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5-HTP Effects on Weight Reduction, Cravings and Diabetes in GLOBESITY Bootcamp for the Obese

Effects of 5-HTP on Weight Reduction

Authors: Marcus Free MD, Rouzbeh Motiei-Langroudi MD, Waqar Ahmad PhD, Kelly Daly RDN, and Don Juravin (Don Karl Juravin).

Abstract (Research Summary)

  • 5-HTP is a byproduct of L-Tryptophan and a precursor of serotonin (Rahman 1982).
  • 5-HTP increases satiety by ~29% over 8 weeks (Rondanelli 2009).
  • 5-HTP (900mg per day) reduces carbohydrate intake and induces early satiety, resulting in weight loss (Cangiano 1992).
  • 5-HTP (750mg per day) reduces carbohydrate craving and daily energy, carbohydrate, and fat intake, resulting in weight loss in diabetic patients (Cangiano 1998).


5 hydroxy-Tryptophan (aka 5-HTP) is a byproduct of L-Tryptophan and a precursor of serotonin (aka 5-hydroxytryptamine) (Rahman 1982). While serotonin does not pass the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain, 5-HTP does and thus, raises serotonin levels in the brain (Nakatani 2008). Serotonin plays an important role in satiation. Therefore, increasing serotonin is a viable target for weight loss (Halford 2015), achieved through 5-HTP supplementation.

5-Htp Effects on Weight Reduction

5-HTP (750mg to 900mg per day) increases satiety and decreases carbohydrate and food intake, promoting weight loss.

  • 5-HTP increases satiety by ~29% over 8 weeks (Rondanelli 2009).
  • 5-HTP decreases appetite (Bell 2002).
  • 5-HTP promotes weight loss (Halford 2007).
  • 5-HTP (900mg per day) reduces carbohydrate intake and induces early satiety, resulting in weight loss (Cangiano 1992).
  • 5-HTP (8mg per kg body weight per day for 5 weeks) decreases food intake and weight (Ceci 1989).
  • 5-HTP in combination with other weight loss drugs like phentermine promotes weight reduction (Rothman 2010).
  • 5-HTP (750mg per day) reduces daily energy, carbohydrate, and fat intake, resulting in weight loss in diabetic patients (Cangiano 1998).

5-Htp Effects on Cravings

Serotonin decrease in the brain induces craving for carbohydrates and 5-HTP prevents craving.

  • 5-HTP decreases cravings (Cangiano 1998).

5-Htp Effects on Diabetes

Brain tryptophan is decreased in diabetic patients. Although 5-HTP is not shown to decrease blood glucose in diabetics in human studies, it has other beneficial effects in these patients including weight loss.

  • 5-HTP (750mg per day) reduces daily, carbohydrate, and fat intake, reducing body weight in diabetic patients (Cangiano 1998).
  • 5-HTP reduced blood glucose in mice (Wilson 1982, Furman 1974).
  • Tryptophan activates a receptor in the pancreas and the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in an increase in the secretion of insulin and incretins (Lin 2016).
  • Tryptophan deficiency causes insulin resistance and diabetes (Oxenkrug 2013).
  • Tryptophan-derived hormone melatonin influences the development of diabetic complications by neutralizing the production of reactive oxygen species and protecting pancreatic beta cells (Zephy 2015).
  • Tryptophan-derived hormone melatonin increases insulin secretion and prevents diabetes (Zephy 2015).

Benefits, Side Effects, Drug Interactions


  • 5-HTP (150mg to 300mg per day) can be used in the treatment of sleep disorders (insomnia), depression, fibromyalgia (a generalized pain disease), and anxiety.


5-HTP does not have safety regulations by FDA yet.

Side effects

  • Serotonin syndrome: The most important side effect of 5-HTP, especially seen when co-administered with serotonergic drugs, is the serotonin syndrome. It causes delirium (change in mental state), severe muscle spasms, increased body temperature, and coma.
  • Cramping
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea

Drug interactions

  • Antidepressants: Patients should not use tryptophan if they take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI, including fluoxetine, paroxetine, citalopram, sertraline, etc.) or monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI, including selegiline, phenelzine, tranylcypromine, etc.) antidepressants.
  • Antiparkinson drugs: Patients should consult their doctor if they take any medication for Parkinson’s disease (levodopa, selegiline, pramipexole, etc.).
  • Antitussive: Patients should consult their doctor if they take any medication for cough (guaifenesin or dextromethorphan).


