5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a dietary supplement. It’s extracted from the seeds of an African plant named Griffonia simplicifolia and sold in tablet and powder forms. 5-HTP is a source of serotonin—a chemical that lessens the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Neurotransmitters are tiny chemical messengers that carry information from one nerve cell (neuron) to another nerve cell. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. It’s found in the gastrointestinal tract where it regulates digestion. Appetite, memory, mood, learning, and sleep are also affected by serotonin levels in the body.

A person becomes more prone to learning and memory disorders, mood swings, and insomnia if serotonin level are low. 5-HTP supplements can maintain a healthy amount of this neurotransmitter in the body.

Here are three benefits of 5-HTP for which scientific evidence exists:

  • Anxiety

In studies designed to find the effects of 5-HTP on panic attacks in healthy volunteers, researchers have discovered that oral intake of the substance reduces the risk of panic. The effects are stronger in children—in whom incidences panic attacks come down by more than 50 percent when they take 2 milligrams per kilogram per day for 20 days consecutively. In many cases the effects stay for six months.

  • Depression

A recent study suggests that 5-HTP can reduce symptoms of depression in the short run but scientists are still unaware about how long the good effects last. Researchers have conducted approximately 30 clinical trials since the 1970s to measure effects of 5-HTP on depression. Many of those trials were abandoned before they could be completed while others used a small sample so they can’t be used to find the long-term impact of 5-HTP on depression.

  • Weight Loss

5-HTP supplements suppress appetite so they can be given to overweight people trying to reduce weight. In a study researchers gave 5-HTP to twenty obese women. Four weeks later each of them had shed a few pounds.



5-HTP is made from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia. It’s sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement. Individuals can either grow the African plant in their backyard or purchase supplements. It’s advisable to buy 5-HTP from a reputed manufacturer who has been certified from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).