Understanding the Timeline: How Long Does It Take for 5-HTP to Work?

Have you ever wondered how some people maintain a balanced mood, keep their weight in check, and sleep like babies? One answer might lie in the levels of serotonin—a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, appetite, and sleep—in our brains. 5-HTP plays a pivotal role in boosting this “feel-good” neurotransmitter. As we dive deeper into the world of 5-HTP, we'll uncover its myriad benefits, understand how long it takes to see results and learn about its potential side effects. Dive in to discover if 5-HTP could be the game-changer you've been looking for.

Key Takeaways

  • 5-HTP is vital for synthesizing serotonin, impacting mood, appetite, and sleep regulation.
  • Positive results from 5-HTP may appear within two weeks, varying by ailment and dosage.
  • Combining 5-HTP with GABA might enhance sleep benefits and improve overall sleep quality.
  • Consuming 5-HTP can reduce appetite, affecting eating speed and portion sizes in studies.
  • Overdosing or mixing 5-HTP with alcohol may lead to serious health complications.
  • Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any 5-HTP supplementation regimen.

What is the purpose of 5-HTP

5-HTP, also known as 5-Hydroxytryptophan, is an amino acid responsible for synthesizing serotonin in the brain. Deficiencies in serotonin might lead to health issues including weight gain, mood disorders, headaches, and muscle discomfort. By raising serotonin levels, 5-HTP can alleviate some of these symptoms.

According to research In fact, 5-HT has been shown to have an important influence on mood itself, as well as on sleep, sexual activity, appetite, circadian rhythms, neuroendocrine function, anxiety, motor activity, and cognitive function, all of which are disturbed in affective disorders

How Long Does It Show Results?

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The effect duration varies depending on the ailment being treated. For issues like headaches, mood swings, or weight challenges, a daily dose of 150 mg, split into three, is suggested. Positive changes might be observed within a fortnight. However, if no improvement is noticed, the dosage can be doubled. Consuming 5-HTP in pill form may reduce nausea. Those struggling with sleep issues should consume 100 to 300 mg around 30-45 minutes prior to sleeping, with noticeable improvements within a few days. If you're considering prolonged use, especially beyond 300 mg daily, consulting a physician is advised.

According to Palvinder Dhami, “It depends upon the dose and the purpose for which you are taking 5-HTP. Typical daily dose of 5-HTP is in the range of 300 mg to 500 mg in divided doses or a single dose. There are some side effects of taking 5-HTP, therefore, it is always good to start low and gradually go upward. If you are taking it for mood, take it in divided doses three times with food. If you are taking it for sleep, then it should be taken in a single dose 30 to 45 minutes before bed preferably with GABA. For weight management or reducing hunger, it is to be taken in divided doses before meals. Results can be seen in at least one week, usually takes two to three weeks.” 

5-HTP's Impact on the Body

Our bodies naturally transform the amino acid tryptophan into 5-HTP, which is then used to produce serotonin. If the body falls short in synthesizing enough 5-HTP or serotonin, supplements can be procured from wellness stores. A decrease in serotonin often triggers carbohydrate cravings, which are counteracted by increasing serotonin levels through 5-HTP, thus curbing those cravings.

The Research investigated how substances called 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and fenfluramine might reduce appetite in rats that were deprived of food. In a one-hour feeding test, a substance called xylamidine, which blocks the effects of 5-HT (a related chemical), reduced the decrease in food intake caused by 5-HT and 5-HTP, but not fenfluramine. This suggests that 5-HTP's ability to reduce appetite is partially influenced by receptors in the body's periphery.

Further analysis showed that both 5-HTP and fenfluramine caused rats to eat more slowly and in smaller portions. Xylamidine reversed the impact of 5-HTP on eating speed and slightly increased the size of eating portions on its own. However, xylamidine did not affect the changes in eating behavior induced by fenfluramine.

These findings indicate a difference in how 5-HTP and fenfluramine reduce appetite through their effects on the body's periphery. The specific reasons for these differences in how 5-HTP and 5-HT affect eating behavior are explored in the research.

Time for Results on Mood Disorders 

  • For Fibromyalgia: Around 100 mg taken 3-4 times daily with meals might show benefits after two weeks.
  • For Migraines: A dosage of 100–200 mg taken 2-3 times daily may exhibit positive effects in 2-3 weeks.
  • Sleep Aid: To improve sleep, 100-300 mg about half an hour before bedtime is recommended. Combining with GABA may enhance the results.

