5-HTP Side Effects

Is 5-HTP Harmful? There are relatively few scientific studies on the effects of 5-HTP and the body.

Whilst many experience positive benefits from this supplement, others may experience adverse side effects.

Side effects of 5-HTP may include:

  • gastrointestinal disturbance
  • heartburn
  • muscle problems (aches, pains cramps)
  • nausea
  • loss in appetite
  • drowsiness
    (desirable if taking 5-HTP as a sleeping aid)
  • sexual problems
  • vomiting

5-HTP: A Precautionary Warning

Please consult your doctor if you are thinking of taking a 5-HTP supplement, especially if you are already taking a prescription medication (e.g. an antidepressant for depression).

As 5-HTP raises serotonin levels it may interfere or enhance the effects of existing antidepressant medication a person is currently taking. Raising serotonin levels too high can cause a disturbing condition called Serotonin Syndrome.

High levels of serotonin in the blood is also linked to a heart condition called cardiac fibrosis in which the heart valves become thicker. In some cases this may lead to right-sided heart failure.

A Perspective On The Possible Dangers Of 5-HTP

In balance, 5-HTP may offer a natural alternative to medical SSRI prescribed antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and amitriptyline (Elavil). Provided dosage is at the lower end of the spectrum any side effects should be minimal.

Also, doses of 5-HTP could enhance serotonin levels in people already taking SSRI antidepressants which have not been successful alone.

Prescription based SSRI antidepressants themselves can have some unpleasant side effects arguably more common and pronounced than those from 5-HTP.

As with other medications there is often a trade off between the positive effects of the drug and any unwanted side effects.

Given possible side effects it would be prudent to try a lower dosage of 5-HTP first.