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5-HTP Review - Does This Amino Acid Work?

By Summer Banks on Oct 20, 2016
5-HTP Review

5-HTP isn’t your grandfather’s supplement. This one sparked our attention, so we turned our attention toward side effects, ingredients and clinical research. Customers tell us a lot, so we analyzed hundreds of comments and reviews. Then, we condensed and refined to give you the info you need.


What is 5-HTP?

First off, when used in dietary supplements, 5-HTP ingredients are griffonia simplicifolia, rice flour and cellulose. The chemical is a by-product of the essential amino acid l-tryptophan. Supposedly, taking 300mg to 500mg per day helps you lose weight by suppressing appetite, reducing food cravings and causing satiety. One benefit is that it’s found naturally in certain African shrubs.

Often missed is that 5-HTP can boost serotonin levels, causing a euphoric or “happy” feeling. It’s available as an ingredient in dietary supplements and as a standalone product. Typically, the cost is less than $10 for a 30-day supply. We like that it’s natural and that we found some positive customer comments, but read on…

Side Effects – “From Something Natural?”

The first negative relating to 5-HTP side effects was that they weren’t always positive. “When an ingredient is extracted from a natural source, adverse reactions may not be on your radar,” said our Research Editor. “It’s something you may want to think about, considering it does affect serotonin levels or your mood.”

One dieter stated, “Had to stop taking after 9 days due to dizziness, nausea and eventually a black out. Still suffering from occasional nausea and vomiting 2 weeks later.”

“100mg Capsule: First dose, nauseous, faint, woozy, and weak. Second day: all of the above and vomiting,” reported another.

Side effects are rare, so we looked for customers that had positive experiences while using 5-HTP.

“Effects usually hit 2-4 hours after taking it: general boost in mood, difficult to think negative thoughts, warm fuzzy feeling, sometimes even euphoria,” stated a user.

Ineffectiveness – “Does it Work?”

Based on customer reviews, 5-HTP didn’t work as well as claimed. “I took 100mgs for about four months. My depression didn’t lift,” reported a user.

“Although I didn’t have any side effects, I was on it for 1 month, I gained 5 lbs. and I did not curb my appetite,” said a user.

We did find that some dieters using 5-HTP noticed results. “I started taking 5-htp to boost my mood and for weight loss. I’ve found that I’m less hungry and have lost a few pounds,” stated a consumer.

“have been taking 50mg of 5-HTP 3x daily 20 minutes before meals. I have experienced some weight loss; I feel brighter and less apt to over-eat,” said another.

What we’ve noticed throughout our years of researching, is that when any particular part of a supplement is considered concerning, such as being the cause of adverse reactions, the likelihood of long-term success is reduced. So, if you experience negative side effects while using 5-HTP, is it really worth it?

The Science – “Research Driven?”

The facts on 5-HTP are clear. It works to increase serotonin levels, supposedly helping to suppress appetite, improve sleep and promote weight-loss. So we turned to research to see how. Studies show the plant extract acts as the intermediary between l-tryptophan and the mood center. When it relates to weight-management, the results are mixed. Those that lost the most took a higher dose and increased the occurrence of negative side effects. At DietSpotlight, we like seeing clinical studies used to support claims. But, when adverse reactions come into play, we start having concerns.

The Bottom Line – Does 5-HTP Work?

Are you still thinking about heading out for 5-HTP? Well, we like that it’s available at multiple locations and that it’s seems affordable, but when the research doesn’t exactly support the weight-loss claims, we start to have reservations about suggesting it. Also, when customers start to talk about negative side effects and it not producing results, we become concerned.

A successful weight-loss journey starts with the right supplement. So, we suggest going with a product that’s not connected to harmful side effects, but consists of clinically-tested ingredients that have been shown to work and are backed by positive customer comments.

Among the best products we’ve seen in 2016 is one called Leptigen. The supplement packs four clinically-tested ingredients connected to weight-loss, which have been shown to help accelerate metabolism and jump start fat loss. There’s chatter about people seeing great results, not experiencing harmful side effects.

Also, the company that makes Leptigen is confident in their supplement, so they’re offering a Special Trial Offer.

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About the Author:

Summer Banks is an ISSA-Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist and has reviewed over 2000 diet products. She has years of nursing training, experience as a manager responsible for 15 supplement brands, and completed coursework on Food and Nutrition from Stanford University. full bio.

How Does 5-HTP Compare?

Previous 5-HTP Review (Updated September 23, 2013):

What You Should Know

Over the counter supplements of 5-HTP have been available since 1994. The principle behind 5-HTP for weight loss is that it seems to have a marked effect on the chemical Serotonin which is naturally produced in the brain. Serotonin plays an intricate part in the mechanisms of sleep, mood and hunger. 5-HTP has been used in studies to help people in the fight against obesity. One study concluded that 5-HTP reduced the total number of daily calories without the participants putting forth any effort to lose weight. The average weight loss was three pounds over the course of five weeks. A second study involved a six week period without dietary restriction which produced a marked increase in weight loss in the individuals who took the supplement verses those who were given a placebo. The average weight loss in the group was over 10 pounds for those taking the supplement. The conclusion of the study was that 5-HTP's action on the satiety center of the brain caused users to take in fewer calories at meals, causing a reduction in weight.

