5-HTP is a health supplement which is commonly used for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. It is a byproduct of one of the building blocks of protein and is a beneficial therapeutic treatment for cognitive disorders and sleep disorders, such as insomnia. It has been found to be useful for those who suffer from anxiety, and it is able to reduce some of the more common side effects associated with it. As with all supplements and medications there is a risk of encountering side effects, and 5-HTP is no different.
What are the side effects of 5-HTP?
5-HTP is seen as being a moderately safe supplement to take when administered via the mouth. It has been shown to be safe when taken in doses of up to 400 mg each day over the course of a year. However, some individuals who had supplemented with 5-HTP developed EMS. EMS is the acronym for eosinophilia-myalgia, which is a potentially dangerous condition that involves severe tenderness of the muscles and abnormalities within the blood. EMS may be caused by contaminated supplements, however, not enough information is currently available to pinpoint this condition directly to 5-HTP.
Other conditions which could potentially arise from use in 5-HTP include, stomach pain and cramps coma heartburn and an increase of stomach acid, diarrhea and gastrointestinal issues, nausea and vomiting, sexual problems including a loss of libido, and muscle fatigue, aches, and pains. 5-HTP may prove to be unsafe when taken orally as a large dose. Dosages ranging between 6 grams and 10 grams per day have been directly linked to muscle spasms and stomach problems of a severe nature.
Precautions and warnings when using 5-HTP
Use in children. 5-HTP is seen as moderately safe when given via mouth at appropriate doses. The recommended dose is 5 mg per kilogram of body weight once per day. It has been used safely for more than 3 years and children aged between 5 years old and 12 years old. As is possible with adults who are using 5-HTP, there is also concern that it could give rise to the potential of developing EMS. For this reason, it is important to only give small doses as recommended above to young children and infants.
Use before or after surgery. As 5-HTP works by adjusting the hormone levels of Serotonin, 5-HTP may interact with any other medications given to alter the amount of Serotonin available in the brain. Those individuals who take large doses of 5-HTP before undergoing surgery may have too much serotonin available in the brain. This can result in potentially dire side effects, which includes shivering, anxiety and heart problems. All use of 5-HTP should be ceased at least 14 days before surgery is due to be performed.
Breastfeeding and pregnancy. There is currently not enough information available about the use of 5-HTP while pregnant or breastfeeding. It is recommended that those women who are currently breastfeeding or pregnant should on the side of caution and avoid using 5-HTP. There is a slight concern that the supplement may be passed on through the breast milk of nursing mothers, and 5-HTP has not been tested in newborn children and very young infants.
Is 5 HTP safe to use?
Current guidelines label 5-HTP as being a supplement that is possibly safe to use as long as it is taken at the recommended guideline doses. As with all medications, an increase in the amount of the supplement that you take could increase the risk of suffering from side effects, which could be severe in nature at times. Always pay heed to dosage guidelines and avoid taking more than is necessary.