Health Encyclopedia > Medications

5-hydroxytryptophan

Pronunciation: 5-hye DROX ee TRIP toe fan

Brand: 5-HTP

What is the most important information I should know about 5-hydroxytryptophan?

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Not all uses for 5-hydroxytryptophan have been approved by the FDA. 5-hydroxytryptophan should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

5-hydroxytryptophan is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Use 5-hydroxytryptophan as directed on the label, or as your healthcare provider has prescribed.

What is 5-hydroxytryptophan?

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

5-hydroxytryptophan has been used in alternative medicine as an aid to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, chronic headaches, premenstrual syndrome, binge-eating related to obesity, attention deficit disorder, and chronic headaches. 5-hydroxytryptophan has also been used in treating certain seizures and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

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Not all uses for 5-hydroxytryptophan have been approved by the FDA. 5-hydroxytryptophan should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

5-hydroxytryptophan is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be 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 be used for other purposes not listed in this product guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking 5-hydroxytryptophan?

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Do not use this product if you are allergic to 5-hydroxytryptophan.

Before using 5-hydroxytryptophan, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions. 5-hydroxytryptophan may cause seizures in people with Down syndrome.

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It is not known whether 5-hydroxytryptophan is harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use this product without talking to a healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

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5-hydroxytryptophan may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use 5-hydroxytryptophan without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without the advice of a doctor.

How should I take 5-hydroxytryptophan?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to take 5-hydroxytryptophan, use it as directed on the label, or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of 5-hydroxytryptophan than is recommended on the label.

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Take this product with a full glass of water.

If your condition does not improve, or if it appears to get worse, contact your doctor.

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If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using 5-hydroxytryptophan. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

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Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider for instructions if you miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

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Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking 5-hydroxytryptophan?

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Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. 5-hydroxytryptophan can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) when you are outdoors.

What are the possible side effects of 5-hydroxytryptophan?

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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Call your healthcare provider at once if you have a serious side effect such as skin rash, bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, or muscle weakness.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • stomach pain;
  • nausea, vomiting;
  • gas, heartburn; or
  • loss of appetite.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect 5-hydroxytryptophan?

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Do not take 5-hydroxytryptophan without the advice of a healthcare provider if you are using any of the following medications:

  • dextromethorphan (cough medicine);
  • St. John's wort;
  • an antidepressant such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Vanatrip, Limbitrol), citalopram (Celexa), clomipramine (Anafranil), doxepin (Sinequan), fluoxetine (Prozac), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), trazodone (Desyrel), and others;
  • an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate);
  • medicine to treat Parkinson's disease, such as carbidopa/levodopa (Atamet, Parcopa, Sinemet); or
  • prescription pain medication such as meperidine (Demerol), pentazocine (Talwin), or tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider may have more information about 5-hydroxytryptophan.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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