Duration for Anxiety Relief

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Research suggests that 5-HTP can mitigate general anxiety. Studies indicate a considerable percentage of participants experience reduced anxiety symptoms after consuming L-tryptophan. Both animal and human studies support the anti-anxiety properties of 5-HTP. There's also preliminary evidence pointing to its ability to prevent panic attacks.

Sleep Benefits of 5-HTP

For sleep improvements, expect 5-HTP to take between six to twelve weeks to manifest effects. The study found that 5-HTP increased the amount of REM sleep without making REM sleep behavior disorder worse. It also seemed to slightly improve overall sleep quality by reducing the number of times people woke up during the night and how alert they were after waking up.

Optimal Time for Consumption

Before starting any supplement, it's best to get a physician's approval. For adults, the typical daily intake is 300-400 mg, either in one go or spread out. If opting for a single dose, nighttime is preferred due to potential drowsiness. Consuming with meals is generally suggested.

For children under 12, a maximum of 5 mg daily is the guideline, but it's essential to confer with a pediatrician first. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should exercise caution due to insufficient research.

There are various brands that incorporate 5-HTP into their products. One such example is RaveAid, which is popular among users for its specific formulation. Regarding the RaveAid supplements, each serving contains 100 mg of 5-HTP. Remember, it's not intended as an everyday supplement.

Side effects of 5-HTP

5-HTP, when taken orally in recommended doses, is possibly safe for up to a year. Yet, there have been instances where users developed eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a serious condition. The exact cause remains ambiguous. Overdosing can cause gastrointestinal and muscular issues.

5-HTP Weight Management

The NIH advises against using 5-HTP supplements, citing safety concerns. Moreover, limited evidence supports its role in weight loss. Always consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any supplements.

5-HTP Mixing with Alcohol

Combining 5-HTP and alcohol is not advised. There are potential risks like seizures and serotonin syndrome. If you exhibit symptoms like confusion or excessive sweating after mixing the two, seek immediate medical attention.


1. How long should I take 5-HTP?

Expert Answer: The duration for which one should take 5-HTP largely depends on the reason for use and how one's body responds to it. It's not typically recommended for long-term continuous use without breaks. Some people take it for a few weeks to a few months, then take a break. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting or stopping any supplement, including 5-HTP, to determine the appropriate duration and dosage.

2. Are there any side effects of taking 5-HTP?

Expert Answer: Yes, like all supplements and medications, 5-HTP can have potential side effects. Some common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. There are also concerns about potential risks when taken with other medications, especially antidepressants, as it can lead to a condition called serotonin syndrome. It's essential to speak with a healthcare provider before starting 5-HTP, especially if you're on other medications.

3. Can I take 5-HTP with my current medications?

Expert Answer: 5-HTP can interact with several medications, especially those that influence serotonin levels, such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors), and others. Combining these can lead to too much serotonin in the body, which can be dangerous. Always consult with a healthcare professional before combining 5-HTP with any medication.

4. How should I take 5-HTP for best results?

Expert Answer: For best results, it's generally recommended to take 5-HTP on an empty stomach to optimize its absorption. The dosage can vary based on the reason for taking it, but many people start with a dose of 50mg to 100mg and adjust as necessary. However, it's crucial to follow the dosage recommendations provided by a healthcare professional or as directed on the product label.


In the intricate web of health and wellness, 5-HTP emerges as a notable player, potentially offering solutions to a range of challenges from mood swings to sleep disturbances. Its primary role in serotonin synthesis makes it a beacon of hope for many seeking natural remedies. While its benefits are compelling, like all supplements, it's crucial to approach its consumption with caution and awareness. Always prioritize consultations with healthcare professionals before embarking on any supplementation journey. And while 5-HTP might not be a universal panacea, its potential to harmonize certain aspects of our health can't be overlooked. As we strive for holistic well-being, understanding and respecting the role of each component, including 5-HTP, will be our guiding light. In the quest for balance and vitality, informed choices, patience, and self-awareness will always be our most trusted allies.

Learn more about how long does 5-HTP to stay in your system and it's connection to estrogen.

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