5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), It is also known as oxitriptan, is a naturally occurring amino acid and chemical precursor as well as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin. 5-HTP is often used as a supplement to boost serotonin levels. The brain uses serotonin to regulates Mood, Appetite, and other important functions.
It is not found in the foods we eat. However, 5-HTP supplements, made from the seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia, are widely available. People are increasingly turning to these supplements to help boost their moods, regulate their appetites, and help with muscular discomfort. But are they safe?
5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation.
Since 5-HTP increases serotonin levels, it is used for conditions in which serotonin is believed to play an important role. These include depression, anxiety, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Side Effects of 5-Hydroxytryptophan
Too much 5-HTP in your body can cause a spike in serotonin levels, resulting in side effects such as Anxiety, Shivering, and Serious heart problems.
Some people who’ve taken 5-HTP supplements have developed a serious condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome(EMS). It can cause blood abnormalities and excessive muscle tenderness. It’s not clear whether EMS is caused by an accidental contaminant or by 5-HTP itself. Keep this in mind when deciding whether 5-HTP is right for you.
There are other minor possible side effects of taking 5-HTP supplements. Discontinue use and consult a doctor right away if you experience:
- Digestive issues
- Muscular issues
- Sexual dysfunction
Do not take 5-HTP if you’re taking other medications that increase serotonin levels, such as antidepressants like SSRIs and MAO inhibitors. Use caution when taking carbidopa, a medication for Parkinson’s disease. It is not recommended for people with Down syndrome, as it has been linked to seizures. Also, do not take 5-HTP less than two weeks before surgery as it may interfere with some drugs commonly used during surgical procedures. It may interact with other medications as well. As with any supplement, be sure to check with your doctor before starting something new.