List of Ingredients

Hydroxytryphan, an amino acid.

Product Features

5-HTP seems to have a direct effect on Serotonin, the mechanisms of sleep, mood and hunger. Moreover, studies have produced solid evidence that low levels of Serotonin can cause depression, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, addictions and headaches. Long term trials have not been conducted and it is highly recommend that prolonged use of 5-HTP should be avoided until further testing has been conducted. Persons with chronic health problems or who are taking prescription drugs are recommended not to use the supplement and should consult a physician before considering using 5-HTP for weight loss. Nausea, constipation, decreased libido and nightmares have been reported with the use of 5-HTP.

See Our Featured


  • 5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body.
  • Shown in studies to produce positive effects on weight loss.


  • Long term trials have not been conducted on 5-HTP.
  • Nausea, constipation, decreased libido and nightmares have been reported with the use of 5-HTP.
  • Persons with chronic health problems or those taking prescription drugs are recommended not to use 5-HTP.


There is a massive amount of evidence that suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living. The lifestyle and dietary practices of many people have resulted in lowered levels of Serotonin in the brain. As a result, many people are overweight, crave sugar, experience bouts of depression, get frequent headaches and have vague muscle aches and pain. There is sufficient evidence to prove that 5-HTP, when used as a dietary supplement, will work as an effective weight loss aid. However, long term trials have not been conducted and there may be adverse side effects in some individuals. The supplement is widely available and can be found at many online retail sites which carry vitamins and supplements. Many local grocery and drugstores may carry 5-HTP as well. 5-HTP is reasonably priced and affordable for the average consumer.

10 User Reviews About 5-HTP

Leave comments below (moderated by Leptigen)
  • 1

    Thinking about changing from tramadol to 5 htp supplies is it safer


  • 2

    Thinking about changing from tramadol to 5 hot suppliment


  • 3
    Luna Koegler

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  • 4
    Rosario Gooch

    Very good site, thank you very much for your time in writing this post.


  • 5
    Cleveland Niss

    I want to write and I wonder how to start a blog for people on this yahoo community. .


  • 6

    I have been taking it every night for several years. I have had an adverse reaction. Skin rash, lost some motor ability, and felt ill, and numbness in right hand. All the side effects are gone after 48 hours, except numbness in hand. Any one have this problem and when will numbness go away? I will not take it again.


  • 7

    I was a chronic marijuana user for about 7 years. While my body can still produce serotonin it simply could not catch up fast enough for me to bounce out of it when I quit. I must say, this should be used to HELP you level out. You should not RELY on it. Attitude is ultimately a choice. In terms of weight loss…well if you’re in a better mood and not stressed all the time most people wouldn’t be prone to overeating….That, in my opinion, is why some say this can actually make you lose weight. If you take 5-htp to level your mood out and to give yourself a more balanced positive outlook in general I HIGHLY recommend it. You will notice a difference in 10-30 minutes of your first pill. I take 2 100mg pills a day currently…some take more and some take less. Bottom line, do what YOU feel comfortable with…but DO NOT go over 300mg a day. That is just stupidity. Hope this helps someone.


  • 8

    From Dr. Diane Schwarzbein, M.D. book: The Schwarzbein Principle II., pg. 135:
    New research suggests that long term use of 5-HTP, a serotonin precursor supplement may be harmful. Some brain cells ate not designed to make serotonin. They cannot make serotonin because they cannot make 5-HTP. But given 5-HTP, these cells can make serotonin when they should not be doing so–and this is not good for you. If you need to be on a serotonin precursor on a daily basis for longer than one year, talk to your doctor about getting a Rx for tryptophan. The shor term or intermittent use of 5-HTP should be fine, but never take it with an antidepressant and never take more than 200 mg at bedtime without medical supervision. If you get anxiety , heart palpitations, or bizarre sleep-disturbing dreems when you take either tryptophan or 5-HTP, reduce your dose or stop taing them altogether.
    Dr. Schwarzbein is an endocrinologist in CA.
    I have been taking 5HTP for several years, after reading this statement I stopped. Will try to get Rx for tryptophan.


  • 9

    I am currently researching 5-HTP and L-Tyrosine together to help with anxiety, depression, irregular sleep patterns and migraines as a supplement as opposed to the prescription drugs like Paxil, Lexapro, Valium, etc.
    What have you found and is it safe and most importantly effective. What are the risk of long term usage and if you start supplementing, is this something you will need to do the rest of your life?
    thank you – c


  • 10

    I was wondering if I have the Mirena IUD, if it was safe for me to take 5 HTP?


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