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5-HTP. The Sleep 'Wonderdrug'

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

You might have heard of it, or it might raise questions marks. 5-HTP is the potential 'wonderdrug' for many different symptoms and health issues. So how does it work, and where does it come from?

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. Most 5-HTP that you find in supplements such as Superhuman Formula's Night Formula is harvested from the Griffonia Simplicifolia plant, a plant native to West- and Central Africa.

Your body uses 5-HTP to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that sends signals between your nerve cells.

Low serotonin levels are associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain and a range of other health problems (1, 2)

Therefore, increasing your body’s production of serotonin may have various benefits.

Here are 5 potential health benefits of 5-HTP, based on science.

1. It can aid weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness

5-HTP can increase feelings of fullness, causing you to eat less and potentially lose weight.

Weight loss can increase the production of hormones that make you feel hungry. These feelings of constant hunger can make losing weight unsustainable in the long term (3).

5-HTP may counteract these hunger-inducing hormones, working to suppress appetite and help you lose weight (6).

In one study, 20 people with diabetes were randomly assigned to receive either 5-HTP or a placebo for two weeks. The results showed that those who received 5-HTP consumed approximately 435 fewer calories per day, compared to the placebo group (7).

What’s more, 5-HTP primarily inhibited the intake of calories from carbohydrates, which was associated with better blood sugar control (7).

Many other studies have also found that 5-HTP increased feelings of fullness and aided weight loss in overweight or obese people (8,9, 10)

Bottomline is that 5-HTP is likely effective at increasing feelings of fullness, which may help you eat less and lose weight.

2. Helps with depression related symptoms by increasing serotonin levels

The effects of 5-HTP on symptoms of depression have been well studied.

While the exact cause of depression is largely unknown, some researchers believe that a serotonin imbalance may influence your mood in a way that leads to depression (14, 15).

5-HTP supplements are thought to treat depression by increasing serotonin levels.

In fact, several small studies have found that 5-HTP reduced symptoms of depression. (16, 17, 18).

Similarly, another analysis concluded that 5-HTP may help treat depression (20).

Summary: 5-HTP supplements increase serotonin levels in your body, which may improve symptoms of depression, especially when used in combination with other antidepressant substances or medications. Nonetheless, more research is needed.

3. Improved Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Supplementing with 5-HTP may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by muscle and bone pain, as well as general weakness.

There is currently no known cause of fibromyalgia, but low levels of serotonin have been associated with the condition (26).

This has led researchers to believe that increasing serotonin levels through 5-HTP supplements may benefit people with fibromyalgia (27).

Indeed, early evidence suggests that 5-HTP may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, including muscle pain, sleep problems, anxiety and fatigue (28, 29, 30).

However, not enough research has been conducted to draw any clear conclusions about the effectiveness of 5-HTP at improving fibromyalgia symptoms.

So 5-HTP can boost serotonin levels in your body, which may help relieve some symptoms of fibromyalgia.

4. Could Help Reduce Migraine Frequency

5-HTP is said to help with migraines, which are throbbing headaches that are often accompanied by nausea or disturbed vision.

Researchers believe they are triggered by low serotonin levels (31

, 32).

One study in 124 people compared the ability of 5-HTP and methysergide, a common migraine medication, to prevent migraines (33).

It found that supplementing with 5-HTP daily for six months prevented or significantly decreased the number of migraine attacks in 71% of participants (33).

In another study in 48 students, 5-HTP produced a 70% decrease in headache frequency, compared to an 11% decrease in the placebo group (34).

Similarly, many other studies have found that 5-HTP may be an effective treatment option for people with migraines (