What is it?
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan ) is an amino acid that is made from another amino acid l-tryptophan. Foods like eggs, bananas, almonds, poultry,dairy have l-tryptophan in them. 5-HTP is freely sold over the counter. 5-htp brakes down into serotonin & melatonin. Serotonin is known as ”happy” molecule that also controls your appetite, sleep, body temperature, sexual behaviour. If you are on low serotonin then you have these symptoms:
I first heard about 5-HTP 3-years ago from a friend who used it also. Joe Rogan has also talked about taking it on his podcast. Naturally I am a curious person so I immediately bought 5-HTP made by VIDA. I tried it and didn’t really notice any effects, forgot about it.
2 Years later I had some anxiety and decided to give it a try again. It felt better option for me than SSRI medications. This time, I bought a different brand, a brand called solgar.
I started taking them and effects were immediate. I felt a noticeable change in myself. It lifted my mood and made more calm and relaxed in social situations. Give me more of that serotonin baby!
It has also 100 mg of valerian root and 50 mg magnesium in it which make you relaxed. It definitely worked! I was more confident calm and happy. Anxiety was lifted. I was very positive about 5-HTP and told it about it to my friends. My favorite time to take it was after lunch and coffee 12.00-14.00, depends what shift I was working. I usually waited at least 1 hour after eating anything to take it.
It was very positive time for me, maybe part of it was also because summer was starting I don’t know. I felt great.
5-HTP also gave me cool vivid dreams if I took it before bed. Most of them were surreal nightmares in my case. I liked it.
Aside from all positive things there were some negative effects:
I had a very bad experience at my friends birthday party when I took it 2 hours before and I started drinking . I quickly became tipsy, dizzy and got drunk very fast. 5 minutes in the club and I went to vomit in the bathroom like a teenager. It was embarrassing and scary. I learned that lesson the hard way, after that I made sure I took it 6-8 hours before any sip of alcohol.
One time I took 5- htp with my coffee and I was wired and nervous as hell. Not cool.
I used 5-HTP straight for 2 months without stopping. I didn’t find a lot of information about long term use so I thought it was okay.
I started having strange feelings, I wasn’t motivated, I was irritated a lot. I was starting to feel bad. When I started having weak erections I started thinking what the fuck? I started suspecting that maybe my long use of 5-HTP had something to do with it. I found research about long term use at ncbii that said
”Administration of 5-HTP alone depletes catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine).12,15 When dopamine depletion is great enough, 5-HTP will no longer function ”
It made sense! Boost your brain with serotonin long enough and it must take away from something else. It was dopamine. Low motivation and the angry mood was probably depletion of my dopamine that had happened. I stopped completely taking it. I noticed I was feeling better and got my mojo back 😉
I believe that when your serotonin levels reach normal healthy levels 5-HTP stops working. the Same thing if you take testosterone, when you reach optimal levels your body starts reacting in a negative way and starts hurting you by producing estrogen.
Now I use 5-HTP in moderation. I may take it for like 5-7 days straight to lift my mood, then in the morning, I take l-tyrosine which is a precursor to dopamine to balance out. Yesterday I started taking 5-HTP before going to bed and l-tyrosine in the morning.
Here in Finland is so dark most of the year that most us don’t have high serotonin levels year around. It’s a good tool to fight seasonal depression and anxiety in my opinion.
DO NOT USE 5-HTP if you are using SSRI medication, too much serotonin will cause serotonin syndrome which is dangerous. Definitely, talk to a doctor.
5-HTP is fantastic for short term use, it gives you a nice boost but you must try it yourself and see what’s a good way to use it. You have to be extremely cautious when dealing with brain chemistry. Taking different supplements is no joke. Try carefully and see how you feel. If you are looking for long term option then look elsewhere, 5-HTP is not the magic cure.