5HTTP, also known as 5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP, is a mood-boosting plant extract and amino acid that may help people drop unwanted pounds while improving their emotions. Besides helping people shed pounds, it’s also reported that the supplement helps people sleep better, maintain hormonal balance and avoid headaches.

5HTTP Helps Stop Overeating

The supplement works by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical or neurotransmitter that the brain and nerve cells use to communicate with each other. Bodies naturally create serotonin; however, sometimes the demand outweighs supply which triggers many unwelcome symptoms like an insatiable appetite, depression and intense cravings for foods high in carbohydrates and sugar.

Many people suffer from low levels of serotonin because of high stress levels, and high levels of stress and low levels of serotonin typically result in overeating. By increasing serotonin levels, the supplement helps decrease anxiety thereby calming the mind and reducing the tendency to overeat.

In an Italian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who were overweight took 5HTTP and dropped their caloric intake to approximately 1,300 calories each day. The participants in the 12-week research study lost an average of one pound every week. What was very impressive about the study is the participants reported feeling satisfied with the amount of food they were consuming. Moreover, they reported a significant decrease in cravings. In this study, the participants took 300 mg of 5HTTP three times a day.

In another study published in the International Journal of Obesity, 5HTTP supplements were also reported to help type 2 diabetes patients reduce carbohydrate intake while improving their blood sugar levels, which delayed the progression of the disease.

Overall Good Health

The supplement may also help other serotonin-related conditions such as depression, tension, hot flashes, insomnia, fibromyalgia symptoms and migraine headaches. Since 5HTTP is also an antioxidant, it also helps support overall good health.


The typical dosage is 50 to 100 mg three times a day. Take it before meals and be sure to follow label directions. It’s best to begin taking low doses of 5HTTP to avoid side effects.

Side Effects

Scientific studies have shown 5HTTP to be effective and safe with few side effects. Besides helping people drop additional pounds, many report feeling better not only emotionally, but also physically too.  Keep in mind, however, there are reports of stomach and intestinal upset, vivid dreams, changes in sleeping habits and fatigue. To avoid side effects, start with a low dose. If you experience drowsiness, take the supplement before bed. Most importantly, if you are taking medication for depression, make sure to speak with your doctor first.

Other reports of side effects include heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, muscle problems and a decrease in libido. There have also been reports of a serious side effect called eosinophilia myalgia syndrome; however, some believe the side effect is caused by a contaminant in some 5HTTP products, but there is not enough evidence to know for sure if it is caused by a contaminant or if there is another reason (WebMD).

Additional Warnings

It is always important to speak with a doctor before taking any supplements, especially because some may interact with medications or other supplements. In general, supplements are not reviewed or approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Instead, it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to test their products and make sure they’re safe for human consumption. If you’re going to start taking 5HTTP, be sure to buy the product from a reputable company.


Tweed, Vera. “Feel Good, Look Good.” Better Nutrition. May 2008, Vol. 70 Issue 5, p26-28.

“5-HTP. WebMD.

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