We’ll show you what to look for and reveal the 3 biggest mistakes shoppers make when choosing an your most effective 5-HTP Supplement.

Allison King

Allison King

Allison holds a PhD in Biology specializing in cell and molecular biology and undergraduate degree in biochemistry with a minor in theoretical physics. She has taught at four universities in Eastern Canada and currently consults masters and doctoral students. She believes that peer-reviewed scientific research is the best source when looking for information on a given subject. Allison also lives a healthy vegetarian lifestyle and enjoys competing in various races including half marathons and triathlons.

Alright, settle in because there is some real science coming at you here. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is actually a cutting edge new player on the supplement market, clinically proven to be effective in treating depression but early research indicates it might be helpful for a lot more. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of 5-HTP before but you’ve probably heard of serotonin. Serotonin has another name you might not know about it’s also known as 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine) but we’re going to call it serotonin from now on. 5-HTP (with the P) is actually a biological precursor of serotonin.

When serotonin is made in the human body a set of enzymes each take a turn modifying the compound until it reaches it’s final configuration and a molecule of serotonin is made. In every chain of enzymes there is one slow working one in the bunch and we call that specific change the rate-limiting step in production. In the production of serotonin the rate-limiting step is the production of our friend 5-HTP meaning that this is the step in the chain that slows down the rate at which serotonin is made. This fact made it a natural target for researchers given the huge role serotonin has in the human body.

So what does serotonin do? Well it has a reputation as the feel good chemical in your body mostly for it’s role in depression. Even after all these years exactly how serotonin relates to depression is not totally understood. We do know that people with depression have lower levels of serotonin and that when we regulate that with anti-depressants called serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) people with depression get better but there are some side effects. Not everyone with a depressed mood has clinical depression and not everyone with depression responds to anti-depressants. As of right now the only double-blind clinical study done on 5-HTP focused on depression and it was found to be effective in treating it. Preliminary data from other studies have shown it to be promising for a number of other uses as well.

Why use 5-HTP?

There are a few different uses for 5-HTP and we’ll be getting into that in the next section but here are some general things to know about the supplement.

  • 5-HTP is generally considered safe but it can have side effects like heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, sexual problems, vivid dreams or nightmares, and muscle soreness. However these side effects are rare and not considered serious.
  • If you ingest more 5-HTP than you need it is excreted so it won’t build up in your body like some other vitamins do
  • It is absorbed by the upper region of the small intestine so it will take a few hours to have an effect
  • Once in the body it is broken down pretty rapidly and has a half life of about 1.5 hours
  • It is known to interact with the Parkinson’s drug carbidopa, however the effects are not generally life threatening
  • Make sure to talk to your doctor if you are already taking medication for depression before starting this supplement
  • Like any other supplement it is best to talk to your doctor before you start taking it. If you do decide to take this supplement or any other be honest about it in medical settings. This supplement like many others is known to interfere with some diagnostic tests.

8 ways to change your serotonin levels:

Emerging conditions alleviated by 5-HTP

5-HTP is found in some foods but none are considered significant dietary sources. The source of 5-HTP in supplements is a seed extract from the African shrub Griffo-nia simplicifoliawhich is high in this serotonin precursor.

  • Insomnia by inducing drowsiness
  • Obesity by increasing feelings of satiety (fullness)
  • Anxiety particularly in people with panic disorder
  • Pain studied in patients with fibromyalgia
  • Migraines

3 Myths About 5-HTP

All supplements are basically the same.

No not really, some are blends of mul-tiple ingredients while others contain only one targeted ingredient. One type doesn’tnecessarily work better than the other. Supplements that only contain one ingredi-ent like these allow you to evaluate how that one ingredient works for you.

We know the perfect dosage for everything and everyone.

We don’t always know exactly how much of a given ingredient is ideal for every person and every condition. It takes time with new ingredients to figure it out and it can vary from person to person even depending on the condition you are trying to treat. More isn’talways better it can be dangerous especially if something can build up in the body. In other cases taking more than you need is less of an issue of safety if it easily passes through the body.

There is only one way to take a given supplement.

For a supplement like 5-HTP some experimentation with timing might be appropriate. If you are using it for weight management before meals might be best while an hour before bed might be best if you are looking to use it for insomnia. If you are using it for a chronic condi-tion it might be best to take it throughout the day.

3 Truths About 5-HTP

Certain ingredients work better together.

5-HTP has a short half life in the body, half of it is removed after 90 minutes to two hours. This time can be extendedand or the effects increased by taking it with other ingredients including calcium sources.

Supplements work in co-operation with your body.

5-HTP doesn’t work on it’s own in the body it works in conjunction with enzymes and vitamin B6. If you want to maximize the effects of your supplementation it’s a good idea to take good care of your health in general and give it the best chance to work for you.

