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5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP for short) is a dietary supplement derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, which is a plant from Africa.  It is a naturally occurring amino acid and chemical precursor within the human body.  5-HTP is popularly sold over the counter to help people improve quality of life, and it has been used by athletes to increase their recovery by helping them sleep better and suppressing their appetite.

Table of Contents

How it Works and Serotonin

5-HTP works in the central nervous system (CNS) and in the brain by increasing serotonin production.   Serotonin is a chemical that affects sleep, appetite, body temperature, pain sensation, sexual behavior, as well as many other body reactions.  5-HTP has also been shown to improve mood, decrease anxiety, and help females with PMS issues.

5htp to seratonin

Fig 1. 5-HTP to Serotonin


Since 5-HTP increases synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin affects the patient.  We know that low levels of serotonin will cause depression.  Hence, 5-HTP is very popularly used in Europe for depression treatment.

Weight Loss

It has been shown in studies that by decreasing appetite, 5-HTP can help people lose weight.  Think of it as a mild appetite suppressant.


Sleep disruption is a huge problem in the USA because of our high stress jobs, overeating, lack of exercise, and general poor lifestyle.  To cause this problem, more than 80% of Americans consume caffeine everyday, which further disrupts sleep patterns by inhibiting GABA.  When 5-HTP is combined with GABA, people will fall asleep faster and sleep more restfully.


Bodybuilders need sleep to recover after their grueling workouts because this is the time when the muscles really grow and repair.   When harsh anabolic steroid cycles are ran, it is quite common to have difficulty sleeping; especially with such compounds as trenbolone, moderate doses of testosterone, or halotestin.  As a result, many bodybuilders do not get enough sleep and their results suffer. This is where 5-HTP will help the bodybuilder by improving sleep patterns and quality.

Another way 5-HTP can help is via appetite suppression.  Most bodybuilders tend to drop body fat going into a show or photo shoot so they are most shredded.  Therefore, reducing appetite can definitely go a long way to reaching their goals.

Side Effects

Considering the wide amount of usage and published reports on 5-HTP that exist, we can say with almost complete certainty that serious side effects are rare with 5-HTP.  However, mild side effects, such as stomach upset, can occur when overdosed because of the rapid formation of serotonin in the upper intestinal tract.

Those using certain antidepressants should consult a doctor before taking 5-HTP because of possible interactions that have been found in rats.  Nevertheless, in humans the chances of any problems are extremely unlikely.

If using carbidopa (a drug for Parkinson's disease), you should consult a doctor because of possible stomach upset due to interactions.


When taken by itself, the dosage is usually 100-200 milligrams (mgs) per day.   As part of a supplemental stack 5-HTP is typically taken at 50mgs or less.

Where to Find it

5-HTP is widely used as a supplement, and, being a legal drug, it can easily be found over the counter in the USA, UK and Canada.  When purchasing supplements, it is important to remember that they tend to contain many fillers and are diluted, so it is crucial to go with a trusted supplement company.  One such supplement I recommend is called N2Sleep, which is sold by N2BM.com.  It contains 25mg of 5-HTP per dose plus 6 additional ingredients (including GABA which is perfect to stack with 5-HTP) to help with mood, relaxation and sleep.

Trade names

5-HTP is marketed in Europe under these trade names:

  • Cincofarm
  • Levothym
  • Levotonine
  • Oxyfan
  • Telesol
  • Tript-OH
  • Triptum

It is also called:

  • Oxitriptan
  • 5HTP
  • 5 HTP
  • 5 Hydroxy-Tryptophan
  • 5 Hydroxy-Tryptophane
  • 5-hydroxytryptophan
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophane
  • 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan
  • 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophane
  • 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan
  • 5-Hydroxy Tryptophane
  • 5-L-Hydroxytryptophan
  • L-5 HTP
  • L-5 hydroxytryptophan
  • L-5 Hydroxytryptophane


Want to read about 5-HTP on our forums? check out these threads:


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Written by
Steve Smi (Also known as Steve Smith), has over 12 years of experience in the bodybuilding and fitness industry. He's the co-Host of the popular Evolutionary Radio Podcast - over 500,000 listens! He has been a personal trainer and writer for the last 10 years with over 1000 articles written. He's been a moderator on forums for over 10 years. Steve holds the following certifications and records: NASM Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist Florida Local Powerlifting champion Top writer for 2019 Fitness rated

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