The chemical by-product 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a naturally occurring amino acid that the body makes from tryptophan, an essential amino acid, and which is commercially produced from the plant Griffonia simplicfolia. One benefit of a 5-HTP dietary supplement is that it elevates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and behavior in the brain. It is for this reason that some people take 5-HTP for anxiety, a move studies have shown to be both safe and effective.
Taking 5-HTP for anxiety works because the increased serotonin 5-HTP triggers in the brain promotes relaxation, and scientists say there is a role for 5-HTP in managing the stress and anxiety of everyday life. As little as a 50 mg dose of HTP for anxiety has shown to be a beneficial treatment, and that is where many people start. A person not responding to a 50 mg dose of HTP for anxiety may slowly increase the dose to up to 100 mg, three times a day.
Using a higher dose of 5-HTP for anxiety is generally well tolerated by people, but side effects such as nausea and loose stools have been reported. A person taking 5-HTP for anxiety should be aware that it doesn't work overnight, so it's important to give it time to work. Keep the dose at 50 mg for three to six weeks. If symptoms don't improve, slowly increase the dosage by 50 mg every two weeks.
Don't increase the dosage if side effects occur. While it is recommended that you consult a medical professional prior to beginning to take any dietary supplement — this gives the doctor a chance to check the supplement's safety when taken in conjunction with any other medications, prescription or non-prescription, that you may be taking — a medical professional also should be consulted about lingering anxiety and any side effects of 5-HTP. It could be that your feelings of anxiety do not stem from low levels of serotonin, in which case 5-HTP may not be effective.
Dietary supplementation with tryptophan and 5-HTP, which crosses the blood-brain barrier, increases brain serotonin levels and produces anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety effects. Studies also have shown that 5-HTP may be effective in cases when anxiety incites impulsive and risky behavior. There are combination beverages available that combine 5-HTP with valerian, theanine, GABA, and the sleep aid melatonin. When combined with these ingredients, 5-HTP and its effects are significantly enhanced. In a study involving 61 people who tested 5-HTP-combination drinks, 85 percent reported feeling relaxed; 39 of these also describing an increase in focus during the execution of tasks.