  • Pregnancy: It is recommended to avoid 5-HTP supplements in pregnant women.
  • Breastfeeding: It is recommended to avoid 5-HTP supplements during breastfeeding.
  • Down syndrome: 5-HTP may cause seizures in people with Down syndrome.


  • Bell, S., Goodrick, G. (2002). A functional food product for the management of weight. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition [online], 42 (2), pp. 163-78. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11934132 [Accessed 23.08.2016].
  1. Cangiano, C., Ceci, F., Cascino, A., et al. (1992). Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [online], 56 (5), 863-7. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1384305 [Accessed 19.08.2016].
  2. Cangiano, C., Laviano, A., Del Ben, M., et al. (1998). Effects of oral 5-hydroxy-tryptophan on energy intake and macronutrient selection in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders [online], 22 (7), pp. 648-54. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9705024 [Accessed 23.08.2016].
  3. Ceci, F., Cangiano, C., Cairella, M., et al. (1989). The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects. Journal of Neural Transmission [online], 76 (2), pp. 109-17. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2468734 [Accessed 19.08.2016].
  4. Furman, B. (1974). The hypoglycaemic effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan. British Journal of Pharmacology [online], 50 (4), pp. 575-80. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1776716/ [Accessed 23.08.2016].
  5. Halford, J., Harrold, J., Boyland, E., et al. (2007). Serotonergic drugs : effects on appetite expression and use for the treatment of obesity. Drugs [online], 67 (1), pp. 27-55. Availe from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17209663 [Accessed 23.08.2016].
  6. Lin, H., Efanov, A., Fang, X., et al. (2016). GPR142 Controls Tryptophan-Induced Insulin and Incretin Hormone Secretion to Improve Glucose Metabolism. PLoS one [online], 11 (6), pp. 0157298. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0157298 [Accessed 23.07.2016].
  7. Nakatani, Y., Sato-Suzuki, I., Tsujino, N., et al. (2008). Augmented brain 5-HT crosses the blood-brain barrier through the 5-HT transporter in rat. European Journal of Neuroscience [online], 27 (9), pp. 2466-72. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445233 [Accessed 19.08.2016].
  8. Oxenkrug, G. (2013). Insulin resistance and dysregulation of tryptophan-kynurenine and kynurenine-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide metabolic pathways. Molecular Neurobiology [online], 48 (2), pp. 294–301. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779535/pdf/nihms500086.pdf [Accessed 23.07.2016].
  9. Rahman, M., Nagatsu, T., Sakurai, T., et al. (1982). Effect of pyridoxal phosphate deficiency on aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase activity with L-DOPA and L-5-hydroxytryptophan as substrates in rats. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology [online], 32 (5), pp. 803-11. Available from: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jphs1951/32/5/32_5_803/_pdf [Accessed 19.08.2016].
  10. Rondanelli, M., Klersy, C., Iadarola, P., et al. (2009). Satiety and amino-acid profile in overweight women after a new treatment using a natural plant extract sublingual spray formulation. International Journal of Obesity [online], 33 (10), pp. 1174-82. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19752879 [Accessed 19.08.2016].
  11. Rothman, R. (2010). Treatment of obesity with “combination” pharmacotherapy. American Journal of Therapy [online], 17 (6), pp. 596-603. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19352140 [Accessed 19.08.2016].
  12. Wilson, G., Furman, B. (1982). Effects of inhibitors of 5-hydroxytryptamine uptake on plasma glucose and their interaction with 5-hydroxytryptophan in producing hypoglycaemia in mice. European Journal of Pharmacology [online], 78 (3), pp. 263-70. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7040087 [Accessed 23.08.2016].
  13. Zephy, D., Ahmad, J. (2015). Type 2 diabetes mellitus: Role of melatonin and oxidative stress. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome [online], 9 (2), pp. 127–31. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871402114000952 [Accessed 23.07.2016].


This research was sponsored by GLOBESITY FOUNDATION (nonprofit organization) and managed by Don Juravin. GLOBESITY Bootcamp for the obese is part of GLOBESITY FOUNDATION which helps obese with 70 to 400 lbs excess fat to adopt a healthy lifestyle and thereby achieve a healthy weight.

Tags: 5 hydroxy-tryptophan, weight reduction, GLOBESITY FOUNDATION, weight loss, cravings, diabetes, healthy weight

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