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5 Reasons You Need to Know About 5-HTP

There's a phenomenon in the Midwest that only happens when the seasons change from cold to warm. The grass and cornfields are brown and the snow seems to be fading away (but occasionally shows up after a few warmer days just to taunt all of us infected with cabin fever). All of the sudden it's 45 degrees and we want to wear flip flops and short sleeves so badly that we abandon our coats and socks and don't look back. The cold stings, but we're SO over winter that we don't think twice. Frostbite matches our pedicure, so figure your life out, Mother Nature. And since you and I most likely have a job, or school, or family that keeps us from going on spring break for months at time (*dream life*) let me introduce you to our best kept secret, 5-HTP, and why it can help you round the corner to spring with grace, ease, and pep in your step!

It may sound radical, but I subscribe to the philosophy that I “own” my health and that I can feel and heal any way I set my mind to. I believe I can learn to channel the proper energy, rest, and nutrition, to prevent (or reverse) most diseases. If you're starting to think, "dang, this lady is cuckoo... but I'm intrigued" you might find this book (my recent hot beach read) interesting. From chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, to more complex diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel and more, our brain is in control! Our mind is the most is the most powerful dictator of disease, in part due to it's ability to trigger chemicals, like serotonin. What's serotonin? ... oh, it's kind of a big deal:

Our bodies make serotonin from an amino acid called 5-HTP (or if we're getting all formal about it, 5-hydroxytryptophan). Not only does 5-HTP make serotonin, it also helps make melatonin, which you've heard about before because of its HUGE impact on SLEEP! That's right, 5-HTP is the building block for the things that help us:

  • feel happy!
  • sleep well 
  • wake up rested
  • control our appetite
  • have a sharper memory
  • regulate our body temperature and
  • HEAL!

So I could feel happy about feeling satisfied and nixing cravings, AND remember it while I drift off into a magically deep and restful sleep? YES. PLEASE.


  1. You feel depressed or just a tad more “blue” than you would really like
  2. You've got those killer can't-stop-em-if-I-tried cravings, and you've had the feeling that even an entire box of carmel delights or stuffed crust pizza wouldn't satisfy you. 
  3. You ride the sleep struggle bus. You can't fall asleep in a reasonable time and/or stay asleep for very long.
  4. You feel anxious, or on-edge more often than not. Little things bother you or make you worried. You tend to dwell and fret on things that used to be minor details.
  5. You've thought about starting an SSRI (like Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft, or Luvox) but you're hesitant because of the side effects. Many doctors prescribe Selective Serrotonin Reuptake Inhibitors to increase the levels of serotonin circulating in your body. 5-HTP approaches this from another angle, but both aim to make serotonin more available.

Why would I be low in 5-HTP in the first place?

5-HTP (and therefore serotonin and melatonin) can be depleted by both genetic and lifestyle factors, namely stress and low levels of B vitamins. Ever been on a prescription medication (even birth control)? There's a chance that medication zapped your B vitamin storage and you didn't get it back. So, no, you're not losing your mind, and no, your anxiety, depression, terrible sleep habits, and craving are not your fault. You could have been genetically *blessed* with low 5-HTP or B-vitamin levels. You could have had some bumps along the way (STRESS, diabetes, conditions like PCOS). Or maybe a medication knocked your metabolism a little of kilter. All of these can make it hard to maintain that happy, satisfied, well-rested *dream life* you've always wanted. 

Ok, but what else...

Now, I'll be the first to admit, lifestyle changes should be your #1 priority. Often times it’s the chaos of life that creates chemical imbalances. Constant worry can lower your immune response, increase your cortisol (which can lower your thyroid function), which increases your blood sugar, while disrupting your sleep, screwing up your digestion…. See how crazy and how connected our entire life is?! So…. What can you do?

Natural Remedies to boost 5-HTP

  • Cut SUGAR - Sugary drinks, alcohol consumption, and smoking all can be causing your symptoms and disrupting your gut making it impossible to use 5-HTP and make serotonin naturally.
  • Leave your screen alone - Often times we’ve damaged our sleep cycles by staying up late and reading on our ipads, phones, and computers till 1am, often sleeping with our phone next to our head like little addicts...
  • Spend time meditating (even if it's 5 minutes!) …trust us, you can do this several times a day to help calm your nerves, reduce tension, and get your body in a good, relaxing, and calm rhythm.
  • Eat foods rich in tryptophan such as turkey, chicken, potatoes, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, turnip and collard greens, and seaweed.

Great, but I go above and beyond, so what else?

If you really want to kick your symptoms to the curb… in addition to adding 5-HTP, we suggest Vitamin D (at least 5,000 IU/day), Omega 3’s, and higher quality multivitamin. A lot of times disease and symptoms manifest because we're starving our body of the very nutrition it needs in order to function (feeling "full" and being filled up on nutrition can be very different things). When we finally experience symptoms, it's often due to nutrient deficiencies that have been building over time. Either our body isn’t getting what it needs through our diet, or because we're burning more nutrients than usual (not resting, excessive exercise, skipping out on breakfast, eating processed high sugar, low nutrient content foods, etc).

While nothing trumps a healthy, balanced, and well-rounded lifestyle, there are some things we can do along the way to help supplement our needs and wants! Giving your body the building blocks to actually make "happy", "satisfied", and "well-rested" might be right up your alley!

The information I suggest doesn't serve as a diagnostic tool specific to your needs. Please take this into consideration when considering your options. We empower our followers to take their symptoms and health seriously. If your symptoms progress or intensify seek medical attention immediately. If you're currently on a medication, please talk to a qualified integrative health care provider. (Preferably one that understands both the medicine you are on, your symptoms, your health history, and what is appropriate for your healthcare goals!)

Calla Kleene
Calla Kleene