
    37. https://www.solgar.co.uk/all-products/5-htp-l-5-hydroxytryptophan-complex/
    38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21178946
Also known as:5-Hydroxytryptophan, Oxitriptan
Type:Serotonin Supplement
Good for: , , , ,
Stacks well with: L-Theanine,NALT,Adrafinil,GABA
Typical dose:100mg twice daily
Half Life :Variable