Everybody gets the blues every now and then. It’s a part of life. In our fast-paced world, sometimes our emotions are like roller coasters. Up and down, up and down.
This, of course, is perfectly normal. Some people have extreme, long-lasting bouts of severe depression, which isn’t normal. If you’re experiencing severe depression, then you should see a mental health professional.
But if you are looking for something to help give you a nice mood-boost, then you’re in the right place. I’m talking about 5-HTP. You’ve probably heard of it already. It’s used by thousands of people to help improve their mood and to get restful sleep.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP is short for 5-Hydroxytryptophan. Don’t worry, from now on I’ll just call it 5-HTP. This interesting supplement is similar to the amino acid L-Tryptophan. L-Tryptophan is found in many foods and is used in the body to make a number of important chemicals.
5-HTP is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter, serotonin. You may have heard of it. Serotonin plays an essential role in mood, appetite, sleep, and other functions throughout the body. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and plenty of other problems.
By supplementing with 5-HTP, it is thought that this will help your body to naturally increase serotonin production. Several studies have been done on 5-HTP. The general consensus is that it does have antidepressant effects.
5-HTP is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States and in Canada. In some European countries it is only available with a prescription.
Benefits of 5-HTP
Here are some of the benefits that people have reported from supplementing with 5-HTP:
- Improved Mood
- Better Appetite Control
- Reduced Anxiety
- Reduced Stress
- More Restful Sleep
- Increased Feelings of Well-Being
Does it have any side effects?
Most people that supplement with 5-HTP do not experience any side effects. However, sometimes side effects can occur. They are generally mild, and can include headache, upset stomach, and heartburn. Some of these side effects can be reduced by taking 5-HTP with food.
If you are taking prescription antidepressants, you should not take 5-HTP until you have talked to your doctor. Combining certain antidepressants with 5-HTP could cause a dangerous interaction resulting in serotonin syndrome. As you know, low serotonin levels are associated with depression and anxiety. But abnormally high serotonin levels can be even more dangerous. Serotonin syndrome is a serious condition that happens when you have too much serotonin in your brain. It is unlikely to occur by mixing antidepressants with 5-HTP, but is theoretically possible. For this reason, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting 5-HTP if you are taking a prescription antidepressant.
How should I take 5-HTP?
5-HTP does not work immediately. It has to be taken daily for up to several weeks for a noticeable boost in mood to occur.
Some people find that 5-HTP makes them sleepy. For this reason, you may want to take it at night before bed.
The recommended starting dose for 5-HTP is 100 milligrams once a day. Many people experience a nice boost in mood after a couple weeks at this dose. Others find that they need to increase the dose for optimal results.
5-HTP can safely be stacked with other nootropics for an increased mood-boosting effect. If you are interested, check out our list of the best nootropics for mood.