Most supplements are considered generally safe for most people.

5-HTP is especially so, none of the known side effects are medically serious but rather just bothersome. Since it’s eliminated quickly from the body any rare issues you do en-counter should pass quickly if you decide it’s not for you.

Our Specialized Grading System

I believe consumers should have access to the best supplements on the market. I know how hard it can be to secure the unblemished facts required to make an informed health decision. To solve this, I use a comprehensive grading system that weighs product ingredients, value for money, ease of use, refund policy and the happiness of its customers.

My Top 5 5-HTP Product Recommendations With Gradings

1. 5-HTP (200 mg)

721 votes

9.8/10

 
 

Total Ranking

A+

Overall Grade

  • Product Ingredients
    10/10
  • Value for money
    9.6/10
  • Ease of use
    9.5/10
  • Refund Policy
    10/10
  • Customer Happiness
    9.9/10

PROS

  • 60-day 100% money back guarantee
  • Offers buy-2-get-1-free and buy-3-get-2-free programs
  • FDA-approved Manufacturing Facility
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified
  • 100% made in the USA
  • Higher dose at 200 mg
  • Combined with calcium to boost effectiveness

CONS

  • May, on occasion, run out of stock due to popularity

The bottom line*

The high dose in combination with a calcium source makes this our top pick for 5HTP supplements on the market.

*Results are based on the MedicalHerald Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

2. 5-HTP (200 mg)

681 votes

9.6/10

 
 

Total Ranking

A

Overall Grade

  • Product Ingredients
    10/10
  • Value for money
    9.3/10
  • Ease of use
    10/10
  • Refund Policy
    10/10
  • Customer Happiness
    9.5/10

PROS

  • High dose at 200 mg
  • Includes a known co-factor B6
  • Dairy, egg, gluten, nut free and vegan

CONS

  • Includes other unrelated active ingredients
  • Expensive at $48 for 60 capsules
  • No money back guarantee

The bottom line*

This is a solid supplement that does contain a co-factor known to work in conjunction with 5-HTP. It does however contain ‘other stuff’ that isn’t shown to help the main ingredient work any better. Also it’s pretty expensive and the company doesn’t offer a guarantee.

*Results are based on the MedicalHerald Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

3. 5-HTP (100 mg)

479 votes

9.4/10

 
 

Total Ranking

B+

Overall Grade

  • Product Ingredients
    9.4/10
  • Value for money
    9.8/10
  • Ease of use
    10/10
  • Refund Policy
    0.0/10
  • Customer Happiness
    8.3/10

PROS

  • Very affordable at $32 for 180 capsules
  • Goes on sale for 50% off
  • Lower dose and low price make dosing throughout the day reasonable
  • Gluten, milk, soy and preservative free

CONS

  • No money back guarantee
  • Full ingredient list not available online

The bottom line*

This supplement contains only one active ingredient which could attract some customers. Other might find the lack of a co-factor and boosters a drawback. If you have allergies or a sensitivity to common ingredients in supplements the lack of a full ingredient list might be a deterrent. Overall the main draw here is the price!

*Results are based on the MedicalHerald Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

413 votes

8.6/10

 
 

Total Ranking

B

Overall Grade

  • Product Ingredients
    7.8/10
  • Value for money
    8.1/10
  • Ease of use
    9.6/10
  • Refund Policy
    0.0/10
  • Customer Happiness
    8.5/10

PROS

  • Easy to pick up
  • Affordable

CONS

  • No information about facility
  • No information about ingredients online
  • Hard to compare to other products before you buy

The bottom line*

This 5-HTP supplement is part of Walmart’s in house brand which makes it affordable and convenient to pick up. The thing is you trade information for that cost savings and convenience. Some of the information missing online might be on the bottle but that means you have to do all of your comparing in store.

*Results are based on the MedicalHerald Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

5. 5-HTP (50 mg)

347 votes

8.1/10

 
 

Total Ranking

B-

Overall Grade

  • Product Ingredients
    6.3/10
  • Value for money
    8.2/10
  • Ease of use
    8.7/10
  • Refund Policy
    8.1/10
  • Customer Happiness
    8.3/10

PROS

  • Low dosage allows you to start out slow
  • Complete ingredient list available
  • Third party tested and certified
  • Low price for a low dosage

CONS

  • 50 mg dosage makes it expensive and inconvenient to take larger amounts

The bottom line*

This supplement comes from a reputable company and it’s great that all the ingredients are available to you before you buy. The low price of $20 reflects the low 50 mg dose and the fact that there are only 60 capsules per package. If you decide that 5-HTP is something that works well for you, you might find better value elsewhere. This could be a good product to test the waters with.

*Results are based on the MedicalHerald Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.