5 HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is a chemical that exists naturally in your body. The body makes 5-HTP naturally from tryptophan, an amino acid, from protein that you ingest. It is then converted into serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter in your body. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation.
How does 5-HTP help in ADHD?
5-HTP is used for treating many co-existing disorders of ADHD, such as sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), along with prescription drugs to treat seizure disorder and Parkinson's disease, migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
How does it work?
5 HTP works by increasing the production of serotonin in the brain and the central nervous system. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Because 5-HTP can cross the blood-brain-barrier, it is the supplement of choice recommended by physicians to increase serotonin levels, as serotonin itself does not cross the blood-brain-barrier.
Is 5 HTP Safe?
5-HTP is a natural substance in our body, thus, it is generally safe to use for short-term use for up to 12 weeks.
However, those with existing gastrointestinal problems should be cautious and speak to a physician, as there are reports of gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Avoid taking 5-HTP if you’re already taking antidepressants (such as an SSRI or MAOI) and/or medication that interfere with serotonin level in the body.
5-HTP has been known to increase suicidal ideation. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use 5-HTP.
What Should I Look For?
5-HTP is found in drug stores, health food stores and online. Make sure to look for pure 5-HTP or griffonia simplicifolia extract on the label. Avoid any additives, fillers, or binders. There have been reports of impurities and contaminants in 5-HTP supplements that cause eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS), which can be deadly. It is an acute illness that causes intense muscle soreness. The condition comes from impurities in some L-tryptophan or 5HTP supplements, but not the L-tryptophan or the 5-HTP themselves. Look for reputable brands and manufacturers.
Start with a low dose of 50mg, twice a day, and slowly increase up to 100mg twice a day over several weeks. Take it 20-30 minutes before meals. It may take a few weeks to really feel a difference; you should not take the supplement longer than 12 weeks.
Here is a list of medication that also increases the body’s serotonin level. You should not take 5-HTP if you’re on any of these medications.
Antidepressant drugs interacts with 5-HTP
Some of these medications for depression include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others. Taking 5HTP along with these medications for depression might increase serotonin too much and cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.
Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors interacts with 5-HTP
Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others. Taking 5-HTP with these medications used for depression might cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.
Carbidopa (Lodosyn) interacts with 5-HTP
Taking 5-HTP along with carbidopa can increase the risk of serious side effects including rapid speech, anxiety, aggressiveness, and others.
Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others) interacts with 5-HTP
Taking 5-HTP along with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) might cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others).
Meperidine (Demerol) interacts with 5-HTP
Taking 5-HTP along with meperidine (Demerol) might cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.
Pentazocine (Talwin) interacts with 5-HTP
Taking 5-HTP along with pentazocine (Talwin) might cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.
Tramadol (Ultram) interacts with 5-HTP
Taking 5-HTP along with tramadol (Ultram) might cause serious side effects including confusion, shivering, stiff muscles, and others.