The benefits of 5 HTP, also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, when used to treat symptoms of depression are well documented. A precursor to serotonin (a chemical sometimes known as the “happy hormone” that regulates your mood, appetite and sleep), 5-HTP is known to achieve an elevation in serotonin similar to antidepressants. The result is that you feel happier and sleep better.
The studies and case studies of patients treated using 5-HTP are well documented. But what about the potential pitfalls? What are the 5 HTP side effects you need to look out for, and how severe are they? This guide to 5 HTP side effects should help you to understand exactly what you are taking.
The main side effects of 5-HTP
Before you consider taking 5 HTP, either in a standalone supplement or as part of a broader range of vitamins and minerals, you should always consult with a doctor first. Disclaimer out of the way, let's look at some of the side effects of 5 HTP you might experience.
- Gut problems. 5 HTP can cause a number gastrointestinal problems like flatulence, heartburn, diarrhea, rumbling stomach, constipation and a bloated feeling.
- Nausea. Some people will experience nausea when taking 5 HTP supplements. The strength of this is different for each patient, but often it is only a mild feeling that passes quickly.
- Rashes or flushed skin. As with many ingredients, it can also cause redness, rashed and flushed skin while your body gets used to the increased amount of serotonin.
- Vivid dreams. The most common of all the side effects are vivid dreams that can borderline into nightmares. (some patiences actually see this side effect as a positive!)
Despite clinical trials and results from real patients taking 5-HTP as part of their daily routine, some health care professionals are still reserved in their recommendation of the supplement.
There is little doubt that 5 HTP does significantly benefit depression sufferers and the number of people who use the supplement to treat depression and other anxiety related illnesses is growing each year.
In certain circumstances a patient might experience high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, anorexia and liver or lung disease – but the risk of this is considered to be fairly low. The rule of thumb seems to be regular check ups with your doctor to ensure the dose is correct.
Personally, I have seen little evidence to suggest that this natural ingredient (which is produced from the seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia) has any negative impact or results in any of those side effects, but if you are unsure – consult with your doctor.
One of the companies that I use for many of my health supplements, Xtend Life, use 5-HTP in their Neuro-Natural Serenity product to aid sleep and reduce depression. I trust Xtend Life whole heartedly and believe that they would not use ingredients that could be potentially dangerous.
Are there any 5-HTP side effects when interacting with other medication?
The final consideration would be the way that 5 HTP interacts with other drugs or medication you might be taking. Here are just a few drugs you should not take with any supplement which contains 5-htp.
- Antidepressants and other SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Prozac.
- Tricyclic medications
- Parkinson's medication
Basically, anything that alters serotonin levels should be discussed with your doctor before you take 5-HTP.
One of the more serious of all the 5 htp side effects is a condition known as Serotonin Syndrome. In rare cases it can potentially lead to a fatal overdose of serotonin in your body.
Symptoms of this include euphoria, drowsiness, sustained rapid eye movement, overreaction of the reflexes, rapid muscle contraction and relaxation in the ankle causing abnormal movements of the foot, clumsiness, restlessness, feeling drunk and dizzy, muscle contraction and relaxation in the jaw, sweating, intoxication, muscle twitching, rigidity, high body temperature.
Again, it is very unlikely for it to get this far if you are in constant contact with your doctor.
If you do experience any of these side effects whilst taking the supplement, stop use of your 5-HTP immediately and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Where can you buy 5-HTP?
Below is a list of source you can purchase 5-HTP from. This will be updated as and when products and their prices change.