5-HTP for Anxiety and Depression

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan, 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-hydroxy-l-tryptophan) is a derivative of the amino acid Tryptophan which is converted in the brain into serotonin. Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter in the brain because it is responsible for good mood, appetite, impulse control and normal sleep pattern. The advantage of 5-HTP over tryptophan is that 5-HTP can be taken anytime even if  the stomach is full. However, 5-HTP may cause upset stomach in some individuals.



“Several double-blind studies have shown 5-HTP to be effective in the treatment of nondrug-induced depression.” (Reference: Med Hypotheses. 2005 Jan;65(1):138-44. Turner EH, Blackwell AD.)

The treatment of depression with L-5-hydroxytryptophan versus imipramine. “During our double-blind trial we could not find any significant difference in efficacy of L-5-HTP and Imipramine” (Reference:  Arch Psychiatr Nervenkr. 1977 Oct 11;224(2):175-86)

Dosage and Sources:

The typical dose of 5-HTP for anxiety & depression treatment is from  50 to 100 mg daily. Some studies used 5-HTP doses as high as 300mg. It is commonly found in the seeds of “Griffonia simplicifolia” plant.



1. MedQuest, 5-HTP The Natural Antidepressant, Medical Horizons
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3. The Natural Pharmacist 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) Prima Communications, Inc., The Natural Pharmacist
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5. Van Hiele LJ., L-5-hydroxytryptophan in depression: the first substitution therapy in psychiatry?, Neuropsychobiology. 1980;6:230-240.
6. Van Praag HM., Management of depression with serotonin precursors. Biol Psychiatry. 1981;16:291-310.

Last update:  January 16, 2009

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