Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
5-HTP has been observed to have benefits in some people who have difficulty standing or walking because of cerebellar ataxia. However, current evidence is mixed.
Studies suggest that 5-HTP may reduce eating behaviors, lessen caloric intake, and promote weight loss in obese individuals.
Alcoholism (withdrawal symptoms)
Early research suggests that 5-HTP may lessen alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Although 5-HTP has been proposed as a possible treatment for anxiety disorders, sufficient human evidence to make a firm conclusion is lacking.
The results of numerous studies in humans suggest that 5-HTP may aid in the treatment of depression. However, it is not known whether 5-HTP is as effective as commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs.
Preliminary research on 5-HTP in children with Down's syndrome has yielded insignificant results. Further research is necessary.
There is a small amount of research evaluating the use of 5-HTP for fibromyalgia. Early evidence suggests that 5-HTP may reduce the number of tender points, anxiety, and the intensity of pain, and may improve sleep, fatigue, and morning stiffness. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Several studies, in both children and adults, suggest that 5-HTP may be effective in reducing the severity and frequency of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines. Further research is needed.
In early research, 5-HTP lacked an effect on mood in healthy, young subjects. However, in this population, 5-HTP may impair decision-making. Further well-designed research is needed.
5-HTP has been studied in panic disorder and various neurologic disorders. Additional clinical research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder that usually develops around the age of 50. The disorder occurs when the brain cells that make dopamine slowly degenerate. Symptoms include tremors (shaking) and difficulties with movement and coordination. 5-HTP has been studied, usually in combination with drugs, for Parkinson's disease.
It has been suggested that 5-HTP may reduce psychotic symptoms and mania in panic disorder, but studies in people with schizophrenia have shown mixed results.
Insufficient evidence is currently available regarding the use of 5-HTP for sleep disorders. Additional studies are needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Limited research suggests that 5-HTP may be ineffective for reducing hot flash frequency in postmenopausal women. Further research is required before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Seizures/epilepsy (myoclonic disorders)
Although 5-HTP has been studied as a treatment for various myoclonic syndromes and epilepsy, available research does not support the use of 5-HTP for these conditions.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional
Aggression, agoraphobia, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), anorexia, antioxidant, appetite suppressant, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, bulimia nervosa, cough, deficiency (aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase deficiency, serotonin deficiency), delirium tremens (DTs), diabetes, digestion, dizziness, dystonia (muscle contraction disorder), eating disorders (binge eating), endocrine disorders (Cushing's syndrome, hypothalamic syndrome), eye disorders (ophthalmoplegia), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gynecological disorders (premenstrual dysphoria), hepatitis, herpes virus infection (Ramsay Hunt syndrome), hormonal disorders, inflammation, melatonin deficiency, migraines, mood disorder, myoclonic disorders (Lance-Adams syndrome), pain, phenylketonuria, premenstrual syndrome, psychosis (LSD-induced), relaxation, restless leg syndrome, seasonal affective disorder, sexual dysfunction, stress, temperature regulation.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you experience side effects.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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