What is 5-hydroxytryptophan?

The use of 5-hydroxytryptophan in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

5-hydroxytryptophan, also known as 5-HTP, is a dietary supplement manufactured from the seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia.

5-hydroxytryptophan has been used in the treatment of anxiety, mild to moderate depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, binge-eating associated with obesity, attention deficit disorder, and chronic headaches. 5-hydroxytryptophan has also been used for the treatment of post-anoxic myoclonus, also known as Lance-Adam’s syndrome, a rare complication of successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

5-hydroxytryptophan has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of 5-hydroxytryptophan may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

5-hydroxytryptophan may also have uses other than those listed in this medication guide.


Before taking 5-hydroxytryptophan, tell your doctor if you have:

  • peptic (stomach) ulcer disease;
  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease, or
  • a blood (platelet) disorder .

You may not be able to take 5-hydroxytryptophan, or you may require a lower dose or special monitoring during therapy if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Before taking 5-hydroxytryptophan, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you have any other medical conditions, allergies (especially to plants), or if you take other medicines or other herbal/health supplements. 5-hydroxytryptophan may not be recommended in some situations.

Do not take 5-hydroxytryptophan without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant. It is not known whether 5-hydroxytryptophan will be harmful to an unborn baby.

Do not take 5-hydroxytryptophan without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. It is not known whether 5-hydroxytryptophan will be harmful to a nursing infant.

There is no information available regarding the use of 5-hydroxytryptophan by children. Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without first talking to the child’s doctor.

Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. 5-hydroxytryptophan may increase the sensitivity of your skin to the sun. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when exposure to the sun is unavoidable.

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Seek emergency medical attention if an overdose is suspected.

Symptoms of a 5-hydroxytryptophan overdose are not known.

No information is available regarding a missed dose of 5-hydroxytryptophan. Consult your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you require further information.

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Side effects

Although uncommon, allergic reactions to 5-hydroxytryptophan have been reported. Stop taking 5-hydroxytryptophan and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Other less serious side effects have been more frequently reported. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you experience

  • increased skin sensitivity to sunlight,
  • a rash,
  • a feeling of fullness in your stomach, or
  • constipation.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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5-hydroxytryptophan may interact with many other medicines, possibly increasing side effects or resulting in decreased therapeutic effects. Do not take 5-hydroxytryptophan without first talking to your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • a monoamine oxidase inhibitor such as tranylcypromine (Nardil), phenelzine (Parnate), or isocarboxazid (Marplan);
  • a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor such as citalopram (Celexa), fluvoxamine (Luvox), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), or sertraline (Zoloft);
  • a tricyclic antidepressant such as amitriptyline (Elavil), amoxapine (Asendin), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), or trimipramine (Surmontil);
  • bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban);
  • trazodone (Desyrel) or nefazodone (Serzone);
  • venlafaxine (Effexor);
  • mirtazapine (Remeron);
  • an HIV/AIDS protease inhibitor such as indinavir (Crixivan), amprenavir (Agenerase), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), or saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase); or
  • an HIV/AIDS nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor such as delavirdine (Rescriptor), efavirenz (Sustiva), or nevirapine (Viramune).

You may not be able to take 5-hydroxytryptophan, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with 5-hydroxytryptophan or affect your condition. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.

Other Names

5-HTP and 5-hydroxytryptophan

Available Strengths & Dosages

Route Form Strength
oral capsule 50 mg

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Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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