5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan, Oxitriptan) is a supplement used to improve mood, reduce anxiety and stress, suppress the appetite, and promote better sleep. This chemical compound is also a naturally occurring amino acid and serves many important roles in the body. It acts as a metabolic intermediate in the breakdown of tryptophan to produce serotonin and melatonin. While some people take tryptophan supplements for mood enhancement and appetite suppression purposes, using a 5-HTP dosage avoids one of the metabolic steps and is therefore more potent.
Using 5-HTP supplements will increase levels of the serotonin and melatonin inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin is important in digestion as it promotes peristalsis and is also responsible for feelings of “happiness” and “well-being,” whereas melatonin is a hormone whose circulation is key in maintaining circadian rhythm (also known as the “Biological Clock”) in animals. This is important for regulating sleep patterns, hence why 5-HTP dosages can be prescribed in order to combat insomnia. It can also be used in a nootropic stack to address indirect factors related to cognitive function such as mood and sleep quality.
In terms of natural diet, human intake of 5-HTP is insignificant. However, the essential amino acid that it aids in metabolising (tryptophan) is a common constituent of most protein-based foods. It is found in foods like red meat, poultry, potatoes, milk, pumpkins and various green vegetables. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning that it cannot be synthesised by the human body and must be acquired from dietary sources such as those listed above. But taking an equivalent dose of Tryptophan will not lead to the same end result as taking 5-HTP. Tryptophan is subject to a rate-limiting factor that prevents excess amounts being taken up by the brain and turned into active neurotransmitters. 5-HTP dosages are known to be more effective because they bypass this rate limit, allowing you to increase serotonin levels beyond your pre-programmed biochemical norm.
Where does 5-HTP come from?
5-htp dose5-HTP is typically sourced from the plant Griffonia simplicifolia. This makes 5-HTP a natural nootropic. This is a climbing shrub that is found in West and Central Africa, and its seeds are harvested for their 5-HTP. Griffonia simplicifolia can grow up the 3 meters high and bears green flowers.
What does 5-HTP do? 5-HTP aids in the metabolic breakdown of tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin. As such can be used to treat things such as depression, anxiety and any problems that a patient may be having with their sleep patterns. Serotonin aids in depression by causing feelings of happiness, hence 5-HTP’s action as an antidepressant, and as stated above melatonin plays a role in the maintenance of a regular circadian rhythm. 5-HTP can be used as part of a nootropic stack for relaxation, improved sleep and even as a lucid dreaming aid.
What is the recommended 5-HTP dosage?
5-HTP capsules are sold over the counter in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, typically in 50mg or 100mg gelatine encased tablets. The recommended dosage for 5-HTP will vary based on the ailment that it is being taken for. Since 5-HTP can be used to treat many problems, such as sleep issues, anxiety or depression, knowing which dose is required for you is essential.
It is very important to note that 5-HTP can be dangerous if taken at exceptionally high doses, and anyone considering taking it should seek medical advice and always read the label and any accompanying instructions carefully. 5-HTP is not generally suitable for use by children under the age of 18.
For sleep problems, some sources recommend a dose of 200mg taken before bedtime, and taken with 8 ounces of water. For anxiety, 5-HTP dosage is recommended at a 50mg capsule each day, but can be increased if advised to do so by a doctor. Some sources even recommend taking these capsules three times a day, but a doctor will be able to advise the appropriate dosage on a case-by-case basis.
The recommended dosage for 5-HTP also varies with health and age, though unfortunately no reliable sources of these guidelines are currently available. As such, anyone considering taking 5-HTP for anxiety, depression or sleep issues should consult their doctor before starting, so that they can be sure that they are receiving the correct dosage.
For headaches, sources say that on average 300-600mg can be taken daily by mouth in divided portions. An amount this high should not be taken on an on-going basis. Again, these will vary at the discretion of a medical professional. For hot flashes, 150mg are recommended to be taken orally on a daily basis for up to four weeks.
Is it possible to overdose?
5-htp overdoseAs with any medication, overdose is a concern and 5-HTP is no exception. Symptoms of an overdose can include:
• Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
• Dizziness or feeling faint
• Muscle twitching
Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms and fears that they may have an overdose of 5-HTP, should seek medical attention immediately and should receive supportive care.
There is also concern that high intake of 5-HTP can cause serotonin syndrome. In addition, taking 5-HTP in conjunction with antidepressants of the MAOI (Monoamine oxidase inhibitor) or SSRI (Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) classes can also cause serotonin syndrome, which is a serious condition that is a form of poisoning and can be potentially life threatening.
All in all, anyone considering taking 5-HTP should consult their doctor first in order to make sure they are not taking any drugs that it may interact with and also that they are prescribed the correct dosage for their particular problem. While 5-HTP does offer a lot of potential benefits, there are some serious dangers that can occur if it is abused. Only a medical professional who is informed as to your personal medical history can help you decide on the right 5-HTP dosage.