also referred to as 5-HTP, is used for depression. Can interact with many medications. Talk to your doctor before starting this supplement.

5-Hydroxytryptophan Overview

Reviewed: July 15, 2014

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is naturally produced by the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan.  

5-HTP is used most often for depression.  

5-HTP is thought to work by increasing levels of serotonin within the brain. 

Common side effects of 5-HTP include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

5-Hydroxytryptophan Cautionary Labels


5-HTP is used for depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, binge eating associated with obesity, and chronic headaches. 

5-HTP has not been proven effective for all of the uses listed above. 5-HTP may be used for other conditions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Side Effects of 5-Hydroxytryptophan

Common side effects of 5-HTP include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

This is not a complete list of 5-HTP side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

5-Hydroxytryptophan Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or paroxetine (Paxil) 
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as phenelzine (Nardil) 
  • Meperidine (Demerol) 
  • Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others)
  • Pentazocine (Talwin)
  • Tramadol (Ultram) 

It is possible that 5-HTP, when taken in combination with these drugs, can cause a condition known as serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is characterized by dizziness, fever, agitation, confusion, fast heartbeat, excessive sweating, flushing, shakiness, hallucinations, over-responsive reflexes, or upset stomach. Stop taking 5-HTP if you experience any of these symptoms and contact your healthcare provider. 

This is not a complete list of 5-HTP drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

5-Hydroxytryptophan Precautions

Special precautions & warnings:

  • Potential for development of serotonin syndrome exists when combined with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) or Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and other drugs. 
  • Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before using 5-HTP if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to become pregnant.